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Events and News from Borderlands Books

April, 2014

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Editor's Note - You may be aware that we have a blog where this newsletter also appears <>.  At the end of major features in this newsletter you'll find permanent links to the same item on our blog.  These links can be convenient if you want to send just a single article or if you'd like to link to it from your website.

Upcoming Author Events

Eileen Gunn, QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES, (Small Beer Press, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, April 12th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF (at The Emerald Tablet, (80 Fresno St. San Francisco CA 94133 (near the intersection of Columbus and Broadway)) with authors Daniel Suarez and Andy Weir, Saturday, April 12th at 7:00 pm

Emily Jiang and April Chu, SUMMONING THE PHOENIX, (Lee and Low, Other Hardcover, $18.95) Sunday, April 13th from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

"Flytrap" Magazine Re-Debut Event with editors Tim Pratt & Heather Shaw and contributors Megan
Arkenberg, Aislinn Quicksilver Harvey, Jessica May Lin, Nick Mamatas, Dominica Phetteplace, and Sarah Smith, Saturday, April 26th at 3:00 pm

Daryl Gregory, AFTERPARTY, (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, May 3rd at 3:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, SPARROW HILL ROAD (DAW, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, May 10th at 5:00 pm

Marie Brennan, TROPIC OF SERPENTS (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) and Mary Robinette Kowal, VALOUR AND VANITY (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, May 11th at 3:00 pm

Coming up this summer, we''re delighted to host Sarah Lotz, Jane Lindskold, Greg van Eekhout, Jo Walton, and many others, so stay tuned!

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* Overheard in the Cafe:
"I guess you could say my happy place is filled with big red Beelzebub bunnies."
"Okay, great, now you have me wondering what a puffin would taste like."

* Nominees for the 2013 Nebula Awards have been announced.  In the Best Novel category, the nominees are:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)

The awards will be be presented the weekend of May 17th -18th in San Jose, and Borderlands will be on hand that weekend selling books.  See the complete list of nominees here:

* In the "fashion that just might drive you mad and consume your soul" department, Cthulhu leggings!:

* Well, why NOT build a kangaroo robot?

* Amazing graphic chronology of science fiction from Ward Shelley:  (Click on "History of Science Fiction" link, left.)

* We were shocked and sorry to hear of the death of author Michael Shea.  He was a brilliant writer and a gentleman in the old-fashioned sense.  Locus magazine's print edition published some lovely and moving remembrances from his friends, including this one from Laird Barron: .  I strongly recommend you pick up the issue to read the others as well.

* We sincerely regret to report the death of the larger-than-life storyteller Lucius Shepard.  Lucius was an exceptionally talented author and a true character, and we will miss him.  Remembrance by Michael Swanwick: and also Jeremy Lassen: .

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From The Office

(Editor's note: since Alan continues with construction -- thankfully most of the loud parts are over --  I've asked some other staffers to contribute From the Office pieces for the next few months.  Don't worry; all the rest of us are just as opinionated as Alan, and he'll be back with his own special brand of analysis in a few months.  But meanwhile, enjoy this guest piece from Na'amen Tilahun.  Na'amen is a writer & reviewer and has been a bookseller at Borderlands for four years.  You can check out his blog at  (Please note that while Borderlands is probably the only bookstore in the world with its own SWAT team, and that Alan and I will personally back any of our employees in a street fight, their opinions are their own and don't necessarily represent the store. - Jude Feldman)

How Can You Not Have Read Blah? - A Meditation on the Many Roads To Becoming a Fan
by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun

Since I've worked at Borderlands, I have had a lot of random, short conversations about SF/F (science-fiction/fantasy) and its creators almost every day at work.  In the course of recommending titles or discussing authors it's inevitable that someone I've not read will come up.  Most people breeze right by it, but there's always someone who will widen their eyes, look at me bewildered, and ask, "How can you work here/like SF/F and not have read **fill in the blank**?"

I'll usually smile, shrug, and say, "Well I was reading other things."  About 25% of the time this leads to the customer asking me what I was reading and me turning them on to an author they don't know about. 

The rest of the time, it becomes something different.

I've been a SF/F fan forever; the first things I remember reading all had speculative elements to them, but I didn't hang around with other fans until I was an adult.  I knew one or two other people who were into sci-fi but we didn't go to cons and online spaces were just becoming gathering spots.  While I love the friendship of other fans: being able to dissect books we've read, sharing excitement over a new novel in a beloved series, arguing over which character is the real hero of the story . . .  I enjoy all of that but in some ways I'm thankful that I grew up ignorant of fandom as a whole because it meant I was never exposed to those "must read" authors or the CANON OF GREAT SF lists that you have to read to be a "true fan".  My parents' strategy for dealing with my voracious reading appetite was to give me a monetary limit of $20 and let me loose in the book store.  My early reading was based on sitting in the bookstore/library for hours, reading the backs of books and picking up any that looked interesting enough.

As a result I have an eclectic and varied sf/f reading history that rarely matches up with anyone elses' perfectly.  I've read a lot of Mercedes Lackey and barely any Heinlein, plowed through much of Joanna Russ in my teenage years but none of Clarke actually grabbed me.  The teenage hero I most loved was Menolly from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsinger trilogy and I read L. J. Smith long before her current bounty of Vampire Diaries-inspired fame.  I disliked Tolkein's elves but loved the elves of Elfquest. The stories that I was interested in included people that looked like me and the people I loved, which included a lot of women, people of color and queer people.  I found the SF/F that provided that and dove in regardless of who wrote it.  I've always been more into the worlds created than the author behind the creation; it's one of the reasons it's always easier for me to think of books I love rather than favorite authors. 

I could try and explain my reading history to the person pushing a "classic" author on me, but generally it's easier to give a nod, a smile and a "I just couldn't get into that stuff." It's only when someone keeps insisting that I can't be a real fan until I read so and so that I'm honest about my preferences.  I like to read about worlds where I exist, where the characterization of marginalized people is broad and complex, and where emotionally hurtful stereotypes don't appear every other page.

Those who press on after this response are a hardy bunch. They'll often try to explain why the ideas in the novel are worth pushing through the bad stuff.  I'm not denying this can be the case for some pieces of media/literature, but the ideas have to be interesting and engrossing enough that you ignore all the bits that make you twitch.  I also propose a moratorium on the "a man of his time" defense against racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, any -ism really.  The reason for this is the fact that you can usually find creators in that exact same era who are doing better, pushing limits farther and writing marginalized people as people rather than as broad offensive stereotypes.  Saying someone is a "man of their time" positions the past as a time when everyone was just a big ball of prejudice and ignores that people have always fought for equality, to be seen as human, and they have always had allies, in every period of time.  I would respect this position more if people owned the problematic nature of what they loved then explained why the story is still important to them without trying to erase the issues inherent in it.

The idea that there's a particular list of books/authors out there which you _have_ to read is also problematic because it assumes that culture is static.  Depending on when you came into reading science fiction, the ideas and themes being focused on could be very different.  The ideas and issues that SF/F struggled with in the 1910s versus the 1950s versus the 1990s might have some similarities, but context and personal perspective can be just as important or more important than ideas being explored.  Depending on the era you came of age, the age you came to reading, where you were living in the world, and what was in print at the time, what influenced you as a fan has the potential to be very different.

This is not a denigration of the past or of older books; three of my favorite non-genre authors are Jane Austen, Kate Chopin and Agatha Christie.  I'm also not against going back and reading the "classics" of the genre, but I refuse to do so simply because a group of people believe them to be such.  I really like C.S. Lewis although my favorite novel is THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW rather than any of the later Narnia books.  I've recently started reading Zelzany's NINE PRINCES IN AMBER and am enjoying it.  On the other hand I vaguely remember someone in my family buying me The Lord of the Rings when I was in my teens, after all I was into fantasy and wasn't this the quintessential fantasy?  I think I got maybe twenty pages in and I've never been able to do more than that.  Part of my resistance might have been that by the time I tried to read Tolkien I'd already read authors who were playing with the Tolkien milieu *cough*Terry Brooks*cough* and it wasn't as fresh to me as it might have been to an older reader or a reader who got it earlier in their reading career.  (*That is actually not a slam against Terry Brooks. I read a lot of his books growing up and still have a soft spot for some of them.)

There are few things that depress and anger me more than seeing someone being talked down to as a SF/F fan because they don't know this book, or that film.  Many of us came to SF/F for the same reasons -- the wonder of imagined worlds, magic, and potential future technologies -- and to posit that there is only one true way to be a fan, or even five or ten ways, is a tool to exclude people.  Not to get too far into the latest kerfluffle in SF fandom but in my opinion this is where a lot of these arguments start: with the idea of authenticity and what "true sf/f " really is.  Much like the idea of the "fake geek girl", it's gatekeeping; if you haven't read this author, you're not a true fan and I don't have to listen to what you have to say or let you into our little club.   It may be shocking that a genre that's supposed to be about alternate possibilities, magic spells, alien intelligences, the development of A.I. and god-like beings among us could have such rigid ideas of what makes a "real fan",  but anyone involved in the community knows that we are often all-too-human, with all the foibles we try and expose in our fiction.

My answer, which is only one answer among many, is that anyone with enthusiasm and love for anything SF/F is a fan.  Instead of judging what they are reading/watching/love, how about asking them why they are into a certain thing; why do they love that work. Contemplate why their history in SF/F is so different from yours and remember something we all learned growing up: different isn't necessarily wrong or evil, it's simply different. 

Postscript: So here's a challenge.  I've read some of the mainstream canon.  Would you take the time to read one or two of mine?  A random sample of authors whose works have influenced me are below.  This is a far-from- complete list.

Gloria Anzaldua
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Raphael Carter
Suzy McKee Charnas
Jo Clayton
Bruce Coville
Diane Duane
Lois Duncan
George Alec Effinger
Kate Elliott
Maggie Furey
Sally Ann Gearhart
Jewelle Gomez
Sharon Green
P.C. Hodgell
Nalo Hopkinson
Lee Killough
Ellen Kushner
Elizabeth A. Lynn
Lee Martindale
Naomi Mitchison
Cherrie Moraga
Patricia Kennealy Morrison
Tamora Pierce
Christopher Pike
Diana Rivers
Joanna Russ
Melissa Scott
William Sleator
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Margaret St. Clair
R.L. Stine
Martha Wells
Mary Frances Zambreno

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Top Sellers At Borderlands

1. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
2. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
3. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
4. Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
5. Letters to the Pumpkin King by Seanan McGuire
6. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
7. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
8. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson tied with Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
9. What the Doctor Ordered by Michael Blumlein
10. Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
2. Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
3. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
4. The Human Division by John Scalzi
5. London Falling by Paul Cornell
6. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovich
7. Impulse by Steven Gould
8. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
9. Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
10. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Trade Paperbacks
1. Indexing by Seanan McGuire
2. Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
4. Questionable Practices by Eileen Gunn
5. Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

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Book Club Info

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, April 13th, at 5 pm to discuss MIDNIGHT RIOT by Ben Aaronovitch.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, April 20th, at 6 pm to discuss THE GODS THEMSELVES by Isaac Asimov.  The book for May 18th is DAWN by Octavia Butler.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Eileen Gunn, QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES, (Small Beer Press, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, April 12th at 3:00 pm - We are always thrilled to welcome the talented Eileen Gunn to the store!  QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES is her new short story collection.  From the book description: "Good intentions arenít everything.  Sometimes things donít quite go the way you planned. And sometimes you donít plan. . . . This collection of sixteen stories (and one lonely poem) wittily chart the ways trouble can ensue.  No actual human beings were harmed in the creation of this book.  Stories from Eileen Gunn are always a cause for celebration. Where will she lead us? ďUp the Fire RoadĒ to a slightly alternate world.  Four stories into steampunkís heart. Into the golemís heart. Yet never where we might expect."  To tide you over until you can chat with her in person, enjoy this guest post Eileen wrote for Locus Magazine about her own "questionable practices":

SF in SF (at The Emerald Tablet, (80 Fresno St. San Francisco CA 94133 (near the intersection of Columbus and Broadway)) with authors Daniel Suarez and Andy Weir, Saturday, April 12th at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:00 pm) - Science Fiction in San Francisco returns at a new location!  We're delighted to help SF in SF welcome authors Daniel Suarez and Andy Weir! Each author 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.  Books available for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. Seating is limited, so first come, first seated -- doors open at 6:00 pm and the event starts at 7:00 pm. Suggested $5-$10 donation at the door benefits The Emerald Tablet, and community events in San Francisco.  The Emerald Tablet is served by several public transit routes. The 12 Folsom, 8 Kearny, 10 Pacific Ave will all drop you within one block. For more information, visit Muniís Web site at or call the San Francisco Municipal Railway (415) 673-MUNI. If you prefer BART, get off at the Montgomery station; itís a 10-minute walk up Grant, Kearny or Montgomery.  For more information about the venue, see . For more information about SF in SF, see .

Emily Jiang and April Chu, SUMMONING THE PHOENIX, (Lee and Low, Other Hardcover, $18.95) Sunday, April 13th from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm - We are delighted to welcome author and composer Emily Jiang and artist April Chu to Borderlands!  From Emily's website: "SUMMONING THE PHOENIX is a fun and educational read.  Kirkus Reviews calls it "a lively medley that will expand the musical boundaries of most young audiences.Ē  The nonfictional sidebars share historical facts about Chinese musical instruments while the whimsical art and poetry portray a range of experiences that children feel when playing music:  tranquility, stage fright, wonder and joy.  The children playing these instruments include an array of ethnic backgrounds because Chinese music can be enjoyed by everyone!"  Emily was just featured on John Scalzi's "The Big Idea", so you can learn more about the fascinating origin of SUMMONING THE PHOENIX here (hint, this illustrated children's book  developed from Emily's original concepts for the magic system in an adult fantasy novel): . Artist April Chu's gorgeous illustrations will be on display in the cafe for your enjoyment during the month of April, too.  Emily has created a Facebook event page, so RSVP here if you're of the Facebook persuasion. . Either way we hope to see you Sunday for this awesome and unusual event!

"Flytrap" Magazine Revival Event with editors Tim Pratt & Heather Shaw and contributors Megan
Arkenberg, Aislinn Quicksilver Harvey, Jessica May Lin, Nick Mamatas, Dominica Phetteplace, and Sarah Smith, Saturday, April 26th at 3:00 pm - "Flytrap" is a "little 'zine with teeth"!  From 2003 - 2008, Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw co-edited the awesome 'zine "Flytrap", which published "stories, poems, and essays by writers like Barth Anderson, Christopher Barzak, Elizabeth Bear, Stephanie Burgis, Haddayr Copley-Woods, Alan DeNiro, Jeffrey Ford, Theodora Goss, Daphne Gottlieb, M.K. Hobson, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Jay Lake, Jen Larsen, Kristin Livdahl, Nick Mamatas, Melissa Marr, David Moles, Sarah Monette, Sarah Prineas, Jenn Reese, M. Rickert, Benjamin Rosenbaum, David J. Schwartz, Steve Rasnic Tem, Lavie Tidhar, Catherynne M. Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Greg van Eekhout, Ray Vukcevich, Leslie What, and even more amazingly talented people, if such a thing can be believed. "  Then their son was born, so they took a little break.  But, since according to Heather and Tim "5-year-olds practically raise themselves," they're now back with "Flytrap" #11.  This issue features "a few of those old friends. . . and add to their ranks new names like William Akin, Alisa Alering, Cassie Alexander, Megan Arkenberg, Sarah Grey, Aislinn Quicksilver Harvey, Jessica May Lin, Dominica Phetteplace, and Brian M. Rosen. The result is a spectacular spectacle of (mostly speculative) fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and art."  We are so happy to host this event celebrating the resurrection of the 'zine, and we hope you'll join us!

Daryl Gregory, AFTERPARTY, (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, May 3rd at 3:00 pm - Daryl Gregory wow-ed us with PANDEMONIUM, and he just keeps getting better!  His new novel AFTERPARTY is fantastic; it's near future, and any kid with a chem-jet printer and an internet connection can download recipes to print designer (and original) drugs.  One particularly dangerous drug (known as Numinous because it absolutely convincingly introduces the user to a walking, talking version of their own personal Higher Power) seems to be back after its accidental creators agreed to suppress it -- they learned firsthand it can have tragic consequences.  And so our protagonist Lyda Rose, one of those original creators, starts a cross-country and sometimes international quest to find and stop the distributor with the help of a handful of addicted and/or charmingly damaged friends and associates. Along the way there will be drugs, violence, crime, drugs, miniature bison you can farm in the carpet, and more drugs.  Do not miss the chance to meet Daryl Gregory; I know you will regret it if you do!

Seanan McGuire, SPARROW HILL ROAD (DAW, Trade Paperback, $16.00) Saturday, May 10th at 5:00 pm -  From Seanan's website: "Everyone knows the urban legend about the girl who asks for a ride home; the one who turns out to have been dead all along.  But where did she come from?  Who was she?  And how did she die?  She's been called a lot of things: the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Diner, and the Spirit of Sparrow Hill Road.  Around here, we call her Rose.  Rose Marshall was sixteen years old in 1952, pretty as a picture, and in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A drive along Sparrow Hill Road turned into a fight for her life -- a fight she was destined to lose.  Her story could have ended there, but a lucky break and a well-timed ride home set her on a different path.  She's been running down the ghostroads ever since, one more casualty who never made it home.  A lot of people have said a lot of things about her; she's been called everything from angel to devil, from ghost story to myth to something more. They whisper her name everywhere from Michigan to Maine, from Wyoming to Washington . . . but no one knows what really happened that long-ago night at the top of Sparrow Hill.  Not until now."  This is a truly awesome novel.  Join us to meet Seanan McGuire and learn about the girl who started all the stories, and where she will go from here.

Marie Brennan, TROPIC OF SERPENTS (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) and Mary Robinette Kowal, VALOUR AND VANITY (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, May 11th at 3:00 pm - We're informed by reliable sources that Marie and Mary, brilliant writers both, will both be in period costume for this signing -- the exact words were that the authors have "quite the show planned for you.  Period costumes, puppets, dragon bones, and party favours."  Marie has already visited us for the Second Memoir of Lady Trent (the Victorian era's foremost dragon naturalist,) but because the timing of the event was unusual, many folks were unable to attend -- here's your second chance!  We're also delighted to welcome Mary Robinette Kowal back to the store for the fourth volume of the Glamourist Histories, VALOUR AND VANITY.  In this novel, "master glamourists Jane and Vincent find themselves in the sort of a magical adventure that might result if Jane Austen wrote 'Oceanís Eleven'".  Do not miss the enchanting opportunity to meet these two fabulous authors at once.  And, hey, dragon bones!

August Ragone, EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS (Chronicle, Oversized Paperback, $29.95) - We are delighted to welcome local author August Ragone, presenting EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS - DEFENDING THE EARTH WITH ULTRAMAN, GODZILLA AND FRIENDS IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF JAPANESE SCIENCE FICTION FILM.  From the publisher's website: "Behind-the-scenes hero to anyone whoís thrilled by giant monsters duking it out over Tokyo, Eiji Tsuburaya was the visual effects mastermind behind Godzilla, Ultraman, and numerous Japanese science fiction movies and TV shows beloved around the world. The first book on this legendary film figure in English, this highly visual biography surveys his fascinating life and career, featuring hundreds of film stills, posters, concept art, and delightful on-set photos of Tsuburaya prompting monsters to crush landmark buildings. A must-have for fans, this towering tribute also profiles Tsuburayaís film collaborators, details his key films and shows, and spotlights the enduring popularity of the characters he helped create."  August Ragone has written and commented on Japanese film and pop culture for more than 20 years.  Don't miss the fascinating opportunity to check out this book and bring your questions!

Borderlands event policy - all events are free of charge unless otherwise stated.  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.

Dispatches from the Border
Editor - Jude Feldman
Assistant Editor - Alan Beatts
Contributor - Na'amen Gobert Tilahun

All contents unless otherwise noted are the property of

Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA  94110

Comments and suggestions should be directed to


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