Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Dispatches from the Border, June 2020

Hi Everyone,

I'm going to jump in here right at the beginning of the newsletter since I'm sure folks are wondering about our plans for this month in terms of reopening the shop.  Based on the current (but subject to change) plan for San Francisco, we will be able to allow customers into the store starting on Monday, June 15th.  As we did with curbside pickup, I think that we'll take a slightly slower approach and we'll actually open for customers on Wednesday, the 17th.  That gives us time to make sure that we have everything in place to make the process comfortable for everyone.  It also gives us time to see what other businesses are doing and spot possible problems.  Likewise, just as we did last month, I think that we'll start with only Jude and myself working and then we'll bring the rest of the staff in the following week.

I'm still in the process of working out all the details.  Obviously we'll be doing all the expected things (hand sanitizing left and right (pun intended), masks required all the time for everyone in the shop, asking everyone to stay 6' apart, and so forth) but there will be a few other steps that we'll take as well.  What has been decided so far is that we'll be using a bunch of HEPA air filters that, in total, are able to cycle the air in the shop four to five times per hour.  Though there isn't a rigorous scientific conclusion that they are effective in reducing the risks in an enclosed space, I have found no guidance that suggest that they will be harmful in any way and it's reasonable to conclude that they will be helpful, if to an unknown degree.

We'll also be restricting the total number of people in the shop.  The exact number is still to be determined, absent guidance from the SF Department of Public Health, but my sense is that it will be in the 8-10 person range, inclusive of staff.  So, if you come by the shop after we're open and, upon entry, are asked to come back later, I hope that you'll understand our reasons and be patient with us.  We will also be open by appointment outside of normal business hours.  I'm still working on the exact details of that, but it's in the works.

You can expect a mid-month update email with all the details, once they're ironed out.  I've got to say, we're all very excited at the prospect of seeing you all again.  We've missed you.

All Best,

Upcoming Events

Melissa Caruso, THE OBSIDIAN TOWER (Orbit, Trade Paperback, $16.99), Tuesday, June 9th at 6:00 pm PST, virtual event via CrowdCast

(for more information check the end of this newsletter)

We're also excited to be virtually hosting L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (QUANTUM SHADOWS) on Tuesday July 21st, and Kate Elliott (UNCONQUERABLE SUN) and Mary Robinette Kowal (THE RELENTLESS MOON) together on Thursday, July 23rd!  Look for more details on those events coming soon.


* Massive, enormous, huge "thank you"s to the wonderful folks who did incredibly successful fund-raising benefits for us over the last month -- Annalee Newitz and Short Story Club <>; Charlie Jane Anders, N.K. Jemisin, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Maggie Tokuda-Hall via We Love Bookstores <>; and all of you who turned up virtually to show your support!  We appreciate it more than we can express, and it has made an immense difference in allowing us to continue paying our staff during the shutdown and moving forward with the construction plans for our permanent home on Haight Street.  We can't thank you all enough.

* We're also thrilled and grateful to artist Eli the Man <> and Paint the Void for this amazing mural that now graces the temporary doors at 1377 Haight Street, our permanent-home-to-be: <>. Paint the Void is keeping artists engaged and paid during the shutdown; check out more of the stunning work they've been doing here: <>

* In very sad news, Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore, the oldest independent science fiction and fantasy bookstore in the US, and Uncle Edgar's Mystery Bookstore (which shared the building) were both completely destroyed by fire during riots at the end of May.  Owner Don Blyly has claimed the Go Fund Me page originally set up by a fan:  In addition, Greg Ketter's DreamHaven Bookstore, also in Minneapolis, "was trashed," according to Greg, but is still standing, and volunteers are coming to assist in the cleanup.  Dreamhaven is doing fine but the folks at Uncle Hugo's could really use your support.

* Tor and Publishing, in partnership with Den of Geek, are launching TorCon, a virtual convention running from Thursday, June 11th through Sunday June 14th!  Info, schedule, and register here:

* is also hosting an amazing recorded panel with an absolutely stellar lineup of authors: P. Djéli Clark, Alaya Dawn Johnson, N.K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle, and Tochi Onyebuchi!  The panel is part of The Bronx is Reading Festival.  RSVP here:

* A wearable, robotic third arm can assist with tasks when you need an extra hand:

* A dictionary of Dolphinese? The clicking sounds dolphins use for echolocation actually form reproducible holographic pictures, that researchers suggest may be the basis of dolphin language.

* You may remember local author (and photographer) Mark Coggins from last year's Litquake reading at Borderlands (remember when we could have in-person readings?!).  Mark has started a podcast, and he's reading the most recently-published August Riordian book as a serial audiobook. The podcast is called "Riordan's Desk", and you can check it out here:

* "Ugliest place I've ever seen": artist Amber Share makes charming travel posters for National Parks, based on their worst 1-star reviews. . . .

* While we were paying attention to other things, they made "Beetlejuice" into a musical:

* Genre?  What Genre?  Six recent SFF novels that blur the lines:

* Fifty years on, here are six ways Patrick McGoohan's surreal cult spy series "The Prisoner" prepared us for the modern world.  Are we all now living in The Village?

* Here's a pandemic treatment for you: Romans used to ward off sickness with (adorable) flying penis amulets:

* How a humble bookstore clerk outed Stephen King as Richard Bachman:

* Electrons may actually be conscious, sort of:

* 'Disco' tardigrade parties under microscope to win an international photo prize (and 50 other tiny wonders of microphotography):

Haight St. Update

Last month we finally got back to work on the new shop.  And we made some really great progress.  So much that I've got some pictures for you to look at -  The high points are:

The sheet rock is mostly complete.  There are still some small areas that I'll be completing (because they're tricky) but the crew from Pat Trainor Drywall <> came by and banged it out faster than I would have thought possible.  They are the same company that did the work at the cafe and they're just the best.  It took them only one day to hang the entire 1400 square foot ceiling plus 300 square feet of wall.  And then just two more days to do all the mud. The difference is like night and day.

Tile is also mostly complete.  Simon Firth of Canterbury Tile, who set the tile for the bathroom, did the work for the front wall and about half of the vestibule.  We changed the design partway through and so we needed more red tiles than we had on hand.  Once we finalize the design for the entry floor, he'll be back and we'll get the job finished off.  It looks so good. Even moreso, it's especially exciting because it's the first piece of final and finished work on the exterior.

And, finally, we have a mural.  Paint The Void <> is a cooperative effort on the part of two non-profits whose goal is, "Helping keep artists engaged and paid as guardians of hope and beauty in the wake of COVID-19".  Basically they raise funds to pay local artists to paint murals on boarded-up storefronts around town.  My friend Aaron referred me to them and, despite telling them that it was a construction site rather than someplace boarded up because of the shelter-in-place order, they said they would love to get us a mural.  A few days later I met up with Eli The Man <> who did the coolest damn thing on the front of the shop.  I think it's kind of a shame that it's temporary but, who knows, perhaps we'll figure out something neat to do, once the plywood comes down and we have windows?

This month my plan is to get the final work done on the walls in the bathroom and then I'll get the plumbers back in to finish off that job.  Beyond that, there's a tiny bit of framing in the ceiling right outside the door, followed by sheetrock and then the bathroom is done.  We'll see how getting that work done goes, with everything else that's going on.  Wish me luck!

Best Sellers
Borderlands Best-Selling Titles for May, 2020

1. Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore
2. Network Effect by Martha Wells
3. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
4. The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
5. House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
6. If It Bleeds by Stephen King

Trade Paperbacks
1. Defy or Defend by Gail Carriger
2. Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
3. Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
4. Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
5. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
6. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alex Harrow

Mass Market Paperbacks

(Since we've only been doing mail order and curbside pickup sales, we didn't have enough mass market sales in May to make a reasonable list.)

Book Club Information
Both of the book clubs that typically meet in the store will be meeting online via Zoom in June:

The QSF&F Book Club will meet virtually on Sunday, June 14th, at 5 pm to discuss TIAMAT'S WRATH by James S.A. Corey.  All the details are here: . Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet virtually on Sunday, June 21st, at 6 pm to discuss IRONTOWN BLUES by John Varley.  Please contact to get the Zoom info.

Upcoming Event Details

Melissa Caruso, THE OBSIDIAN TOWER (Orbit, Trade Paperback, $16.99), Tuesday, June 9th at 6:00 pm PST via CrowdCast -  Borderlands is delighted to host a virtual book launch with Melissa Caruso for THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, the first novel in her new Rooks and Ruin series!  Join us via CrowdCast to meet the author, hear her read from the book, and get your questions answered. You can also order signed and personalized copies from us, either by calling 415 824-8203, emailing, or securely online via using this link:

Here's the book summary for this thrilling title from the publisher:
"One woman will either save an entire continent or completely destroy it in a captivating epic fantasy bursting with intrigue and ambition, questioned loyalties, and broken magic.  'Guard the tower, ward the stone.  Find your answers writ in bone.  Keep your trust through wits or war -- nothing must unseal the door.'  Deep within Gloamingard Castle lies a black tower.  Sealed by magic, it guards a dangerous secret that has been contained for thousands of years.  As Warden, Ryxander knows the warning passed down through generations: nothing must unseal the Door.  But one impetuous decision will leave her with blood on her hands -- and unleash a threat that could doom the world to fall to darkness."

We hope you'll join us and Melissa for an exciting new kind of event!

Find more information and register for free here: