Monday, November 13, 2017

Dispatches from the Border, November 2017

Events and News From Borderlands Books
November 2017

Upcoming Events

Brandon Sanderson, OATHBRINGER (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99), Wednesday, November 15th at 6:00 pm

Meet Our New Building, Thursday, November 16th from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (at 1377 Haight Street at Masonic)

Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday, November 18th, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Annalee Newitz and Robin Sloan (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco), Sunday, November 19th at 6:30 pm

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Northern California Holiday Party, Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)

* Overheard in the Store:

"You're kidding! I got all dressed up, and NO ONE'S going to notice, because there's a three-drink minimum!"

"After this, ice cream first? Or chai?" #ValenciaStreetProblems

* Someone has mapped the most read book in each of the fifty states, and some of these choices . . . .

* Do you like San Francisco?  Do you like Jello?  Why not combine them!

* Nick Mamatas' noted writing workshop, "Fabulist Fiction" begins November 4th, and they're accepting late signups.  From the organizers: "Exciting plots and larger-than-life characters are the cornerstones of popular fiction and the emphasis of this course.  In this course, we’ll workshop your short stories and novel chapters, explore the history of the genres, perform writing and idea-generating exercises, and discuss the magazines and publishers looking for your sort of fiction.  Classes will run on Saturdays from November 4th through December 16th from 2 - 5 PM at 25 Taylor Street in San Francisco."

* Horror is bleeding into science fiction and fantasy, says PW.  Although some would argue there has always been a very close relationship between the two.

* Friend of the store and all-around delightful person Charlie Jane Anders has closed a deal with Tor Teen for a Space Adventure trilogy.  We can’t wait!

* Invisibility might be happening soon!  (Thank goodness. We're done with all these people and their eyes with their looking.)

* Fall Flashback!  Ursula K. LeGuin’s classic 2015 essay "Up the Amazon with the BS Machine"

* Huge congratulations to our neighbor and fellow San Francisco indie bookstore Dog Eared Books on 25 great years!

* A collection of science fiction featuring Iraqi writers imagining their country 100 years after the 2003 invasion by the U.S.

* What (could) happen to your body when you donate it to science?  The answer may be darker than you think.

* When the dead do rise?  It'll likely be in Colma.

* Another month, another piece about inventions that science fiction predicted.  (Although this list has a couple that others forget about.)

* It's not October anymore, but everyone knows that hauntings happen year 'round.  If you're planning to visit Britain, why not test your mettle by staying in a haunted hotel?

* Horror can be so great, but not when it's relying on outdated stereotypes.  That's why you should check out this list of horror stories with complex women characters.

* Listen to N.K. Jemisin, Annalee Newitz and Cory Doctorow talk about world building: if it has changed, and experiencing those worlds in different ways.

* What if we zoned all of the planet as residential?  That's what some are saying would solve the energy crisis Australia is going through.

* A fun and interesting guide for anyone with an interest in science fiction -- 31 essential terms and where they all came from.

* Female robots, their history in fiction, the disturbing truth, and the hope for the future or robotics:

* Women warriors take center stage in three new fantasy novels!

* "Beyond Skyline" sounds like the best of trashy mind candy science fiction.  If you need a distraction from the world?  Check it out!

* If you have an interest in mad scientists (and let's be honest -- who doesn't?) this article seems like a gateway to deeper and darker research.

* The JFK papers are being released on a rolling basis.  Which science fiction theory do you think came closest to the truth of how he died?  Time travel? Mutant?  Alien?  Or is he still living on the moon?

* If you have time on your hands, and an interest in history and science fiction?  Why not transcribe one of the hundreds of science fiction fanzines the University of Iowa has scanned and put up online?  More information here:

* The Evening Standard claims that these ten films are the best science fiction films of all time.  Na'amen  disagrees -- what do you think?

* The reboot of the Jetsons in comic book form looks like an interesting and well thought-out look at dystopia and survival, (unlike the horrible Scooby Doo comic).

Award News

* Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the World Fantasy Awards!  Clare North won the Best Novel award for THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF HOPE.

* The WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association) has announced the winner of the Small Press Short Fiction award.  Congratulations to Ursula Vernon for her story "The Tomato Thief":

* Congratulations to Carmen Maria Machado, who won the Bard Prize for her collection HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES.  The award comes with a $30,000 check and becoming writer-in-residence for one year.

* The 2017 Sunburst Awards have been announced!

* Colson Whitehead's great award-winning novel THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD has won another award!  This time it's The Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award.

* The shortlist for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence has been released and there are a couple titles on the fiction list.  Check it out here:

From The Office

So, You Bought a Building.  Now What?

You've probably heard the news already but, in case you missed the last couple of emails -- We managed to buy the building we were looking at on Haight Street!  This is a pretty huge accomplishment and I want to thank everyone who made it possible -- Borderlands' staff, our sponsors, all our customers who have supported us for 20 years, Dan Marshall and Lance Fulford (our realtors), and, most of all, the 49 people who lent the money that made it a reality. I'm more excited about where we're going to take Borderlands than I've been since I signed the lease for the cafe more than ten years ago.

The payment has been transferred already and escrow will close on the purchase on Tuesday, which will complete the transfer of ownership.  After that, the fun really starts.  But, it's going to be a slow start at first.  The previous owner of the building is also the owner of Recycled Records, the tenant in the retail space on the ground floor.  He's retiring, and is going to be packing up his inventory and shutting down his shop over the next couple of days.  Per the terms of the purchase contract, he has 15 days to leave the place "broom clean".  Until he's out, there isn't much work that can start (though, there are a few things I can get started on while he's still there -- basement and backyard clean up, specifically).

Once he's out, we'll be doing a bit of demolition.  The ceiling is on its last legs, and so we'll strip that down to the joists (those are the big pieces of framing that hold up the floors above).  We'll also pull up the old carpeting so that I can get a good look at the existing flooring.  Once that is done, we'll really be able to see what we've got to work with, as well as letting our structural engineer and architect take a look.  That part is very important since it will affect the next big job -- a soft-story retrofit.

Buildings like ours have mostly windows at the front and no walls that run across the place from side-to-side.  In an earthquake it's possible for the lower story of the building to slump sideways, much like a shoe-box with both ends cut off.  In construction-speak this is . . . very bad.  Especially if you happen to actually be in the building when it happens (in medical-speak that is . . . pretty awful).

Although buildings like ours are not required to be retro-fit (yet), it's not a bad idea.  Given that earthquake insurance is very, very expensive and that a soft-story collapse would most likely result in the effective destruction of the building, I'm leaning very strongly towards getting the retrofit done. However, I'll need to get a much clearer idea of what will be involved in doing the work before I decide.  Which is why getting the place cleared out is first on the to-do list.

Assuming we go forward with that job, it's going to be a time-consuming process.  We're going to need full building plans, plan-check reviews, and a bunch of permits.  And then there's the time it'll take to get the work done.  But, this is one of those jobs that you really don't want to try to do once the place is occupied, so it's a now-or-never sort of deal.  If I were going place bets on it, I'd say this job will take three months or so (especially since we're about to hit the holiday season, when everything goes more slowly).

Once that work is done, it'll be time to determine whether we're going to lease out the place for one to two years or move immediately.  We've got the option to lease it out because we've got three years left at the Valencia St. location.  It might be nicer to lease the Haight Street place, take our time planning the move (and getting some of the construction work done), and then move later.  On the other hand, I'm not getting any younger and it would be pretty neat to get into our new home sooner rather than later.

So, the current outline is retrofit completed sometime around the end of February and then rent or move.  If rent, then moving won't be until early 2019 or 2020.  If we don't rent it out, say two to three months for other construction and moving in May or June of 2018.  I'll keep you posted on all this as we go along.

Oh, but I left out the first thing that we're going to do -- show the place off.  If you'd like to come down, take a look at the place, say hi, and chat with me about layout and future plans:  I'll be at the new building on Thursday, November the 16th from four to eight pm.  I'd love to see you and show off our new House on the Borderland.  The address is 1377 Haight St. and it's just east of Masonic Avenue.  It even has a creepy basement!

All Best,

PS  If you're wondering what will happen with the Cafe when we move, the answer is, "Nothing".  It's under a separate, longer lease than the bookstore and its operations are completely independent from the store.  So, I'm going to continue to operate it on Valencia Street for the foreseeable future.

Best Sellers
Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for October, 2017

1) La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
2) Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
3) Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino
4) Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
5) 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads
6) Machine Learning by Hugh Howey
7) Provenance by Ann Leckie
8) Vallista by Steven Brust
9) It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
10) Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Trade Paperbacks
1) Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
3) Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu edited by Ken Liu
4) Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig
5) Updraft by Fran Wilde
6) Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
7) Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
8) Machine Learning by Hugh Howey
9) Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
10) Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

1) Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
2) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3) Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
4) Excession by Iain M. Banks
5) Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
6) Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz
7) Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) by Philip K. Dick
8) The Gunslinger by Stephen King
9) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
10) Old Man's War by John Scalzi

Book Club Information

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, December 10th, at 5 pm to discuss WHO FEARS DEATH by Nnedi Okorafor.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, November 19th, at 6 pm to discuss CITY OF STAIRS by Robert Jackson Bennett. The book for the following month will be HYPERION by Dan Simmons.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Brandon Sanderson, OATHBRINGER (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99), Wednesday, November 15th at 6:00 pm - We're always thrilled to welcome the fabulous Brandon Sanderson to Borderlands!  This time Brandon will be showing off OATHBRINGER, the third in the Stormlight Archive series.  We do hope you'll join us for this reading, Q&A, and signing.  This event will be first-come, first seated.  We'll be giving out (free) tickets as attendees arrive to mark their place in the signing line, and we'll call folks up in groups of 20 or so once signing starts, so they don't need to wait in line for such a long time.  If you miss your numbered group, you can join the next line when you're ready.  New protocol: Express vs. Non-Express lines: At the publisher's direction, because of the size of Brandon's signings, there is a new 2-line signing protocol in place.  Please choose an Express or Non-Express ticket when you arrive.  We'll still call folks up by ticket number, and attendees can choose which line they prefer.  There will be an express line and a non-express line: Brandon will sign books for three people from the express line for every one person from the non-express line.  The people in the express line get one personalized book per person only, no questions or posed photo.  The non-express line is normal signing protocol, with three personalized books per person, any number of non-personalized signed books, a question and/or a posed picture.  No purchase is necessary to attend and have books signed, but we always appreciate it if attendees purchase something at the event.  Contact us at or 888 893-4008 if you have questions.

Meet Our New Building, Thursday, November 16th from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (at 1377 Haight Street at Masonic) - Alan will be hanging out at our soon-to-be new bookstore home from 4 to 8 pm.  If you'd like to take a look and the place and talk about our future plans, please do stop by.  He'll show you the basement, backyard, and you can look at the rest of the joint.  Plan on taking some pictures because you're not going to believe how we're going to transform it.

Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday, November 18th,  Noon to 6 pm - We're celebrating two decades of bookselling with an all-day party.  At noon, the store will open to the general public and the fun really starts.  We'll have a rotating lineup of some of our favorite local authors signing their work in half-hour blocks.  The schedule is:

12:00 pm: Dana Fredsti, Nick Mamatas, Megan E. O'Keefe, and Tim Pratt; 1:00 pm: Peter S. Beagle, Michael Blumlein, Becca Gomez Farrell, and Nancy Jane Moore; 2:00 pm: Richard Kadrey, Ellen Klages, and Pat Murphy; 3:00 pm: Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz; 4:30 pm: Cara Black and Kelli Stanley; 5:00 pm: Steve Boyett & Ken Mitchroney, Gail Carriger, and Katherine Kerr.

Also, as long as supplies last, we'll have our staff's selection of their all-time favorite books for sale at our cost as a "thank you" for 20 wonderful years of bookselling.  Last but not least, we'll be unveiling our limited edition anniversary hoodie featuring a lovely design by Michelle Rapp.  It's right on time for the chilly season and would make a great holiday present for the booklover in your life.

At four, the music starts, courtesy of DJ Steve Boyett of Groovelectric and Podrunner fame - (since there's going to be music, we might just have to start our afternoon cocktails around then, too).  Also at four there will be an extraordinary cake, thanks to the incomparable Madeleine Robins.

Then come 6 pm we'll be closing early to get ready for our last sponsor party of 2017.  If you're not a sponsor, you'll have a chance to sign up on Saturday for both the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018.  Just ask about it at the bookstore counter.

SF in SF with authors Annalee Newitz and Robin Sloan (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco), Sunday, November 19th at 6:30 pm - (Suggested donation $10, no one turned away for lack of funds.)  Doors and bar at 6:00 pm, event begins at 6:30 pm.  We're so happy to participate in the Science Fiction in San Francisco reading series!  The authors will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A from the audience moderated by author Terry Bisson.  The authors will schmooze & sign books after.  Books available for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books.  Seating is limited, so first come, first seated.  Bar proceeds benefit the American Bookbinders Museum.   Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015.  Questions? Email

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Northern California Holiday Party, Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 pm - 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 Laurie King, Nick Mamatas, and many, many more!  This event is open to the public.

Borderlands event policy - all events are free of charge.  You are welcome to bring copies of an author's books purchased elsewhere to be autographed (but we do appreciate it if you purchase something while at the event).  For most events you are welcome to bring as many books as you wish for autographs.  If you are unable to attend the event we will be happy to have a copy of any of the author's available books signed or inscribed for you.  We can then either hold the book(s) until you can come in to pick them up or we can ship to you.  Just give us a call or drop us an email.  If you live out of town, you can also ship us books from your collection to be signed for a nominal fee.  Call or email for details.

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 Gobert 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