March 03, 2008

Overheard In The Store

This is a feature that appears periodically, usually 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 in San Jose, where trying (or trying not to) fill in the blanks on overheard conversations made us laugh so much that we made it a tradition. We haven't been to any conventions lately, but there are plenty of funny things to overhear here at the store:

*Customer: "It's like the Internet in here -- I come in to look at one thing and suddenly it's three hours later and I've forgotten what I was looking for originally!"

*(Alan to Cary, delivering her paycheck) "Here's your pittance, dear."

*Customer (discussing a mutually disliked movie):"It just proves that you can't save bad content with good presentation."

*Jude: "But it's really serious, gripping, compelling, heartbreaking literature. With zombies."

*Customer: "I'm looking for the fantasy book with all of the fantasy characters in it, but I can't remember the title or the author." Jeremy: "You must mean SILVERLOCK, by John Myers Myers." Customer: "That's it! You're a genius!"

March 01, 2008

Notes From A DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

Who’s the most exciting genre director to come out of England in the last 20 years? If you said Neil Marshal, you’d be right. I mention this because his third feature film is hitting theaters next week. "Doomsday" looks from the trailer to be a "28 Days Later" meets "The Road Warrior"-esque thing, but . . . well. . . US distributors have done a really bad job of promoting his films in the past. The smartness and freshness, and just plain competence has never really been discernible in any of the promotional material for his first two films. So I’m cautiously optimistic that the film that hits the streets March 14th will be fun, and at the very least, competent (but I’m secretly hoping for a ground breaking genre classic). We’ll see.

February Bestsellers

1) Matter by Iain M. Banks
2) Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi
3) The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison
4) One Beastly Beast by Garth Nix
5) The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
6) Manxome Foe by John Ringo
7) Duma Key by Stephen King
8) Singularity's Ring by Paul Menko
9) The Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick
10) Renegade's Magic by Robin Hobb

1) Snake Agent by Liz Williams
2) Jumper by Stephen Gould
3) Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters
4) Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman
5) Command Decision by Elizabeth Moon
6) White Night by Jim Butcher
7) Unquiet Dreams by Mark Del Franco
8) Griffin's Story by Stephen Gould
9) X-Rated Bloodsuckers by Mario Acevedo
10) The Dragon's Nine Sons by Chris Roberson
tie with
A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

Trade Paperbacks
1) Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
2) Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams
tie with
Sins of the Sirens edited by John Everson
3) The New Weird edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
4) The Dragon Never Sleeps by Glen Cook
5) The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
tie with
Fangland by John Marks

A Short History of Paperback Books

 by Alan Beatts

Something that I love about working in my field is being part of a history that goes back hundreds of years (actually, thousands of years -- the first booksellers were in Egypt before the common era and their original stock was copies of The Book of The Dead). Bookselling in general has been around for a very long time and is full of some of the oddest traditions, characters and incidents. But more than that, the science fiction, fantasy and horror field has been around for quite a long time as well. And it has its own odd traditions, strange history and remarkable persons.

It would be a foolish game to try to spot when science fiction, fantasy or horror first started. One can make a solid argument that science fiction started with Jules Verne in the middle of the 19th century but there are other arguments to be made. However horror has been around much longer. Varney the Vampire also dates from around the same time as Verne's work but there were ghost stories, both written and oral, many, many years earlier. And, if you're willing to call mythology the father of the fantasy novel, you can easily go all the way back to the ancient Greeks (and yes, much of those stories were religious in nature but many of them were simply entertainment with only a hint of religion).

But, there is a point where I'm pretty comfortable saying that original SF and fantasy in novel form as we know it first sent down roots in the US. And there are some remarkable people who did it.