Annabel Scheme
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Annabel Scheme

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  365 ratings  ·  64 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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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...more
Olga Godim
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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
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...more
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
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...more
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.
Brenda Wells
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...more
Leigh Westberg
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.
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
Sul Silva
I don't know, this books seems like a very nice ride, but then it fails at being short and with a very uneven pace and poor description of the situations.
Some of the ideas it brought are fantastic though.
I generally avoid self-published books, but the fact that this is an established author that I've heard good things about changed my mind - as did the premise of a Sherlock Holmes type character with an AI as a Watson. Brilliant!

The book was already very short, but to me it would actually read better as a series of short stories (maybe something like Sarah Monette's The Bone Key collection). There's clearly more story to be told here, so I wonder if the author is planning to revisit this univers...more
I picked up Annabel Scheme after reading Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store. I wanted to see what his other writing was like beyond the shorts posted on his site, so this seemed a good way to go.

Overall, I loved the concept and the world Scheme and Hu inhabited. The Grail/Fog City situation was interesting and I liked the idea of blending the occult with the internet in such an amusing way.

Beyond that, it felt shortish and underdeveloped at times, as if it were a frame for a larger project. Still...more
Loved this little cyber-punkish story - hope there is more to come!
Michael Batz
A nifty blend of Sherlock Holmes and Neuromancer, this was just what I needed. It far exceeded my expectations, though I must admit they weren't all that high, since I grabbed it as part of an ebook bundle and later found out it was funded through Kickstarter (not that there's anything wrong with that). My only complaint is that it's too short, as it barely scratches the surface of ideas that beg for more detail. As a result it feels slightly undercooked. I'd probably give it 3.5 stars but kicke...more
Since I loved Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore so much, thought I'd go back and pick this earlier book up. It's not as good. Sort of a mish-mash between video games and the paranormal and maybe a murder mystery thrown in, but it's all too confusing and there's not enough character development.

Kudos to Sloan for huge improvement in between. Look forward to the next.
"Holy shit.", Hugin muttered after the climax of this short story. And holy shit it is indeed, culminating into a thrilling standoff between demons, quantum computers, electric detectives, long-lost love, and Annabel Scheme, accompanied by her trustworthy companion Hugin Nineteen.

There are some flaws in the storytelling, which don't bother me too much. Sloan writes a lot better in first novel "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour-Bookstore", which was one of my favorite books last year!
I have *not* read her debut -- Mr. Penumbra -- but I think I will, now. This is genre-bending sf in the tradition of sentient servers or computers (which traces its genealogy through Asimov and Philip K. DIck through Marvin the Paranoid Android in THGTTG and goes through to Iain M. Banks's sentient space-ships in _Excession_). I happen to adore sentient and chattering computers in books, so I loved this one.
Michele Weiner
A sci-fi tale about an occult detective at the start of her career. The best part is the satire of Google (called Grail) which Sloan also did in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. I liked the concept of the server in her earrings, but the video game setting, which is pivotal but not as lengthy as in Neal Stephenson's Reamde, is not as good, either. Worth a look, but not my favorite.
Man I love Robin Sloan. I want to live in his worlds so badly. Every time I read something by him I think "Yes! This is what I want to be doing!" We share a fascination with the intersection between digital and human interaction, old knowledge and new knowledge, and how our machines are shaping us. I find his writing incredibly absorbing and compelling. More Robin Sloan, please!
It was clever enough, even though the number of genres it can claim to belong to and what it was trying to evoke (Sherlock Holmes meets William Gibson?) ultimately made it too difficult to really reconcile the story in my head — maybe that's my own fault, but my putting off finishing it was keeping me from reading the next book in the stack, so I eventually called it.
Short mystery of quantum computers reeking havoc on San Francisco, a series of deaths, and a wicked website that allows one to make deals with the devil. Not at all scary, the new world order is helped along by Grail (loosely disguised future version of Google), which can answer questions before a user even knows what s/he wants to ask. Very interesting sci fi mystery.
A very enchanting and compelling story from a master storyteller. A cool future with fun twists. The only complaint I have is that there hasn't been a sequel!
David Schwan
This was a fun little book. Part potboiler detective, part cyberpunk, set in .dot San Francisco. The main character is a form of private eye and she has as partner an AI that seems to reside in a former server used by a giant search engine company. The San Francisco presented is like the current city only much more taken over by internet startups.
Rachel Knickmeyer
A quick, fun read that's basically begging for a sequel. I'd love to read a bit more about this world.
The first Kindle book I read on my new iPad. Robin Sloan is a genius writer ... I'm anxiously awaiting the publication of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
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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.
More about Robin Sloan...
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore Ajax Penumbra 1969 The Writer and the Witch New Liberal Arts El Sr. Penumbra y su librería 24 horas abierta

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