December 12, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide

by Jude Feldman

Hello All and Sundry!

This year seems to have flown by.  The explanation I've heard for the seeming acceleration of time I'm experiencing is that as we age, time seems to go by faster, because any given amount of time is a smaller fraction than it used to be of your life overall (i.e. when you're five years old, one year is one-fifth of your life, but when you're thirty-five, one year is a thirty-fifth of your life, so it is comparatively a much shorter time).  Regardless of why it happens, recognizing this disconcerting speeding up is a reminder to me to enjoy all the time we've got as best we can.  I'm working on it, and in that spirit -- I wish you all the very best, and hope that this season and next year both treat you all very well, and that you have much to celebrate both now and in the future!

As we hurtle seemingly increasingly quickly toward this gift-giving season, we here present our usual Opinionated (and Digression-Filled) Gift Guide to help you out.  However, if you don't see something appropriate here, we're always happy to make custom suggestions for you or anyone in your life.  We'll even wrap 'em for you!  (A special note to those of you purchasing presents: we're glad to gift wrap upon request, although our typical caveats apply: first, if we're busy, you may have to wait a bit to have things wrapped, and, second, some staff members are MUCH better than others at it.  It is possible that your package may resemble a brightly wrapped Lovecraft-ian, batrachian, rugose, Thing of No Human Shape.  For some customers, this is not a problem . . ."better than I can do!," they say.  However, if you are concerned about our, ahem, abilities, we're also happy to just hand you the gift wrap, scissors and tape.)


New and Exciting:

FIRE & BLOOD by George R.R. Martin - This first of two parts of the Targaryen history that begins 300 years before the events in GAME OF THRONES is getting excellent reviews, but some readers don't want to pick it up because the book keeps stubbornly refusing to be WINDS OF WINTER.

THE CALCULATING STARS and THE FATED SKY by Mary Robinette Kowal - EVERYONE on staff read and loved THE CALCULATING STARS.  All of us.  We can't say enough good things about this alternate history starring the indomitable Elma York, who wishes to be an astronaut despite all the obstacles in her way.  Come in to the store and hear us rave about these novels!

WORLDS SEEN IN PASSING: TEN YEARS OF TOR.COM SHORT FICTION edited by Irene Gallo - an absolutely astonishing collection.  Everything in here is at the very, very least "totally solid", and the stories range from there to mind-blowingly good.

HOW LONG 'TIL BLACK FUTURE MONTH? By N.K. Jemisin - History's first black female author (and author, period) to win 3 sequential Hugos for Best Novel presents her first short fiction collection, and it is getting fantastic reviews from everyone.  I loved this description from the publishers: ". . . Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption." But don't take my word for it:

THIN AIR by Richard Morgan - The creator of ALTERED CARBON is back with a new futuristic noir thriller which I think is his best since THIRTEEN.

REJOICE, A KNIFE TO THE HEART - Steven Erikson, best known for the epic and massive Malazan fantasy series, has written a new science fiction novel that neither Jim nor Scott can stop rating about -- both of them are saying "It's SO GOOD!".

RED MOON by Kim Stanley Robinson  - This is a "black licorice" book -- people either love it or they hate it, but no one has been neutral.  I'm firmly in the "love it!" camp.

ALL I EVER DREAMED by Michael Blumlein - Do yourself a favor and check out the transcendental short fiction of local author Michael Blumlein.  This collection is a keeper.

SOULLESS ILLUSTRATED EDITION by Gail Carrier - The light and funny steampunk romp, now with lovely Edward-Gorey-style illustrations by Jensine Eckwall!

SOMEONE LIKE ME by M.R. Carey - I couldn't put down this new novel from the author of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.  It's a totally unconventional thriller and like nothing else I've read recently.

Better Together:

We've curated a handful of book pairings for you!

A Noir 2-Pack: For the noir fan in your life, pick up the rollicking novel NOIR by Christopher Moore, and the decidedly grim and exceptionally good SANTA CRUZ NOIR edited by Susie Bright!

Haunting Non-Fiction 2-Pack: CAPTIVE OF THE LABYRINTH by Mary Jo Ignoffo is the riveting true story of the life of Sarah Winchester (of Mystery House & Winchester heiress fame).  Everything we thought we knew is wrong!  Pair this with GHOSTLAND: AN AMERICAN HISTORY IN HAUNTED PLACES by Colin Dickey for the person on your list who thinks the Truth is out there.

If They Liked THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET 2-Pack: Grab THE WRONG STARS by Tim Pratt and NOUMENON by Marina Lostetter!

Ugly Surf 2-Pack: Two older, amazing super-dark surf-crime novels!  TAPPING THE SOURCE by Kem Nunn and THE DAWN PATROL by Don Winslow.

Unconventional Superhero 2-Pack: VELVETEEN VS. THE JUNIOR SUPER PATRIOTS by Seanan McGuire, and PREPARE TO DIE! by Paul Tobin.  These are definitely not your parents' superheroes.

Overcoming Darkness 2-Pack: SMOKE by Dan Vyletta, and THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR by Scott Hawkins.  Both of these novels explore transcending the darkness of the human condition to find completion.

Feminist Mythology 2-Pack: CIRCE by Madeline Miller and THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker.  Scott says that both books have in common women reaching beyond their societally proscribed roles in a mythological context.

"Keep the Government Out of My Science" 2-Pack: THE FOLD by Peter Clines and INFLUX by Daniel Suarez -- bureaucracy destroys creativity.

Start Them Off Right Coloring Book 2-Pack: HER HIGHNESS BUILDS ROBOTS by Laura and Beth Winters and THE JAMES TIPTREE JR. AWARD SPACE BABE COLORING BOOK by Jeanne Gomoll - for the empowered kid in your life!

In Memory of Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 - 2018 --

The world is so much poorer for the loss of Ursula K. Le Guin, who passed away in January of 2018.  It is some consolation that we still have her magnificent work.  Explore these (mostly) posthumously published works:

THE BOOKS OF EARTHSEA: THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED EDTION is an absolutely stunning volume celebrating the 50th anniversary of A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA.  With more than 50 illustrations by Charles Vess, it weighs nearly 6 pounds and contains not only the original four novels, but also TALES FROM EARTHSEA, THE OTHER WIND, "The Rule of Names", "The Word of Unbinding", "The Daughter of Odren", and "Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University".  This is definitely one for you, or the collector in your life!

LATE IN THE DAY: POEMS 2010 - 2014, and SO FAR SO GOOD: FINAL POEMS 2014 - 2018 - poetry collections you should not miss.

CONVERSATIONS WITH URSULA K. LE GUIN by Carl Freedman - "In the pieces collected here, Le Guin takes every interview not as an opportunity to recapitulate long-held views but as an occasion for in-depth intellectual discourse."

URSULA K. LE GUIN: CONVERSATIONS ON WRITING with David Naimon - "Ursula K. Le Guin discusses her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry -- both her process and her philosophy -- with all the wisdom, profundity, and rigor we expect from one of the great writers of the last century."

Classics and Old Favorites:

We've got beautiful hardcover editions of enduring classics - GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, THE STUPIDEST ANGEL and LAMB, THE BIBLE VERSION (both signed!) by Christopher Moore, THE PRINCESS BRIDE by William Goldman (R.I.P.) (we have a gorgeous illustrated edition and also the 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition), DUNE by Frank Herbert, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by Ursula K. Le Guin, THE NEVERENDING STORY by Michael Ende, PARABLE OF THE SOWER and PARABLE OF THE TALENTS by Octavia Butler (_stunning_ cover art by Paul Lewin!), and NEUROMANCER by William Gibson, THE COMPLETE FICTION OF H.P. LOVECRAFT in a lovely slipcased edition, plus many many more.

Weird Stuff:

No idea what they'd like?  How about one of these amazing oddities?

BORN TO BE POSTHUMOUS: THE ECCENTRIC LIFE AND MYSTERIOUS GENIUS OF EDWARD GOREY by Mark Dery -  pair with a slim volume of Edward Gorey stickers!

Krampus cards, stickers, postcards, and coloring books - The Devil of Christmas is definitely making a comeback.

THE SECRET ART OF DR. SEUSS by Theodor Suess Geisel - propaganda, weirdness, and stuffed and mounted heads of Suessian creations are just the beginning!

THE NUTSHELL STUDIES OF UNEXPLAINED DEATH by Corinne May Botz - explore the work of the criminally unknown Frances Glesner Lee, a feminist pioneer and creator of astoundingly intricate dollhouse murder scenes that are still being used as a forensic teaching tool 70+ years after their creation! <>

THE LEAGUE OF REGRETTABLE SUPERHEROES by Jon Morris - a whole volume of real-life, ill-advised superheroes from comics history, like Doctor Hormone, Lady Satan, Fantomah, and Stardust the Super Wizard!

THE COCKTAIL GUIDE TO THE GALAXY: RECIPES FROM THE CELEBRATED DR. WHO BAR by Andy Heidel - Learn how to make cocktails like The Blue Blazer, Gin Buck Rogers, Close Encounters of the Third Lime, Cognac the Barbarian, and dozens more!

Books for the writer in your life:


We've also got fantastic journals -- everything from a super-shiny Cthuluhu journal, to a rainbow 10-pack of Pantone blank books, to Compact Novel Journals, where the book's text (in light type) makes the lines you write on!


Some of our most popular titles this year:

AUTONOMOUS by Annalee Newitz, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders, WHO FEARS DEATH? By Nnedi Okorafor, THE FIFTH SEASON and sequels by N.K. Jemisin, THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu), THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers, EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire, ALL SYSTEMS RED by Martha Wells, THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION by Peter Watts, and oh-so-many more incredible titles!


We have many unique items from local artists!  Gorgeous art prints from Christine Rhee <>; meaningful jewelry from Luminous Darlings <>; cool steampunk one-offs from Fire Selkie Creations <>; and fancy lapel pins and hair clips from Fly By Night Gifts.


As always, we're happy to make personalized recommendations and practice our Psychic Bookseller Skills when you're stumped.  If you just can't decide, we also offer gift certificates in any amount.

We deeply appreciate your support of independent booksellers; proudly keeping America thoughtful and weird!  Here's to a bright, peaceful, and optimistic 2019.

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