April 08, 2014

How Can You Not Have Read Blah? - A Meditation on the Many Roads To Becoming a Fan

Editor's note: since Alan continues with construction -- thankfully most of the loud parts are over --  I've asked some other staffers to contribute From the Office pieces for the next few months.  Don't worry; all the rest of us are just as opinionated as Alan, and he'll be back with his own special brand of analysis in a few months.  But meanwhile, enjoy this guest piece from Na'amen Tilahun.  Na'amen is a writer & reviewer and has been a bookseller at Borderlands for four years.  You can check out his blog at http://naamenblog.wordpress.com/.  (Please note that while Borderlands is probably the only bookstore in the world with its own SWAT team, and that Alan and I will personally back any of our employees in a street fight, their opinions are their own and don't necessarily represent the store. - Jude Feldman)

by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun

Since I've worked at Borderlands, I have had a lot of random, short conversations about SF/F (science-fiction/fantasy) and its creators almost every day at work.  In the course of recommending titles or discussing authors it's inevitable that someone I've not read will come up.  Most people breeze right by it, but there's always someone who will widen their eyes, look at me bewildered, and ask, "How can you work here/like SF/F and not have read **fill in the blank**?"

I'll usually smile, shrug, and say, "Well I was reading other things."  About 25% of the time this leads to the customer asking me what I was reading and me turning them on to an author they don't know about.

The rest of the time, it becomes something different.

March Bestsellers

1. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
2. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
3. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
4. Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
5. Letters to the Pumpkin King by Seanan McGuire
6. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
7. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
8. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson tied with Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
9. What the Doctor Ordered by Michael Blumlein
10. Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
2. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
4. The Human Division by John Scalzi
5. London Falling by Paul Cornell
6. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovich
7. Impulse by Steven Gould
8. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
9. Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
10. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Trade Paperbacks
1. Indexing by Seanan McGuire
2. Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
4. Questionable Practices by Eileen Gunn
5. Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

March News Roundup

* Overheard in the Cafe:
"I guess you could say my happy place is filled with big red Beelzebub bunnies."
"Okay, great, now you have me wondering what a puffin would taste like."

* Nominees for the 2013 Nebula Awards have been announced.  In the Best Novel category, the nominees are:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)

The awards will be be presented the weekend of May 17th -18th in San Jose, and Borderlands will be on hand that weekend selling books.  See the complete list of nominees here: http://www.sfwa.org/2014/02/2013-nebula-nominees-announced/

* In the "fashion that just might drive you mad and consume your soul" department, Cthulhu leggings!: http://blackmilkclothing.com/collections/leggings/products/cthulhu-leggings

* Well, why NOT build a kangaroo robot? http://io9.com/somebody-built-a-kangaroo-robot-because-why-the-hell-no-1559391177

* Amazing graphic chronology of science fiction from Ward Shelley: http://www.wardshelley.com/  (Click on "History of Science Fiction" link, left.)

* We were shocked and sorry to hear of the death of author Michael Shea.  He was a brilliant writer and a gentleman in the old-fashioned sense.  Locus magazine's print edition published some lovely and moving remembrances from his friends, including this one from Laird Barron: http://lairdbarron.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/a-light-goes-out/ .  I strongly recommend you pick up the issue to read the others as well.

* We sincerely regret to report the death of the larger-than-life storyteller Lucius Shepard.  Lucius was an exceptionally talented author and a true character, and we will miss him.  Remembrance by Michael Swanwick: http://floggingbabel.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/lucius.html and also Jeremy Lassen: http://viewfromcorona.blogspot.com/2014/03/lucius-story-teller.html .

April Upcoming Events

Eileen Gunn, QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES, (Small Beer Press, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, April 12th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF (at The Emerald Tablet, (80 Fresno St. San Francisco CA 94133 (near the intersection of Columbus and Broadway)) with authors Daniel Suarez and Andy Weir, Saturday, April 12th at 7:00 pm

Emily Jiang and April Chu, SUMMONING THE PHOENIX, (Lee and Low, Other Hardcover, $18.95) Sunday, April 13th from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

"Flytrap" Magazine Re-Debut Event with editors Tim Pratt & Heather Shaw and contributors Megan
Arkenberg, Aislinn Quicksilver Harvey, Jessica May Lin, Nick Mamatas, Dominica Phetteplace, and Sarah Smith, Saturday, April 26th at 3:00 pm

Daryl Gregory, AFTERPARTY, (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, May 3rd at 3:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, SPARROW HILL ROAD (DAW, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, May 10th at 5:00 pm

Marie Brennan, TROPIC OF SERPENTS (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) and Mary Robinette Kowal, VALOUR AND VANITY (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, May 11th at 3:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)

Coming up this summer, we''re delighted to host Sarah Lotz, Jane Lindskold, Greg van Eekhout, Jo Walton, and many others, so stay tuned!

Details after the break.

April 04, 2014

Raising Sharp Unwritten Provident Martians

What the staff is currently reading:

Alan: "Reading BALEFIRES by David Drake.  Re-reading, actually.  Damn but there's some great stories in that collection.  Especially Hunting Ground (which I just finished)."

Cary: "RAISING STEAM by Terry Pratchett, THE MARTIAN by Andrew Weir, and
some of the Jeeves book by P.G. Wodehouse."

Claud:"PAYOFF and SHARP, by Alex Hughes; THE UNWRITTEN (up through Volume 8), by Mike Carey and Peter Gross; MISS Z, THE DARK YOUNG LADY, by Angela Carter; THE EGYPTOLOGIST, by Arthur Phillips; QUANTUM MOON, by Denise Vitola (reread); HALF A KING, by Joe Abercrombie; CITY BOY: My Life In New York In The 1960s And 70s, by Edmund White; THE KING IN YELLOW AND OTHER HORROR STORIES, by Robert W. Chambers (reread, because of TRUE DETECTIVE); HOLDING ON UPSIDE DOWN: The Life And Work Of Marianne Moore, by Linda Leavell (very good); and IMAGES OF MAN AND DEATH, by Philippe Ariès."

Jeremy:"CHANCE by Kem Nunn and ACT OF PROVIDENCE by Joseph Payne Brennan."

Jude: "DANGEROUS WOMEN edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (picked it up for the fun Joe Abercrombie and then got hooked -- wow,  Megan Abbott's My Heart is Either Broken is a brilliant gut punch of a story!); P IS FOR PERIL; Q IS FOR QUARRY; R IS FOR RICOCHET; and S IS FOR SILENCE by Sue Grafton, PALISADES PARK by Alan Brennert; GHOST HUNTING IN MONTANA by Barnaby Conrad III; JULIE AND JULIA by Julie Powell; and HIGH PROFILE by Robert B. Parker (I don't like the Jesse Stone novels nearly as much as the Spenser novels)."

March 03, 2014

The Authors Who Put the “P” in “SF”

by Jeremy Lassen

(Editor's note: since Alan is still busy doing construction -- if you've been in the store during the last month, you've probably heard the power tools --  I've asked some other staffers to contribute From the Office pieces for the next few months.  Don't worry; all the rest of us are just as opinionated as Alan, and he'll be back with his own special brand of analysis in a few months.  But meanwhile, enjoy a second guest piece from Jeremy Lassen, Borderlands' first (and longest continuous) employee.  (Please note that while Borderlands is probably the only bookstore in the world with its own SWAT team, and that Alan and I will personally back any of our employees in a street fight, their opinions are their own and don't necessarily represent the store. - Jude Feldman)

We had so much fun last time, I figured I would give it another go.  And since saying “Fuck Nick Hornsby” didn’t generate enough ire, I thought I would violate one of the first rules of polite society and talk politics.  Wait, wait, wait. . . . Not in the way that you think.  I’m not going to bore you with MY political views, or observations about various political theories and paradigms.  I’m going to bore you with observations about political thought as expressed in science fiction novels.

I’m not talking about the political views of the authors, although of course that may come up.  But if the author is genuinely interesting, what you think of as “their politics” may in fact not be.  Let’s start with good old Bob Heinlein as an example.  It’s really easy to base your perspective of an author’s personal politics on that first novel of theirs that you read.  If you read STARSHIP TROOPERS, clearly Heinlein was a fascist.  If you read STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, well, he was a Leftist Cult-Hippie.  If you read THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON, you would think he was a libertarian, and if you read THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, you could be pretty sure he was a bomb-throwing anarchist and revolutionary.

February Bestsellers

1. The Waking Engine by David Edison
2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
3. Pandemic by Scott Sigler
4. The Martian by Andy Weir
5. A Darkling Sea by James Cambias
6. What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
7. Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman
8. V-S Day by Allen Steele
9. Seven Wild Sisters by Charles de Lint
10. Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3. The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
4. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
5. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
6. Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
7. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
8. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
9. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
10. Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Trade Paperbacks
1. Annihilation by Jeff Vadermeer
2. Hyperbolye and a Half by Allie Brosh
3. Miss Peregrin'e Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
4. Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
5. Indexing by Seanan McGuire

February News Roundup

* The New York Times comments on the recent trend of series books being released more quickly in order to satisfy "binge readers": http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/books/impatience-has-its-reward-books-are-rolled-out-faster.html?_r=1

* Fans of Pat Murphy's THE CITY, NOT LONG AFTER or Michaela Roessner's VANISHING POINT will especially appreciate these eerie photos of an empty San Francisco: http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/4465-heres-what-sf-would-look-like-without-cars-or-people

* Neil Gaiman and Australia's Four Play String Quartet are coming to The Warfield June 25th.  Tickets are $40. http://blog.sfgate.com/bookmarks/2014/02/18/neil-gaiman-and-string-quartet-coming-to-s-f/

* Wonderful, creepy old photos out of context; especially for fans of Ransom Riggs, but haunting for everyone! http://theghostdiaries.com/old-mysterious-photos-that-will-haunt-your-dreams/

March Upcoming Events

Brandon Sanderson, WORDS OF RADIANCE (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Thursday, March 6th at 6:00 pm

Marie Brennan, TROPIC OF SERPENTS: A MEMOIR BY LADY TRENT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, March 9th at 7:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, HALF OFF RAGNAROK (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, March 15th at 6:00 pm

Edith Maxwell, A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE (Kensington, Hardcover, $24.00) Sunday, March 16th at 1:00 pm

Bruce DeSilva, PROVIDENCE RAG (Forge, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, March 16th at 3:00 pm

Nick Mamatas, Jim Nisbet, Sin Soracco, and Ken Wishnia: PM Press Crime Writers' Short-Fire Reading and Signing, Wednesday, March 19th at 7:00 pm

Dan Wells, RUINS (Balzer + Bray, Hardcover, $17.99) and Robison Wells, BLACKOUT (HarperTeen, Hardcover, $17.99), Friday, March 21st at 7:00 pm

Eileen Gunn, QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES (Small Beer Press, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, April 12th at 3:00 pm

Details after the break

February 20, 2014

Savage Cool Infected Real Life Freaks with Gifts

What the staff has been reading recently. . . .

Alan:"Reading the NIGHT'S DAWN trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton and wondering how I missed it for all these years.  I was surprised to note that, despite being clearly SF, it's structured exactly like a big fantasy trilogy.  Perhaps the only SF trilogy that I can think of with that sort of structure."

Cary: "AMERICAN SAVAGE by Dan Savage, MY MAN JEEVES by P.G. Wodehouse, MY REAL CHILDREN by Jo Walton, LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson (a good pairing with the Walton!) and MAISIE DOBBS by Jacqueline Winspear."

Claud: "COOL GRAY CITY OF LOVE: 49 Views Of San Francisco, by Gary Kamiya; INSIDE THE DREAM PALACE: The Life And Times Of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel, by Sherill Tippins; AFTER DEAD, by Charlaine Harris; THE PROUD TOWER: A Portrait Of The World Before The War 1890-1914, by Barbara W. Tuchman; HILD, by Nicola Griffith (excellent!); CRITICAL MASS, by Sara Paretsky; LIVING DOWNTOWN: The History Of Residential Hotels In The United States, by Paul Groth (fascinating); AMERICAN NATIONS: A History Of The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures Of North America, by Colin Woodard (really interesting); THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, by M.R. Carey (really good); MY REAL CHILDREN, by Jo Walton (tremendously engaging); DEATH ON THE NILE, by Agatha Christie (reread); HUBERT'S FREAKS: The Rare-Book Dealer, The Times Square Talker, And The Lost Photos Of Diane Arbus, by Gregory Gibson (amazing); THE GENTRIFICATION OF THE MIND: Witness To A Lost Imagination, by Sarah Schulman; and CLEAN, by Alex Hughes (reread)."

Dev: "THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey (advance copy), CHASING THE MOON by A. Lee Martinez, INFECTED by Scott Sigler."

Jude: HUBERT'S FREAKS: The Rare-Book Dealer, The Times Square Talker, And The Lost Photos Of Diane Arbus, by Gregory Gibson (I loved it, too); HOTEL by Arthur Hailey (trashy 60's fun); AFTERPARTY by Daryl Gregory (advance copy; LOVED IT - a book about drugs and crime and religion and more drugs!), MY REAL CHILDREN by Jo Walton (advance copy), and SPARROW HILL ROAD by Seanan McGuire (advance copy).