Friday, April 12, 2019

Dispatches from the Border, April 2019

Events and News From Borderlands Books
April 2019

Upcoming Events

Mike Chen, HERE AND NOW AND THEN (MIRA, Hardcover, $26.99), and Peng Shepherd, THE BOOK OF M (William Morrow, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, April 13th at 3:00 pm

Writers With Drinks with authors Susannah Breslin, Mike Chen, Michelle Cruz Gonzales, Arkady Martine, Peng Shepherd, and Saskia Vogel, hosted by Charlie Jane Anders! (at The Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd Street, San Francisco) Saturday, April 13th at 7:30 pm

Alex White, A BAD DEAL FOR THE WHOLE GALAXY (Orbit, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Tuesday, April 23rd at 6:00 pm

FAULT LINES Launch Party, Sunday, April 28th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Peter S. Beagle and Jaymee Goh (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco) Sunday, April 28th at 6:30 pm

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)

Coming up Saturday, May 18th, look for a very special reading and signing with Guy Gavriel Kay!

* Overheard in the Store:
"I have done things with ladders that make bystanders shriek with horror."
"The last person not bleeding wins."
<shouting at repetitive busker outside> "Hey Joey Ramone! Pretty PLEASE learn another chord!"
"In general, I try not to microwave sour cream."
"Sometimes we bear seemingly unbearable things, because the alternative is so much worse."
"Does anything ever get described as a 'low-octane thriller'?"
"The fact that it's tactless doesn't make it untrue."
"I'd be a really Casual Assassin, like 'You're gonna die, no doubt about that, but meantime would you like a coffee or a soda?'"
"Someone had an Emotional Support chicken on the bus today."
"What I really thought was that I had ordered a goat when I was drunk and forgot."
“Trust me, absolutely nothing good starts with burned garlic.”
"Thanks, Car Insurance Company. There couldn't possibly be more perfect hold music than an endless instrumental loop of 'Danger Zone'."
"I don’t remember what I ate for lunch, but I remember the plot to every one of these books."

* R.I.P. to Vonda N. McIntyre, who passed away on April 1st from pancreatic cancer.  McIntyre was a multiple award winner, brilliant author, one of the founders of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, founder of Book View Cafe, and the person who gave Hikaru Sulu his first name, among many other accomplishments. She managed to finish her final novel a few weeks before her death.

* Freethink Media created an awesome video on Borderlands' and Mission Comics and Arts' respective sponsorship programs and our survival models for unconventional retail!

* Wow, so, we're not sure how we managed to miss linking to this months ago when it came out, but we did -- Alan was interviewed for "The Muni Diaries" podcast, and he tells the story of the "The Secret in the Basement of the Store" (actually the basement of the Cafe, but it's an interesting story either way)!  Also check out "The Muni Diaries" talk with Pete Mulvihill, owner of Green Apple Books:

* How can you NOT want to watch the opening credits to "Game of Thrones" re-created with a couple thousand Oreo cookies?!

* Congratulations to Seanan McGuire! Her series Wayward Children is going to be coming to TV.  More details here:

* Ohmigosh does the trailer for "Good Omens" look awesome!

* San Francisco literary icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti is celebrating his 100th birthday, and the NY Times did a retrospective on old San Francisco, and they mention Borderlands to boot!  This article from Medium contains alternate photos to illustrate the Times article, including one quite old one taken at Borderlands Cafe!

* According to some (probably pretty dubious) Yelp statistics, Borderlands is number 35 on the list of America's top 50 bookstores:

* Local author Nick Mamatas is teaching another Fabulist Fiction course at WeWork starting May 4th.  Details and sign up here:

* As fans of speculative fiction we tend to obsess over worlds, big and small.  Well here are some worlds that fit in old pocket watches.

* An extremely rare discovery of fossils that were the direct victims of the KT extinction event will keep scientists busy for decades.

* When people think of Cyptids, they tend to go to Bigfoot, Chupacabra, or the Loch Ness Monster, but the fact is there are rumors about unusual creatures all around the world, from dogmen to frogmen to extinct species, some known only to locals. Here are 24 of those lesser known ones:

* Self-publishing has helped a lot of marginalized authors find their audience, but there's a dark side of plagiarism, book-stuffing, and scammers on the rise, making sometimes as much as $100K a month.

* An article on how the end of "Game of Thrones" (the television series) should not be the end of our respect for fantasy as a vehicle for story telling.

* "The Twilight Zone" is returning for the third time, and as Jordan Peele's take on the classic franchise premieres, it's a great time to look back at the history of the series.

* Thrillist has a list of their favorite SF/F shows of 2019 so far, some of which have gotten universal acclaim, some of which are a little more controversial in their inclusion.

* One of the Hugo nominees this year is a fan fiction archive; Samantha Cole over at Motherboard talked to some of the authors who have fiction on AO3.

* On the political bent of much of current science fiction, and how the writers are trying to create a path back to normality.

* It might be time to get cautiously excited about the new "Dune" film -- (hyped is probably pushing it).

* Apple has released the line-up for their Apple Plus TV service and quite a few of the original programs are of interest to science-fiction and fantasy fans, including "Amazing Stories".

* "The Matrix" came out 20 years ago (!), and while some people continue to discover and enjoy the film (the first more than the second or third,) there are many who look back and don't think the film series has gotten better with age.

* An opinion piece on "What tech hasn't learned from science fiction":

* When science fiction does come true?  It's not necessarily a good thing.  For every good use of a development, there can be a much darker application.

* For example!  The search for a death ray and all the other inventions that have come out of this goal.

* The upcoming "Godzilla: King of Monsters" has promised us a slew of monsters and a line in the new trailer says they've found 17 creatures and counting.  We might not see all of them in the film, but fingers crossed.

* Sometimes all you need to hear is the title of something to know you're going to be interested.  Two words: "Warrior Nun."
Award News

* In sad news, after a decade the Gemmell Awards have announced that they are being disbanded.  Check out the full statement here:

* The finalists for the 2019 Hugo Awards have been announced and it's a pretty great list.

* Check out the winners of Spectrum 26 over on the Spectrum Awards blog.

* The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Awards have been announced as well.  Check out the list of winners at Locus:

* Gabriela Damian Miravete has won the 2018 Tiptree Award for the short story "They Will Dream In the Garden".  You can both read the announcement and find a link to the story here:

* Uncanny Magazine has released the results of their Reader's Poll - check out the list and read the winners here:

* Check out the short list for the 2018 Sara Douglass Series Award - especially if you don't like to start series until they finish.

* And finally, Locus Magazine has the short list for this year's Sturgeon Award.
From The Office

Firstly, and probably most importantly, we reached our goal of 300 sponsors by March 31st.  In fact, on the 31st, we were at exactly 500 sponsors.  That's a slight drop from the same time last year, when we were at 532, but that's still way over the minimum and I'm pleased as punch about it.

But, just because we've met our goal, that doesn't meant that we're not happy to accept more sponsors.  So, if you'd like to help us get our move completed and continue to do all that we do (not to mention enjoy the social camaraderie and other benefits of being a sponsor), feel free to sign up online at, over the telephone anytime between noon and eight pm PST, or in person by stopping by the shop.

Now, on to the building update.  Last month I mentioned that we were just about to put up the really big beam that's a requirement for building the new restroom.  I'm very pleased to say that it's done and, moreso, the horrible pit of a restroom that we had is nothing but a memory (and, a big hole in the floor).  Tearing out the old one was a one-day job and a hell of a lot of fun.  We filled an entire debris box with the result and, by end of day, we were dirty, tired, and happy.

And then we ran into reality in the form of ADA access requirements and fire code.  The sort version is that the combination of those requirements was going to make the interior wall of the restroom extend further into the store that I had hoped.  So, I'm in the process of working on a different layout with our architect, Kevin Short.  We've got one layout that will work for sure and we're messing around with an even better one.  But, that means the construction of the restroom is on hold for now.  Thankfully, there's still work to do on the surrounding area and some repairs to make in the remaining walls, so we're not leaning on our shovels.

The storefront improvements have been on hold while I've been focusing on the restroom job, so no movement on that front.

The last planters in the garden are done (these are the small ones on top of the west retaining wall) and the irrigation and planting is done on them as well.  Melinda Rose, our gardener, has a few more tweaks to do, but then we're at a wait-and-see point while things grow in a bit.  That's fine because Melinda has become quite a good rough carpenter over the last year and so now I can put her to work on other stuff.

The electrical job has not progressed much.  We've had our pre-construction meeting and that went quite well.  But, I've had a little trouble finding a sub-contractor to do the trenching work from the PG&E box in the sidewalk over to our building.  In theory that's something I could do but . . . the liability associated with cutting concrete and digging trenches in a public (and well-traveled) sidewalk isn't something I want to take on.  Right now I'm waiting to hear back from two folks.  My original pick was great -- a total pro whose usual deal is not only do the digging and then close it all back up, but also install the conduit and deal with PG&E (our electric company). Then I got the bid.  For 30 feet of trench about three feet deep the quote was $16,000.  Granted, he was going to deal with a bunch of inspections and so forth, but that is one _hell_ of a lot of money.

And that is about where we stand right now.  I'm sorry but I haven't gotten the pictures that I promised last month up on-line.  I really will get that done but . . . time, time, time.

All Best,

Best Sellers
Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for March, 2019

1. Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey
2. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
3. The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
4.  In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
5. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
6. How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
7. Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
8. Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
9. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
10. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. A People's Future of the United States edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
3. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu
4. The Power by Naomi Alderman
5. New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl
6. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
7. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
8. The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts
9. Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
10. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. That Ain't Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire
2. Dune by Frank Herbert
3. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
4. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
5. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
6. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
7. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
8. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
9. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
10. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Book Club Information
The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, April 14th, at 5 pm to discuss RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW by Becky Chambers. Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, April 21st at 6 pm to discuss NEW YORK 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. The book for the following month will be GATEWAY by Frederik Pohl.  Please contact for more information

Upcoming Event Details

Mike Chen, HERE AND NOW AND THEN (MIRA, Hardcover, $26.99), and Peng Shepherd, THE BOOK OF M (William Morrow, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, April 13th at 3:00 pm - We are very happy to welcome these two excellent, up-and-coming authors to the store!  Publishers Weekly liked both of their novels, and gave HERE AND NOW AND THEN, Mike Chen's debut, a starred review and called it "heartfelt", "thrilling" and "unforgetable".  Peng Shepherd's debut, THE BOOK OF M, about a post-apocalyptic world full of danger and magic was called "graceful and riveting". We sincerely hope you'll join us to meet Mike and Peng and check out their books -- you'll be able to say you "knew them when"!

Writers With Drinks with authors Susannah Breslin, Mike Chen, Michelle Cruz Gonzales, Arkady Martine, Peng Shepherd, and Saskia Vogel, hosted by Charlie Jane Anders! (at The Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd Street, San Francisco) Saturday, April 13th at 7:30 pm - Writers With Drinks is the most awesome spoken-word variety show in the world, hosted by Charlie Jane Anders, and we're always happy to participate!  The amazing lineup this month includes authors Susannah Breslin (Forbes Vices), Mike Chen (Here and Now and Then), Michelle Cruz Gonzales (The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band), Arkady Martine (A Memory Called Empire), Peng Shepherd (The Book of M), and Saskia Vogel (Permission).  Cost: $5 to $20, no-one turned away for lack of funds.  All proceeds benefit local non-profits.  Doors open at 6:30 and Borderlands will be on hand to sell books.

Alex White, A BAD DEAL FOR THE WHOLE GALAXY (Orbit, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Tuesday, April 23rd at 6:00 pm - We're very happy to welcome author Alex White for an informal chat and signing event in the bookstore! Come meet Alex and check out their newest Salvagers novel A BAD DEAL FOR THE WHOLE GALAXY.

FAULT LINES Launch Party, Sunday, April 28th at 3:00 pm - What do you call a large group of mystery writers? A gang, or perhaps a murder?  Either way, we're delighted to welcome a whole slew of mystery authors to the store to celebrate the launch of the anthology FAULT LINES! From the editor: "Fault lines in the earth can shake our world.  Fault lines within people give rise to wrongs that must be righted.  FAULT LINES, Sisters in Crime/Northern California's first short story anthology, invites you to take a journey into mystery and intrigue, with 19 short stories that explore crime, guilt, and justice in this earthquake-prone region and beyond."  The authors joining to do super-short "flash" readings include Ana Brazil, Diana Chambers, Vinnie Hansen, David Hagerty, Judith Janeway, Mariah Klein, Susan Kuchinskas, Margaret Lucke, Terry Shames, Susan Shea, Robin Stuart, Nancy Tingley, and CJ Verburg.  We hope you'll join us, too!

SF in SF with authors (and editors) Peter S. Beagle and Jaymee Goh (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco) Sunday, April 28th at 6:30 pm - (Suggested donation $10.)  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.  Authors will schmooze & sign books after.  Seating is limited, so first come, first seated.  Doors and bar open at 6:00 pm, event begins at 6:30 pm.  Donations benefit the American Bookbinders Museum.  Questions?  Email

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

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