Monday, December 9, 2019

Dispatches from the Border, December 2019

Events and News From Borderlands Books

Upcoming Events

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers' of America Annual Holiday Party, Saturday December 7th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm

Writers With Drinks (at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd Street, San Francisco) with authors Meg Elison, Megan E. O'Keefe, Alvin Orloff, Amanda Rosenberg, Zoe Young, Olga Zilberbourg and fabulous guest host Maggie Tokuda-Hall! Saturday December 14th at 7:30 pm

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)

We're about to take our customary event hiatus until the New Year, but we'll be back in 2020 with dozens and dozens of fabulous authors, including Seanan McGuire, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, exciting debut author Juliette Wade in conversation with Deborah Ross, and many, many more!


* We're very sad to report the death of the incredible artist Gahan Wilson, who passed away at age 89.  Read Neil Gaiman's loving tribute here:

* We're also sad to note that Dorothy "D.C." Fontana, author of several of the most beloved original "Star Trek episodes", passed away last month:

* Borderlands' owner Alan Beatts, along with The Booksmith's Christin Evans and Dog Eared & Alley Cat Books' owner Kate Rosenberger, will be participating in a panel on the state of bookshops and bookselling, including how the industry works, what issues are facing it, and the place and importance of bookshops in city life.  The panel will take place Tuesday, January 28th from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at Manny's, 3092 16th Street, San Francisco.

* The best science fiction and fantasy books of 2019, according to Silivia Moreno-Garcia and Lavie Tidhar:

* The original movie "Bladerunner" was set in November, 2019.  Since it's no longer set in the future, here are a couple of interesting discussions about that: ;

* And, relatedly, dystopia meets Autopia with a museum exhibition of vehicles from dystopian movies including "Blade Runner" and "Mad Max: Fury Road":

* And lastly, speaking of dystopian vehicles, Tesla's recently-announced "Cyber Truck" has been receiving a lot of derision.  Here's a satirical video about Tesla's new Triangulator, which turns anything in a boxy, pointy copy of itself:

* Author Claire Legrand is drawn to books containing characters described by that horrible, overused phrase "unlikeable female protagonists" - a.k.a., complex, flawed, human characters. This is why she loves these fantasy novels featuring girls and young women who don't much care if they're "likeable" or not:

* Seasonally important news, just in case you need to know how to kill Krampus:

* Love Baby Yoda, you must!

* Our RNA may have come from space!

* Neil Gaiman shares some early details on the upcoming "Sandman" TV series.  Jude has been waiting for this to be turned into television since she was 15!

* The Flat Earth Society may have members all around the globe, but what is the Earth WAS flat?  We'd all be very dead; here's why:

* A timely topic: immigration, migration, and the associated questions of belonging are rife in science fiction and fantasy, author Malka Older notes. Here are some of her favorites:

* The current king of weird eco-fiction, Jeff Vandermeer talks DEAD ASTRONAUTS, cool animals and more:

* An amazing and heartwarming new documentary from Screen Junkies (the mad geniuses behind Honest Trailers) about the greatest I-can't-believe-it's-not-Star Trek movie, "Galaxy Quest". No geek should miss it:

* Because you know you want it, here is "Let it Go" sung in Klingon:

* Relatedly, "Frozen 2" now has the biggest global debut of any animated film, ever:

* I think at one point or another, we've all asked ourselves: what if our planet suddenly turned into an Earth-size pile of blueberries?  This is science.

* Leonardo Da Vinci's best ideas:

* As if a single black hole the size of ninety millions suns wasn't mind-blowing enough, here's one colliding with two other black holes. . . . (!):

* File this under "We can't do this here, and that's okay" - hair freezing contests:

* Richard Silver's panoramic photos turn cathedrals into beautiful, science-fictional, fractal works of art:

* The Saturday Evening Post lists their picks for the 7 Greatest American Horror Novels:

* H.R. Giger + Martha Stewart = Giant Gingerbread Xenomorph:

* Holy Cthulhu!  This new Lovecraft movie will be the first in a trilogy!

Borderlands' Opinionated Holiday Gift Guide

Welcome to December!  We've finally gotten our winter weather -- as a life-long, drought-hardened Californian, I have a superstitious aversion to _ever_ complaining about the rain -- and this is the perfect time to curl up with a good book yourself, or gift one to someone dear to you.  Personally this year has been a very difficult one, and I will be glad to see the back of it -- but that means it's even more important to celebrate the good things we have and the friends and family we love; hatch, and feather, as Becky Chambers would say.

Those of you who have been around a while know that I always do an opinionated and rambling gift guide for December, and this year is no exception.  I am excited to call your attention to just a few of the myriad cool and unexpected things we have in the store.  However, if you don't see something appropriate here, 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 glad 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 vaguely 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.)  Now, onward!

First, so many marvelous signed books!  Charlie Jane Anders, Gail Carriger, Becky Chambers, Richard Kadrey, Seanan McGuire, Christopher Moore, Annalee Newitz, Rudy Rucker, and Brent Weeks were all here recently, and we have lots of their signed stock for your gifting pleasure.  Additionally, we have signed copies of the exceptional short-story collection FULL THROTTLE by Joe Hill and A LITTLE HATRED by Joe Abercrombie (one of my favorite grim-dark fantasies of the last year, although truthfully not as dark as most of his earlier work). Lastly, we should shortly have copies of the absolutely stunning special signed leatherbound edition of Brandon Sanderson's WARBREAKER with tons of never-before-seen artwork.

You'd like a classic, you say?  No problem there -- there's a gorgeous new deluxe version of DUNE by Frank Herbert with the edges of the text block dyed a vivid blue, illustrated end papers and maps; two different lovely versions of THE PRINCESS BRIDE; an illustrated GOOD OMENS, and various hardcover classics like THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by Ursula K. Le Guin, NEUROMANCER by William Gibson, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein, a new-to-us UK tenth anniversary (!) hardcover edition of THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss, and many other fancy selections.  Speaking of tenth anniversary editions (!), we also have the new hardcover ROSEMARY AND RUE anniversary edition by Seanan McGuire, and the illustrated anniversary edition of SOULLESS by Gail Carriger.

Some of the staff's recent favorites are THE WANDERERS by Chuck Wendig, (an unusual and amazing story about an apocalyptic, mysterious phenomenon); THE SOL MAJESTIC by Ferrett Steinmetz, (a touching and tremendously sweet novel for the science-fiction-loving foodie in your life); THE IMAGINARY CORPSE by Tyler Hayes, (the very best book about a cuddly triceratops detective who solves crimes in a land of sort-of imaginary friends I've ever read, which is NOT damning with faint praise!), Sarah Kuhn's absolutely adorable Heroine Trilogy (starring some marvelous Asian-American superheroines in San Francisco) and REJOICE, A KNIFE TO THE HEART by Steven Erikson, (sort of like the most extraordinary, most intelligent take on "The Day the Earth Stood Still" you can possibly imagine).

Some unexpected treasures for those folks who have read everything: IRONTOWN BLUES by John Varley; IN OTHER LANDS by Sarah Rees Brennan; HANNAH GREEN AND HER UNFEASIBLY MUNDANE EXISTENCE by Michael Marshall Smith, WINTER TIDE by Ruthann Emrys (this, along with Matt Ruff's LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor La Valle, and CARTER AND LOVECRAFT are my favorite recent extremely-unconventional takes on Lovecraft), and the Axiom Trilogy (THE WRONG STARS; THE DREAMING STARS; and THE FORBIDDEN STARS) by Tim Pratt, (my pick for fans of Becky Chambers).

Creepy choices to keep you up at night: THE TWISTED ONES by T. Kingfisher, BEDFELLOW by Jeremy C. Shipp, THE FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART by Ben Tripp, SOMEONE LIKE ME by M.R. Carey, and PEACEABLE KINGDOM by Jack Ketchum.

Absolutely kick-ass anthologies: A PEOPLE'S FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES edited by John Joseph Adams and Victor La Valle; Hugo-award-winning WORLDS SEEN IN PASSING edited by Irene Gallo; THE MYTHIC DREAM edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe; REDISCOVERY: SCIENCE FICTION BY WOMEN (1958 TO 1963) edited by Gideon Marcus; and LOST TRANSMISSIONS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY edited by Desirina Boskovich.

For the mystery lover in your life: THE CORONER'S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill (Alan and I both LOVE this series!); the Charles Lenox mysteries by Charles Finch that begin with A BEAUTIFUL BLUE DEATH; SECONDHAND SPIRITS, which begins Juliet Blackwell's sweetly cozy just-a-bit-paranormal series; classic DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS by Walter Mosley; Barbara Hambly's excellent Benjamin January mysteries, which begin with A FREE MAN OF COLOR (you will fall in love with her characters); the suffocatingly dark LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley; and Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes mysteries, a series of funny, wonderful impossible-crime books starring two elderly detectives in London.

Not brand-new but great and absolutely worth another look: PASSING STRANGE by Ellen Klages; SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner; PANDEMONIUM by Daryl Gregory; WOMEN UP TO NO GOOD by Pat Murphy; ZOO CITY by Lauren Beukes; THE STEEL REMAINS by Richard Morgan.

Not genre at all but we love 'em anyway: DIARY OF A BOOKSELLER by Shaun Bythell (side-splittingly hilarious; Alan and I both heartily recommend this one), THE YELLOW-LIGHTED BOOKSHOP by Lewis Buzbee (absolutely charming & perfect for any Bay Area book lover), THE SECRET HISTORIAN by Justin Spring (you will be stunned when you learn about the life of Samuel Steward, the most famous professor, Oakland tattoo artist, Kinsey test-subject, and sexual renegade you've never heard of), and CAPTIVE OF THE LABYRINTH by Mary Jo Ignoffo, (the captivating true story of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the rifle fortune who was falsely accused of madness, and architect of the famous Winchester House in San Jose).

Other fun stuff: we just got in Nathan Pyle's adorable book of cartoons STRANGE PLANET (our bestselling hardcover last month!).  We have creepy key tags for places like The Bates Motel, The Hotel California, The Overlook Hotel from THE SHINING, The Hotel Cortez from "American Horror Story", Cyberdyne Systems, and many others.  New to us and oh-so-cool are little enamel pins for book lovers from Rather Keen <>: they say things like "The Book Was Better", "Sorry, I'm Booked", "I Like Big Books". . . and some that are "Star Wars"-inspired -- "One With the Force", "Fly Casual", and "I Have a Bad Feeling About This".  We've recently gotten a new selection of fantastic blank journals, too -- everything from Cthuluhu to antique map images to beautiful Tiffany glass to The Unicorn Tapestry to pulp movie covers like "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" <> to clever ones that say things on the covers like "Strange Ideas and Impure Thoughts", "I Regret Nothing", "Creative Ramblings of a Restless Mind", and many more.

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.

Here's wishing you a happy, hopeful, and peaceful holiday season, and all the best for next year.

- Jude Feldman

From The Office

After a monograph like Jude's Gift Guide, there doesn't seem to be much need for me to add a lot of extra verbiage here.  Just two things to pass along.

First, work continues at the new building.  It's been slow going, mostly because some personal stuff had me in LA for about half of the last month.  But . . . it is moving along.  Rough electrical for the bathroom is done and will be inspected (and passed, I'm sure) on the 10th.  Rough framing for the front passed inspection week before last and now we're working to get the surface finish done outside and the electrical done inside.  Rough electrical for the main floor will probably happen this month and, because our electrician is great, should pass inspection this month as well.  Once that's done there'll be a few other things to take care of in the ceiling (Cat 6 network cabling, audio cabling, and the lifting point of the trap door for the basement shop) and then I can get the sheetrock crew in to close it up.  So, we're plugging right along.

Second, this has been a rough year personally and, I think, a rough year for most Americans.  For me, December is when it's easiest to get stressed out, feel rushed, and generally lose my sense of calm.  Further, for many people, it's a month when it's easy to feel worried and, perhaps worst of all, isolated.

This month, despite everything that is going on, I try to slow down, breathe and keep clear in my mind what is actually important.  Most of all, I try to remember that the things that are getting my attention -- nasty weather, flashing lights, bad drivers, and the constant refrain of "Buy, buy, buy!" -- really aren't that significant at all.

At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, what matters this month is exactly the same as every other month -- our friends, our family (whether by blood or by choice), our principals, and our dreams & goals.  So, as we head into the end of 2019 and the end of the second decade of the 21st century; take care of yourselves, take care of your people, find calm within the noise and haste, and have a peaceful and happy holiday followed by a joyous New Year.

Warmest Regards,

Best Sellers
Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for November, 2019


1. Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle
2. Rosemary and Rue 10th Anniversary Edition by Seanan McGuire
3. The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
5. Burning White by Brent Weeks
6. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
7. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
9.  Dune: Deluxe Edition by Frank Herbert
10. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Trade Paperbacks

1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
3. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
4. To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
5. How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin
6. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
7. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
8. The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge
9. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu
10. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Mass Market Paperbacks

1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
4. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
5. The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi
6. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch
7. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
8. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
9. The Forbidden Stars by Tim Pratt
10. Neuromancer by William Gibson

Book Club Information

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, November 8th, at 5 pm to discuss BATTLEFIELD EARTH by L. Ron Hubbard.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, December 15th, at 6 pm to discuss SHARDS OF HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold.  The book for January 19th is LA BELLE SAUVAGE -THE BOOK OF DUST VOL. 1 by Philip Pullman. Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers' of America Annual Holiday Party, Saturday December 7th from 2:00 - 4:00 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, including Susan Bickford, Cara Black, Dana Fredsti, Heather Haven, Gigi Pandian, Susan Shea, Kelli Stanley, Nancy Tingley, CJ Verburg & many others!  Don't miss this opportunity to meet so many authors all at the same time in an informal setting, and enjoy a rousing kick-off to the party season!

Writers With Drinks (at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd Street, San Francisco) with authors Meg Elison, Megan E. O'Keefe, Alvin Orloff, Amanda Rosenberg, Zoe Young, Olga Zilberbourg and fabulous guest host Maggie Tokuda-Hall! Saturday December 14th at 7:30 pm - Writers With Drinks is the most awesome spoken-word variety show in the world, hosted this month by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and we're always happy to participate!  The amazing lineup this time includes Meg Elison, Megan E. O'Keefe, Alvin Orloff, Amanda Rosenberg, Zoe Young, and Olga Zilberbourg!  Cost: $5 to $20, no-one turned away for lack of funds.  All proceeds benefit local non-profits.  Doors open at 7:00 and Borderlands will be on hand to sell books.

Borderlands event policy - all events are free of charge unless otherwise noted.  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 - Jude Feldman
Assistant Editor - Alan Beatts
Special thanks to contributors David Fitzgerald and Madeleine Hubbert, who tracked down lots of December news!

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