May 28, 2012

The Eminent Coroner Prepares to Save America

This week's reading list from the staff:

Alan: "Finished BLACKOUT by Mira Grant, a very worthy conclusion to her Newsflesh series.  Also read COUNTDOWN, which is a prequel novella in the same world.  Burned through THE CORONER'S LUNCH by Colin Cotterill yesterday - It's a mystery with very mild supernatural elements set in Laos right after the end of the Vietnam war.  Just wonderful writing, good characters and mystery.  Love it and now I'm going to find the others and read them.  Right now I'm just starting on a re-read of PREPARE TO DIE by Paul Tobin.  I read it before it came out and I like it so much I'm going to re-read it now.  Hands down one of the best treatments of Superheros for an adult audience ever, as good or better than WATCHMEN or SOON I WILL BE INVINCIBLE."

Cary: ANGEL'S INK by Jocelyn Drake and re-reading TERRITORY by Emma Bull.

MOTHER LONDON by Michael Moorcock [never really went anywhere, but did it so well you didn't mind]
SEASON OF THE WITCH: ENCHANTMENT, TERROR AND DELIVERANCE IN THE CITY OF LOVE by David Talbot [didn't quite pull off Teh Theme that the author was aiming for, but on a chapter-by-chapter basis, *awesome* stories of San Francisco history in 60s and 70s]
A ROPE OF THORNS by Gemma Files [reread, getting ready for A TREE OF BONES]
"The Hedge Knight", "The Sworn Sword" and "The Mystery Knight" by George R.R. Martin

Jude: "Just finished an advance copy of WHEN WILL YOU RISE: STORIES TO END THE WORLD by Mira Grant, and I am starting BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig."

May 21, 2012

God Save the Perfumed Blackout

This week's reading list from the staff:

Alan: "I'm reading an advance copy of BLACKOUT, the third book in Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy.  I really enjoyed the first two, FEED and DEADLINE.  They're two of the three best zombie novels out there, along with WORLD WAR Z.  Really, those three books (plus, I'm sure, BLACKOUT) are completely in a class by themselves.  No one else take a science-fictional approach to zombies (i.e. one in which things actually have to make logical sense, rather than just sounding good)."

Claud: "PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER by Patrick Süskind
, A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files [re-read, getting ready for A TREE OF BONES]
, and ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE: A LIFE by Alison Weir"

Heather: "Still reading A STORM OF SWORDS by George R.R. Martin."

Jude: "Since I couldn't wrestle BLACKOUT from Alan, I'll be starting to read that at 12:01 a.m. tonight (Tuesday).  I've also picked up an advance copy of THE RAPTURE OF THE NERDS by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross and an advance copy of GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Kate Locke (see Naamen's comments)."

Naamen: "Just finished GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Kate Locke, first book in The Immortal Empire where it's 2012 and a vampire Queen Victoria still reigns and all of the aristocracy are vampires or werewolves. A fun, fast-paced romp through a really great present-day urban steampunk. Not usually a big fan of steampunk but this one won me over almost right away.
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin - A fresh and interesting take on YA Science Fiction about women called Spinsters, who can weave time and matter and therefore control every aspect of people's lives. I always enjoy a confident young female protagonist determined to make her own way and this book has that in spades."

Cary: "Reading an advance copy of WHAT IN GOD'S NAME by Simon Rich (comes out this August).  God wants to end the earth and to prevent it, two angels make a bet with God -- they'll get two socially clueless strangers to go on a date.  With in a month.  Or it's all over.  Reminds me of Christopher Moore."

May 20, 2012

Print-On-Demand Not Coming to a Store Near You

A recent article by Andrew Fox about the possible future of publishing and bookselling made me start thinking about some of the Print-On-Demand printing machines that are available for bookstores.  One of Andrew's contentions was that in the future bookstores would commonly have equipment of that sort in their shops.  It was one of the only things he said that I didn't agree with, primarily because of the price of such machines (a common one, the Espresso Book Machine, costs around $100,000).  Yesterday I realized that my opinion about that, since the last time I'd seriously considered it was 2008 or so, might have been based on old information and an old thought process.  For a small business in a changing field, sticking to conclusions that you made four years ago is a terrible habit so I did a big of digging around the web to check my assumptions.

I wish what I had found would have made me wrong and Andrew right, but not so.  For a smaller store, the technology just isn't there yet.  And, I'm very doubtful that it ever will get there.  You'll find my reasoning after the break.

May 19, 2012

Science Fiction Bookstores in the News

A Q&A with our friends Dave Nee and Jan Murphy from Other Change of Hobbit were featured in Oakland Local.  Congrats, you guys -- we're thrilled to see you still hanging tough!

And, we were gratified and a little surprised to find Borderlands mentioned in an article about what to do during a 48 hour visit to San Francisco from the UK's "Independent" newspaper.  Of all the amazing things to do in the City, I think it's delightful they'd choose us as one of the few to cram into 2 days in San Francisco.

And thinking about that, what would your ideal and/or recommended 48 hours in San Francisco look like?  I've been working on it, but I can't get it down to less than about a week.

May 17, 2012

Not Even a Little Bit Cute

by Jude Feldman

I'm a news junkie.  And when the news gets to be too much (as it can when you're contemplating the possible imminent fall of the Euro,) I frequently turn to cute pictures of cats to make things temporarily better. (Cute cat pictures being one of the two major things for which the Internet was invented.)

However, in one of my recent searches for cute cat videos, I came across a video of a Not Even a Little Bit Cute Super-Creepy Deep Sea Creature that had been caught on film by a remotely operated video camera.  Do keep watching, as the critter leaves the camera's field of view for a while, but then comes back with a vengeance:

Steven Haddock PhD., a research scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium who specializes in bioluminescence and zooplankton, claims this thing is a Deepstaria enigmatica as explained here.

But those of us at Borderlands know the truth -- that this is actually one of the Old Ones --  and are brushing up on our pronunciation of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn".  Sweet dreams to all of you!

Fearless Mocking of Jay Dante's Storm of Big Sex

This weeks reading list from the staff.

Alan: "I'm working through Suzanne Collins' series.  Finished HUNGER GAMES, which was excellent and added more dimension to the story compared to the film (no surprise there).  Now I'm into CATCHING FIRE.  It's darker than the first book but very good.  After that I'm going to finish off with MOCKINGJAY.  After that my list is open.  Any suggestions?"

Jude: "I'm reading THE DANTE CLUB by Matthew Pearl, a literary mystery set in Cambridge, 1865.  A serial killer is apparently offing his victims according to Dante's punishments, and the only people who can solve the mystery belong to a club of poets and academics who are translating Dante from Italian to English, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell. I'm more than halfway through and still don't know how I feel about it.  Quite vivid characters, but it . . .plods a bit. To stick with the 19th century theme, I'm also reading CHINATOWN'S ANGRY ANGEL: THE STORY OF DONALDINA CAMERON by Mildred Crowl Martin, an utterly fascinating nonfiction look at the missionary who rescued thousands of Chinese (and other) girls from lives of prostitution and slavery in San Francisco's Chinatown in the late 1800's - early 1900's. (Incidentally, the book, which was published in 1977, hasn't said a word about what happened to these girls if they refused to convert to Christianity.  I sincerely hope, and it seems from the text, that they were not denied sanctuary.) Regardless, there is no denying that this woman's achievements were extraordinary and the story is captivating."

Claud: "BIG SEX LITTLE DEATH: A MEMOIR, by Susie Bright"

Heather: "Just started STORM OF SWORDS by George R.R. Martin."

Cary: "Still reading SAN FRANCISCO NOIR edited by Peter Maravelis and re-reading GOING POSTAL by Terry Pratchett."

Naamen: "FEARLESS by Jack Campbell
MilitarySF  - Moved on to the 2nd in the series, still a good bit of fast-paced action with surprising depth of character and interesting personal and global politics.

FLORA SEGUNDA by Ysabeau S. Wilce
YA Alternate World - Only a few pages in but WOW, great world-building, interesting set-up and I love the protagonist already.  Really shows me what some of the younger aimed speculative fiction I've read lately need to be doing."

May 16, 2012

Constructing a Literary Ecosystem with Andrew Fox

Our friend (and talented author), Andrew Fox, posted an interesting piece on his blog about where the book business is going.  It's worth reading just for his commentary, ninety percent of which he and I agree on (though I don't think that the economics of in-store print of demand "book machines" will ever work out for smaller stores).

But even more interesting is the end of the post where he talks about what he'd like to see happen, and what people can do to make it happen.  Constructive discussions like this are too rare in our field and I appreciate how Andrew is approaching it.

What do you think about his ideas?

May 09, 2012

Stars Wars, Machete-Style

Turn the geek dial up to eleven!  I just read an old-ish post about the best order in which to watch all six Star Wars movies, the "Machete Order".  The author, Rod Hilton, deserves huge geek credit for the amount of thought he put into it but he deserves even more credit for being so right.

So very right.  He explains it better than I could so I urge you to check out the entire post but the key point is -- don't watch episode one at all.  And the absolute best part about that in my book is, by doing so, you can almost completely avoid the horrid, horrid, offensive and hateful . . . Jar Jar Binks.  I don't think that there is a fictional character that I loath more than that lame-ass, floppy eared, poor excuse for a sophant.

Plus you also avoid the interminable land-speeder race and any significant reference to midichlorians (critters which, in one short scene, demoted the Force from the mystical, barely understood foundation of the universe to something a bit like a yeast infection).

I am full of awe and now I want to go home and watch the whole thing (minus episode 1, of course).

May 07, 2012

Playing Solitaire and Hunger Games amidst a Mirage of Infernal Shards

People are always curious about what we on the staff are reading.  As of today, here's what's next to our beds and in our bags.

Claud Reich, Clerk --

The Forge of Christendom: The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West by Tom Holland
Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter
Siesta and the Midnight Sun: How Our Bodies Experience Time by Jessa Gamble
The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Jude Feldman, General Manager --

"Jude just finished re-reading the incredibly entertaining THE CROWN JEWELS and HOUSE OF SHARDS by Walter John Williams.  Unfortunately they're out of print, but very worth tracking down if you like lovable rogues, or appreciated THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA."

Na'amen Tilahun, Clerk --

"I'm in the midst of four books right now, because I'm a jumper

- Matt Ruff - Mirage
Alternate world. Set in the United Arab States. This world's version
of Wikipedia is my favorite thing about the book so far.

- Jack Campbell - The Lost Fleet: Dauntless
Military-SF. A tired man trying to live up to a legend he wants
nothing to do with - less about stunning battle wins and glory, more
about survival and doing what's necessary.

- Chris Colfer - The Land of Stories
Middle-Grade Fantasy. Interesting elements of fairytale revision, with
Snow White confronting her "evil" stepmother regarding her motives,
if not completely original in its protagonists or set-up.

- Kelley Eskridge - Solitaire
Social SF. The tech is less important than the people involved. A look
at truth, expectations and psychological trauma."

Alan Beatts, Owner --

"Finally getting to THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins (booksellers are almost always behind the times or ahead of them).  I like it and it looks like the film did a good and faithful job of adapting the book.  But, like any book-to-movie situation, the book is richer in almost every respect.

Also, I just finished NOCTURNAL by Scott Sigler and I thought it was outstanding.  His best work yet.  I'm a sucker for San Francisco as a location and monsters as a topic, but beyond that, the plot is pretty complex and it took me quite awhile to figure out what was going on -- which I _love_."

Heather Cornish, Mail Order Manager --

Just finishing up A CLASH OF KINGS and about to start A STORM OF SWORDS, both by George R.R. Martin.

Cary Heater, Clerk --

Rereading THE NIGHT WATCH by Terry Pratchett as well as working on San Francisco Noir edited by Peter Maravelis.

May 06, 2012

May Upcoming Events

Walter Mosley, THE GIFT OF FIRE / ON THE HEAD OF A PIN (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99) - Thursday, May 10th at 7:00 pm

Borderlands Books and Cafe Rummage Sale - Saturday, May 12th and Sunday, May 13th from Noon to 8:00 pm.

Andrew Dugas, Steven Meloan, Ransom Stephens - Techno-Spirituality Triple Author Event - May 19th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Buildng, 582 Market Strret, with authors Marie Brennan, Erin Hoffman and Ysabeau Wilce - Saturday, May 19th at 7:00 pm

Mary Robinette Kowal, GLAMOUR IN GLASS (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99) - Saturday, June 2nd at 3:00 pm

Cassie Alexander, NIGHTSHIFTED (St. Martin's, Mass Market, $7.99) - Saturday, June 9th at 3:00 pm

Details after the break

April Bestsellers

1. Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
4. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
5. Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
6. The Road to Danger by David Drake
7. Angels of Vengeance by John Birmingham
8. The Croning by Laird Barron
9. The Mirage by Matt Ruff
10.  Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2. Timeless by Gail Carriger
3. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
4. Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
5. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
6. Plague Town by Dana Fredsti
7. Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
8. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
9. WWW: Wonder by Roget J. Sawyer
10. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Trade Paperbacks
1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Black Opera by Mary Gentle
3. Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders by Samuel Delany
4. Faith by John Love tie with Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
5. Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Three Observations Concerning the DOJ Suit Against Apple

by Alan Beatts

At the beginning of last month the United States Department of Justice announced that it was bringing suit against five of the six major U.S. publishers as well as Apple for violating anti-trust regulations, specifically prohibitions on collusion and price-fixing as described in Section 1 of the Sherman Act.  The complaint brought by the DOJ in essence says that Apple and five publishers (Macmillan, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster) conspired to force adoption of the agency model for sales of ebooks on the retail industry with the aim and effect of raising prices for consumers and reducing competition.  Under the agency model, which was adopted by all five of these publishers over a period of six weeks in early 2010, the publishers set prices and the retailers (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, et al) cannot offer the book at a lower price.

I've been following the discussion about the suit since the news broke and it is interesting that the general tenor of the response has not been particularly in favor of the suit.  Specifically, there are a few things that seem to be generally acknowledged by most of the commentators, regardless of industry affiliation or political stripe.

May News Roundup

* Tor / Forge e-book titles will go DRM-free in July, 2012.  Which means that you can make as many copies as you like and read the books on any device:

* As a science fiction and fantasy fan and bookseller, I am the first to admit that I am enormous geek, and I love geeks, and am delighted to be surrounded by them all the time.  But this level of geekery makes me simply gasp in awe:

* Borderlands has some signed copies of Paolo Bacigalupi's new novel THE DROWNED CITIES available.  Reserve one now, they're going fast!

* The Locus Awards are being held June 15th - 16th, 2012 in Seattle.  "Tickets for the SF Awards Weekend are $40 and include all Locus events -- including readings, a kickoff meet-and-greet, panels with leading authors, an autograph session, the lunch banquet, and the annual Hawai'ian shirt contest judged by the fabulous Connie Willis, who will MC the ceremony and present the Locus Awards -- all followed by the Clarion West Party on Saturday night honoring Clarion West supporters, awards weekend ticket holders, and special guests. The events are held across the street from the Seattle Center, home to the SF Hall of Fame and the Experience Music Project, with excellent access to the light rail and trolley systems.  In addition, non-profit literary organization NW Media Arts is sponsoring special Awards Weekend writers workshops with James Patrick Kelly and Connie Willis at the nearby Richard Hugo House. Additional fees apply."  Find detailed information here:

* Oh, wow.  Microsoft is teaming up with Barnes and Noble to compete with Amazon and Apple in the ebook market wars.  Things are bound to get even more interesting:

* Baen Books is looking for beta testers.  From editor Jim Minz: "Beta testers for what, you may ask? For PLANET BAEN, of course. This is a web-based, Facebook-integrated game that not only is a fun way to waste time, but actually earns you FREE EBOOKS simply by playing. (Note: you do NOT have to be signed up on Facebook to play, but if you are, it's easier for folks to give you gifts, etc). It's actually pretty simple, sort of like a very basic cross between Farmville and Civilization (but waaaay more basic), where you create a colony and then guide that colony to grow and succeed. The better the colony does, the more free ebooks you'll earn.  We're giving away a free ebook to anyone who just signs up to beta test, and the more you help with testing, the more ebooks you'll earn.  <>  or <>
(this second link will change to <> once we launch on June 15)."

* We're sorry to report the death of actor Johnathan Frid, who played Barnabas Collins on the original "Dark Shadows".  I wonder if he got to see an advance of the new movie, and, if so, what he thought? <,0,5560319.story>

* We're quite saddened to hear about the untimely death of author and editor K.D. Wentworth. <>