This book is about Lois Clary, a talented young programmer from Michigan who follows a job to Cali­fornia, only to be drawn into the weird world of food that waits there. It’s about work and eating, robots and microbes, inde­pen­dence and ambition,


I believe it is the first novel in English to feature, as a key supporting character, a sentient sourdough starter.

The great Cory Doctorow praised the book for covering

so much terrain: microbial nations, assim­i­la­tion and tradition, embodied conscious­ness and the crisis of the tech industry, all without losing the light, sweet, ironic Sloanian voice familiar from Penumbra, a plot that makes the book a page-turner and a laugh-out-louder, with sweetness and romance and tartness and irony in perfect balance.

Writing for NPR, Jason Sheehan said of Sourdough:

It is a beautiful, small, sweet, quiet book. It knows as much about the strange extremes of food as Penumbra did about the dark latitudes of the book community.

The Suitcase Clone

Bundled with the latest MCD edition of Sourdough, you’ll find a short prequel. The story is set between Cali­fornia and Europe, circa 1986. It’s a globe­trot­ting caper that carries us into the rarified world of wine, and not just any wine, but the kind made from grapes left to rot by design. There are rumors of a grape, long thought vanished, that has reap­peared in Italy, its north­ern­most edge … so Jim Bascule is sent to steal it. He has never stolen anything before; he barely drinks wine; but his heart has just been broken, and he’s up for anything. Off we go!

And, an Easter egg for Penumbra readers: this story clarifies Sourdough’s connec­tion to the Penumbraverse.

Along the way, we’ll learn more about a certain charismatic goop.

November 2022, Berkeley