December 01, 2011

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.

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