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Annabel Scheme

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  734 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Annabel Scheme is a detective story set in an alternate San Francisco where the digital and the occult live side-by-side. It's a short, snappy read -- about 128 pages/128,000 Kindle locations -- and perfect for people who like Sherlock Holmes, Douglas Adams, ghosts and/or the internet. Finally, it makes a great Kindle gift. In Scheme's San Francisco, an indie rocker's new ...more
ebook, 111 pages
Published November 26th 2010 by (first published October 31st 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,538)
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Sean Gibson
Sep 25, 2015 Sean Gibson rated it liked it
Let's call it...3.4 stars.

This is an interesting little curio by the author of the fantastic Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. While it lacks that tale's magical allure, this novella has a lot of interesting stuff happening--demon eBay, a weirdly transformed San Francisco, intelligent and sentient computer's just a little, well, weird. Which is not a bad thing.

I think Sloan could master this format if he wants. This tale just feels a little bit all over the place.

Still, a worthwhi
Jan 31, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, indie, well-edited
I have two books on my Kindle at the moment that were funded by Kickstarters, neither of which I participated in. One is awkwardly and choppily written, with cardboard characters and no sense of humour. This is the other one.

Set in an alternate world in which Google's place is filled by a company called Grail (a brilliant name for a search engine, by the way), and Wikipedia's by "Open Britannica", Annabel Scheme is difficult to categorize. Is it a detective novel? An urban fantasy? A technothril
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is really more like 3.5 stars. The ideas are fun but there are too many for the length. I would have loved a full novel to explore more of it for longer. I suppose this is a reflection of the crowd-funded process when something is written outside the normal method (you know, with editing!)

But virtual worlds... near-future San Francisco... quantum computers... detective stories... falafel... if you like those things you are likely to enjoy it.
Olga Godim
Dec 07, 2013 Olga Godim rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
I’m not sure what I think of this Kindle novella. It’s too weird. It starts as a PI comedy. It proceeds as an odd kind of mystery, on the intersection between the internet and demons. It ends in a tragedy, with an assortment of loose ends still dangling. And in between, there are too many unanswered questions. But all the same, it was an absorbing read, very much 21st century. Although I’m not sure I liked it, never once did I want to abandon the book, so I can’t give it less than 3 stars.
The p
Dec 09, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it
aaaahhhh this is awesome except it is too short!!

annabel scheme is a well thought out, creative, and somewhat unique story that takes all of the fun stuff of life and puts it in the same pot.

so first thing, as sloan does so well in penumbra, the real function and ability of computers. it is frustrating how dependent on technology our culture is and how little the people understand about how it works. making a server a character is a pretty ingenious way to humanize something we typically dismi
Apr 13, 2011 Punk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alternate Universe Speculative Cyberpunk Detective Fiction. Annabel Scheme runs a detective agency specializing in digital and occult cases. Her partner, Hu, lives in a server farm and watches the world through Annabel's earrings. They just took a case: Someone's distributing new music, made by dead artists. It's impossible, but ever since the Shard went up, San Francisco's seen its share of the impossible.

Five stars. Excellent world-building with an economy of words (my favorite kind because it
Carol Waller
Oct 24, 2014 Carol Waller rated it really liked it
Fun. Not exactly light hearted. Weird. Interesting. Digital, mostly. Some occult - the really weird and largely unpleasant kind. Most characters you want to know more about. Some you truly wish had a different ending**. Plot was twisty, a few WTH moments, but mostly solid plotting. Several areas I would love to see revisited***.

I loved the world, I really did. But this is one I would only visit. Sporadically. Cause I fear it is littered with rabbit holes. But a few books into it, and I can see r
Mar 25, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
So much fun to read -- I really wanted it to be longer! Part Sam Spade, part X-Files, part cyberpunk, this little book (and I was apparently favored in that I was loaned one of the limited number of physical copies printed) presented an alternate San Francisco where gaming avatars are sentient and quantum computers bleed their influence into the physical landscape.
Annabel Scheme is a private detective whose assistant is an AI -- a server called Hu, who is also the narrator. Hu lives in and sees
Apr 21, 2015 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
Those of you who follow the book reviews will recognize this name. Remember Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Books Store? Remember that freaking genius Robin Sloan? Yeah, here's another creation of his that is mind-blowing.

Annabel is a Sherlock Holmes character. Hu is her AI Watson. It's set in a wild future that is strangely believable. Like Penumbra's. And it's this brilliant mashup of sci-fi, supernatural, sleuthing awesomeness.

I don't know if I talked about this, but I found Ready Player One by Ernest
Anthony Howarth
Jun 08, 2014 Anthony Howarth rated it it was amazing
Robin Sloan is brilliant. I know nothing about him but having read three of his books this year I suspect he is a worthy new generation inheritor of the mantle of William Gibson and that gang of futurist fiction mongers.

As with Gibson I am not sure that "future" is the right word. I suspect, apart from the obvious multiple allegories, almost everything in Annabel Scheme is more with us now than we care to admit.

Superb writing. Amazing imagination. Extraordinary imagery. A writer with his heart
Oct 23, 2012 andrew rated it really liked it
Excellent short story, crazy that it is available for free. This and Penumbra cement Robin Sloan as my favorite new author, and one to watch over the next few years!
Sarah Jamison
Mar 29, 2014 Sarah Jamison rated it liked it
You are now a member of the Committee to Locate Annabel Scheme. Where is she? The next page? Well that's where she was. Now they only know where she isn't and they have to tell you how she got (not) there. This is a very interesting novel, set in an alternate reality version of San Francisco where it's not Google that blows up, it's Grail. And Grail has quantum computers. And quantum computers don't just make searches faster and more reliable, they permanently alter the fabric of this and other ...more
May 01, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
From the author’s website:
“This is a story about a Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century. Holmes is a woman, Watson is an AI, all the good cases are on the Internet, and something very strange has happened to San Francisco…”

The publisher’s review compared this work to Douglas Adams. Big talk, but Robin Sloan has delivered with Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, so maybe the comparison is earned. Completely independent of that other work (as excellent as it was) this book stands on its own and stand
Chris Haggqvist
Sep 02, 2015 Chris Haggqvist rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A good debut novella from Sloan, who went on to write the great Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore and the possibly even greater Ajax Penumbra, 1969. This is a slight but interesting take on classic noir told from the point of view of a computer AI who is the assistant of an inspector of the "digital and occult." Hijinks ensue and many of Sloan's ideas from "Bookstore" are introduced here first. Worth a read if you loved his later books. I for one can't wait to see what comes out of his head next.
Mar 31, 2013 EKS rated it liked it
Sloan's first novella is a fun roller coaster ride through a bizarro San Francisco with quantum instabilities, sentient servers, ghosts, and demons. It's partly an SF/cyberpunk story, partly a mystery with a quirky techie female Sherlock and a humorous computer as Watson, and partly a mirror world exploration of technology and Bay Area culture. The story is narrated by a sentient computer server named Hu and, while this may seem gimmicky, Hu's narration is consistently the best part of this nove ...more
Ashley Treadway
Mar 19, 2013 Ashley Treadway rated it liked it
I read this so fast because its super short--around 130 pages. I got it because I loved the author's book, Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore. This one is also set in San Francisco, but in an alternate universe of San Fran, and is a mystery of a different type.

To be honest, it was just too weird for me. Very smart! But very weird. There were demons and people coming back from the dead and they go into a video game at one point, and I'm usually cool with demons and ghosts but I just wasn't expectin
Apr 11, 2014 Celiavg rated it really liked it
Sloan's brilliant depictions of San Francisco as it is and as it easy could be provide a foundation in reality that make the fanciful story almost believable. Anyone who has lived in the City in recent years will recognize the incubator disguised as an espresso bar. I only wish Sloan had published more works set in the fair city for me to enjoy. Characters and fanciful story are strong, too, by the way.
Jennifer Taw
Jun 23, 2014 Jennifer Taw rated it liked it
A little confection of a book, made out of wires, wifi, and all things internet. Mixing IT with demons, detectives, and quantum physics, this book zips along, mocking Google and us while offering lots of great images as well as broadly drawn but interesting characters. Annabel Scheme reads like a long short story. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
Jun 03, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy fun read for San Franciscan Sci-fi fans

This story didn't totally come alive for me, but I love the creativity of and the parallel-universe San Francisco, Google, and even the Blue Danube Cafe. Reading Annabel Scheme is like surfing on Sloan's imagination. A little more human character development and it would get five stars.
Dec 10, 2014 Gordon rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-kindle
I am part of the campaign to find and rescue Annabel Scheme! This is a really interesting well crafted story set in the near future but also featuring demons so yeah that's good theres a demon internet now that's an idea I like. 2 good central characters even if one of them is a server :-)

I would highly recommend you pick this up as a nice easy read with some interesting concepts, hope that there are a few more tales of Annabel to come along.

For the Douglas Adams fans this has a touch of Dirk Ge
Nov 10, 2014 John rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
This story was pretty fun, although the awkwardness of the introduction of Jack Zapp in 'Jesus World' was not enjoyable.

Read like it should be a good Techie-Eldritch Halloween movie.

I like the lead character of Annabel Scheme and the AI character Hu, and wouldn't mind seeing more stories about them... and since the author put the story into the Creative Commons, fans could write stories about them too, if they would like!
May 17, 2014 Jack rated it it was ok
Not my usual fare, but I did enjoy it. A futuristic, fantasy, detective story. The lead characters are described as Holmes/Watson type detectives... where Watson is a discarded server and Holmes is female. Humm?? This was also interesting in that the author funded this story on Kickstarter. I need to pass this on to my cousin Terry, definitely up his alley!
Lisa Taylor
Dec 14, 2014 Lisa Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange detective story

I just finished the 24 Hour Penumbra novel and was hoping for more similar style.
This was nothing like Penumbra. it was fun. Google is called Grail, and it's like a blender mixed occult with sci-find today's technology.
Fun but I want something meatier.
Brenda Wells
Aug 12, 2013 Brenda Wells rated it really liked it
3? 4? 3.5? That was like getting on a ride at a theme park you think will be cute and fun (kinda like a 24 hour bookstore), but at the end, after the eyeless hackers and demons and angry ghosts you're like "Maybe that was fun? But I don't think I want to ride that one again".

I loved Annabel and Hu, and the alt-world, really I did. I was really really getting into them during the first part of the book. I'd love to read about them again, even. But after that first very-enjoyable bit, there was a
Dec 26, 2014 Martha rated it it was ok
As much as I love Robin Sloan, I can't figure this one out. I was just lost half of the time when I was reading this. I get the artificial intelligence sidekick and thought it was kind of cute but ... what was the point of all of this I couldn't explain. Maybe I should read this again ... one of these days.
Eva Kaplan
Jul 02, 2014 Eva Kaplan rated it it was amazing
I was truly drawn in by the quirky characters and the unique story line. I thought it was fabulously entertaining. One of those books that I was sorry it ended because I wanted more!
Mar 30, 2014 Leigh rated it liked it
An odd and interesting story and I enjoyed it. Another cautionary tale about not understanding the power of technology and how to live in a world changed by that lack of caution.
Jun 19, 2013 Donna rated it really liked it
I wanted a short book to read and came across this on my Kindle with no memory of buying it. It turns out that I did because I had read the author's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and loved it. This novella was completely different. It's an odd mish-mash--mystery, futuristic noir, quantum computers, characters inside video games--just rather odd, all in all, and I was totally on board. It's my kind of quirky. The story feels complete at the end but with another mystery setting up future instal ...more
Aaran Pereira
Dec 27, 2014 Aaran Pereira rated it really liked it
This story is a uniquely entertaining 'mash up' of several genres...testament to Sloan's creative writing style, Annabel Scheme does not disappoint-highly recommend.
Amy Bates
May 24, 2014 Amy Bates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Fun and whimsical journey into the bowels of technology. Really, what's technology without a demon or two to make it all real?
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Robin Sloan grew up near Detroit and now splits his time between San Francisco and the internet. He graduated from Michigan State with a degree in economics and, from 2002 to 2012, worked at Poynter, Current TV, and Twitter. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is his first novel. You can learn more at and follow along at @robinsloan.
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