December 01, 2011

December News Roundup

* We are so sorry to report the death of beloved author Anne McCaffrey at age 85.  The Guardian UK's obituary is here: <> .
"That's what writing is all about, after all, making others see what you have put down on the page and believing that it does, or could, exist and you want to go there."  - Anne McCaffrey

* Big thanks to author Peter David, who, of obvious necessity, has penned "The Fan / Pro Bill of Rights," detailing the rights and responsibilities of fans and professionals at conventions and in other public settings.  Yes, a lot of this stuff should be common sense. . .but "common sense" so often isn't.  <>

* Unfortunately, owner Greg Ketter will close the brick and mortar store of venerable DreamHaven Books of Minneapolis in January, 2012.  We are very, very sorry to lose the physical locus of this institution, but Greg says their mail-order business will continue.  <>

* A fundraising auction is underway to assist author and editor Terri Windling, who is in financial need.  There are signed books, original art prints and many, many other items available. Details here: <>

* Thanks to employee Naamen, Dave, and the many other customers who pointed us towards "The Call of Cthulhu" if presented by Dr. Seuss: <>

* Amazon takes aim at local shops.  " announced it will pay customers up to $5 to go into a local store, scan an item, walk out, and buy the same item on Amazon."  Further comment is really unnecessary.  <>

* Our neighbors, Lost Weekend Video are engaging in a fundraising effort to allow them to put in a screening room at their shop.  Like bookstores, video rental establishment have had a hard time staying open in the face of changes driven by the internet.  And, like bookstores, they provide social contact and expert reccomendations that are lacking on the internet.  But Lost Weekend isn't giving up and, again like bookstores, they're getting imaginative and coming up with clever ideas to keep going.  We at Borderlands salute and support their efforts.  For more information, check out <>.

Current Reading

by Alan Beatts

It's been a long time since I've had a chance to write about what got me into this business to start with.  But, my time is a bit less crazy now and I've been lucky enough to have a great run of reading.  All of the last four books I've read were excellent and so I thought I'd share them with you.

November Bestsellers

1) 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
2) Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
3) Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey
4) Reamde by Neal Stephenson
5) Snuff by Terry Pratchett
6) Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
7) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
8) The Departure by Neal Asher
9) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
10) Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge

1) A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
2) A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
3) Feed by Mira Grant
4) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
5) A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
6) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
7) Solaris Rising edited by Ian Whates
8) One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
9) Deadline by Mira Grant
10) Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

Trade Paperbacks
1) Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: The Most Dangerous Game by Zach Wiener
2) Narbonic: The Perfect Collection by Shaenon Garrity
3) Tales From the House Band edited by Deborah Grabien
4) Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Save Yourself, Mammal! by Zach Weiner
5) After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen McHugh

The 2011 Gift Guide plus Editor Indulgence

Wow, December already.  I've heard there's a good reason that time seems to accelerate as you get older; it's said that since each progressive year is a smaller fraction of your life overall, of course each one seems shorter than the preceding.  Great, it's logical.  Unfortunately it's still really frustrating and a little scary to feel the time fly by.  I suppose it's just more incentive to enjoy each moment!  And things are really picking up around here -- look for lots of positive changes in the bookstore and the cafe coming very soon.

I refuse to get all sappy, but the holidays are a good time to reflect on all of the gifts that we've already been given, and the best of those aren't physical objects.  I am so grateful for having what I consider to be the very best job in the world, and for all of the wonderful friends and family I've found here at Borderlands, among the staff and the customers.  Especially in these days of faceless online transactions and galavanting chain-retail conformity, I treasure the individuality, the personality, and the energy of every one that makes this store special.  Thank you all so much for being an integral part of creating and maintaining this community.  None of us take it for granted.

Meanwhile, to assist you in this joyful season of present-presentation, we offer our usual Holiday Gift Guide.  And although we've got thousands of awesome new and shiny options, and some very pricey collectibles, books don't have to be expensive to be beloved.  A used paperback copy of your favorite book from childhood can mean more than the fanciest signed first edition.

As always, if the options below don't tickle your fancy, we're happy to make customized recommendations for the even the most difficult people on your list.  (Customized recommendations of _gifts_, that is.  I really can't help with your difficult Uncle Philip who keeps bringing his imaginary Lego friends to your holiday meals.)

Classics, that will work for almost anyone:

GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (Harper, Trade Paperback, $14.99 and Harper, Mass Market, $7.99) - The funniest book about Armageddon ever penned.

THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Goldman (Harcourt, Hardcover, $25.00 or Harvest, Mass Market, $8.95) - The ultimate tale of true love, high adventure and Rodents of Unusual Size.

DUNE by Frank Herbert (Ace, Hardcover, $29.95 and Ace, Mass Market, $9.99) - Considered one of SF's all-time masterpieces.

Unexpected Treasures:

Don't know what to get the "Song of Ice and Fire" fan, since they've read all 5 books ten times already?  John Picacio's stunning 2012 "A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar" (Random House, Wall Calendar, $17.00) is my pick: I was completely blown away by his gorgeous, incredibly skilled, lush, detailed representations of all of my favorite characters, many of whom looked EXACTLY like that in my head.

Two webcomics become paper!  NARBONIC: THE PERFECT COLLECTION by Shaenon Garrity (Cous Cous Collective, Set of two paperbacks, $30.00) and SATURDAY MORNING BREAKFAST CEREAL: THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (Breadpig, Trade Paperback, $18.00) are both tailor-made for the special geek in your life.  We have a few signed copies left of each, too!

For the science fiction fan:

SOFT APOCALYPSE by WIll McIntosh (Nightshade, Trade Paperback, $14.99) - I'll be surprised if this novel doesn't pick up a slew of awards next year.

THE QUANTUM THIEF by Hannu Rajaniemi (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99) - Mind-blowing new SF from a Finnish writer who keeps having to deny the rumor that he's Charles Stross writing under a pen name.  (He's NOT, really!)

REAMDE by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow, Hardcover, $35.00) - Okay, it's not really science fiction, but it's still a fantastic, funny thriller.

CHILDREN OF THE SKY by Vernor Vinge (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99)  - Sequel to the classic FIRE UPON THE DEEP.

SEED by Rob Ziegler (Nightshade Books, Hardcover, $24.99) - Jeremy says "It's amazing!  It's like THE WINDUP GIRL with more explosions and less rape." Ahem.  That's quite a recommendation!

Deeply Weird and Wonderful Things:

UNPOSSIBLE by Daryl Gregory (Fairwood Press, Trade Paperback, $16.99) - Brilliant, heart-rending, and sincerely messed up, in the best possible way.  My very favorite short story collection of last year, from the author of PANDEMONIUM, which I also highly recommend.  While we're talking short story collections,  I'd also like to call your attention to the magical SLEIGHT OF HAND by Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon Publications, Trade Paperback, $14.95) and the grim and exceptional AFTER THE APOCALYPSE: STORIES by Maureen McHugh (Small Beer Press, Trade Paperback, $16.00).  (AFTER THE APOCALYPSE was one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best of the Year.)

THE SILENT LAND by Graham Joyce (Doubleday, Hardcover, $23.95)  - Graham Joyce is one of those authors who is frequently described as a "cult favorite".  I urge you all to join the cult of Graham Joyce, either with this haunting and dark page-turner about a couple trapped by an avalanche who emerges to discover a. . .wholly. . . silent. . .world, or my other favorite of his, HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH DEMONS, a quirky masterpiece about a philanthropic book forger and the demons who may or may not actually be talking to him.

MORBID CURIOSITY CURES THE BLUES edited by Loren Rhoads (Scribner, Trade Paperback, $14.99) - A mind-blowing compendium of some of the best from the early (long unavailable) issues of the San Francisco-based 'zine "Morbid Curiosity," featuring true, first-person accounts of the unpleasant, unwise and unsavory.  Sometimes funny, sometimes devastating.

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs (Quirk, Hardcover, $17.99) - Sweet and touching and creepy novel lavishly illustrated with bizarre vintage photographs.  It's quite hard to describe but it was a great, super-fast read and I'm very excited about it.  It's young-adult appropriate, by the way.

Non-Concilatory Fantasy:

BEST SERVED COLD by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit, Mass Market, $7.99) - George R.R. Martin's gritty, bloody fantasy meets a Sergio Leone revenge Western.

The Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson -  We've been ranting about Steven Erikson  (and the world's co-creator, Ian Cameron Esslemont) for years and years now, but all 10 books of Erikson's first cycle are complete now.  The most complex fantasy series I've ever seen.  We can't say enough good things about these books.

THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS trilogy by N. K. Jemisin - The first book in this trilogy was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.  A really impressive new voice!

THE COLD COMMANDS by Richard Morgan (Del Rey, Hardcover, $26.00) - I am pretty much perpetually in awe of Richard Morgan.  This is the follow-up to THE STEEL REMAINS.

Steampunk, Biopunk, Urban Fantasy and Other Good Stuff That's Hard to Catagorize:

MIDNIGHT RIOT by Ben Aaronovitch (Ballantine, Mass Market, $7.99) - Experiencing withdrawal from Mike Carey's sardonic, impressive Felix Castor books?  Here's your methadone!

FEED (Orbit, Mass Market, $9.99) and DEADLINE by Mira Grant (Orbit, Mass Market, $9.99) - It's not really about the zombies accidently created by the well-intentioned bioterrorists; it's about the bloggers following the would-be Republican presidential candidate on the campaign trail.  So. Much. Fun!

SHELF LIFE: FANTASTIC STORIES SET IN BOOKSTORES edited by Greg Ketter (DreamHaven, Hardcover, $25.00) - Such an incredible collection, and not just for the obvious reasons. Introduction by Neil Gaiman, and stories from everyone and their aunt, including Ramsey Campbell, Charles De Lint, Marianne de Pierres, Harlan Ellison, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Gene Wolfe, MANY others!  This book came out 6 years ago and it's overdue for a renaissance.

FIREBIRDS (Firebird, Trade Paperback, $9.99) FIREBIRDS RISING (Firebird, Trade Paperback, $9.99) and FIREBIRDS SOARING (Firebird, Hardcover, $19.99)  edited by Sharyn November - Fantastic original stories by writers from Penguin's Firebird imprint.  Some of my favorite anthologies; there's not a bad story in the bunch.

GANYMEDE by Cherie Priest (Tor, Trade Paperback, $14.99) - This novel of Priest's Clockwork Century world is set in New Orleans and stands alone just fine. My favorite thing about it is how small and focused the story is, and that's not a slight.  It's so rare to find a book where the stakes are not The End of the World As We Know It, but more concentrated and more human.  Sure, success or failure in this novel may impact history, but the real story is about the people at its heart.

THE PANAMA LAUGH by Thomas Roche (Nightshade, Trade Paperback, $14.99) - It's a darkly funny noir-crime zombie novel.  How does it get better?

Very Popular Stuff:

The HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins - Soon to be a trilogy of major motion pictures.  Expect TWILIGHT-level fan reactions, I think.

11/22/63 by Stephen King - Alan really likes the new Stephen King, which he called "a straight-ahead science fiction book -- it's a basic time travel novel with King's typically addictive pacing".

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morganstern (Doubleday, Hardcover, $26.95) - I'm skeptical that a novel this good can be a debut.  Maybe the author's been writing for years in some other dimension?

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Knopf, Hardcover, $30.50) - One of those rare New York Times Bestsellers that really deserves it.  My only complaint is the (admittedly lovely) onion-skin dust jacket is so fragile.

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline (Random House, Hardcover, $24.00) - We even have a few copies with bookplates signed by the author!

THE STRAIN, THE FALL and THE NIGHT ETERNAL by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan - A vampiric virus wipes out most of humankind and plucky survivors battle for the future of humanity.  Yes, you've read it before but it's still very entertaining.

Of course we have a whole store full of additional just-the-perfect things: pretty imported wooden boxes, calendars of every description from The Art of Heavy Metal to The Mutter Museum to Dr. Seuss, attractive journals for the writer in your life, Edward Gorey puzzles and so much more.  We also have gift certificates in any amount, or gift credits that your friends and family can use long-distance.  You can also pop in to the cafe next door for a perfect mocha, a spiced apple cider, or a fancy peppermint hot cocoa if you need a quick pick-me-up or a break from the chill!

Happy holidays, best wishes for 2012, and warm regards from all of us at Borderlands to you and your families, whatever you conceive them to be.

November 01, 2011

October Bestsellers

1. Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge
2. Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey
3. Reamde by Neal Stephenson
4. Snuff by Terry Pratchett
5. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
6. The Departure by Neal Asher
7. A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber
8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
9. In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood
10. Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
2. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
3. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
4. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin tie with A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
5. Feed by Mira Grant
6. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
7. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
8. Deadline by Mira Grant
9. Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton
10. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Trade Paperbacks
1. Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin
2. Briarpatch by Tim Pratt
3. The Bible Repairman and Other Stories by Tim Powers
4. Ganymede by Cherie Priest tie with After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh
5. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Overheard at the World Fantasy Convention

This is a feature that appears periodically, 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 habit.  These are the (many!) things we overheard at the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego:

"This artwork makes me feel very Colonialist."

"We're staying at the Eldritch Moppet Hotel."

"I am no slave to grammar!"

"Me and ma Fey homies are gonna come down on you wid a quickness."

"It's a bit more stylized & a bit less moist."

"She writes slipstream. . .magic realism.  Our world with a bit of magic."
"So, urban fantasy?"
"No, because it's not set in cities."
"So, bucolic urban fantasy?"

"Your book made me stab my bathrobe.  It could have harboring footless midget zombies."

"Every time I see him, I want to fall to my knees and prostate myself."
"Don't you mean 'prostrate'?"
"No, I think I meant what I said."

"It was at ReaderCon when I karate-chopped a plate of crudite out of your hands."

[San Diego's famous Old Town is called the "Gaslamp District".] "I assume in the Gas_light_ District they change the street names every afternoon."

"It was a really knotty problem that I solved by not thinking about it."

"I really wanted to have sex but my genitals stopped me."

"Doesn't he usually kill his wife and then steal sausages?"

"Amazon regularly tries to sell me my own books."

November News Roundup

* California extends library privacy laws to E-books: <,2817,2394064,00.asp#fbid=i1s49Zg-_iU>

* Cory Doctorow's LITTLE BROTHER will be on stage in San Francisco!  Adapted and directed by Josh Costello, the show will run January 13th - February 12, 2012.  More details here: Custom Made Theatre Company <>
1620 Gough Street, San Francisco CA 94109,

* Michael Palin (the Monty Python comedian, actor and writer) is urging readers to purchase books from independent bookstores: <>

* At the World Fantasy Convention last month, Alisa Krasnostein and Jonathan Strahan talked with Alan Beatts about his recent article and the future of publishing for their podcast Live and Sassy: <>

* Amazon's "Lending Library" apparently lending titles without publishers' permission: <>

October 01, 2011

September Bestsellers

1. Reamde by Neal Stephenson
2. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
3. Legacy of Kings by C.S. Friedman
4. Tears of the Sun by S.M. Stirling
5. Departure by Neal Asher
6. Rule 34 by Charles Stross
7. Embassytown by China Mieville
8. Magician King by Lev Grossman
9. Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
10. How Firm a Foundation by David Weber

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
3. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
4. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
5. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
6. Black Prism by Brent Weeks
7. Truth of Valor by Tanya Huff
8. The High King of Montival by S.M. Stirling
9. Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
10. Ghost of a Smile by Simon R. Green

Trade Paperbacks
1. Zero History by William Gibson
2. The Panama Laugh by Thomas Roche
3. World War Z by Max Brooks
4. The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale
5. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

Amazon is Nobody's Friend, part 2

by Alan Beatts

Last month I discussed some of the more objective problems with Amazon's general business practices.  This month I'm going to talk about how they just don't play nicely -- not with customers, authors, publishers, or the public at large.

But first I need to correct something that I suggested in last month's article.  When I was talking about the number of companies owned by Amazon, one of businesses I mentioned was LibraryThing <>.  I suggested that the way that they list sellers for books was influenced by Amazon's 40% ownership of the company.  A very kind reader who is familiar with that company pointed out my implication was not true and that I was doing a disservice to an independent company run by a very independent man, Tim Spalding.  After doing some research (which I should have done before I published), I discovered that the gentleman who contacted me was absolutely right and I was wrong.  Then I got in touch with Tim to apologize.  He was very pleasant and took the whole thing with more grace that I probably would have, were our situations reversed.

The short version is that, though the facts that I presented were accurate (i.e. that Amazon's purchase link (along with AbeBooks, which is owned by Amazon) appears more prominently than links to other sites (like Barnes and Noble)), the reasons for it had nothing to do with Amazon's ownership interest in LibraryThing.  Instead, the reason is Amazon has a policy that, if a site uses their data, which LibraryThing does, along with the data from more than 900 (!) other services, that site _must_ list Amazon's purchase links at the main purchase page and may not list any other business.  Tim doesn't like this rule and as a result made sure that the secondary purchase page was well designed and very accessible.

Tim also clarified something about the ownership of LibraryThing.  Amazon's stake through ABE is now actually less than 40% due to the 2009 purchase of a non-majority interest in LibraryThing by CIG, the parent company of Bowker, the company behind Books in Print.  Tim still retains majority ownership and in still in charge.

LibraryThing is a very cool site, a great service, and run by a fine, independent, and reasonable man.  I recommended it highly.

On the other hand, Amazon has --

(A) Edited customer reviews with a bias towards creating sales rather than maintaining objectivity.

(B) Removed book listings to coerce authors and publishers.

(C) "Hidden" books based on arbitrary standards.

(D) Maintained unhealthy and unsafe working conditions for their employees.

(E) Fallen far short of usual expectations for charitable giving.

October News Roundup

* This summer, NPR solicited listener input to choose the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. <>.  Because science fiction fans are nothing if not helpful, we'd like to repost this witty flowchart from T.N. Tobias at SF Signal: <>.  Thanks to Charlotte and Claud who tipped us off to its existence!

* An engaging rebuttal to the first part of Alan's article about Amazon: <>

* Congratulations to fellow independent genre booksellers Mysterious Galaxy, who have opened a second (yes, also physical!) store location in Redondo Beach, California!  Their Grand Opening Ceremony is Wednesday, October 12th at 10:00 a.m. at 2810 Artesia Blvd. Redondo Beach, CA. <>

* We're sorry to report the death of Australian fantasy author Sara Douglass at the age of 54. has a nice tribute here: <>

September 01, 2011

August Bestsellers

1. Rule 34 by Charles Stross
2. Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
3. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
4. Embassytown by China Mieville
5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
6. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
7. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
8. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
9. Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
10. Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2. Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
3. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
4. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
5.  Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
6. The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross
7. Water to Burn by Katharine Kerr
8. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
9.  Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
10. Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

Trade Paperbacks
1. Zero History by William Gibson
2. Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs
3. Book of Cthulhu edited by Ross Lockhart
4. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes tie with
    Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia
5. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Amazon is Nobody's Friend, Part One

by Alan Beatts

In all the years that I've been writing articles for this newsletter, I've never made a habit of "Amazon-bashing".  Sure there have been a few times that I've made little comments about some of their poor choices and ethical screw-ups, but over all I've pretty much left them alone.

This article will be a change from that relative silence.

The reason that I'm finally being truly critical about Amazon is two-fold.  First, at this moment a huge number of book buyers are facing a choice.  All the former Borders customers out there have to decide where they are going to get their books now that Borders is closed.  There are three choices:  1)  Barnes and Noble.  2)  Amazon.  3)  An independent bookstore.  At first glance, it will seem that I'm trying to deter customers from shopping at Amazon (and, it won't break my heart at all if you choose to avoid Amazon after reading this).  But what is more important to me is that I provide you with information so you make as informed a choice as possible.  Your dollars are your economic votes.  Where, how and with whom you spend your money determines what businesses survive and thrive.  Just like any election, I think an informed group tends to makes wiser choices.

Second, I was talking to a few friends about Amazon and I realized that my opinion of them has shifted in the past ten years.  When they started up, my attitude was very much live and let live.  They had their business ideas and I had mine.  I figured there was room enough for both of us.  But, as I've watched them grow, seen their business choices and their effect on my field, I've come to the conclusion that they are not a positive influence on the business of words & stories.  During that same conversation with my friends, I also realized that there is a long list of things that they've done and attitudes that they have that I think are pretty lousy, either because I think that they are not ethical or just not . . . nice.  Once I considered the totality of my opinion about Amazon, I decided it was time to say something.

Overheard at the Store

This is a feature that appears periodically, usually as we attend conventions and overhear things.  However, sometimes we overhear amusing tidbits even when we're not attending a convention:

"I was in this exhausted fugue state where I was like, "Am I hallucinating, or does Pat Rothfuss' beard actually look like that?"

"I don't understand how these people make a living -- they're always having sex!"

"Really?  'Unputdownable'? REALLY, New York Times Bestselling author?  That's not even a word."

"It's the BEST mutated bear movie ever!"

September News Roundup

*One of our very favorite local authors, Thomas Roche, has launched a faux news site (the publisher is calling it "a social media disinformation campaign") to promote his awesome new zombie novel THE PANAMA LAUGH (Nightshade Books, Trade Paperback, $14.99).  I cannot believe how detailed and amazing the site is; Thomas is subtly (okay, not-so-subtly!) imitating a different "real" news site on each page, and the whole thing is just incredibly cool.  Start here and poke around from there: <>.

*The 2011 Hugo Awards were presented at the World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, Nevada on August 20th.   Complete Hugo (and Campbell Award) details here: <>.

*Thanks and congratulations to the Tiptree Motherboard, who let us know that "In a ceremony in Lublin, Poland, on July 9, the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA) presented the Motherboard of the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award (<>) with the 2011 Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service.  Motherboard members Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy traveled to Poland to accept the award." For more information, see the SFRA's site: <>

*George R.R. Martin reported that two autographed scripts from the television series "A Game of Thrones" which were intended to be auctioned at WorldCon never arrived at their intended destination, and he believes they were stolen from the mail.  He is calling on all his fans and readers to keep an eye out for the stolen scripts: "Whoever s[tole] these scripts will presumably try to cash in at some point. So if any of you ever see scripts fitting this description turn up on ebay, one of its competitors, or on some dealer's table -- notify me at once, and report the stolen property to whatever local authorities are appropriate.  Here's what was taken: two teleplays, final shooting scripts for episodes nine and ten of season one, 'Baelor' and 'Fire and Blood,' autographed by writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and director Alan Taylor, printed on white paper.  Like Bloodraven, I have a thousand eyes and one. So let's keep 'em all peeled, boys and girls." <>

*Author Rob Thurman is in the hospital following a serious car accident, with her condition complicated by pneumonia.  Fans can leave well wishes on her blog <> or send them care of her agent, Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency, P.O. Box 2659 Land O Lakes, FL 34639.  We wish her a speedy recovery.

*We regret to report the death of author Leslie Esdaile Banks, who wrote as L.A. Banks, in early August.  Ms. Banks was diagnosed with late-stage adrenal cancer earlier this summer.

August 01, 2011

July Bestsellers

1. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
2. Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
3. Rule 34 by Charles Stross
4. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
5. Embassytown by China Mieville
6. The Dervish House by Ian MacDonald
7. The Year's Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois
8. Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker
9. Flashback by Dan Simmons
10. Trokia by Alastair Reynolds

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Heartless by Gail Carriger
2. Deadline by Mira Grant
3. The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross
4. The January Dancer by Michael Flynn
5. Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
6. The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
7. Feed by Mira Grant
8.  Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
9. The Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
10. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire tie with Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Trade Paperbacks
1. Sword of Fire and Sea by Erin Hoffman
2. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
3. In Extremis: The Most Extreme Stories by John Shirley
4. Save Yourself, Mammal!: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weiner
5. The Year's Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois tie with Stories: All New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

Borders. The End.

by Alan Beatts

Despite lots of work on the part of the management and staff of Borders Books and Music it wasn't possible for them to emerge from bankruptcy as a viable company.  Last week all their remaining stores began liquidation sales, leaving Barnes and Noble as the only national bookselling chain in the U.S.

There has been a great deal written about what brought Borders to this point.  In hindsight it seems obvious that two major differences between how it operated compared to Barnes and Noble go a long way towards explaining why Borders is closing and B&N is not.

August News Roundup

* Would you like to buy the house J.G. Ballard lived in for nearly 50 years?  It's for sale for about $520,000.  <>  Having read HIGH RISE, though, I doubt I'd ever sleep comfortably there.

* Inspired by some quite dismissive reviews of HBO's "Game of Thrones" (actually dismissive commentary on the whole fantasy genre masquerading as dismissive reviews of this program,) Jacqueline Carey has posted an eloquent defense of fantasy readers, with a bit of help from _her_ readers: <>

* As Alan suggested about three years ago < (scroll down a bit to the "From the Office" article)>, giant bookstore chain Borders Books will be liquidated, instead of successfully surviving bankruptcy. <>

* In other bookselling news, there is a rumor going around that Apple might be looking at buying Barnes and Noble <>.  Though it seems insane on the face of it, B&N's Nook is the second most popular ebook readers in the US and B&N has been for sale for months, so . . . .

July 01, 2011

June Bestsellers

1. Embassytown by China Mieville
2. The Devil Colony by James Rollins
3. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
4. Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
5. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
6.  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
7. Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan
8. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
9. Dancing With Bears by Michael Swanwick
10. Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Deadline by Mira Grant
2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
3. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
4. Feed by Mira Grant
5. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
6. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
7. Heartless by Gail Carriger
8. Desdaemona by Ben Macallan
9. Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
10. Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik

Trade Paperbacks
1. Save Yourself, Mammal! A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weiner
2. xkcd volume 0 by Randall Munroe
3. Soft Apocalype by Will McIntosh
4. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
5. Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein tie with
    Happily Ever After edited by John Klima

Racing to the Bottom

by Alan Beatts

"Racing to the bottom" has become a bit of a buzzword recently.  The common usage has moved a fair bit away from the origin, which dates from the late 19th century and related to the economic practice of states reducing taxes and regulations for corporations in the interest of attracting them.  Today it's used anytime financial pressures cause businesses to reduce their prices in response to competition, which prompts their competitors to drop _their_ prices and so on and so on.  The cascade effect can drive prices downwards to the point that none of the businesses involved can make a profit while producing a good quality product.

And what, you may ask, the hell does that have to do with books?  For a very long time, it had nothing to do with them.  The majority of books were created by a small group of publishers who all worked within a very similar set of financial constraints (i.e. the cost of paper, shipping expenses, rent in New York, editor and other production staff pay rates, advertising expenses, usual discounts, reasonable expectations for author advances and so forth).  Additionally, the prices were set by the publisher and printed on the product.  All of this left very little room for price drops as well as no real interest or willingness to do so.

On top of that, the distribution chain for books was pretty firmly fixed.  Books were published, sold either directly to retailers or to wholesalers who then sold to retailers.  Though it was possible to self-publish a book, it was very hard to get it into that distribution chain.  And, for all intents and purposes, it was impossible to get a self-published book into that chain on anything like an equal footing with books published by major publishers.

But now, it's all changing and I'm worried we might start seeing a race to the bottom on book pricing, with disastrous consequences.  And I'm not saying that as a bookseller -- I'm saying that as a reader.

July News Roundup

 * For those who would like an advance peek at Vernor Vinge's forthcoming novel CHILDREN OF THE SKY (sequel to FIRE UPON THE DEEP), has posted an excerpt here: <>.  The novel will be released in October.

* You know you've written a pretty impressive novel when Ursula Le Guin raves about it.  Enjoy this review of China Mieville's novel EMBASSYTOWN: <>

* The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists has announced the finalists for the 2011 Chesley Awards.  You can see the list here: <>.  Congratulations to all of these worthy nominees!

* Genreville's Rose Fox responds to an unintentionally condescending article on the Nebula Award Weekend from The Washington Post.  Original article here: <>, and Rose's response here:  <>

* Lev Grossman (author of THE MAGICIANS) reviews George R.R. Martin's A DANCE WITH DRAGONS for Time Magazine (and compares Martin to Tolkien): <,8599,2081774,00.html

June 01, 2011

May Bestsellers

1. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
3. Mind Storm by K.M. Ruiz
4. Embassaytown by China Mieville
5. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
6. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
7. Dancing With Bears by Michael Swanwick
8. Scratch Monkey by Charles Stross
9. Tiassa by Steven Brust
10. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
3. Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
4. Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
5. Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
6. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
7. Ark by Stephen Baxter
8. Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
9. Taint in the Blood by S.M. Stirling
10. Equations of Life by Simon Morden tie with
      Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire

Trade Paperbacks
1. Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
2. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
3. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
4. Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh
5. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Overheard at the Store and at Fog Con

This is a feature that appears periodically, 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.  When we haven't attended any cons recently, we just keep track of outrageous stuff we've heard in the store!  So we heard the following in the store in May:

"Exactly how pregnant are you allowed to be at this wedding?"

"She kidnapped them & fed them bran muffins until they had Stockholm Syndrome.  And were very regular."

"I've seen myself burned in effigy more times than I can count."

"We are going to have haunted Nazi clowns!"

"Do you know any women in open relationships who'd be interested in attending?"

(1) "You just don't wear six-inch heels to a show with a mosh pit."
(2) "Hell, no.  Maybe two inches; just enough to kick someone!"

"Which one do you hate better?"

"It's unfortunately much more rare that old favorite books, re-read, are visited by the Awesome Fairy than by the Suck Fairy."

And these gems were sent to us by our Anonymous Intrepid Reporter (thanks, AIR!) from BayCon:

"Yes, that's my service cat; I've lost my sense of ennui, and now he looks bored for me."

"OF COURSE I know who Michael Moorcock is; I just didn't know he was an author."

"The mask used to belong to my mother; she wore it at her wedding."

"I'm finally making money, and now you tell me the place is on fire?"

"Dude, don't you know to use painter's tape? Duct tape will pull all your hairs out."

"I'm sure there's a pretty nice person there, behind all the boredom I feel when talking with her."

"He said the high heels hurt him only when he's sleeping."

June News Roundup

*  A note to our newsletter readers, genre historians and geeks-in-general: Bud Webster, SFWA's Estates Liaison, writing in "Black Gate", mentioned that he could use a hand finding out who now represents the work of the following authors.  If you have any information that might assist him, please contact him care of "Black Gate": <>.  And a further note to writers out there -- please, for the love of dingoes, once you've published some stuff, do some estate planning!  Don't leave future generations to boggle over whom to ask if they can reprint your work.  His article about that is here: <>

Here are the authors for whom Mr. Webster is seeking representation info: Christopher Anvil, Jerome Bixby, Ronald Anthony Cross, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Raymond Z. Gallun, Chester Geier, Wyman Guin, Colin Kapp, P. Schuyler Miller, Kris Neville, Rog Phillips, Ross Rocklynn, T. L. Sherred, Wilmar H. Shiras, George H. Smith, George O. Smith, Angus Wells, and Wallace West.

* Steven R. Boyett, <> author of ARIEL and ELEGY BEACH, did an amazing reading at FogCon in March.  If you'd like to hear the pieces, the links are below.  You may also hear the first two chapters here: <>.



* Charlie Jane Anders (of Writers With Drinks and fame) wrote a very flattering article about Borderlands bookstore and Cafe for The Open Bar at Tin House (an online magazine): <>.  Thanks very much!

May 01, 2011

April Bestsellers

1. Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
2. White Luck Warrior by R. Scott Bakker
3. Tiassa by Steven Brust
4. Scratch Monkey by Charles Stross
5. Pale King by David Foster Wallace
6. 1636: The Saxon Uprising by Eric Flint
7. Pegasus by Robin McKinley
8. Deathless by Catherynne Valente
9. WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
10. The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris
2. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
3. WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
4. Deceiver by C.J. Cherryh
5. Changes by Jim Butcher
6. Equations of Life by Simon Marsden
7. Magic in the Hunt by Devon Monk
8. License to Ensorcell by Katharine Kerr
9. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch tie with
    Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
10. Soulless by Gail Carriger

Trade Paperbacks
1. Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle
2. I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells
3. Enigmatic Pilot by Kris Saknussemm
4. The Crippled God by Steven Erikson tie with
    Zendegi by Greg Egan
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Foundations of Fantasy

by Alan Beatts

I was recently chatting with a customer who was looking for suggestions for fantasy novels that he might enjoy.  After a few twists and turns, the conversation got onto some of the basic ideas in the field.  We determined, to my surprise and his pleasure, that he hadn't read a number of the original works that those ideas came from. Below are a few of them.  I'm not suggesting that any of them are "must reads," but they are all quite good in their way.  There is also a certain quality of excitement to the writing because, when they were written, the ideas were new and fresh to both the readers and the author.  Something else that interests me is the way that the ideas are richer and more complex in these earlier appearances, rather than than the hyper-simplified versions that appear in the hands of later writers.

A side note for the scholars out there -- I know that some of these are not the first time that the ideas appeared.  But they are the first time that the idea appeared in a modern work that was widely read and reasonably successful.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Certainly, almost everyone who reads this newsletter has probably read it and, if not, you've almost certainly seen the movies (which are, I think, quite good).  The original element here is that this was the first time that a small, diverse group of heroes ventured forth against terrible odds to defeat the Dark Lord.  Granted there are many other ideas that appeared here for the first time but that quest is the thing that has probably shaped more subsequent novels than any element.  If you've some time, give it another read and notice that the group of people who join together on the quest have a number of sometimes mutually incompatible motivations and agendas.  They're not by any means friends or even allies at the start and, halfway through the story, the group is broken apart by internal friction, distrust and the loss of its leader.  That particular element is often eliminated by other authors who are working the same idea.

The People of the Black Circle by Robert E. Howard.
I picked this novella because it's my favorite Conan the Barbarian story but almost any of the authentic Howard Conan stories will do (as opposed to the fix-up and share-cropper novels that were completed or written by other authors).  Conan is the original "savage barbarian" character in fantasy fiction.  But he's much more than a big, muscle-bound, unlettered, dumb sword-swinger as portrayed in the films from the 80s.  During the course of his life he advances from being a simple thief to leading larger and larger groups of men until he finally reaches the pinnacle of being a general and, later, a king.  He is portrayed as being both very intelligent and highly literate.  The picture of the barbarian in modern fantasy tends to lack these elements but, more importantly, it lacks a fine but very important distinction present in Howard's work -- Conan is a barbarian because he disdains the trappings and rules of civilization, not because he is incapable of functioning within them.

The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft.
"Nameless elder gods" is a phrase that most people who read fantasy have run across somewhere, sometime.  And The Necronomicon is possibly one of the most famous nonexistent books in the world.  Lovecraft came up with both of those ideas.  The Dunwich Horror (alongside The Call of Cthulhu) is both one of his best stories and gives the fullest outline of his cosmology.  The idea that there are old gods (or aliens, or demons, or . . . ) that wait outside of our world and desire to return, with very bad consequences for us, pops up all over fantasy and science fiction.  But one of the fine points of Lovecraft's vision is that these Elder Gods are so old, so alien, and so powerful, that human beings are completely below their notice.  In Lovecraft's world, humans aren't at war with these beings any more than ants can be at war with a bulldozer.  We're just in the way and will be swept aside whenever "the stars are right".  Only a small handful of the characters in his fiction survive their encounter with the truth of the larger universe and most of them are driven insane by the experience.  This idea of a heartless cosmos in which humanity is essentially insignificant and powerless is absent in most other fantasy.  It would seem that this is with good reason; after all, who wants to read about that?  But if so, then why has Lovecraft's work continued to attract readers for almost a century?

May News Roundup

* Because we were updating computers in January, we must now present a belated congratulations to Borderlands employee and Nightshade Books co-mastermind Jeremy Lassen and his wife, Liza Erpelo.  Jeremy and Liza celebrated the birth of their daughter, Aubrey Malaya Erpelo Lassen, on January 14th, 2011.   Aubrey is the first "Borderlands baby," and we say "Welcome to Earth, kiddo!".

* The nominees for this year's Hugo Awards have been announced.  Congratulations to all of those nominated!  You can find the whole list here: <>.

* Congratulations to Lauren Beukes, whose novel ZOO CITY has won the Arthur C. Clarke Award.  I adored this novel, which somehow successfully combines cyberpunk-noir, myth, and fantasy in a fascinating new way.

* Cat Valente, who will be here Saturday, May 14th, has written a special series of shorts for the libraries and stores she is visiting!  You can start reading here by downloading the pdf of the first part of "Nine Lessons From a Wyverery Governouresse": <> and follow the links from store to store to finish the pieces.  You can also jump directly to Part 6, which Borderlands has posted here: <>.

* "Rosebud Magazine" is running its biennial Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award competition.  This is a contest for original works of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, or horror, 4000 words or less.  The deadline for entries is September 1st, 2011, and the entry fee is $10/story.  The grand prize is $1,000 and 4 runners-up receive $100 each. All winners will be published in "Rosebud". More details here: <>

* The Bay Area Maker Faire is taking place May 21st and 22nd at the San Mateo County Event Center.  Like the coolest science fair ever, The Maker Faire is full of the best and most creative do-it-yourself tech around.  Discounted early-bird tickets are available until May 11th.  More details here: <>.

* We regret to report the death of author, editor, feminist, and science fiction critic Joanna Russ at the age of 74.  Ms. Russ died peacefully in hospice care.

* Correction: Apologies to Gail Carriger and Seanan McGuire for my typo in our list of Best-Selling Titles last newsletter.  This intrepid editor was cutting-and-pasting too fast, and inadvertently credited Gail Carriger's novel CHANGELESS to Seanan.  Sorry, folks.

April 01, 2011

March Bestsellers

1) Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
2) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3) Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett
4) The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
5) Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
6) The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle by Pat Rothfuss
7) Scratch Monkey by Charles Stross
8) The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
9) Daybreak Zero by John Barnes
10) Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

1) Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
2) Soulless by Gail Carriger
3) Blameless by Gail Carriger
4) Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
5) Feed by Mira Grant
6) Changeless by Gail Carriger
7) An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
8) Dead Waters by Anton Strout
9) Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
10) Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie tie with License to Ensorcell by Katharine Kerr

Trade Paperbacks
1) The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
2) Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
3) Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
4) The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
5) Kraken by China Mievielle tie with Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh

Overheard at Potlatch

This is a feature that appears periodically, 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. Since we attended three conventions in March, we're going to spread out the "overheards" over a couple of months so we don't overwhelm you.  These are the things we overheard at Potlatch, the first weekend of March.

"So he's sitting there, tremendously urbane, and there's this...wombat!"

"You head for the sign that says 'Sporty's Bikini Bar' & you'll find the cheese paratha."

"I am a writer; I like to lie!"

"Check out this masive steampunk breastpump we had at the hospital!"

"Can that be their war cry? 'Greek Fire, Yo!'?"

April News Roundup

*You may have noticed a silence from Borderlands over the last few months.  Don't worry, we're still here!  We were in the process of doing some major computer and service provider changes, and now everything is (cross fingers!) running smoothly again.

*It is also possible that you're getting this newsletter for the first time in a long time.  Some of the changes we've made should allow folks to get this newsletter who have been blocked by their service providers in the past.  As it always has been, this is an opt-in list.  If you would like to be removed from the list, please reply to this email and put "remove" in the subject line.  We'll take you off the list immediatly.

*March was really crazy, with three conventions, two gigantic author events, lots of other events, and a partridge in a pear tree -- okay, not really.  April and May are chock-full of authors too, and the summer promises even more fun, with the likes of Jaqueline Carey and Steve Englehart.

* This is mostly of interest to writers and publishers, but regular folks might be curious, too -- this website lets you see Amazon sales numbers for books: <>

* Thanks to Pat Murphy of the Tiptree Motherboard for alerting us: "The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the 2010 Tiptree Award is being given to BABA YAGA LAID AN EGG, by Dubravka Ugresic."  What is the Tiptree Award, you ask? See here for more info <>.

* We are very sorry to report the death of author Diana Wynne Jones at the age of 76.  She was a tremendous talent and the genre is poorer for her loss.

* We are also very sorry to report the death of April Derleth, daughter of August Derleth and co-owner of Arkham House publishers, at the age of 56.  We all liked April very much and she will be greatly missed.

January 01, 2011

December Bestsellers

1) Stonewielder by Ian Cameron Esslemont
2) Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks
3) The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip
4) All Clear by Connie Willis
5) Shadowheart by Tad Williams
6) Kraken by China Mieville
7) Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
8) Surrender to the Will of the Night by Glen Cook
9) The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan tie with The Passage by Justin Cronin
10) Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

1) Soulless by Gail Carriger
2) Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
3) Feed by Mira Grant
4) Blameless by Gail Carriger tie with Changeless by Gail Carriger
5) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
6) Steampunk'd edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg
7) Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
8) Gilded Latten Bones by Glen Cook
9) First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher
10) Geist by Philippa Ballantine

Trade Paperbacks
1) The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
2) Flaming Zeppelins by Joe R. Lansdale
3) Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
4) Wildcards vol. I edited by George R.R. Martin
5) Blackout by Connie Willis

Quite a Year

by Alan Beatts

Hi.  I'm back.

It's been almost a year since I've written anything for this newsletter, which coincides with the opening of Borderlands Cafe.  As I suspect many of you know, 2010 was a very busy year and one that, despite a number of nice things occurring, I'm not sad at all to see the backside of.  During the year I had to cut most of the non-vital frills off of my work and personal life, in some cases with a chainsaw.  One of the casualties was this monthly column.  But, things are better now and, though I'm not promising to have time every month to write here, I'm going to try to do so.  But I make no promises about the quality or cleverness of what I'll produce.

Speaking of 2010, some of the high points, both personally and professionally, were very nice indeed.  In no particular order:

I was asked to serve on the board of the Locus Foundation (which, after the death of Locus' founder, Charles Brown, was created to continue to publish Locus Magazine as well as act as an educational organization within our field).  I was pleased and flattered that they were interested in getting me involved.  I'm very much looking forward to working with such a fine group of people.

Our new business, Borderlands Cafe, has been going for just over a year and is moving along very smoothly for a new business.  Though not profitable yet, I have high hopes that we might turn that corner this year -- which is damn fast for a new business.  Much of the credit for that goes to the phenomenal staff that work there.  They are, in their own way, as hard-working and talented a group of people as the staff at the bookstore, which is high praise indeed.  We've received some very nice coverage from the press, most notably a lovely mention in the travel section of the New York Times <>.

Business at the bookstore was steady throughout 2010 and we managed to beat the national average for bookstore sales for both the holiday season and the year as a whole.  I'm still looking at the growing popularity of ebooks with great concern but, at least for now, we're doing fine.

One of the worst lows of last year also led to one of the highs.  In the spring Ripley, Borderlands well known store cat, passed away from cancer.  Losing her was extremely painful for everyone at Borderlands as well as many of our customers but it was especially agonizing for Jude and me.

After some of the shock had worn off, Jude and I noticed that Ash, our other cat, was acting a bit strangely.  Since Ash had never been an only cat, we decided to get her some company in the form of Frost, the newest addition to Borderlands.  Frost is also a sphinx (i.e. hairless) and is Ash's niece.  She's also quite the kitten, even though she's heading well towards adulthood now.  Not only has she been a great companion to Ash but having her around has made losing Ripley less acutely painful.

That's about all I have time for in terms of a sketch of last year.  It was a hard one but the seeds planted then are showing all the signs of bearing a good harvest this year.

January News Roundup

* Our friends at io9 have put together a list of 55 SF and fantasy films to look out for this year <>.  Based on some of the titles, it looks like the list combines "look out for" as in "avoid like the plague" and "look out for" as in "this is gonna be cool" but anyway you slice it, this year is going to be big for genre film.

* Cory Doctorow has a nice article at Publisher's Weekly about the saga of self-publishing his recent novel.  It's amusing, enlightening, and perhaps a cautionary story for authors considering self-publishing <>.