May 23, 2013

Far Too Many Options for a Clever Title

It has been a while since I posted this, so you'll find a flood of titles from some of us. What the staff is (and has been) reading:

Alan: "METZGER'S DOG by Thomas Perry.  It's essentially a 'caper' novel incorporating: stupid CIA operatives, smart crooks, dumb drug dealers, a cat named Dr. Henry Metzger, a 20mm aircrafit cannon hidden in the back of a panel van, the biggest junkyard dog in the world, and a safe filled with $1,000,000 of cocaine.  I am loving every bit of it and laughing my ass off at times. Also GANGS OF NEW YORK by Herbert Asbury.  I'm trying to find something that is at all like the film and failing.  And, considering what some of the history was really like, I'm even less impressed with the film than I was before I read the book."

Cary: "THE THIN MAN by Dashiell Hammett, and LOCKED ROOMS by Laurie R. King.  And just finished AN ALPHABETICAL LIFE:  LIVING IT UP IN THE WORLD OF BOOKS by Wendy Werris."

Claud: DEAD UNTIL DARK, LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS, CLUB DEAD, DEAD TO THE WORLD, DEAD AS A DOORNAIL, ALL TOGETHER DEAD, DEFINITELY DEAD, FROM DEAD TO WORSE, A TOUCH OF DEAD, DEAD IN THE FAMILY, DEAD AND GONE, DEAD RECKONING, and DEADLOCKED, by Charlaine Harris (all rereads); PARASITE REX: Inside The Bizarre World Of Nature’s Most Dangerous Creatures, by Carl Zimmer (amazing); HELL’S HALF ACRE, by Will Christopher Baer; THE FALLEN BLADE, THE OUTCAST BLADE, and THE EXILED BLADE, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood; UNDERSTANDING THE MALE HUSTLER, by Samuel M. Stewar; DEAR SAMMY: Letters From Gertrude Stein And Alice B. Toklas, by Gertrude Stein; LAND’S END: A Walk In Provincetown, by Michael Cunningham; FIRE IN THE BELLY: The Life And Times Of David Wojnarowicz, by Cynthia Carr (amazing); ALTERED CARBON, BROKEN ANGELS, and WOKEN FURIES, by Richard K. Morgan; THE VERY PERSISTENT GAPPERS OF FRIP, by George Saunders; THE VANISHED LIBRARY: A Wonder Of The Ancient World, by Luciano Canfora; LONDON FALLING, by Paul Cornell; THE GREAT GATSBY, by F. Scott Fitzgerald; SHADOW CITIES: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World, by Robert Neuwirth; THE BRIEF AND FRIGHTENING REIGN OF PHIL, by George Saunders; JUMPER, by Steven Gould; STRANGE ANGEL: The Otherworldly Life Of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons, by George Pendle (amazing); THE SUNDIAL, by Shirley Jackson (reread – amazing); YOU CAN’T WIN, by Jack Black; THE POWER OF HABIT: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business, by Charles Duhigg (fascinating); THE ALTERATION, by Kingsley Amis; BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE: The Lost Generation Of London’s Jazz Age, by D.J. Taylor; ERRANTRY, by Elizabeth Hand; BLOOD ORANGES, by Kathleen Tierney; DOG ON IT, THEREBY HANGS A TAIL, TO FETCH A THIEF, and THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, by Spencer Quinn; LOVE SONG: The Lives Of Kurt Weill And Lotte Lenya, by Ethan Mordden; and VANISHING ACT, by Thomas Perry.


Dev: "THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS by Robert A. Heinlein and PARTIALS by Dan Wells."

Heather: "DANCE WITH DRAGONS.  Lugging around this stupid 150 pound hardcover because ONCE AGAIN the paperback release date was put off.  Feh. Good book though."

Jude: "A IS FOR ALIBI and B IS FOR BURGLER by Sue Grafton, THE BARBARY COAST by Herbert Asbury, CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT ARC by Seanan McGuire, GOD OF THE HIVE by Laurie R. King.  Also, last night at a wonderful author event at Books, Inc, I picked up AN ARCHIVE OF HOPE: HARVEY MILK'S SPEECHES AND WRITINGS by Harvey Milk, edited by Jason Edward Black and Charles E. Morris, III. after hearing the editors, Frank Robinson, and Danny Nicoletta speak."

Naamen:"I am leaving for a 51 hour train ride so I'm taking an assortment of books to read on the trip: SHAPESHIFTED ARC by Cassie Alexander, WICKED GENTLEMEN by Ginn Hale, ASH: A SECRET HISTORY by Mary Gentle, A ROPE OF THORNS by Gemma Files, A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA by Sofia Samatar, THE TALENTED MISS HIGHSMITH by Joan Schenkar, JAMES TIPTREE JR: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE SHELDON by Julie Phillips, FROM HARLEM TO PARIS by Michel Fabre, CITIES OF THE DEAD by Joseph Roach, POINT OF HOPE by Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett and THE DROWNING CITY by Amanda Downum. I'm thinking it might be a personal challenge to see how many I can finish in the space of the trip. Hopefully I come out of this with all my faculties intact, I mean, I didn't include Lovecraft for a reason (well, a few reasons actually). See you on the other side!"

May 09, 2013

Steampunks Without Context

by Alan Beatts

A few of us at the store were chatting about the phenomena of Steampunk recently and the conversation went in some interesting directions.  Before getting into that however, I want to make something abundantly clear.  When I refer to "Steampunk" I'm referring to the lifestyle or the fashion movement rather than to the sub-genre of fiction.  Steampunk as fiction has been around for a much longer time than the current popular culture meme.  We could argue for days about what the first steampunk novel was but both Infernal Devices by K. W. Jeter in 1987 and The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling are sure as hell steampunk novels.  There was a bit of a hiatus in the 90s and early noughties but then the fiction genre came back.  And it came back before the pop culture scene.

It is amusing to read comments from people who are really into the steampunk "scene" who rail against the idea that it is based in genre fiction.  I've even seen some (quite upset) commentators insist that it's not fiction, it's their _lifestyle_.  Which seems to me a bit self-absorbed and . . . well . . . dumb.  It is as if they want to distinguish themselves from the people who dress up as Stormtroopers from Star Wars or characters from Star Trek.

To be fair, the steampunk lifestyle folks are very different from the average costumed science fiction fan.  But not necessarily in a good way.

April Bestsellers

1) Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
2) Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
3) Protector by C.J. Cherryh
4) Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
5) Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb
6) River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
7) Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
8) You by Austin Grossman
9) The Twelve by Justin Cronin
10) Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

Mass Market Paperbacks
1) Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
2) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3) Midnight Blue Light Special by Seanan McGuire
4) Plague Nation by Dana Fredsti
5) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
6) Soulless by Gail Carriger
7) Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith
8) Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer
9) Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
10) Plague Town by Dana Fredsti

Trade Paperbacks
1) The Apes of Wrath edited by Richard Klaw
2)  World War Z by Max Brooks
3) Empty Space by M. John Harrison
4) Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
5) Exiled Blade by John Courtenay Grimwood tie with Queen Victoria's Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

April News Roundup

* 7x7 Magazine mentions Borderlands in their article "Seven Two-in-One Coffee Shops to Give Your Caffeine Routine a Jolt".  Thanks, guys!  <>

* The winners of the Edgar Awards were just announced on May 2nd.  Congratulations to the winners and to all of the nominees!  <>

* West Virginia is considering a bill to make teaching science fiction in schools compulsory.  Not only is this awesome, but it's NOT an article from "The Onion". <>

* presents: Fun with Radium! <>

* It's time to retire "Boob Plate" Armor, argues Emily Asher-Perrin on  Because it would kill you.

* We're sorry to report the death of special effects pioneer (and wizard) Ray Harryhausen at age 92. <>

* Wow, just . . . wow.  Check out the synopsis for this were-hedgehog paranormal romance.  You read it right, a were-hedgehog. <>

May Upcoming Events

Valencia Corridor Sidewalk Sale Private Preview,  Saturday, May 11th from 9:00 am - 11:30 am

Valencia Corridor Sidewalk Sale, Saturday, May 11th from 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Austin Grossman and Robin Sloan (in the Variety Preview Room at the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, San Francisco), Saturday, May 11th at 7:00 pm

The Pub From Another World Preview, Sunday, May 12th at 3:00 pm

John Scalzi, THE HUMAN DIVISION (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99), Wednesday, May 15th at 7:00 pm

SF in SF featuring Connie Willis and Gene Wolfe (in the Market Room at the Hilton San Jose, 300 Almaden Blvd. San Jose, CA 95110), Thursday, May 16th at 7:00 pm

Mass Autographing Session at the Nebula Awards, (in the Winchester Room at the Hilton San Jose, 300 Almaden Blvd. San Jose, CA), Friday, May 17th from 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Mary Robinette Kowal, WITHOUT A SUMMER (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99 ) and Susan Palwick, MENDING THE MOON (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99), Monday, May 20th at 7:00 pm

Annalee Newitz, SCATTER, ADAPT, AND REMEMBER: HOW HUMANS WILL SURVIVE A MASS EXTINCTION (Doubleday, Hardcover, $26.95), Saturday, June 1st at 3:00 pm

Lauren Beukes, THE SHINING GIRLS (Mullholland Books, Hardcover, $26.00), Friday, June 7th at 7:00 pm

Hannu Rajaniemi, THE FRACTAL PRINCE (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99), Friday, June 14th at 7:00 pm

Details after the break