January 08, 2021

Editor's Note

by Jude Feldman

Well, welcome to 2021.  At this point, all I can say is that I'm fervently hoping that you're all doing and feeling as well as possible, and that the entirety of the rest of the year is extraordinarily boring.

A few quick reminders and updates for y'all -- first, we're currently open to the public from 11 am - 6 pm, seven days a week.  We have a maximum capacity of 10 people in the store at once, and masks are required for entry.  We'll also ask you to sanitize your hands on your way in.

If you'd rather not come into the store, there are other options.  We're always happy to do mail orders -- search our inventory online here: https://www.biblio.com/bookstore/borderlands-books-san-francisco or just call us directly and we'll be glad to send you whatever you'd like.

We're also doing curbside pickup, and we even have a specifically reserved parking space for it just outside the store -- call us and we'll work out the details and cheerfully bring your books out to you when you arrive.

As far as the new building on Haight Street -- as you can imagine, it's been pretty difficult to get anything substantial done.  We have made some progress on finishing the exterior of the bathroom (did I mention that, yay, we have a bathroom?!) and also gotten some planning work done, but concrete progress has been more elusive.  As with so much else right now, it's a matter of staying focused and doing the best we can.  We'll get there. We appreciate your support and faith.

From the Office

by Alan Beatts

As I write this, it is the evening of Wednesday, January 6th.  It's hard to think that anything I've got to say has any significance in light of what has been (and is) happening in Washington, DC.  But, this is going to pass and we'll move on (though, like much of what 2020 brought us, I don't think we'll be "moving on" in the same way that we were).  So, please forgive the comparative triviality of what follows.

The last year has been crushingly hard for most small businesses and Borderlands was no exception.  Compared to 2019, our sales were down by 45%. That's a really hard hit for a bookstore.  On the other hand, several things were in our favor; we were among the lucky businesses to get a PPP loan from the SBA (which looks to be completely forgivable), we were able to make some changes to the schedule that reduced payroll (without any layoffs), and we have a wonderfully loyal set of customers.

But, the biggest thing we had going for us was that we are not a restaurant or, gods help them, a bar or music venue.  I cannot imagine what the owners of that sort of business have been going through.  Compared to them, at least we've been able to be _open_ through most of the past nine months.

One other thing that has been an immeasurable help over the past year is our sponsor program - https://borderlands-books.com/v2/sponsorships/. It came about in 2015, when I planned to close Borderlands because of the upcoming increases to San Francisco's minimum wage.  Though I enthusiastically support a higher minimum wage, the economics of the business meant that Borderlands wasn't going to be viable if we had to increase wages by almost 50% over three years.  Rather than hold on as long as we could, I decided it was best to close once it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to make it.

January News

* The amazing Nalo Hopkinson has been named the 37th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award by SFWA: https://locusmag.com/2020/12/hopkinson-named-sfwa-grand-master/

* We regret to report that legendary author and editor Ben Bova has died at age 88:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/13/books/ben-bova-dies.html

* Comrade! Come live on this extremely modern Russian cyberfarm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMX0pCs5-n0

* As Scott said, "cute so quickly devolves into terrifying,"; the Boston Dynamics robots dance, and this is completely unrelated to the cyberfarm link above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn3KWM1kuAw&feature=youtu.be

* "Rolling Stone" Magazine (!) talks to Kim Stanley Robinson: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/the-ministry-for-the-future-interview-kim-stanley-robinson-1101738/

December Bestsellers

 Hardcovers
1. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
2. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
3. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
4. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
5. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
6. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
7. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
8. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
9. The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
10. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. The Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
3. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
4. The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
5. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
6. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
7. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
8. Aurora Rising by Alastair Reynolds
9. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
10. Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart by Steven Erickson

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
3. Neuromancer by William Gibson
4. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
5. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
7. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
8. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
9. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
10. The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

November 16, 2020

From the Office

by Alan Beatts

Despite the strangeness and historic elements of 2020, it's actually been pretty boring in a day-to-day way.  I don't know if that matches your experience but, around Borderlands, it's mostly been The Usual.  Or, perhaps I should say, the "new" usual.  Sales are slow-ish but we're managing and otherwise we're just plugging along.  Don't get me wrong, "plugging along" is just great, given how things might be, but it means I don't have a whole lot of news for you all.  One or two things, sure, but there really hasn't been much excitement around the shop.

Which is just _fine_ with me.  Absolutely.  In 2020 excitement has rarely, if ever, been a good thing.

Before I get to the store news, such as it is, I'm going to make a (thankfully rare) public service announcement.  I had been on the fence about mentioning this but today a friend who's a doctor with the SF Department of Public Health stopped by the shop.  She was a valuable resource for us in March and April while we were figuring out how to manage the pandemic and, as you'd expect, we started chatting about the current state of affairs.  That conversation made up my mind.  So, here goes -

September News

* Overheard in the store:
"We're really happy because, Space Vampires."
"Now everyone's wearing masks -- no more facial recognition software for you, Surveillance State!"
"'Sexy Sorting Hat' was a Halloween costume that just didn't fly."
[Customer holding a copy of DUNE]: "Do you have a less-thick version of this?"

* We're sorry to report the death of incredibly popular fantasy author Terry Goodkind, who passed away in September at the age of 72: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/02/books/terry-goodkind-dead.html

* RIP Richard A. Lupoff; writer, fan, Edgar Rice Burroughs expert, dear heart and old friend. https://locusmag.com/2020/10/richard-a-lupoff-1935-2020/

* With regret we report the death of amazing author and lovely person Rachel Caine at age 58. https://preview.mailerlite.com/x6r7e1

* A bit belated, but still stunning -- watch nearly 11,000 lightning strikes spark the awful mid-August Bay Area fires via a compilation of more than 400 satellite images: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/08/20/watch-heres-what-10800-bay-area-lightning-strikes-sparking-367-wildfires-looked-like-from-space/amp/

* 15 recent sci-fi books that have shaped the genre: https://www.polygon.com/21516173/best-new-science-fiction-books-scifi-last-15-years

October Bestsellers

 Hardcovers
1. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
2. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
3. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
4. Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker
5. Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
6. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
7. Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
8. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
9. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
10. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
3. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
4. The Emperor's Wolves by Michelle Sagara
5. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
6. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
7. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans. by Ken Liu
8. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
9. A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
10. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
 
 Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
3. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
4. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
5. Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
6. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
7. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
8. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
9.  Foundation by Isaac Asimov
10. Neuromancer by William Gibson

October 15, 2020

October News

* Disappointingly, the release of the anxiously-awaited new "Dune" film has been delayed until October 1, 2021, but the trailer is definitely something to see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9xhJrPXop4 There's also this absorbing shot-by-shot comparison of the images from 1984 and 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcZPZGq3Zy8

* Fascinating stories of the recent (non-fictional) hard-boiled private eyes of San Francisco: https://altaonline.com/private-investigators-san-francisco-phil-bronstein/

* Wow -- check out this amazing animated short film based on Peter Watts' novel BLINDSIGHT! https://blindsight.space/

* These new climate change projection maps show a radically transformed US: https://projects.propublica.org/climate-migration/

* The pros and cons of Netflix's plan to adapt the THREE-BODY PROBLEM series, according to The Ringer:  https://www.theringer.com/tv/2020/9/1/21417294/three-body-problem-netflix-benioff-weiss

September Bestsellers

 Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for September, 2020

Hardcovers
1. A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire
2. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
3. Battle Ground by Jim Butcher
4. The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie
5. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
6. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
7. The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
8. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
9. House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
10. Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Trials of Koli by M.R. Carey
2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
3. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
4. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
6. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
7. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
8. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
9. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans. by Ken Liu
10. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
 
 Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
3. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
4. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
5. Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
6. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
7. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
8. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
9.  Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
10. The Shining by Stephen King

What's Goin' On?

by Alan Beatts 

Firstly (and maybe a bit redundantly) -- Wow, 2020 has been a terrible year in almost every detail.  From the most global standpoint all the way down to the most personal, it's just been awful for almost everyone I know.

I had a conversation recently with a friend that put some perspective on it.  They're at the age when low iron levels and / or thyroid issues start to crop up with the common symptom of general fatigue.  They'd been feeling like they just couldn't get enough sleep so, like you do, they got in touch with their doctor about maybe getting some blood tests.  The doctor's (quite lengthy) response was, in essence; "I'll order the tests for you but I suggest you skip them for now.  Almost every single one of my patients has mentioned the same symptom and, in virtually all of those cases, the cause is stress because of what this year has been like.  So, stay home, take care of yourself, and let me know if the feeling gets worse."

Imagine.  This year has been so bad, universally, that it's causing a common medical complaint all the way across the patient list of a busy doctor practicing in a major and diverse city.

That is, as they say, a Thing.

On one hand, that's pretty distressing.  But, on the other hand, it actually made me feel better.  Goodness knows, I've had some trouble focusing and getting work (or anything else) done over the past few months.  And there've been a fair number of days when a nap seemed like just about the best thing in the world.  Knowing that it's not just _me_, knowing that everyone has been having problems functioning this year . . . it makes it a little easier.

I mention this because, if you've been having a bit of trouble with the old "get up and go"; it ain't just you.  So, do like a bookseller - just hang on, read (if and when you can), and wait this out.  It's _got_ to end sometime.