I'm something of a book geek, so I've been to plenty of readings around town. Usually the author shows up with the new novel, takes questions from uberfan readers, and if you're lucky, everyone ends up at the bar across the street together.
Robin Sloan is no typical author, however, and his "Hidden in Plain Sight" reading with us had all sorts of perks and quirks to it. Best of all, it was a completely interactive evening between author and fan – what else would you expect from a dude who was once immersed in the tech world over at Twitter?
Photos by Sarah Han
In honor of Robin's new book – Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore – we played off some themes of the mystery novel to create an experience for guests that included a scavenger hunt through "secret" SOMA locations. People were given an address to arrive at and from there were led up a back alleyway to Prelinger Library, where they had to hit the stacks of unusual and arcane books to find a word that corresponded with a mission handed to them in an envelope. We took folks through that space in large part because it's such a magical collection – well loved and curated books arranged in the way Megan and Rick Prelinger see the world. It's a beautiful span of work, available to the public usually just one night a week.
From there, we spirited scavenger hunters over to Unspeakable Projects, another favorite underground SOMA spot of mine. UP is a gallery run by Mauri Skinfill dedicated to helping support emerging artists. The gallery is housed on the ground floor of the gorgeous loft she shares with her husband, and in just two years she has made quite the name for her space. Unspeakable Projects was invited to be part of ArtPadSF and hosted a show of Metallica miniatures that brought members of the band out to see the art. But you'd never know it was housed behind a giant U and a "live work" sign down a nondescript SOMA alley.
At UP, guests watched as the words they found at Prelinger (and then uploaded to their Twitter and Instagram feeds) were worked into a Madlibs style reading from Robin's novel. We had delicious drinks from Templeton Rye, travel-themed installations artist Andrew Witrak, and plenty for the eyes, ears, and tastebuds to discover.
For all of our "Hidden in Plain Sight" photos, check out our Facebook album. And we hope to enable more local discovery with Robin Sloan in the future – although after he told us his book is #33 on The New York Times bestseller list, we have a feeling he's going to be a busy guy for a while. So in the meantime, I'd highly recommend checking out the Prelinger Library and Unspeakable Projects for yourselves.