December 10, 2018

The Tale of The Beam: A Cautionary and Epistolary Discourse for the Burgeoning Contractor

by Alan Beatts

May XXth, 2018

Dear Mr. Welder,

It was a pleasure meeting you today and having the chance to check the rough set-up for the I-beam you are fabricating for me.  I was doubly glad to visit so that I could draw your attention to the following:

The three pairs of tabs for the posts were all something other than the specified 5 1/2" apart.  Since this dimension is critical if the posts are going to fit properly, I appreciate your attention to their correct spacing.  Though I respect the artistic "organic" quality of spacing each pair at a unique distance, I would prefer a more "mechanical" or even "precise" interpretation of the work.

The holes in those tabs were located a very precise inch lower than specified.  Though I'm sure that you, as a welder, and I, as a bookseller, are both correct that it's not an important consideration; Matthew, as a structural engineer, does not seem to agree and so I think we should subjugate our shared opinion to his.

There was also the pesky matter that the tabs for the middle post (along with the associated reinforcements) were located more than the indicated distance from the joint between the two sections of beam.  Though I'm sure that the planned connection of that joint by three 7/8" bolts will perfectly match the strength of the rest of the beam (the full height and 18-lbs-per-foot of hot-rolled steel), it seems that Matthew, spoil sport that he is, thinks that it would be wise for the joint to be supported by a post that is located _close_ to the joint.

I'm very glad that the final welding had not been completed and so it will be "easy", as you assured me, to correct these oversights.  Though you have informed me that there is, currently, in your possession, the full set of engineering drawings that I provided at the beginning of the job, please don't hesitate to ask for another copy if needed.

Alan Beatts

November 13, 2018

Upcoming Events

Michael Marshall Smith, HANNAH GREEN AND HER UNFEASIBLY MUNDANE EXISTENCE (HarperVoyager, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Saturday, November 10th at 3:00 pm

Writers With Drinks (at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St.) with authors Kirstin Chen, L.A. Kauffman, Rachel Khong, Achy Obejas, Tara Sim and tammy lynne stoner, hosted by Charlie Jane Anders, Saturday, November 10th at 6:30 pm

Tor Books #FearlessWomen event with Charlie Jane Anders, Nancy Kress, and Annalee Newitz, Sunday November 11th at 3:00 pm

POSTPONED - SF in SF (at The American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina St.) with authors Nick Mamatas & Michael Marshall Smith, moderated by Terry Bisson.  (New date to follow.)

And Now, Alan Explains . . .

by Alan Beatts

The last few months have been pretty fierce.  The combination of the World Science Fiction Convention in the middle of August, catchup afterwards, working on the Haight Street building, and then swinging into the Litquake festival -- it made for some busy, busy times around the shop.

In addition, I had some pretty difficult personal stuff going on all of last month.  It's all sorted out now (or at least mostly sorted) but, at the time, it was very difficult.  (For you folks who worry: no, it wasn't my health or Jude's)

And so that is why, for the first time in more than a decade, we didn't get a newsletter out last month.  It's also why this communication from me is going to be pretty short this month.  But, for the last newsletter of the year, I'll do my best to write something good.

I'm going to close with a very quick building update.  The concrete for the foundation is going to be poured on the 19th, which will finally, for all and good, bring the saga of The Beam to a complete close.  We're getting the roof replaced this month as well, and I should be able to make a start on laying the brick for the garden.

With the foundation work complete, we can finally move forward with the framing work for the new bathroom.  I have high hopes that my next update will have many pieces of good news and progress.

October Bestsellers

1) The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi
2) Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson
3) Noir by Christopher Moore
4) Soulless: Illustrated Edition by Gail Carriger
5) Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
6) Thin Air by Richard Morgan
7) Legion by Brandon Sanderson
8) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
9) Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart by Steven Erikson
10) Uncompromising Honor by David Weber

Trade Paperbacks
1) Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
2) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
3) The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans by Ken Liu
4) Santa Cruz Noir, edited by Susie Bright
5) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
6) The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
7) Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
8) Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
9) What the Hell Did I Just Read? by David Wong
10) Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts

Mass Market Paperbacks
1) Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
2) Old Man's War by John Scalzi
3) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
4) The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
5) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
6) Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
7) Dune by Frank Herbert
8) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
9) Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
10) Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

November News

* We're sorry to report the death of Canadian science fiction author Dave Duncan, who passed on the 30th of October.  His latest book was released this month - TRIAL BY TREASON.

* The winners of the 5th annual Philip K. Dick European Film Festival have been announced.  Check out the films you'll be scouring the internet for!

* An adaptation of Cixin Liu's The Wandering Earth is set to be released.  Check out the teaser trailer and more details here:

* Most of us know that the science in science fiction movies can frequently be a bit iffy at best.  Here are nine films (out of hundreds) that get their science wrong.

September 11, 2018

Upcoming Events

SANTA CRUZ NOIR (Akashic Books, Trade Paperback, $15.95) event with with editor Susie Bright, associate editor Willow Pennell, and contributors Jon Bailiff, Seana Graham, Vinnie Hansen, Dillon Kaiser, Liza Monroy, Micah Perks, & Jill Wolfson, Saturday, September 15th at 1:00 pm

SF in SF (at The American Bookbinders' Museum, 355 Clementina) with authors Sheila Finch, David D. Levine, moderated by Terry Bisson, Sunday, September 16th at 6:30 pm

Gail Carriger, SOULLESS, THE ILLUSTRATED EDITION (Orbit, Hardcover, $20.00) Sunday, September 23rd at 3:00 pm

Lisa Brackmann, BLACK SWAN RISING (Midnight Ink, Hardcover, $24.99) Saturday, September 29th at 1:00 pm

Caitlin Seal, TWICE DEAD, (Charlesbridge, Hardcover, $17.99) Saturday, September 29th at 3:00 pm

Meet and Greet signing with Peter Moreira, THE HAIGHT (Pike and Powder, Hardcover, $24.95)  Thursday, October 4th at 6:00 pm

Writers With Drinks (at the Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St. San Francisco) with authors Indira Allegra, Cassandra Dallett, Rose Eveleth, Christine No, Anita Sarkeesian, and Sam Sax, plus guest host Elena Rose! Saturday, October 13th at 7:30 pm

John Scalzi, THE CONSUMING FIRE (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Friday, October 19th at 6:00 pm

Litquake Litcrawl Phase 3 (in the Cafe) with authors Charlie Jane Anders, Marie Brennan, Megan E. O'Keefe, and Nancy Tingley, Saturday, October 20th at 8:00 pm

So, Why So Slow?

by Alan Beatts

Hi Folks.  Alan Beatts, freelance interview guy, here and today I'm going to be interviewing Alan Beatts, the owner of Borderlands Books.  Since he and I are both Geminis and, as a result, suffer from an inherent (though quite mild) split personality, this should be a fun interview.  We're going to be talking about his new bookstore location -- specifically I'm going to be asking him why it's taking so very goddamn long for him to finish up the construction work and move the darn store.

Interviewer:  Nice to see you, Alan.  It's been a while.  I think the last time was about six hours ago when I was shaving.  How have you been?

Bookseller:  I've been alright.  A little overworked so far this year, but overall good.  And, the construction work has gotten me into great shape so physically I'm feeling very well.

I:  Since you brought up the construction work, we might as well get right to it.  You're working on the building that you purchased in November last year, right?  The place that you're going to move the bookstore to?

B:  Yup.  Since contractors are scarce right now because of the building boom and, if you can get one, they're pretty expensive, I've been doing most of the construction work myself with help from volunteers.  It's saving us a boat-load of money and I'm having a lot of fun.

I:  But, it's going kind of slowly, isn't it?  When you first bought the building you were hoping to move by July.  That was _two_ months ago.

B:  Ouch.  Yes, it is going quite slowly, thanks for reminding me.  I had forgotten that.

I:  Really?

B:  No.  I think about it every single day -- I've just been trying not to because it really stresses me out.  Sometimes I go for as long and two or three hours without it crossing my mind.

I:  Well, if it's bugging you so much, why not just hire a bunch of contractors and have them get it done?  It might be expensive, but taking so long to move must be costing you money too, right?

Overheard in August

by Jude Feldman

This is a feature that appears periodically, usually (but not always) as we attend conventions and overhear things.  The tradition of keeping track of anonymous overheard bits and bobs started for us at the 2002 ConJose, where trying (or trying not to) fill in the blanks on overheard conversations made us laugh so much that we made it a tradition.  (For those keeping track, the one that started it all was "Shelby, it's not okay to touch your sister's breast with the back of your hand, either!".)

This issue we share some highlights from the store, Writers With Drinks, and this year's World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose:

* Overheard at WorldCon:

"It's like rolling your tongue over a minefield."

"The place is _exceptionally_ slick and chrome.  It's like pooping in the future."

"Just say the word if you want 'Weird Japanese Snacks' on your name badge."

"I WASN'T lying.  I was just making sh*t up."

"I'm pretty sure no one's going to come up and say 'Please fix my Patrick Stewart!"

"I have baser instincts but very high restraint."

"That's why there's so much on the line; because it's entirely about ego."

August Bestsellers

1) Competence by Gail Carrgier
2) Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
3) Hollywood Dead by Richard Kadrey
4) Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu trans. by Joel Martinsen
5) Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
6) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
7) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
8) Alternate Routes by Tim Powers
9) Summerland by Hannu Ranjaniemi
10) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Trade Paperbacks
1) The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
3) Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans by Ken Liu
4) Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
5) Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts
6) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
7) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
8) The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
9) Walkaway by Cory Doctorow
10) The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

Mass Market Paperbacks
1) Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
2) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
3) Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
4) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
5) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
6) Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
7) Old Man's War by John Scalzi
8) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
9) Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
10) Tricks for Free by Seanan McGuire

September News

* Podcaster Matthew Felix interviewed Borderlands owner Alan Beatts on his show!  Matthew says: "On my last episode, I had a wide-ranging talk with Borderlands Books' owner and founder Alan Beatts. We discussed Borderlands' history -- including the controversy that garnered it unexpected national attention in 2015, landing Alan everywhere, from the pages of the New Yorker to on camera with Fox and other news outlets. We also talked about what the climate is like today for indie bookstores, both how they've dealt with Amazon and some of the innovative ways they continue to adapt to the future."  You can watch the show on YouTube: or Facebook:, or you can listen on iTunes: or Google Play: .

* Celebrated actor Burt Reynolds died recently, and while he didn't act in many science fiction films (famously turning down the role of Han Solo!) here are four movies & TV episodes where Mr. Reynolds experimented with genre.

* If you happen to be in the UK in November, why not stop by SFX BookCon 2?  Plenty of amazing authors will be there including Pat Cadigan, MR Carey, Rebecca Kuang, Tade Thompson, Sarah Lotz, Richard Morgan and more!  Check out all the details here: