September 08, 2020

A Message from the Editor

 Since business has been a bit slow due to the pandemic, we took the chance to make some changes to how the books are shelved at the shop. It seems to us that it would be easier for everyone if our used books and new books were shelved together.  In fact, there was a time when we did exactly that, but then we ran out of space and had to split them up.  We have enough space now due to a bunch of shelf re-arranging, and so we've merged the new and used hardcover and trade paperback sections together in all three genre areas (science fiction & fantasy, horror, and mystery).  Likewise the used and new paperback horror and mystery sections have been combined as well.  Sadly, there is no way that we could fit the science fiction & fantasy paperbacks in one section so they are still in two spots.

We hope that it will make shopping easier for you all in addition to making shelving easier for us.  Please feel free to let us know what you think.

Do bear in mind - if you see two or more copies of the same book; one or more of them may be used and, therefore, much less expensive.

Since we made these changes, we've created more room on the shelves as well.  So, we're looking for more used books.  If you've got some books that you like to sell to the shop for store credit or even cash, we're going to be buying books all through the month of September.  So, sort through that pile of books by your bed and bring us the ones you don't want to keep.  

August Bestsellers

 Hardcovers
1. Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
2. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
3. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
4. House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
5. Quantum Shadows by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
6.  Network Effect by Martha Wells
7. Angel of the Crows by Katharine Addison
8. Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis
9. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
10. Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

Trade Paperbacks
1. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
2. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
3. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
4. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
5. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
6. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
7. Drowned Country by Emily Tesh
8. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
9. Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans. by Ken Liu
10. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
2. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
4. Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
5. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
6. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
7. Dune by Frank Herbert
8. Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire
9. Octavia Gone by Jack McDevitt
10. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

September News

* Mapping Earth's eighth continent, which is almost entirely under New Zealand: https://www.livescience.com/lost-continent-zealandia-new-tectonic-map.html

* An AI wrote this opinion piece on why we shouldn't be afraid of AI: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/08/robot-wrote-this-article-gpt-3

* National Geographic discusses "declinism" (decline bias), news and social media consumption, and why 2020 isn't _actually_ the Worst Year Ever: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/09/why-2020-feels-like-the-worst-year-ever/

* Author Judith Tarr on horses, metaphors, and accurate worldbuilding: https://www.tor.com/2020/09/08/writing-horses-those-handy-equestrian-metaphors/

* Brandon Sanderson will be offering a free YouTube lecture series on writing science fiction and fantasy: https://www.deseret.com/entertainment/2020/9/2/21417196/brandon-sanderson-free-creative-writing-class-youtube-science-fiction-fantasy

* This was fascinating; mystery writer Gabriel Cohen moved into a New York apartment that seemed too good to be true, and ended up both captivated and haunted by the real-life murder he found out had taken place there: https://narratively.com/a-splash-of-red/

* For fans of Seanan McGuire's "Wayward Children" books, a side-quest novella with Lundy from IN AN ABSENT DREAM: https://www.tor.com/2020/07/13/juice-like-wounds-seanan-mcguire/

July 05, 2020

Upcoming Events

Virtual event with Katherine Addison, THE ANGEL OF THE CROWS (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Wednesday, July 8th at 6:00 pm PST

Virtual event with Jo Walton, OR WHAT YOU WILL (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Thursday, July 9th at 5:00 pm PST

In the Middle: a virtual event with Mike Chen (A BEGINNING AT THE END, Mira, Hardcover, $26.99) and Kelly McWilliams (AGNES AT THE END OF THE WORLD, Little, Brown, Hardcover, $17.99) Wednesday, July 15th at 5:00 pm PST

Virtual event with L.E. Modesitt, Jr. QUANTUM SHADOWS (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Tuesday, July 21st at 7:00 pm PST

Relentless and Unconquerable: a virtual event with Kate Elliott (UNCONQUERABLE SUN, Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) and Mary Robinette Kowal (THE RELENTLESS MOON, Tor, Hardcover $30.99 and Trade Paperback $17.99) Thursday, July 23rd at 7:00 pm PST

Virtual event with Ferrett Steinmetz, AUTOMATIC RELOAD (Tor, Trade Paperback, $17.99) Friday, July 31st at 5:00 pm PST

Escape Through the Audio Hatch - Libro.fm Recommendations

By Melinda Rose

As I was compiling the list of my favorite listens of the past month, I realized these are all pure escapism. Light enough that you can do other things while listening, but meaty enough to hold your attention and distract. Turns out that's something I'm really needing right now, and maybe you are too. If so, I invite you to snuggle up with any of the following selections.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, performed by Stephen Briggs.
It's been a while since I've gone to the DiscWorld, and I'd almost forgotten how much it's like listening to a Monty Python sketch. Moist Von Lipwig is a con artist about to hang for his crimes when he's given a second chance at life. All he has to do is get the post office up and running again. Not a simple task. The mail's been piling up for decades and the postal workers are a skittish bunch of misfits. Despite his best efforts to remain cynical and aloof, Moist discovers his skill set is perfectly suited for government work, and that he really _wants_ to bring the postal service back to its glory days.
https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780060824693-going-postal?bookstore=borderlands

Have Space Suit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, performed by Mark Teretsky.
This classic has long been on my to-read list, and I'm glad I finally got around to it.  It's hard science fiction from 1958, yet somehow it holds up. There were times it reminded me of listening to The Martian by Andy Weir, because our hero is constantly science-ing himself out of or into difficult situations. I particularly loved Kip's pragmatic, supportive father. You want to go to the moon? Sure thing kid, guess you better figure out how you're getting there.There are so many great characters and plot twists I simply couldn't put my earbuds down.
https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781482964189-have-space-suit-will-travel?bookstore=borderlands

Lucky Supreme by Jeff Johnson, performed by Keith Szarabajka
I loved "Everything Under the Moon", so when I was craving something gritty I decided to explore more of Johnson's catalogue. The voice actor brings the perfect gravelly tones and pacing to this modern noir tale. The story centers around Darby Holland who runs a tattoo parlor in Old Town Portland. He's content with a simple life and an inner circle of employees and the other neighborhood proprietors. His life gets a lot more complicated when there's a sighting of a former employee in California. In order to save face Darby has to go down there, confront him, and attempt to recover the art he stole while skipping town. That endeavor escalates into a confrontation with a seedy Bay Area crime syndicate. Now Darby has to gather up all his resources to save his shop from those nefarious forces as well as a landlord ready to give into the pressures of gentrification.
https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781982616137-lucky-supreme?bookstore=borderlands

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher, performed by Hilary Huber
"And I twisted myself about like twisted ones."  Fair warning - you're not going to be able to stop repeating the litany of the twisted ones for weeks after listening to this book. Mouse's grandmother was not a pleasant person. And, as Mouse discovers when she agrees to clean out the house after grandma dies, she was one hell of a hoarder. Among all the useless junk Mouse finds her step-grandfather's journal, and discovers there is definitely something eerie going on in the woods. The crazy ramblings of the journal start to manifest in the world around her and things get seriously spooky. There's an excellent unraveling of a mystery here, mixed in with so much laugh-out-loud humor I had to be careful about listening to this story in public.
https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781508297475-the-twisted-ones?bookstore=borderlands

[Editor's Note:
Libro.fm is an audiobook purchase platform specifically designed to support independent bookstores. Unlike all of the e-book sites that have offered us partnerships, and in direct contrast to Amazon's audiobook platform, Audible, Libro.fm makes it practical and seamless to support Borderlands (or another indie of your choice) with your online audiobook purchases.  It's easy to sign up and easy to use, moreso, we've been blown away by their extraordinary customer service and dedication to helping bookstores. Just go to https://libro.fm/story to learn more about them and create your free account. As part of the account set-up process, you designate an independent bookstore that you want your purchases to support. (You can use this link if you want to choose Borderlands to support right out of the gate: https://libro.fm/?bookstore=borderlands .)  After that, browse more than 150,000 audiobooks and either set up a monthly membership, or buy audiobooks a la carte. ]

A Special Offer

About a month ago (or was it two years? -- so hard to tell nowadays) a nice guy named Payam Salehi who runs Anam Cara (https://writewithfriends.com) emailed us.  Anam Cara is part writing workshop, part social-network type of thing, and part writing/accountability group.  He got in touch with us to see if we'd be willing to help promote the next session (which starts on July 14th, and is led by author, professor and speaker Faith Adiele <https://www.adiele.com>).

Off the bat we were _very_ skeptical.  There are an awful lot of on-line "writing classes" and they are usually, to some degree, a scam.  They over-promise, the "experts" actually aren't, they charge too much, and so on.  But Alan gave him a call anyway and he seemed like a nice, sincere guy.  After that, Alan did some digging and talked to both some prior participants and some other folks who are promoting it.  In the end, we decided that it was legit.

Though it has the usual elements that you'd expect from an on-line writing class, the thing that stands out to us is the peer-support element.  At the outset, participants are added to a group and, further, assigned a writing partner.  The expectation is that, in addition to the class element, the group and especially your writing partner will be helpful and supportive of your work.  Based on the people Alan talked to, that idea actually functions as intended.

That seems to us to be a big plus over the typical writing group where the level of engagement within the group often leaves a bit to be desired, especially within groups that consist of mostly less-experienced writers.

Bottom line, if you're interested in trying it out, Payam is offering Borderlands folks a discount on the program.  The base cost is $390 ($290 each if you sign up with a friend) for the five-week course, but, if you use promo code "borderlands", you'll get $20 off of either price. Further, he's agreed to extend the refund period through the entire class so it is essentially a no-risk deal.  If you don't feel like it was worthwhile, you'll get a refund.

Full disclosure: Anam Cara's side of the promotional deal is that Borderlands will get 15% of any signups that come in through our promotion code.  We're not really focused on the income but, if the program is good and legit, it might be a nice little bit of extra cash for the shop.  The most important thing to us, however, is that it is, in fact, good and legit.  So, if you do decide to try it out, please let us know what you thought.

July News

* As above, so below. . . a photographer captures the Milky Way and bioluminescent waters together: https://mymodernmet.com/bioluminescence-milky-way/

* Author L.L. McKinney discuses the role publishers play in commodifying black pain, and how the focus of the industry must move beyond just "Issue" books: https://www.tor.com/2020/06/17/the-role-publishing-plays-in-the-commodification-of-black-pain/

* Customer Adam M. pointed out Bright 21st, a sci-fi short-story contest for "inspiring futures and positive alternate realities".  They have posted the winners of the most recent contest, and they're all free to read on the site (with free registration) and will be turned into audio plays this fall: https://www.bright21st.com/

* Kate Warne, Pinkerton agent and America's first female private detective, was a pioneer in her field who also helped protect Abraham Lincoln: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/606901/kate-warne-first-female-detective

* Wow.  An "Untethered Miniature Origami Robot that is able to self-assemble, walk on various surfaces, swim in shallow water, carry small items, and climb up different grades" - https://laughingsquid.com/dissolvable-miniature-origami-robot/

* This hotel room has a secret library door that opens when you pull out a specific book in the room!  https://mymodernmet.com/bella-vista-bb-hidden-room/

* Shut down during the pandemic, these museums are competing online for the creepiest object in their collection: https://www.boredpanda.com/creepiest-objects-curator-battle-yorkshire-museum/

* One point scored against dystopia! A machine that sucks up smog and turns it into diamonds: https://ideas.ted.com/this-tower-sucks-up-smog-and-turns-it-into-diamonds/

* Night of the Living Dead. . . Crickets? https://www.popsci.com/living-dead-excerpt/

* A bit of cryptographic history is up for auction: an Enigma encryption machine -- https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/second-world-war-enigma-coding-machine-on-offer-at-vienna-s-dorotheum

* Two terrifying trailers for the new "Candyman" movie, directed by Nia DaCosta and written by DaCosta, Jordan Peele, and Win Rosenfeld -- the theatrical trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlwzuZ9kOQU and DaCosta's haunting puppet trailer, that shows the Candyman's tragic origin story, here: https://variety.com/2020/film/news/candyman-short-puppet-origin-story-1234640739/

* Scientists say conspiracy theorists have a fundamental cognitive problem: https://www.inverse.com/article/37463-conspiracy-beliefs-illusory-pattern-perception

* Probably in my list of Top Ten Best Headlines Ever -- "The monstrous blobs near Earth's core may be even bigger than we thought": https://www.livescience.com/core-mantle-ulvz-blobs-enormous.html

* What do you call the world's only pink manta ray?  Inspector Clouseau, of course. . . . https://mymodernmet.com/pink-manta-ray-kristian-laine/

June Bestsellers

Hardcovers
1. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
2. Network Effect by Martha Wells
3. Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore
4. House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
5. The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
6. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
7. Angel of the Crows by Katharine Addison
8. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
9. Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
10. The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
2. Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisinn
3. Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger
4. The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey
5. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
6. Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson
7. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
8. Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
9. Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
10. City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
3. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
4. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
5. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Imaginary Numbers by Seanan McGuire
7. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
8. Hyperion by Dan Simmons
9. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
10. Rosemary & Rue by Seanan McGuire

June 17, 2020

Borderlands To Open Soon

by Alan Beatts

I'm going to jump in here right at the beginning of the newsletter since I'm sure folks are wondering about our plans for this month in terms of reopening the shop.  Based on the current (but subject to change) plan for San Francisco, we will be able to allow customers into the store starting on Monday, June 15th.  As we did with curbside pickup, I think that we'll take a slightly slower approach and we'll actually open for customers on Wednesday, the 17th.  That gives us time to make sure that we have everything in place to make the process comfortable for everyone.  It also gives us time to see what other businesses are doing and spot possible problems.  Likewise, just as we did last month, I think that we'll start with only Jude and myself working and then we'll bring the rest of the staff in the following week.

I'm still in the process of working out all the details.  Obviously we'll be doing all the expected things (hand sanitizing left and right (pun intended), masks required all the time for everyone in the shop, asking everyone to stay 6' apart, and so forth) but there will be a few other steps that we'll take as well.  What has been decided so far is that we'll be using a bunch of HEPA air filters that, in total, are able to cycle the air in the shop four to five times per hour.  Though there isn't a rigorous scientific conclusion that they are effective in reducing the risks in an enclosed space, I have found no guidance that suggest that they will be harmful in any way and it's reasonable to conclude that they will be helpful, if to an unknown degree.

We'll also be restricting the total number of people in the shop.  The exact number is still to be determined, absent guidance from the SF Department of Public Health, but my sense is that it will be in the 8-10 person range, inclusive of staff.  So, if you come by the shop after we're open and, upon entry, are asked to come back later, I hope that you'll understand our reasons and be patient with us.  We will also be open by appointment outside of normal business hours.  I'm still working on the exact details of that, but it's in the works.

You can expect a mid-month update email with all the details, once they're ironed out.  I've got to say, we're all very excited at the prospect of seeing you all again.  We've missed you.

Haight Street Update

by Alan Beatts

Last month we finally got back to work on the new shop.  And we made some really great progress.  So much that I've got some pictures for you to look at - https://borderlands-books.blogspot.com/p/haight-st-photos.html.  The high points are:

The sheet rock is mostly complete.  There are still some small areas that I'll be completing (because they're tricky) but the crew from Pat Trainor Drywall <https://www.marinbuilders.com/list/member/pat-trainor-drywall-inc-736> came by and banged it out faster than I would have thought possible.  They are the same company that did the work at the cafe and they're just the best.  It took them only one day to hang the entire 1400 square foot ceiling plus 300 square feet of wall.  And then just two more days to do all the mud. The difference is like night and day.

Tile is also mostly complete.  Simon Firth of Canterbury Tile, who set the tile for the bathroom, did the work for the front wall and about half of the vestibule.  We changed the design partway through and so we needed more red tiles than we had on hand.  Once we finalize the design for the entry floor, he'll be back and we'll get the job finished off.  It looks so good. Even moreso, it's especially exciting because it's the first piece of final and finished work on the exterior.

And, finally, we have a mural.  Paint The Void <https://paintthevoid.org> is a cooperative effort on the part of two non-profits whose goal is, "Helping keep artists engaged and paid as guardians of hope and beauty in the wake of COVID-19".  Basically they raise funds to pay local artists to paint murals on boarded-up storefronts around town.  My friend Aaron referred me to them and, despite telling them that it was a construction site rather than someplace boarded up because of the shelter-in-place order, they said they would love to get us a mural.  A few days later I met up with Eli The Man <https://elitheman.com> who did the coolest damn thing on the front of the shop.  I think it's kind of a shame that it's temporary but, who knows, perhaps we'll figure out something neat to do, once the plywood comes down and we have windows?

This month my plan is to get the final work done on the walls in the bathroom and then I'll get the plumbers back in to finish off that job.  Beyond that, there's a tiny bit of framing in the ceiling right outside the door, followed by sheetrock and then the bathroom is done.  We'll see how getting that work done goes, with everything else that's going on.  Wish me luck!