Monday, May 11, 2015

Dispatches From the Border: May 2015

Events and News From Borderlands Books
MAY 2015

Upcoming Events

Marie Brennan, VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99), and Mary Robinette Kowal, OF NOBLE FAMILY (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Thursday, May 21st at 7:00 pm

Peter Orullian, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Saturday, May 30th at 3:00 pm

Peter Clines, THE FOLD (Crown, Hardcover, $25.00) Thursday, June 4th at 7:00 pm

Alyc Helms, THE DRAGONS OF HEAVEN (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, June 6th at 3:00 pm

Paolo Bacigalupi, THE WATER KNIFE (Knopf, Hardcover, $25.95) Sunday, June 7th at 3:00 pm

Rudy Rucker, JOURNALS 1990 - 2014 (Transreal Publications, Trade Paperback, $24.95) Saturday, June 13th at 3:00 pm

Alex Bledsoe, LONG BLACK CURL (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, June 14th at 3:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)

In the summer we'll be hosting Wesley Chu, Jo Walton, Helene Wecker, and many, many more great authors, so stay tuned!


* The Locus Awards have announced their nominees for 2015!

* Controversial Nobel Prize-winning German author Gunter Glass, who often made use of the fantastic in his works, has passed away.

* DC continues to expand its television universe.  It will be introducing new heroes (including Hawkgirl!) in the Flash finale before Legends of Tomorrow premieres this fall.

* The Romantic Times Book Reviews Awards have been announced, many of which have speculative elements.  Check out all the subcategories of winners here:

* The fanzine Black Gate, and authors Markos Kloos, Annie Bellet, and Edmund R. Schubert have declined their Hugo nominations for various reasons.  See their separate statements here:

* The rogue Russian spacecraft that has been hurtling toward Earth for a while has disintegrated safely.

* The Aurealis Awards which celebrate Australian SF/F/H have announced their winners.  See them here:

* Peggy Carter fans all over the world have a reason to celebrate as "Agent Carter" the TV series has been renewed for a second series.

* The identity of K.J. Parker has long been a mystery in the publishing world.  Well, it has finally been revealed that the master of emotionally dark realistic fantasy is also the successful humorous fantasy writer Tom Holt.  Listen to the whole interview reveal here:

* In an exciting bit of news, Nick Offerman of "Parks and Rec" fame will be Toastmaster of the Nebulas this year.

* io9 gathers a group of diverse opinions on what are some utterly brilliant novels with one fatal flaw.  Check out a wide breadth of answers here:

* 10 science fiction authors including Robert Charles Wilson, Genevieve Valentine, Ken Liu and more predict how our world will change in the next ten years.

* "The Tall Grass" novella written by father/son team Stephen King and Joe Hill about a brother and pregnant sister fighting for their lives in a field will be getting a big-screen adaptation.

* Speaking of Stephen King, the 2015 Edgar Awards have been announced, and they include King's novel MR. MERCEDES and the delightful Gillian Flynn short story "What Do You Do", (which is collected in the GRRM and Gardner Dozois edited anthology ROGUES).  See the full list of winners here:

* Fans of Cassandra Clare have reason to celebrate since her Shadowhunters series, which failed as a movie, has found second life as an ABC Family TV series, and they have found their Clary.  Do you like who they've chosen?

* It is a sad day, because after twenty years Ellen Klages has retired as the Tiptree Auction emcee.  Those of us who've seen her know it will be a great loss.  Read her goodbye and reminisce on the good times.

* Emily St. John Mandel has won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for her novel STATION ELEVEN.  Check out the judges' comments, the shortlist, and more over at the Clarke Award website.

* Have six minutes? Then watch the short film "The Red Witch", done by Aron Bothman (with screenplay by Samara Weiss) as a fourth year film project.  A woman tries to learn Mars' story as it's being terraformed and becomes one herself.

* The Shirley Jackson Award nominees have been announced.

* Over at,  K. Tempest Bradford gathers the best short stories from the past week in her regular io9 Newsstand feature:

* Our friends at Comix Experience < > are running into some of the same challenges regarding the San Francisco Minimum Wage that we faced (i.e. the prices for their goods are set by the publisher and they will have a hard time meeting the minimum wage as it goes up).  However, they aren't planning on closing.  Instead they're offering a graphic novel subscription service that, with sufficient support, will allow them to continue operations and meet the increasing minimum wage.  You can find all the information about it here < > but the thumbnail sketch is that, for a flat monthly fee of $25, you will receive a copy of the graphic novel of the month.

From The Office

This month marks the first time since January that I feel like the basic operations of the business are back to normal.  Or at least our idea of normal, which I suspect is pretty strange by objective standards.  The store inventory is back up to snuff with the exception of our used paperback section.  With the addition of our newest hire in the cafe, who starts this week, staffing is up to a proper level (i.e. you shouldn't see me doing dishes at closing time).  I feel like the sponsor program is off to a good start and Scott Cox is working with me on that, allowing me to turn my attention to some other things.  Overall, I'm feeling very good about the position that Borderlands is in for 2015 -- almost entirely thanks to our sponsors.

Speaking of which, I'm delighted to announce that as of this week we've hit 800 sponsors for 2015, a full 500 over the number that we needed to remain open.  This is huge, heartwarming and amazing for a variety of reasons, which are all self-evident.

What is not so evident is the major change in my attitude and my plans for the store that have been caused by the unexpected and unbelievable amount of support we've received from our customers and our industry.

A few people have asked me (and I'm sure that more than a few have wondered) what we're going to do with the income beyond requirements that we've received this year.  One of the first things that I did was give all of our employees a bonus - and man, did they deserve it after February!  I also raised their pay a month sooner than required, proportionally based on the minimum wage increase that started this month.

My next step will be to invest in some needed infrastructure improvements.  There are a lot of "deferred maintenance" items around here that were not addressed because I figured we just needed to hold on until the end of March.  Obviously we now need to fix, upgrade, and/or replace all of those things.  There are also elements to the business that aren't broken, but that I want to improve -- a perfect example is putting a solution in place to make audio and, perhaps, video recordings of author events.  Ideally we'll be able to live-stream all of our events eventually, but for now it would be nice just to get them recorded.

Another item is to get back to working on some remodeling that was interrupted by our now-thwarted impending closing.  That should eventually lead to more retail space, specifically for used books.  Those improvements and others are on a substantial list that I'm working on.

But all the foregoing are small matters, really.  They don't really convey how my outlook and goals for Borderlands have changed.

The most major thing that has been the result of the incredible outpouring of support we received is this: I've always thought of Borderlands as a personal project, and assumed that it would end when I was tired of it, incapable of running it or I died.  The dramatic reaction to the sponsor program and the conviction on the part of many people that Borderlands is an institution has made me rethink that assumption.  I now believe that, if possible, I need to try to create a way for Borderlands to outlast me.

I almost feel like I have a duty to our sponsors, our industry, our customers, and our community to try achieving that.

There are many pieces to that job, but I deeply believe that the most important and most difficult piece is to ensure a permanent home for the store.  Regardless of the geographic area, lease expirations and increased rents are one of the most common reasons for the closure of established, stable businesses.  In a city like San Francisco, with its constant cycle between boom-town and bust, that is even more true.  Right now our leases are in good shape and we have excellent relations with our landlord. But that is not something to count on ten, twenty or fifty years from now.  With the success of the sponsorship program, that is the time-scale I'm looking at -- 50 years.

And so my long-term project now is to create a non-profit organization that will allow us to buy a building.  We have some exceptional creative and business minds working on this - an attorney (who is a sponsor) volunteered to assist with the legal nitty-gritty of setting up the non-profit, I've received excellent advice from sponsors who, collectively, have decades of nonprofit experience, and we have the funds necessary to establish the entity (thanks to the support we've received).  Assuming we continue to get the support we've seen this year, we will be able to continue to accumulate funds for this project over the coming years.  We also have some interesting ideas about how we can raise funds for such a project.  This idea is a long-game and so progress will be slow to start, but you can expect to hear more about it over the coming months and years.

In a small way, Borderlands has always been something extraordinary -- but what we have created with the sponsor program is truly something unique.  The plans I've discussed here seem grandiose, even to me, but, had someone described what we've done in three months, I would have thought that equally grandiose and unlikely.  Together we've managed one remarkable, unprecedented feat.  The second one should be easier, since now we've had a chance to practice.

- Alan Beatts

Best Sellers
Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for April, 2015


1. A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER by Alex Marshall
3. VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK by Marie Brennan
4. ROLLING IN THE DEEP by Mira Grant
5. THE SKULL THRONE by Peter V. Brett
6. THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu translated by Ken Liu
7. THE BURIED GIANT by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. HALF THE WORLD by Joe Abercrombie
9. PRUDENCE by Gail Carriger
10. TRIGGER WARNING by Neil Gaiman

Mass Market Paperbacks

1. FLEX by Ferrett Steinmetz
2. THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison
3. WORDS OF RADIANCE by Brandon Sanderson
4. DARK LIGHTNING by John Varley
5. POCKET APOCALYPSE by Seanan McGuire
6. THE LIVES OF TAO by Wesley Chu
8. THE LONG EARTH by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
9. SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher
10. THE WISE MAN'S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss

Trade Paperbacks

3. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir

Book Club Information

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, June 14th, at 5 pm to discuss THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, May 17th, at 6 pm to discuss A CIVIL CAMPAIGN by Lois McMaster Bujold. The book for June 21st will be CONTACT by Carl Sagan.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Marie Brennan, VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99), and Mary Robinette Kowal, OF NOBLE FAMILY (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99), Thursday, May 21st at 7:00 pm - We are thrilled to welcome Marie and Mary back to Borderlands! They put on a fantastic show, in historical costume, featuring everything from bones to puppets. This go-round, we'll feature Marie's third memoir of the world's foremost dragon naturalist, the formidable Lady Trent, and the fifth of Mary's Glamourist Histories.  You don't want to miss this incredible event!

Peter Orullian, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Saturday, May 30th at 3:00 pm - We are happy to welcome author Peter Orullian back to the store!  He'll be showing off TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, the follow-up to THE UNREMEMBERED, and we hope you'll join us to meet him.  From the book description: "The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god -- and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortalkind -- in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures.  But there is dissent.  One king won't answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse.  Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war.  And his choices may reshape a world . . . ."

Peter Clines, THE FOLD (Crown, Hardcover, $25.00) Thursday, June 4th at 7:00 pm - We're happy to welcome Peter Clines, author of the acclaimed EX-HEROES series, as he presents his newest science fiction mystery, this time with a Lovecraftian twist!  From the publisher: "Mike Erikson is one of the smartest people in America. And yet, for reasons nobody around him quite understands, he's chosen to let the potential of his amazing intellect go untapped, instead spending his days as a high school English teacher in a small New England town.  Just as school lets out for the summer, however, an old friend presents Mike with a mystery he can't help but be intrigued by -- and one that he is uniquely qualified to solve.  Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device called the Albuquerque Door.  The machine uses a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to effectively "fold" dimensions, shrinking the distance between them so that a traveler can simply step through a portal to a different location.  The invention -- teleportation made real! -- seems like one of mankind's oldest dreams come true.  But something, it seems, is going wrong.  The personalities of the scientists who work on the device are changing.  People are dying.  Even reality itself seems to be . . . warping.  Soon Mike finds himself the unwelcome guest of an eccentric physicist and his hostile research team, all of whom seem convinced that he's there to steal their secrets.  But it's Mike who figures out that the Albuquerque Door is not what it appears to be, and that its creators don't have as much control over their project as they've led him to believe.  As Mike and the other scientists use everything they've learned to solve a seemingly impossible technological mystery, their dream of changing the world rapidly turns into a horror story."

Alyc Helms, THE DRAGONS OF HEAVEN (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, June 6th at 3:00 pm - We're delighted to welcome local author Alyc Helms, who will be presenting her awesome debut novel THE DRAGONS OF HEAVEN!  Just check out this amazing synopsis from the publisher: "Missy Masters inherited more than the usual genetic cocktail from her estranged grandfather.  She also got his preternatural control of shadows and his enduring legacy as the legendary vigilante superhero, Mr Mystic. After a little work the costume fits OK, but Missy is far from experienced at fighting crime, so she journeys to China to seek the aid of Lung Huang, the ancient master who once guided her grandfather.  She becomes embroiled in the politics of Lung Huang and his siblings, the allegedly mythical nine dragon-guardians of all creation. When Lung Di -- Lung Huang’s brother and mortal enemy -- raises a magical barrier that cuts off China from the rest of the world, it falls to the new Mr. Mystic to prove herself by taking down the barrier.  It’s a superhero novel, a pulp fantasy novel, with lashings of kung fu, immense kick-ass dragons and an unfailingly sympathetic heroine -- yes, it’s another wonderful Angry Robot title."

Paolo Bacigalupi, THE WATER KNIFE (Knopf, Hardcover, $25.95) Sunday, June 7th at 3:00 pm - Borderlands is pleased to welcome multiple-award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi to San Francisco.  Paolo’s forward-looking, prescient science fiction seems to exist in a theoretical space just minutes, if not seconds in our future.  His new novel, THE WATER KNIFE cuts close to the bone in drought-stricken California, where the grim, resource constrained future that Paolo imagines is already emerging in a recognizable way, in our daily headlines, and in our state and local politics.  Paolo’s most recent YA novel was the Cory Doctorow-esque thriller THE DOUBT FACTORY, and his Hugo and Nebula award-winning debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL is being reprinted in a second edition that includes the two short stories set in the same world.  Join us to meet Paolo and get your questions answered!

Rudy Rucker, JOURNALS 1990 - 2014 (Transreal Publications, Trade Paperback, $24.95) Saturday, June 13th at 3:00 pm - We are so happy to host local author and artist, brilliant mathematician and mad genius, Rudy Rucker!  Rudy will be showing off his newest book and also leading a "guided tour" of his current art show.  From the book description: "Ride the wave with Rudy Rucker -- author, programmer, mathematician, professor, cyberpunk, hipster, transrealist, and family man.  A writer’s journey.  Rucker composed JOURNALS 1990 - 2014 over twenty-five years.  The finished volume is as long as three or four novels combined. A long-running adventure."

Alex Bledsoe, LONG BLACK CURL (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, June 14th at 3:00 pm - From the publisher: "Alex Bledsoe enchanted readers with THE HUM AND THE SHIVER, a remarkable fantasy that was named one of the Best Fiction Books of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, and its follow-up, WISP OF A THING, which drew rave reviews from critics and fans alike.  Drawing inspiration from Appalachian folklore and the haunting music of the region, Bledsoe spun the fascinating original mythology of the Tufa, a reclusive clan of mountain folk whose historical roots are cloaked in myth and controversy.  The books have gained many fans including a band who has crafted an entire album of music based on the stories and characters.  Now, he returns to the dark valleys and hollows of the Smoky Mountains in LONG BLACK CURL, a moving tale of music and magic older than the hills.  In all the time the Tufa have existed, only two have ever been exiled: Bo-Kate Wisby and her lover, Jefferson Powell.  They were cast out, stripped of their ability to make music, and cursed to never be able to find their way back to Needsville.  Their crime?  A love that crossed the boundary of the two Tufa tribes, resulting in the death of several people.  Somehow, Bo-Kate has found her way back.  She intends to take over both tribes, which means eliminating both Rockhouse Hicks and Mandalay Harris.  Bo-Kate has a secret weapon: Byron Harley, a rockabilly singer known as the “Hillbilly Hercules” for his immense size and strength, and who has passed the last sixty years trapped in a bubble of faery time.  He's ready to take revenge on any Tufa he finds.  The only one who can stop Bo-Kate is Jefferson Powell.  Released from the curse and summoned back to Cloud County, even he isn't sure what will happen when they finally meet.  Will he fall in love with her again?  Will he join her in her quest to unite the Tufa under her rule?  Or will he have to sacrifice himself to save the people who once banished him?" We hope you'll join us to meet Alex Bledsoe and check out this fascinating new novel!

This newsletter is distributed monthly free of charge and may be distributed without charge so long all the following information is included.

Dispatches from the Border
Editor - Na'amen Tilahun
Assistant Editor - Jude Feldman

All contents unless otherwise noted are the property of Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia St.
San Francisco CA 94110
415 824-8203
Comments and suggestions should be directed to