Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dispatches from the Border: September 2015

Events and News From Borderlands Books

Upcoming Events

Mark Coggins, NO HARD FEELINGS (Down & Out Books, Signed & Limited Edition (Hardcover, 225 copies) $30.00) Sunday, September 13th at 3:00 pm

Tacos and Tecate with Seanan McGuire, Greg van Eekout, and Fran Wilde, Tuesday, September 15 at 6:00 pm

Russian Avant Garde Art Event with artist Evgeny Avilov and art critic Lissa Tyler Renaud, Ph. D., Saturday, September 19th at 5:30 pm

Borderlands Sponsors' Open Mic Night, Friday, September 25th at 7:00 pm

Ian McDonald, LUNA: NEW MOON (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99) Saturday, September 26th at 3:00 pm

QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION (Lightspeed, Trade Paperback, $29.99) event with Chaz Brenchley, Tim Susman, Rachel Swirsky, and Jessica Yang, Sunday, October 4th at 3:00 pm

Brandon Sanderson, SHADOWS OF SELF (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99) Friday, October 9th at 12:00 pm

Greg Bear, KILLING TITAN (Orbit, Hardcover, $26.00) and Ann Leckie, ANCILLARY MERCY (Orbit, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Saturday, October 10th at 3:00 pm

Litquake LitCrawl, Phase 2, "Mysterious Borderlands" with William C. Gordon, Jim Nisbet, Terry Shames, and Kelli Stanley, Saturday, October 17th at 7:15 pm

Litquake LitCrawl, Phase 3, "New Worlds at Borderlands Cafe" with Alyc Helms, Nancy Jane Moore, Tim Pratt, and Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, Saturday, October 17th at 8:30 pm

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)


* Because we'll soon be losing two beloved Cafe employees who are moving on to further awesome life adventures, we're looking to hire an additional employee for the Cafe, ideally for weekday afternoons and mornings.  We're asking you because we always prefer to "keep it in the family," and hire our customers and associates with whom we already have a rapport.  If you're interested or know someone who is, please send a resume to

* Master of Horror Wes Craven has sadly passed away after a battle with brain cancer.  There is hardly a person in Western society who can say they haven’t been affected by Craven’s work.  From the 80’s horror classic "Nightmare on Elm Street" to his "Scream" series (a deconstruction of the horror genre from the inside out,) his impact on genre is undeniable.  We at Borderlands mourn his passing, as do millions of others.

* This Bustle article does a good job of explaining why who won the Hugos was important while also acknowledging that LGBTQ, POC and women have been writing science fiction since the beginning, from W.E.B. Du Bois to Arthur C. Clarke to Naomi Mitchison to Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler.  We’ve always been here.

* Speaking of Octavia Butler, DAWN, the first book in her Xenogenesis (or Lilith’s Brood trilogy, depending on your age,) has been optioned for a television series.  Charlie Jane Anders from io9 asked Allen Bain, who secured the rights,  a few questions about his intentions.

* Artist CarlosDanger101 has drawn the cast of "Game of Thrones" in the style of "Bob’s Burgers".  It’s fantastic, intricate and ridiculous.  Check out the post at Nerdist for the full cast:

* Webcomic XKCD perfectly captures and summarizes the draw of the novel (and the puzzling nature of THE MARTIAN becoming a big-budget film starring Matt Damon) with this comic:

* In comic book news, the longtime Hulk companion and fan favorite Amadeus Cho, (the Korean-American boy genius introduced in 2006) has been revealed as the new Hulk.  Amadeus has already challenged governments and gods with nothing but his smarts -- it’ll be great to see what he does with the power of the Hulk behind him.

* In other Hulk news, a quote from Mark Ruffalo via an Italian website has revealed that his character, The Hulk, will not be present in "Civil War", perhaps because of something big planned for him in the future.  ("World War Hulk", perhaps?)

* If you’ve ever been interested in studying the papers of feminist SFF authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Kate Wilhelm, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sally Miller Gearhart, Kate Elliott, Molly Gloss, Laurie Marks or Jessica Salmonson, the 2015 Le Guin Feminist Science Fellowship is now open to applications. .  Their website also reveals they are in the process of acquiring some of James Tiptree Jr.’s papers, as well.

* What about a world where you’re allowed to be single for no more than 45 days before being turned into the animal of your choice?  That’s the premise of the new film "Lobster", directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and starring Colin Farrell, Lea Seydoux, Rachel Weisz and more.  Check out the trailer here:

* Mika McKinnon over at io9 gathered a number of images released by the Perimeter Institute about 13 science fiction visions that are already here, or right around the corner.

* Force Friday, the wonder of "Star Wars", and the realities of capitalism collided recently when all the new merchandise for the new "Star Wars" film was released.  Some toys looked amazing, some looked cheesy and some were awe-inspiring.  Check out the best things from Gizmodo:

* For those who missed it, the "Suicide Squad" trailer has been out for a while and it looks much better than "Batman V. Superman" in our opinion.  Viola Davis, Will Smith, and Jared Leto mean this superhero film has a lot of Academy Award winners on board:

* For some people, 2015 is iconic because it is one of the years that Marty McFly traveled to in the classic "Back To the Future" series.  To a younger generation, though, it’s important for being the year that Harry Potter’s first child starts Hogwarts.

* Stan Lee has a very simple explanation for why the newest reboot of "The Fantastic Four" flopped so badly.

* Charlie Jane Anders makes the new film "Dragon Blade" sound like an absolute must-see, with the Chinese army led by Jackie Chan versus a rogue Roman legion led by John Cusack on the run from his commander Adrien Brody.  Oh, also?  Trained attack birds.  Read the entire fantastic thing here:

* Great interview with Brian Hibbs from Comix Experience about their passion for comics and their graphic novel club (which was CE's answer to the rising minimum wage in San Francisco):

* A marvelous article from journalist Katrina Woznicki about Borderlands and the sponsorship program from Guernica Magazine: . Thank you, Katrina!

Awards News

(There has been so much awards news of late that we decided to give it its own heading!)

* The winners of the Hugo Awards and the Campbell were announced at this year's Worldcon, with the dark horse Noah Ward taking many trophies.  Here is the full statistical breakdown of voting:

* Speaking of the Hugos, it has been announced that Helsinki won the bid to host the World Science Fiction Convention in 2017.  Guests of Honor include: John-Henri Holmberg, Nalo Hopkinson, Johanna Sinisalo, Claire Wendling, and Walter Jon Williams.  Check out all the details here:

* The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art were also announced.

* The Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire Awards for excellence in French Science Fiction and Fantasy have been announced.

* The Second Annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award has announced their winners. The winner will be published on the Baen Books website, along with receiving an engraved award and $500 worth of Baen Books.

* The Parsec Awards, which celebrate excellence in speculative fiction podcasting, have announced their full list of finalists for 2015.  Check out the full list here and pick up a few things to listen to on your commutes:

From The Office

It's been about six months since we almost closed the shop.  It seems like a good time to update everyone on where the business stands, how things are going generally, and where we are relative to our long-term goals.

If you're not familiar with the whole story about what happened in February, you can read all about it at our blog <>.  But, you might enjoy an article that recently appeared in Guernica Magazine that gives a nice overview and a different perspective <>.

In general, business has been going quite well.  Sales have been solid and are modestly up compared to last year (thank you all for that).  We've done several quite large author events (Paolo Bacigalupi, Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire, John Scalzi, and Jo Walton, among others) along with a whole slew of smaller but fun and well-attended events with other authors.

Our two newest employees, Scott Cox and Maddy Hubbert, are both settling in well, though they're still in the process of learning "all the things".  It's surprising when I think about it but it usually takes around a year for someone to truly learn how to do all the aspects of the job.  But, that's the consequence of having everyone learn all the jobs around the store (aside from the back-office financial work, that is).

Of course, we are all learning constantly even after a decade and a half on the job.  Our field is constantly expanding and the history of it is so deep that I don't think it's possible to know in its entirety.  It is a source of constant pleasure to all of us to be part of a tradition that has such a long and rich history.

Personally, I'm doing quite well, though still working a bit more than I like.  Setting up the sponsorship program was more work than I anticipated but it has mostly been the fiddly bits of putting systems in place and getting it all running smoothly.  However, all that is close to done and Scott has taken over much of the day-to-day work from me.  I expect that next year will give me the chance to start really digging into other projects.

Speaking of the future and other projects, back in May I talked a bit about long-term plans, specifically getting some improvements in place at the store and, much more importantly, starting a long-term plan to purchase a building to house the business.

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 should create a way for Borderlands to outlast me.  Owning a building is the most important and difficult part of that goal.

At that time my idea was to found a non-profit organization, using extra funds that we received when we had more sponsors sign up than we needed (we need 300 sponsors each year; this year more than 800 people signed up).  The goal would be to create the organization, raise money, and eventually purchase a building to house Borderlands along with, if there was enough room, other bookstores as well.

I spoke with a number of people in both the legal and non-profit worlds about that idea and discovered that there are some pretty serious obstacles to making it work.  I'm still mulling the idea over but, at this point, it looks like it's not going to happen.  If you're curious about the exact reasons for that, let me know and I'll be happy to explain.

But, I'm not giving up on that goal.  I'm just taking a different angle on it.

We already pay a fair amount in rent.  If we were able to find the right building, at the right price, and if we were able to make the down payment, we could use that money to pay a mortgage rather than our rent.  Of course, that is a little like the old joke, "If we had some biscuits, we could have tea and biscuits.  If we had some tea."

However, I've been watching property listings in San Francisco for more than a year now.  There are buildings out there that would suit us very well.  Granted, the prices are quite high now but, even in the (probably) insane real estate market we have in SF right now, the prices are not out of reach.  If we had the down payment.

A year ago I would have figured that getting the quarter-million dollars or so that would be needed was completely out of reach.  But, the success of the sponsorships has made me reconsider that.  Each year we will need $30,000 to make up for the shortfall caused by the higher minimum wage.  This year we received over $80,000 from our sponsors.  If the number of sponsors stays close to that level (or even goes up), we could have that down payment in five years.

On top of that, there are several other possibilities that might mean we can get there either sooner or with fewer sponsors.  First, the current high prices will almost undoubtedly drop sometime.  It might be next year or it could be in five years, but I do not believe the current situation is going to last.  Second, there were a couple of ideas that people suggested when it looked like we were going to close that, although not sufficient to fix the minimum wage problem, could increase our income by a non-trivial amount over the next one to two years.  And, finally, there are other ways that I might be able to raise funds to get us to that goal.  Any or all of those things could either get us there faster or manage to get us there with fewer sponsors.  Taken together, all that gives me good reason to hope that we might succeed.

So, that's one of the next projects for me.  Working on ways to get that down payment together, watching the market for the right building, and being ready to move quickly if the chance presents itself.  It might not work but, if we can swing it, we'll make bookselling history for a second time.  As well as traveling a long, long way towards securing Borderlands' future.

Of course, I'll be working on other things around the shop as well.  I'd really like to be able to easily live-stream and make podcasts of our events.  I've got some shelving to rearrange and build so we can get our used paperback section up to snuff (I'm not happy with the size of it right now).  And I'm sure that other things will come up as I go along.  Pretty much business as usual around here.  But I'm still going to be thinking about a permanent home for the shop . . . all the time.

- Alan Beatts

Best Sellers

Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for August, 2015

1. THE END OF ALL THINGS by John Scalzi
2. KILLING PRETTY by Richard Kadrey
4. HALF A WAR by Joe Abercrombie
5. SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson
6. AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson
8. DARK FOREST by Cixin Liu
9. FOOL’S QUEST by Robin Hobb

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. LOCK IN by John Scalzi
2. KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY by Keiran Shea
3. EXO by Steven Gould
4. AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman
5. NEXUS by Ramez Naam
6. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir
7. RED: FIRST LIGHT VOL. 1 by Linda Nagata
8. DRAGONS OF HEAVEN by Alyc Helms
9. SPELLCASTING IN SILK by Juliet Blackwell
10. THE THOUSAND NAMES by Django Wexler

Trade Paperbacks
1. THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin
3. BLACK HOLE by Bucky Sinister
5. GENE MAPPER by Taiyo Fujii

Book Club Information

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, September 13th, at 5 pm to discuss EXCESSION by Iain M. Banks.  The book for the next month will be MY REAL CHILDREN by Jo Walton. Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, September 20th, at 6 pm to discuss LEXICON by Max Barry.  The book for the following month will be THE NIGHT WATCH by Sergei Lukyanenko.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Mark Coggins, NO HARD FEELINGS (Down & Out Books, Signed & Limited Edition (Hardcover, 225 copies)  $30.00) Sunday, September 13th at 3:00 pm - Mark Coggins continues the cult classic August Riordin series with this latest thrilling installment!  From the publisher: "Winnie doesn’t remember the last time she felt anything below her neck.  Her spine is severed at the seventh vertebrae, but thanks to implants from a sabotaged biomedical start-up, she has regained mobility.  She is a prototype: a living, breathing -- walking -- demonstration of revolutionary technology that never made it to market.  Her disability has become her armor.  Because she doesn’t register fatigue, she has trained relentlessly.  Her hand, arm, and leg strength are off the scales. . . and she has honed self-defense techniques to channel that strength. . . .When the sociopath who torpedoed the start-up sends killers to harvest the implants from her body, Winnie must team up with broken-down private investigator August Riordan to save both their lives -- and derail sinister plans for perverse military applications of the technology."  We hope you'll come by to meet Mark and check out his awesome new novel.

Tacos and Tecate with Seanan McGuire, THE DOLL COLLECTION (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99), Greg van Eekout, DRAGON COAST (Tor Books, Hardcover, $24.99) and Fran Wilde, UPDRAFT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Tuesday, September 15 at 6:00 pm - A special treat from Tor Books: a tremendous Tuesday of tacos, Tecate, and three terrific tellers of tales!  We do hope you'll come to check out Seanan's creepy story in the Ellen Datlow-edited anthology THE DOLL COLLECTION, Greg's newest release in the California Bones series DRAGON COAST, and Fran's exciting debut novel, UPDRAFT.  The authors will discuss and sign their works, hopefully not while holding tacos.

Russian Avant Garde Art Event with artist Evgeny Avilov and art critic Lissa Tyler Renaud, Ph. D., Saturday, September 19th at 5:30 pm - We hope you can join us for an unusual Modern Russian Avant-Garde event at Borderlands Cafe: "The Arts Resistance is proud to present the watercolor and oil paintings by Evgeny Avilov, the Russian artist behind the infamous "Exorcism at the Mausoleum" and other extreme activism actions of the art collective "Blue Rider."  Based in Moscow, Avilov represents the open opposition, a small number of artists and activists still protesting the authoritarian power at risk of their freedom and life.  Avilov will talk about the lack of freedom of expression, human rights, and rising militarism in Russia.  The Arts Resistance will give a brief presentation on the arts protest movement, reviewing art collectives Pussy Riot, Voina and Blue Rider.  San Francisco-based writers will read their work exploring the theme "Home, Patriotism, and War," and Lissa Tyler Renaud, Ph.D., an internationally acclaimed art critic, will make a presentation on Kandinsky, his "Blue Rider" art group and European avant-garde before World War I."  Mr. Avilov's work will be on display in the Cafe until September 30th.  If you are of the Facebook persuasion, RSVP here:

Borderlands Sponsors' Open Mic Night, Friday, September 25th at 7:00 pm - Borderlands' sponsors are an intelligent, talented, and diverse group of people, and many of them are writers!  We're hosting our first Open Mic Night for sponsors, giving them a chance to share short stories, flash fiction, an excerpt from a longer work -- almost any type of writing, in any genre.  All we ask is that the readings are kept short -- five minutes or less -- so as to allow as many readers as possible the opportunity.  The really fun thing about open mic nights is that each reader brings fresh surprises and you never know what's coming up next.  We hope you'll come by to check out your talented friends and fellow customers!  (Please note: This event is open to the general public, but only sponsors may read.)

Ian McDonald, LUNA: NEW MOON (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Saturday, September 26th at 3:00 pm - We're delighted to welcome Ian McDonald to Borderlands!  Mr. McDonald is best known for his extremely successful, cerebral science fiction, but he also writes smart, incredibly entertaining space adventure.  Here's the publisher's info for his newest novel: "The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons.  You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon’s near feudal society.  And that is just what Adriana Corta did.  As the leader of the Moon’s newest 'dragon,' Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium­3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family's new status.  Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise.  If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana's five children must defend their mother's empire from her many enemies. . . and each other."

QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION (Lightspeed, Trade Paperback, $29.99) event with Chaz Brenchley, Tim Susman, Rachel Swirsky, and Jessica Yang, Sunday, October 4th at 3:00 pm - Following the overwhelming success of Lightspeed Magazine's special WOMEN DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION issue (and Nightmare Magazine's WOMEN DESTROY HORROR, and Fantasy Magazine's WOMEN DESTROY FANTASY issues), a hugely successful Kickstarter has now brought us QUEERS DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION!  From their website: "Sometimes it seems as if science fiction has walled itself into a cave that leaves out anyone who isn't straight and cis-gendered, a cave with no room for anyone questioning their sexuality or relationship to their body.  Since we added a little room to SF last year by smashing a place for women, we here at Lightspeed decided to give the writers and editors of the queer community a chance to do some demolition."  We are delighted to facilitate further destruction of boundaries with these awesome contributors!  You can preview some of the short stories, flash fiction, artwork and more here: .  We certainly hope you'll join us!

Brandon Sanderson, SHADOWS OF SELF (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99) Friday, October 9th at 12:00 pm - We're always happy to see the charming Brandon Sanderson back at Borderlands!  (Do you know we hosted a signing for his very first novel, ELANTRIS, when it first came out? I think there were only about a dozen people in the audience!)  This time Brandon will be showing off the new novel in the Mistborn world, SHADOWS OF SELF.  This one's a sequel to ALLOY OF LAW, and takes place about 300 years after the conclusion of the original trilogy.  The author will read, answer questions, and sign, so take a long lunch and come hang out with us and Brandon!  Excerpts from the new novel can be found here: .  Borderlands will be open early, at 11:00 am, to prepare for this event.

Greg Bear, KILLING TITAN (Orbit, Hardcover, $26.00) and Ann Leckie, ANCILLARY MERCY (Orbit, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Saturday, October 10th at 3:00 pm - Borderlands is thrilled to welcome these two incredible authors to the store!  We're happy to host Greg Bear, the author of more than 44 books including the Nebula-Award-winning DARWIN'S RADIO, who will be showing off the second book in his exciting War Dogs trilogy, KILLING TITAN!  We're also delighted to welcome Ann Leckie, who will be presenting the third ANCILLARY book, ANCILLARY MERCY -- the first of the series swept the awards last year, winning the Arthur C. Clarke, British Science Fiction, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. Two fabulous authors, one event! You don't want to miss this one.

Litquake LitCrawl, Phase 2, "Mysterious Borderlands" with William C. Gordon, Jim Nisbet, Terry Shames, and Kelli Stanley Saturday, October 17th at 7:15 pm - We are delighted to once again take part in one of the most exciting literary events in San Francisco - the LitCrawl!  This is a three-hour pub-crawl-style literary event with dozens of venues and hundreds of authors, all taking place right here in the Mission District.  This year, meet mystery authors who will thrill, confound, and delight you with their stories!  We are pleased to present: William C. Gordon, a noir novelist who began writing in his 60's using San Francisco as a character in most of his books. He is former trial lawyer, photographer, army officer, world traveler and the author so far, of six novels including, THE CHINESE JARS, THE KING OF THE BOTTOM, THE UGLY DWARF, FRACTURED LIVES, THE HALLS OF POWER, and the soon to be released, EMMA.  Jim Nisbet has published twenty books, including LETHAL INJECTION, widely regarded as a classic roman noir; six volumes of poetry; and a single non-fiction title, LAMINATING THE CONIC FRUSTUM.  Current projects include a fourteenth novel, YOU DON'T PENCIL, and a complete translation of Charles Baudelaire’s LES FLEURS DU MAL.  Terry Shames writes the best-selling Macavity award-winning  Samuel Craddock series, published by Seventh Street Books. Her most recent title, A DEADLY AFFAIR AT BOBTAIL RIDGE, was released April, 2015.  Kelli Stanley is a critically-acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of crime fiction, including the moody San Francisco noir CITY OF DRAGONS.  She lives in San Francisco and appreciates fedoras and bourbon.  We hope you'll join us to appreciate these fabulous authors!

Litquake LitCrawl, Phase 3, "New Worlds at Borderlands Cafe" with Alyc Helms, Nancy Jane Moore, Tim Pratt, and Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, Saturday, October 17th at 8:30 pm - Join us to travel to previously unimagined worlds and explore mind-blowing new concepts, without even leaving the building!  This year our guests are: Alyc Helms, who writes fantasy short fiction and novels that explore her obsession with anthropology, liminality, gender, and foxes.  You can out more about her at .  Nancy Jane Moore is the author of THE WEAVE, a science fiction novel recently released from Aqueduct Press, and numerous short stories.  Check out her website at .  Tim Pratt is a Hugo Award-winning author of stories and novels.  His newest book is fantasy novella THE DEEP WOODS.  For more information about Tim, see .  Na'amen Gobert Tilahun co-hosts "The Adventures of Yellow Peril & Magical Negro" podcast and writes things. Night Shade Books will release his first novel THE ROOT in Spring 2016.  Don't miss the chance to explore four strange new worlds with these speculative fiction authors!

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