July 30, 2012

Wishfully Hunting Indigo Unicorns in Red Shirts

What the staff is reading this week:

Cary: "THE FACTS OF LIFE and INDIGO by Graham Joyce."

Claud: "GHETTO AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD, by Gordon Mathews; and THE UNICORN HUNT, by Dorothy Dunnett."

Heather: "REDSHIRTS by John Scalzi."

Jude: "Just finished WISHFUL DRINKING by Carrie Fisher (a little horrifying, mostly hilarious) and I just picked up an advance copy of Seanan McGuire's ASHES OF HONOR."

July 23, 2012

Moonshifted Revisionist Fairy Blackbirds of Ohio

What the staff is reading this week:

Alan: "Just finished BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig.  Very dark story with a compelling, if not likable, narrator."

Cary: "SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE by Graham Joyce".

Claud: "GEORGETTE HEYER'S REGENCY WORLD, by Jennifer Kloester; DEAR DAWN: AILEEN WUORNOS IN HER OWN WORDS, by Aileen Wuornos; and THE REVISIONISTS, by Thomas Mullen -- an *excellent* time-police-in-War-on-Terror-Washington-DC novel."

Jude: "I just finished THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO by Terry Ryan, which was totally heartwarming."

Naamen:"Just finished an advanced copy of Cassie Alexander's next Edie Spence novel MOONSHIFTED and it was just as good if not better than the recently released first in the series, NIGHTSHIFTED. I take off my hat to any urban fantasy novel that can work what's basically a cyborg in believably with our current level of tech. MOONSHIFTED is out in December.  Just started an advanced copy of ASHES OF HONOR, the sixth Toby Daye novel by Seanan McGuire. This is one of my favorite ongoing Urban Fantasy series so I can't wait to really get into it."

Fair Kindergarten Rules for the DOJ

by Alan Beatts
The Department of Justice has released its response to comments requested on its suit against Apple and five of the six major U.S. publishers.  Arstechnica has published a detailed discussion as well.  In it Jacqui Cheng distills the DOJ's position thus --

"But the DoJ says two wrongs don't make a right, even if Amazon did have a real monopoly. 'There is no mistaking the fear that many of the commenters have of the prospect of competing with Amazon on price. No doubt Amazon is a vigorous e-book competitor,' The DoJ wrote in its response. "The future is unclear and the path for many industry members may be fraught with uncertainty and risk. But certainly there is no shortage of competitive assets and capabilities being brought to bear in the e-books industry. A purpose of the proposed Final Judgment is to prevent entrenched industry members from arresting via collusion the potentially huge benefits of intense competition in an evolving market."

I agree completely that engaging in an illegal action in reply to an illegal situation is no defense and shouldn't be excused from prosecution.  However, the DOJ's case still doesn't seem to clearly prove that the publishers conspired as to pricing.  It still seems rather that, by supporting the agency model, they conspired about a business and sales model that would allow them to raise (or lower, for that matter) prices.  The two things are not the same and it takes a fair amount of stretching to fit the actual case into the legal definition of price-fixing.

But, even if the publishers and Apple are guilty, it seems that even the DOJ is starting to agree that prior to 2010, Amazon did have a monopolistic control of the ebook market.  If so, then it seems the effect of the settlements and the outcome of the case should take that control into account and not set the stage for a return to it, regardless of the guilt or innocence of Apple and the publishers.

You can find the whole 64 page response as a PDF here.

July 22, 2012

U.S. Senator Opposes DOJ Suit Against Apple

by Alan Beatts

Charles E. Schumer, a Democratic senator from New York, wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal opposing the Department of Justice suite against Apple and several publishers.  Of note in the article is a figure that I'd missed when I wrote about the same topic.

Despite higher prices for some ebooks after Apple supported the agency model, the average price for e-books dropped from $9 to $7 during the two year period prior to the suit (the source for this figure is court document associated with the suit).

Mr. Schumer goes on to say,

"The Justice Department has ignored this overall trend and instead focused on the fact that the prices for some new releases have gone up. This misses the forest for the trees. While consumers may have a short-term interest in today's new release e-book prices, they have a more pressing long-term interest in the survival of the publishing industry.

If publishers, authors and consumers are at the mercy of a single retailer that controls 90% of the market and can set rock-bottom prices, we will all suffer. Choice is critical in any market, but that is particularly true in cultural markets like books. The prospect that a single firm would control access to books should give any reader pause"

And he closes with this observation,

"The administration needs to reassess its prosecution priorities. Justice Department officials currently have comprehensive guidelines in place to determine when they should challenge mergers, but they have no such guidelines for non-merger investigations. It's time to come up with some. These new guidelines should take a broad, pragmatic view of the market as a whole. As the e-books case shows, this kind of perspective is sorely missing today."

Good points all, I'd say.

July 16, 2012

Hulluva Bronze Space Age Fairy Tale Feast

What the staff is reading this week:

Alan:"Still attracted to some of the old stuff. Right now it's Doc Savage #1 - THE MAN OF BRONZE by Kenneth Robeson -- which is absolutly terrible and charming by turns. It always fascinates me to read some of the original material that common tropes in our field came from. For example, Doc Savage had a "fortress of solitude" in 1933, 16 years before Superman got one."

Cary:"I'm reading the uber-gothy HELLUVA LUXE by Natalie Essary."

Jude:"I just picked up SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE by Graham Joyce. I've pretty much loved everything he's ever written."

Heather:"Still A FEAST FOR CROWS."


July 14, 2012

Ravioli vs. Spaceship

What follows has been floating around the internet for years (oldest reference I found to it is from 1998).  Someone just sent it to me (thanks, Chats) and I thought it would be entertaining for our readers.  Not being a physicist, I can't speak to the accuracy of the science.  However, there's nothing here that seems flatly wrong to me.
And yes, this is geeky as hell. - AB

"There was still one aspect of the whole concept of a ravioli-loaded
railgun type weapon which we, lolling about late on a weeknight, with
only a few neurons randomly firing, could not resolve. Would a chunk
of metal (can of ravioli) impacting another, larger, rest mass
structure (star destroyer) produce an "explosion" effect, or simply
punch an appropriately shaped hole as it passed through? Bill?"

What am I, the neighborhood blast physicist??? Well, maybe... :-)

It all depends on speed of impact versus the speed of sound in the target (what is called the Mach number, where Mach 1 means the speed of sound, Mach 2 is twice the speed of sound, etc), and the speed of the ravioli versus the speed of light in the target (which I'll call the Cerenkov number, where Cerenkov 1 is the speed of light in anything; Cerenkov 1.3 is the speed of high-energy protons in a water-cooled reactor (that's why you get that nifty blue glow), and you can get up to Cerenkov 2.4 using diamonds and nuclear accelerators. In the late 40's people used to talk about Cerenkov numbers, but they don't anymore. Pity.). Lastly, there's the ravioli velocity expressed as a fraction of the speed of light in a vacuum (that is, as a fraction of "c"). "C" velocities are always between 0 and 1.

At low speeds (REAL low) the ravioli will simply flow over the surface, yielding a space-cruiser with a distinctly Italian paint job.

Faster (still well below speed-of-sound in the target) the metal of the space-cruiser's skin will distort downward, making what we Boston drivers call a "small dent".

July 09, 2012

Fairy Crows and Devil Blackbirds of the Apocalypse

What the staff is reading this week:

Alan: "Reading the fourth Laundry novel, THE APOCALYPSE CODEX, by Charles Stross.  British secret agent / IT specialist Bob Howard versus nameless horrors from out of time and space.  Just loving it!  And, BTW, I found that there are two short stories set in the same world that are up online at Tor.com -- just in case anyone wants to give them a try.  Down on the Farm and Overtime.

Cary: "The Magicians by Lev Grossman."

Claud: "THE SPRING OF THE RAM, A RACE OF SCORPIONS, and SCALES OF GOLD, by Dorothy Dunnett -- engrossing historical fiction chronicle"

Heather: "Same for me, still: FEAST FOR CROWS."

Jeremy:"[I] recently read and liked: BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig and SOME KIND OF FAIRY TALE by Graham Joyce."

Jude: "Richard Kadrey was kind enough to hand me an advance reading copy of DEVIL SAID BANG, the fourth Sandman Slim novel."

July 08, 2012

June Bestsellers

1) Redshirts by John Scalzi
2) Existence by David Brin
3) Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
4) Railsea by China Mieville
5) 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
6) Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne
7) Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
8) The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
9) Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer
10) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

1) Blackout by Mira Grant
2) Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
3) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
4) Feed by Mira Grant
5) Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
6) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
7) Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
8) Deadline by Mira Grant
9) Year's Best SF vol. 17 edited by David B. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
10) Out of the Waters by David Drake

Trade Paperbacks
1) The Magicians by Lev Grossman
2) The Magician King by Lev Grossman
3) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4) Reamde by Neal Stephenson
5) The Black Opera by Mary Gentle

June News Roundup

* Because of the way copy deadlines fell last month, we missed reporting on the death of science fiction legend Ray Bradbury at the age of 91.  There are endless obituaries available, but instead we'd like to call your attention to this sweet little article on the origin of an inspiration, published by Bradbury just a few days before his death. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/06/04/120604fa_fact_bradbury

* We're sorry to report the death of author James (Jim) Young in mid-June.  One of the founders of MiniCon, career diplomat, actor, friend, all-around wonderful guy.  Too soon, Jim.

* Our friends at virtual Handee Books now have a blog!  Check them out here: http://handeebks.com/blog/ 

* Surreal, beautiful and fantastic "Wonderland" photo series created by photographer Kirsty Mitchell in her mother's memory: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2145760/Wonderland-Kirsty-Mitchell-heart-breakingly-beautiful-photographic-series-memory-extraordinary-life.html

* Loren Rhoads (local author, and editor of the legendary "Morbid Curiosity Magazine" and the book MORBID CURIOSITY CURES THE BLUES,) will be teaching a class at the Writing Salon on Saturday, July 14th from 10 am  - 4 pm.  The topic is "Reading, Performing or Presenting in Public: Let Your Voice be Heard", and the workshop will focus on preparation for reading or presentations, and reducing anxiety.  The cost is $110, and you can sign up here: http://www.writingsalons.com/class-descriptions/reading-in-public/

* As part of our long-term plan to increase the range of titles we carry (without diluting our focus), Borderlands will begin carrying the top 3 - 5 titles in selected categories from the New York Times Bestseller List in July.  So, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY coming soon!  (Alan is holding his head in his hands at this moment and weeping softly.)  But seriously, we'll be carrying some titles solely due to their position on the NYT list, regardless of our opinions of them.  As always, we do not believe that it is our right as booksellers to act as censors, and in fact it is our duty not to.

July Upcoming Events

Dan Wells, THE HOLLOW CITY (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, July 21st at 3:00 pm

Clarion West Fundraiser Reading with authors Cassie Alexander, An Owomoyela, Tim Pratt, Rudy Rucker, Rachel Swirsky, and Ysabeau S. Wilce, Saturday, July 21st at 5:00 pm

"The Coming Century of War Against Your Computer" featuring Cory Doctorow at The Novellus Theatre @ the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Tuesday, July 31st at 7:30 pm

And stay tuned, because coming up we'll have Daniel Suarez,  Kat Richardson, Steven Erikson, Brent Weeks, and many, many others!

Full details after the break

Terry Goodkind, Publisher

by Alan Beatts

Terry Goodkind announced last month that his next novel would be self-published as an ebook.  I was surprised to hear this since, with the exception of one novel, all of his books have been published by Tor Books.  Since 1994 his relationship with Tor has steadily built his popularity to its current height where his books consistently appear in the top 10 spots on the New York Times bestseller list.  Curious, I did some looking around to try to find why he is moving to self-publishing.

July 05, 2012

Expanded Tree Farm of Cubed Gunfight Velocities

What the staff is reading this week:

Alan: "I've been re-reading EXPANDED UNIVERSE by Robert Heinlein.  It's been very interesting to revisit stories that I last read when I was in my 20s.  Many of them seem very different, both in the context of the world as it is now and my life as it is now."

Cary: "I finished GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Kate Locke, read THE FARM by Emily McKay, and I'm currently reading ELSEWHENS by Melanie Rawn."

Claud: "THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer -- re-reading an old favorite; ROMAN HOMOSEXUALITY by Craig Arthur Williams -- amazing look at an utterly different way of organizing sexual attraction & identity; A TREE OF BONES by Gemma Files -- wonderful conclusion to the best Weird Western in years; LIGHTBREAKER by Mark Teppo; SEASONAL VELOCITIES by Ryka Aoki; NICCOLO RISING by Dorothy Dunnett ; IN THE CUBE by David Alexander Smith -- another re-read.

Jude: "I finished THE GHOST MAP by Steven Johnson and a cute 1914 book called BOHEMIAN SAN FRANCISCO by Clarence E. Edwords (it's a love letter to lost San Francisco restaurants), and now I'm reading THE LAST GUNFIGHT by Jeff Guinn, about the shootout at the O.K. Corral.  As a companion to THE LAST GUNFIGHT, I think I'll re-read TERRITORY by Emma Bull, which is the magical secret history behind the "regular" history."