Friday, December 9, 2016

Dispatches from the Border, December 2016

Events and News From Borderlands Books
December 2016

Upcoming Events

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Northern California Holiday Party on Saturday, December 10th from 2:00 - 4:00pm

James S. A. Corey, BABYLON'S ASHES (Hardcover, Orbit, $27.00) on Saturday, December 10th at 5:00pm

Shaenon Garrity, SKIN HORSE VOL. 6 (Trade Paperback, Couscous Collective, $14.00) on Saturday, January 14th at 3:00pm.

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)


* Overheard in the store:

"Alright, then! Let's hear it for characters that aren't dumb!"

"It's a fire-juggling Santa-clown.  I hate clowns but I love fire.  I'm kind of having a crisis right now."

"Gee, who knew that writers were so moist?"

"I wish the cyberpunk dystopia that we actually live in had more ninjas and Day-Glo colors."

* Please help keep SF in SF at the American Bookbinders' Museum.  We've been working with SF in SF (Science Fiction in San Francisco) for a decade now, and they are wonderful people who have presented dozens of brilliant authors.  We received the following from Madeleine Robins; local author, sponsor, and Operations Manager for the ABM: ". . .[I]n 2016 the ABM became the new home for SF in SF, hosting eleven monthly readings and discussions in our beautiful museum space.  We hope to be the program's home for 2017 and beyond, but to do so we are asking for your support.  The ABM is a relatively new museum, filled with equipment, archives, and ephemera that tells the history of bookbinding--particularly of binding and the innovations of the Industrial Revolution.  In addition to telling this story, the American Bookbinders Museum is committed to supporting the book community in the Bay Area: this year, in addition to SF in SF, we have hosted events for Litquake, Quiet Lightning, and the Lantern Review.  In order to continue doing so, and to continue to provide programming to reach and enrich our community, we rely on the generosity of individuals and businesses. . . ." If you'd like to help support the American Bookbinders Museum and help ensure a home for SF in SF, you can use this link to donate to the ABM:

* Renowned author Jane Yolen recently became the 33rd person to be named a SFWA Grand Master, which honors a lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.   You can find SFWA’s full profile on Yolen here:

* Both Analog and Asimov’s magazines are moving to a bimonthly schedule.  Locus Magazine has more details here:

* James Whitbrook over at Gizmodo has given us his own personal list of hopeful science-fiction.  (Just in case you, like many of us, are looking for some reason to be hopeful for the future):

* Author N.K. Jemisin reviews some of the most recent hot speculative fiction books in The New York Times:

* If you’re interested in some new reading material, the wonderful Indigenous Reads podcast's current book is a speculative collection by Drew Hayden Taylor.  Check it out here:

* Inverse makes a very compelling argument for why interest in Chinese science fiction is growing, and why it just might be the future of science fiction as a genre, using the new Invisible Planets anthology as an example.

* Jagadish Chandra Bose, recently granted the dubious honor of a Google doodle for his scientific achievements, was also a very early writer of science-fiction.  Read all about it here:

* The Guardian has an interesting and thorough look at all the great sf/f that came out in 2016 from diverse voices at various stages of their writing careers.  Check it out:

* Check out Alternative Nation’s list of the top 10 Underrated Sci-Fi movies of the 1970s.  The inclusion of Westworld makes us inclined to trust it, but the last movie on the list makes the whole thing suspect:

* Paste Magazine tackles the question of "Does TV’s Science Fiction Need to Be So Grim?". Spoiler: they come down on the side of yes, but check out their nuanced reasoning, and their hope for a future where we can return to hopeful science fiction:

* The U.S. Army hosts a science fiction short story contest, which sounds like the beginning to a real dark science fiction story.  Check out the full information here:

* Comic fans of all ages are excited for the upcoming America Chavez solo series and the writer/artist team has just been announced:

* Signature lists 5 authors they think you should read now if you’re interested in science fiction for social change.

* After ten long years we are finally getting another Justice League cartoon on the air.  Check out how the concept went from solo Batman cartoon to a Justice League series with over one hundred rotating characters.

* An excellent article on how fantasy fiction will often used the trappings of race without acknowledging race at all.  Zeba Blay traces this trend through the new film "Fantastic Beasts," to "X-men," and beyond.

*  The makers of The Guardians of the Galaxy film know how to give us what we want in the trailer for the sequel: Baby Groot!

* Bustle gives a list of their 8 best fiction books out this December that spans all genres:

* A wonderful article on the science fiction that was written before knowledge of science was widespread, or the province of more than the privileged few:

* Listen to the latest episode of Wired’s Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast, where Aimee Bender talks about the way fairy tales influenced, and continue to influence, her writing.

* We may have reached "peak San Francisco": we now have a BitCoin ATM in the Cafe.

* We'd like to bring your attention to TREMONTAINE, which we'll have in book form next year! Set in the world of the SWORDSPOINT books, "In a city that never was, sex, scandal, and swordplay combine in deadly fashion.  Enter a world inspired by Elizabethan London, 18th century Paris, and 1980s New York where your wit must be as sharp as your steel.  Intrigue is afoot when a Duchess, a scholar, a swordswoman, and a genius, are brought together by long-buried lies and truths that cannot be denied."  "TREMONTAINE is a team-written serial presented by Serial Box.  Created by Ellen Kushner (SWORDSPOINT), she is joined by authors Tessa Gratton, Joel Derfner, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, and Paul Witcover.  TREMONTAINE is currently in its second season and is available at, in the Serial Box app, or at all major eBook retailers.  A print edition of Season 1 will be available in 2017 from SAGA Press."

* Brandon Sanderson is doing an absolutely gorgeous signed & numbered, leather-bound limited edition of MISTBORN, and we'll be getting copies!  Please reserve yours now, since our copies of the leather-bound ELANTRIS sold out very quickly, and then they were gone.  More details on the lovely book here: Copies are $100 each.  Email to reserve.

* If you happen to be heading to NYC anytime soon, check out this list of 8 literary hotspots you should explore while there.

* Writer and sponsor Katrina Woznicki (who wrote an excellent article last year about Borderlands' Sponsor program for Guernica Magazine that can be found here <>) wanted everyone to know about the Cuba Writers Program <>.

From Katrina: "A Writer’s Paradise in Cuba, by Katrina Woznicki - Picture it: those mid-century cars, palm trees, colonial architecture, music in the streets.  Yes, it's exactly like that.  This past May, I had the privilege to visit Cuba as part of the inaugural Cuba Writers Program, an innovative writers’ retreat founded by Tim Weed and Alden Jones, two New England-based authors with extensive experience in both publishing and traveling.  The Cuba Writers Program is now accepting applications for 2017, and I encourage you to not miss this unique mix of writing and cultural exploration.  Maybe you think group tours aren't your thing, which is how I often thought about them, but Tim's knowledge of Cuba is encyclopedic -- and everyone in Cuba knows Tim.  What do I mean by that?  We visited a Santeria priest in Trinidad, a World UNESCO Heritage site, who was also a friend of Tim's.  Our bus pulled over on this country road in central Cuba to sample the honey at a fruit stand run by a local farmer who happened to know Tim.  Get an inside look at Cuba you never thought imaginable.  And bring a journal and plenty of pens, because in between sightseeing you'll want to write about your experiences. Who knows?  What you see, hear and do may become future fodder for your novel or short story.  Work directly with critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Hood, author of the recently-published "The Book That Matters Most," and author of "The Italian Wife" and "The Knitting Circle."  Or have your piece workshopped by Alden Jones, author of "Unaccompanied Minors," which recently won the the New American Fiction Prize, and of "The Blind Masseuse," a travel memoir.  Both authors give one-on-one feedback and provide constructive criticism to move your writing forward.  I enjoyed it so much that I plan to go back next spring, a decision that feels increasingly relevant now given the current political vitriol in our country. America's divisiveness makes it even more important to engage with the outer world; travel inspires new points of view, shared experiences, community and tolerance -- takeaways that will last longer than any souvenir you bring home.  Hope to see you there!"

Award News
* Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, an alternate history where the underground railroad is an actual, physical railroad, won the National Book Award in fiction.

* For any bilingual speculative fans - the Ignotus Awards, which are the Spanish equivalent of the Hugos, have announced their winners for this year.  Go here to get some new reading material:

Holiday Gift Guide

Winter has well and truly come to San Francisco, which means that we're now hitting a (for the City) quite chilly 42 degrees at night.  Definitely the perfect time for curling up with hot cocoa and a good book, and for picking up some great books for holiday gifts.  We here present our usual Opinionated Gift Guide to help you out.  However, 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 happy 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.)

Let's start with some awesome signed books.  We have signed copies of brand-new ARCANUM UNBOUNDED and ELANTRIS, THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION by Brandon Sanderson, BABYLON'S ASHES by James S.A. Corey, FEEDBACK by Mira Grant, pretty much everything including all three of the VELVETEEN books by Seanan McGuire, GHOST TALKERS by Mary Robinette Kowal, most of the Sandman Slim books by Richard Kadrey, a handful of signed Dan Wells titles including the just-released EXREME MAKEOVER, BLOOD MIRROR by Brent Weeks, IMPRUDENCE by Gail Carriger, SNOWED by Maria Alexander, A BLADE OF BLACK STEEL by Alex Marshall, and so many, many more.

If your gift-ee just has to have the newest and the latest, check out the anthology CYBER WORLD edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola (which is SO cyberpunk that it comes with a soundtrack CD!), a gorgeous boxed set of the entire DARK TOWER series by Stephen King as well as the in-joke children's book CHARLIE THE CHOO CHOO by Beryl Evans, PIRATE UTOPIA by Bruce Sterling, SLIPPING (a collection of short works) by Lauren Beukes, NIGHTMARES: A NEW DECADE OF MODERN HORROR edited by Ellen Datlow, THE FAMILY PLOT by Cherie Priest, INVISIBLE PLANETS (a collection of fascinating Chinese science fiction in translation) edited by Ken Liu, and an absolutely stunning brick of a book: SELECTED SHORT FICTION OF URSULA K LE GUIN: THE FOUND AND THE LOST AND THE REAL AND THE UNREAL.

"To H.P. Lovecraft, with all my conflicted feelings," reads the dedication of Victor LaValle's amazing novella THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM.  It almost has a "Robert Johnson deal with the Devil at the crossroads" feel, but it's steeped in Lovecraft and just wonderful.  Additional great unconventional new takes on Lovecraft are LOVECRAFT COUNTRY by Matt Ruff, CARTER AND LOVECRAFT by Johnathan L. Howard, REANIMATORS by Pete Rawlick,  I AM PROVIDENCE by Nick Mamatas (takes place at a Lovecraft convention and is narrated by the hated murder victim), HARRISON SQUARED by Daryl Gregory, and DREAM-QUEST OF VELLITT BOE by Kij Johnson.  (Another great title that's coming out next spring and deserves a mention is WINTER TIDE, by Ruthanna Emrys.)

Some other excellent new books we're recommending are THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT by Seth Dickinson (just out in trade paperback), the lovely and haunting new novel SUMMERLONG by Peter S. Beagle, THE OBELISK GATE (the follow-up to the Hugo-winning FIFTH SEASON) by N.K. Jemisin, EVERYTHING UNDER THE MOON (an unconventional, ultra-noir werewolf-crime novel,) and THE ARRIVAL, which is the movie-tie-in-cover version of STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS by Ted Chiang.

Not brand-new but still well worth a look is JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER by Jodi Taylor, the first in a series about time-traveling historians who dislike the term "time travel" -- they simply "investigate historical events in contemporary time"!  The series is like a mash-up of Connie Willis, Kage Baker, and Becky Chambers, and is thoroughly addictive.

Some great mysteries that may be of interest to you are the bleak, brilliant and noir THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley, the utterly quirky CLAIRE DE WITT AND THE CITY OF THE DEAD by Sara Gran, or one of my all-time favorites, THE CORONER'S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill.   If you'd like something lighter, check out the Charles Lenox mysteries (about a Victorian gentleman detective in London) by Charles Finch, or the delightful Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley: our twelve-year-old protagonist is a brilliant chemist and would-be poisoner who solves mysteries in the 1950's English countryside.

For the George R.R. Martin fan in your life, we've got a gorgeous illustrated hardcover of the GAME OF THRONES 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION as well as the stunningly beautiful (but lesser-known) map set that came out a few years back, THE LANDS OF ICE AND FIRE.

One of my very favorite new releases is REJECTED PRINCESSES by Jason Porath.  This is the book version of the wonderful website that's "[p]art art project, part standup routine, part book report, this site imagines what if we made animated musicals about the women of history and myth who refused to behave.  Rejected Princesses is not for kids.  Unless your kid is awesome."  This book makes a fantastic companion volume to HER HIGHNESS BUILDS ROBOTS, which is an empowering princess coloring book.

We have 2017 calendars galore, with something for everyone, including Astronomy, Alice in Wonderland, Dragons, Fairy Houses, Hyperboyle and a Half, Dr. Suess, Tolkien, and dozens of others!

As usual, we wish you a Gorey Christmas with a plethora of Edward Gorey-themed items.  From the classic Gashlycrumb Tinies to the Bibliophile With Cats Puzzle, to the massive collection AMPHIGOREY, we have a little bit of Gorey to suit anyone.  My personal favorite is the "Fruitcake" holiday card that shows the solemn ritual of everyone gathering after dark to throw their fruitcakes into a hole in the ice!

Classics that never go out of style are hardcovers of DUNE, GOOD OMENS, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, NEUROMANCER and THE HOBBIT.  Less traditional, not in hardcover, but just as classic -- SLEIGHT OF HAND (wonderful short stories from Peter S. Beagle), MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey, LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S.A. Corey, and THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers.

Two local artists have graced us with one-of-a-kind gifts: we've got some lovely steampunk-influenced jewelry from Oakland's Fire Selkie creations, and gift boxes, hair clips, pins, and hand-made cards from San Francisco's 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.

Happy holidays to all.  We fervently wish you a safe, peaceful, and bright 2017.

- Jude Feldman

Best Sellers
Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for November, 2016

1. ARCANUM UNBOUNDED by Brandon Sanderson
3. GHOST TALKERS by Mary Robinette Kowal
4. INVISIBLE PLANETS edited by Ken Liu
5. PIRATE UTOPIA by Bruce Sterling
6. CROSSTALK by Connie Willis
7. DEATH’S END by Cixin Liu
8. THE BLOOD MIRROR by Brent Weeks
9. GOLDENHAND by Garth Nix
10. ALIEN MORNING by Rick Wilber

Trade Paperbacks
1. THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
4. THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin
6. MYSTIC by Jason Denzel
7. CYBER WORLD edited by Jason Heller and Joshua Viola
10. THE OBELISK GATE by N.K. Jemisin

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. BREAK THE CHAINS by Megan E. O’Keefe
2. MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson
3. AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson
4. THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss
6. THE GUNSLINGER by Stephen King
7. WILLFUL CHILD by Steven Erikson
8. EMPIRE ASCENDANT by Kameron Hurley
9. ONCE BROKEN FAITH by Seanan McGuire
10. THE MIRROR EMPIRE by Kameron Hurley

Book Club Information

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, December 11th, at 5 pm to discuss THREE BODY PROBLEM by CIxin Liu.  The book for January will be DUNE by Frank Herbert.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, December 18th, at 6 pm to discuss THE QUANTUM THIEF by Hannu Rajaniemi. The book for the following month will be CENTRAL STATION by Lavie Tidhar. Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details


Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Holiday Party on Saturday, December 10th from 2:00 - 4:00pm - Join us and more than two dozen fabulous local mystery writers for a fun holiday party!  There will be light refreshments and the chance to mingle with, and get books signed by, fantastic authors.  Don't miss this chance to meet so many writers all at the same time, and enjoy a rousing kick-off to the party season -- we'll be joined by Elin Barnes, Diana Chambers, Dana Fredsti, Nick Mamatas, CJ Verberg and many, many more!  This event is open to the public.

James S. A. Corey BABYLON'S ASHES (Hardcover, Orbit, $27.00) on Saturday, December 10th at 5:00pm - Collectively known as James S.A. Corey, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will be on hand to celebrate their book release by reading from and signing the latest novel.  The writing duo that has taken the science fiction world by storm with their series known as The Expanse, now bring us book 6, BABYLON'S ASHES.  From the publisher: "A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.  The Free Navy  -- a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships  -- has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets.  The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.  James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone.  Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.  But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun.  As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens.  Pirate fleets, mutiny, and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante's problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity."  Don't miss this opportunity to meet this amazing duo at the height of their writing genius!

Shaenon Garrity, SKIN HORSE VOL. 6 (Trade Paperback, Couscous Collective, $14.00) on Saturday, January 14th at 3:00pm. - We're always delighted to welcome Shaenon K. Garrity! Along with co-creator Jeffrey C. Wells, Shaenon is the genius behind the long-running and indisputably brilliant webcomic SKIN HORSE!  The 6th collection has just been successfully Kickstarted, and we hope you'll join us to celebrate.  From the description: "You'd think helping inhuman monstrosities with their personal problems would be simple.  But as the Project Skin Horse field team heads to California to parlay with the Zombie Emperor of Colma, nothing can be trusted except for Tip's ability to find a date for a wine country weekend.  All it takes to tear Skin Horse apart is one really bad day. . . ." Join us for an informal meet-and-greet and signing with Shaenon in the bookstore!

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

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