December 01, 2010

November Bestsellers

1) Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
2) Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
3) Zero History by William Gibson
4) Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
5) All Clear by Connie Willis
6)The Starter by Scott Sigler
7) Pegasus by Robin McKinley
8) Painted Boy by Charles de Lint
9) Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
10) Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

1) Soulless by Gail Carriger
2) Gilded Latten Bones by Glen Cook
3) An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
4) Echo City by Tim Lebbon
5) Elegy Beach by Steven R. Boyett
6) Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs
7) Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
8) Live Free or Die by John Ringo
9) Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
10) Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

Trade Paperbacks
1) Fated by S.G. Browne
2) Tearing the Sky by Jamil Moledina
3) The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
4) Yarn by Jon Armstrong
5) Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

The 2010 Gift Guide

Ah, December!  A chill in the air, spiced cider at Borderlands Cafe, and cranky hairless cats who refuse to leave their comfy heating pads.  The time of year when one's thoughts often turn, somewhat frantically, to presents.  Well, we're here to help.  It's no secret that the economy's kind of, well, crappy, and so we'd like to mention that books are by far the very best entertainment value for your dollar.  Especially if your friends read sorta slowly.

At Borderlands we have presents for every budget and almost every taste. We're delighted to make suggestions, and we relish the challenges, so bring 'em on!  Meanwhile, here are our opinions on great gift options to delight those close to you.

Caveat: All reviews by Jude unless otherwise stated.

Brandy-New Shiny Hardcovers:

SURFACE DETAIL by Iain M. Banks (Orbit, Hardcover, $25.99) - The new Culture novel raises some heavy questions -- do cultures need religions?  Is the threat of punishment the only thing that keeps most people behaving in a societally acceptable fashion? If you lose the memories of your experiences and your suffering, are you still the same person?  -- in the most wild, adventurous, lots-of-stuff-still-blows-up way possible.  This book is packed to over-stuffed with likable (and thoroughly reprehensible) characters, witty dialogue and Big Ideas.

ALL CLEAR by Connie Willis (Spectra, Hardcover, $26.00) - The follow-up to last year's brilliant BLACKOUT, we finally get to find out what happens to several plucky 23rd century time-travelling graduate students stuck in London during the Blitz.  Willis' ability to get under her characters' skin and inside their heads is one of her most endearing strengths, and really shines in these novels. Also the sheer esteem in which she holds the stoic civilians -- the everyday heroes of World War II -- is touching and breathtaking, and she communicates her respect with an incredibly effective but still light touch.  Cary suggests getting both volumes and reading them straight through, since they were originally intended to be one novel.

FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Scribner, Hardcover, $27.99) - From Alan: "King's newest collection contains four stories (two novellas and two short stories) with the thematic linkage of ordinary people in extra-ordinary situations.  Moreover, the theme gains greater depth when one reads in the afterward, 'Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do -- to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies across the street.'  In this series of stories King presents us with people who don't act exactly the way we might _want_ them to but who do act the way this is consistent with their character -- be it making hard choices to avoid a horrible trap, as in 'A Good Marriage,' or by taking one inexorable step after another straight down into a personal hell, as in '1922'.  He also manages to create an original 'deal with the Devil' story in 'Fair Extension,' despite the degree to which that particular patch of ground has been planted and harvested by authors over the past three hundred years.  In short, FULL DARK, NO STARS is Stephen King is his more thoughtful form demonstrating a master's touch at pacing, voice and character.  If you like King, buy it.  If you're shopping for someone who likes King, buy it.  And you might even consider it for someone who thinks that King is all about gore, ghouls, and ghosts."

TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor, Hardcover, $29.99) - Blessings upon the talented (and happily incredibly nice) Brandon Sanderson for easing the cravings of Jordan junkies by delivering the penultimate WHEEL OF TIME novel in a timely fashion.

ZERO HISTORY by William Gibson (Putnam, Hardcover, $26.95) - I'm excited about the return of Hollis Henry and several characters from SPOOK COUNTRY in this impressive, smart new Gibson novel.  This one, like SPOOK COUNTRY and PATTERN RECOGNITION, is more of a near-future thriller than a standard science fiction novel, but I love it for incorporating so many crazy elements, from high fashion to the military-industrial complex.  Additionally, it's funny.  Perfect for the Gibson fan in your life.

KRAKEN by China Mieville (Del Rey, Hardcover, $26.00) - I've said a bunch of times that this is like a China Mieville novel by way of Neil Gaiman.  I think it's the funniest thing that Mieville's written, despite the fact that it's about the impossible theft of a giant squid by a cult that wants to use it to end the world.  It's thoroughly improbable and I adored it, right down to the Warren Ellis-style digressions about random cool things found on the Internet.

If you'd like to give a signed book to that special someone, we have signed copies of KILL THE DEAD (Eos, Hardcover, $22.99) by Richard Kadrey (the follow-up to the incredibly popular SANDMAN SLIM); signed copies of THE FALL (sequel to THE STRAIN) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan (William Morrow, Hardcover, $26.99); signed copies of OUT OF THE DARK by David Weber (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99); signed copies of ANCESTOR by Scott Sigler (Crown, Hardcover, $24.95) and many, many more choices!

Decorous Trade Paperbacks:

FLAMING ZEPPELINS by Joe R. Lansdale (Tachyon Publications, Trade Paperback, $14.95) FLAMING LONDON and ZEPPELINS WEST in one volume, or, the Adventures of Ned the Seal.  Lansdale was writing Steampunk before the term was even capitalized, certainly long before silly hipsters with goggles & Really Unfortunate Facial Hair wandered Valencia Street.  But to pigeonhole this volume as Steampunk is actually to do it a disservice, as cool as Steampunk is. . . because these books are completely wild, promiscuously multi-genre, over-the-top pulpy capers starring characters both real and fictional.  (Wild Bill Hickock, Annie Oakley, the Tin Man, Frankenstein's monster, Mark Twain & Jules Verne fighting Wells' Martian invasion. . . plus the unforgettable Ned the Seal!)  And there're zeppelins.  What more could you possibly want?

Speaking of Steampunk, if you're concerned that the Steampunk fan you're trying to find a gift for has read _everything_, I'll bet you a cup of coffee they haven't yet discovered BURTON & SWINBURNE IN THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING-HEELED JACK by Mark Hodder.  Set in London in 1861, it pairs a washed-up Sir Richard Francis Burton with Algernon Charles Swinburne, failed poet and worse.  They investigate the leaping boogeyman known as Spring-Heeled Jack in a wild adventure that defies easy description.  And since you can't have too much Steampunk, Tachyon's anthology STEAMPUNK II: STEAMPUNK RELOADED edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer  (Trade Paperback, $14.95) received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and will make the week of any fan.

Other fantastic anthologies abound this season as well: NightShade Books brings us THE LIVING DEAD 2 and BRAVE NEW WORLDS, both edited by John Joseph Adams (Trade Paperbacks, each $15.99).  LIVING DEAD 2 is even more splatter-y than its predecessor, and BRAVE NEW WORLDS is a kick-ass, thoroughly disquieting anthology of dystopian fiction including stories by luminaries like J.G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson and many, many more.  In case you missed them, NightShade also recently published THE IMPROBABLE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (John Joseph Adams, ed, Trade Paperback, $15.95) WINGS OF FIRE, the ultimate dragon anthology, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Marianne S. Jablon (Trade Paperback, $15.95), and SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL edited by Tim Pratt (Trade Paperback, $15.95).

And more with the awesome: WILDCARDS VOL.1 edited by George R.R. Martin (Tor, Trade Paperback,$15.99) back in print after far, far too long, now with added original material (which I admittedly have not read yet, and about which I also admit to being a bit skeptical).  WILD CARDS is a shared-world series telling the secret history in which an unpredictable alien virus (The Wild Card Virus) struck the Earth in the aftermath of WWII; killing a large percentage of the population, giving some (the Aces) fabulous powers, and cursing others (the Jokers) with bizarre mental or physical disabilities.  Deep characters & amazing inventiveness by a stunning array of authors.

For the science fiction fan in your life, there's VIRGA: CITIES OF THE AIR by Karl Schroeder (Tor, Trade Paperback, $17.99) which contains the first two Virga books, SUN OF SUNS and QUEEN OF CANDESCE, in one omnibus edition.  Or you could offer DESOLATION ROAD and ARES EXPRESS, two mindblowing novels by Ian McDonald (Pyr, Trade Paperbacks, each $16.00).

Pocket-Sized Treasures:

BEST SERVED COLD by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit, Mass Market, $7.99) - I've gone on at length about this novel, which is essentially a George R.R. Martin fantasy crossed with a Sergio Leone revenge Western.  So good!  So violent!  So blackly comical!

SOULLESS by Gail Carriger (Orbit, Mass Market, $7.99) - It's a Steampunk Victorian comedy of manners with vampires and werewolves.  And tea and biscuits.  Charming, quirky, and full of snark and regrettable head-wear.  Beloved of all at Borderlands.

FEED by Mira Grant (Orbit, Mass Market, $9.99) - What do you get that friend who loved WORLD WAR Z?  FEED by Mira Grant.  FEED is a science fiction zombie story focused on the living: the group of bloggers following the would-be Republican Presidential candidate during the primaries.  Character-driven, powerful, and unexpected, FEED is one of my favorite books of the last year.

HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS by M.K. Jemisin (Orbit, Mass Market, $7.99) - Extraordinarily complex and exciting fantasy, this is one of the strongest debuts of the year.

BOOK OF SECRETS by Chris Roberson (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) - BOOK OF SECRETS is like a Tim Powers novel crossed with THE DA VINCI CODE if the THE DA VINCI CODE were a better book.  Twisty, unpredictable and lots of fun.

Other stuff:

We have a gorgeous selection of wooden boxes imported from India, pulp postcards of every stripe and level of outrageousness, and wow, A LOT of zombie calendars this year.

We're also overflowing with great used paperbacks right now, so for between $2 and $5 you can give the gift of a beloved, out-of-print favorite from your past.

The above list showcases some stuff that we're really excited about, but to reiterate, we're happy, nay, _delighted_ to make recommendations and suggestions.  The hard part is getting us to shut up, really.  Let us know if there's anything we can help you find.

Also, totally unrelated to the above gift suggestions:  we know 2010 was a hard year for a lot of people.  If the fancy strikes you, take 2 minutes during this build-up to the holiday craziness to just take deep breaths and reflect on the good things you have.  Where there's life, there's hope, and likely even some good cheer.  To that end, we wish you hope, peace and all the best in the New Year.