Click me to see what SinisterVisions can do for you!



Events and News from Borderlands Books

May, 2008

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

SF in SF presents free movies "Silent Running" and "Outland," at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Wednesday, May 7th - 7:00pm "Silent Running" directed by Douglas Trumbull,  9:00pm "Outland" directed by Peter Hyams.

Marc Acito, Mark J. Ferrari, Adam Mansbach, Alejandro Murguia, and April Sinclair are guests of Writers With Drinks at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd Street, Saturday, May 10th at 7:30 pm

Paul Genesee, THE GOLDEN CORD - THE IRON DRAGON VOL. 1 (Five Star, Hardcover, $25.95) Wednesday, May 14th at 7:00 pm

Daniel Marcus and John Shirley are guests of SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Saturday, May 17th at 7:00 pm

Cory Doctorow, LITTLE BROTHER, (Tor, Hardcover, $17.95) Thursday, May 22nd at 7:00 pm

Ripley's Birthday Sale and Celebration, Sunday, June 8th from 12:00 pm until 8:00 pm

Jacqueline Carey, KUSHIEL'S MERCY, (Grand Central, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, June 21st at 3:00 pm

Carol Emshwiller and Pat Murphy are guests of SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Saturday, June 21th at 7:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)

Stay tuned for July events with Jay Lake, Naomi Novik, and many others!

Overheard in the Store

Will Return Next Month.


* We are sorry to report the death of science fiction artist John Berkey, who passed away last week at the age of 76.  Tor Books' Art Director Irene Gallo provides this brief but moving notice: <>

* Congratulations to the winners of this year's Nebula Awards, which were announced Saturday April 26, 2008, in Austin, Texas.  The winner for best novel was THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION by Michael Chabon.  For the complete list of nominees and winners, see  <>

* We are excited to pass on the following news from awesome local author Simon Wood: "I was made an "author laureate" of San Francisco Library.  And my 1st horror book under my horror pen name of Simon Janus, THE SCRUBS, will be coming out in May.  It's picked up some rave reviews already.  For details and to read an excerpt, go to <>.

* More kudos to Lou Anders and everyone at Pyr Books, who sent along the following: Pyr Gets two Hugo Nominations plus two authors up for John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award!  Pyr, the highly acclaimed science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books, is proud to announce that its Editorial Director, Lou Anders, and three of its authors have been nominated for highly esteemed awards in science fiction:  Lou Anders for Best Professional Editor, Long Form, Ian McDonald's BRASYL for Best Novel, and both Joe Abercrombie (THE BLADE ITSELF) and David Louis Edelman (INFOQUAKE) for John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award.  We are delighted at Pyr's accomplishments and wish them ongoing success!

* The always delightfully unconventional Gavin and Kelly at Small Beer Press want you to have free John Kessel and Maureen F. McHugh stories!  Two whole books of short stories have been licensed under Creative Commons, so go ahead and download 'em for free right here: <>.  We hope you'll also decide to pick up a copy of the physical books, which, although not free, are much more attractive and substantially easier to read in the bath.

* Thanks to John Scalzi, if you are, or become, a member of this year's World Science Fiction Convention, you can get FREE electronic copies of several Best Novel nominees for the Hugo Award - Ian McDonald's BRASYL, Robert Sawyer's ROLLBACK, John Scalzi's THE LAST COLONY, and Charles Stross's HALTING STATE: <>

* In the last of the "free book news" for this month, Mort Castle sends the following: "As you might know, I've been working the past few years to replace Howard Stern as King of All Media, and it seems my latest venture brings me closer to that goal.  You can now download six of my stories in mp3 audio format at <>".

*Thanks to Pat Murphy for the following notice about the Tiptree Awards: "The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2007 Tiptree Award is THE CARHULLAN ARMY by Sarah Hall (published in the United States as DAUGHTERS OF THE NORTH). The British edition was published in 2007 by Faber & Faber; the American edition in 2008 by HarperCollins.  The Tiptree Award will be celebrated on May 25, 2008 at WisCon <> in Madison, Wisconsin.  The winner of the Tiptree Award receives $1000 in prize money, an original artwork created specifically for the winning novel or story, and (as always) chocolate . . . .  The James Tiptree Jr. Award is presented annually to a work or works that explore and expand gender roles in science fiction and fantasy. The award seeks out work that is thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. The Tiptree Award is intended to reward those women and men who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society."  For more information on the Tiptrees, including the Tiptree Award Honor List, see: <>.

From The Office

Books Without Borders

This is the second in a four-part series of stories about changes in the book world.  In part one I gave a quick overview of three major changes.  In this part I'm going to focus on Borders Books and Music's recent financial problems and what they may mean for readers, writers and publishers over the next year or two.  The final two columns will focus on's recent business changes and eBooks respectively.  As always, comments are welcome at

First off, a quick disclaimer -- I don't like Borders.  I like them better than Barnes & Noble but still, like any independent bookseller, I don't like them.  Despite my intention to be as objective as possible in the article, I'm sure that my bias is going to creep in here and there.  But, if you were looking for objective, dispassionate news, you wouldn't be reading this.  I'm going to start with what has been going on with Borders over the past year, then I'm going to talk about the implications, and I'll finish off with the reasons that it matters to everyone who loves books.

What's Been Happening - At the beginning of 2007 reports indicated that Borders had a poor holiday season and that their same-store sales were down compared to the 2005 holiday season.  Same-store figures are one of the best measurements of sales since they compare sales at stores that have been open for more than one year and cut out the (usually huge) sales increases that are typical at a store that has just opened and is still in the "honeymoon" phase of a rapidly growing customer base.  To be fair (and clear) the drop wasn't very large, somewhere around 1%, but in the world of big business that's serious.  What was even more serious was that Borders' showed a loss of $151.3 _million_ in 2006 (that's compared to a profit of $101 million in 2005).  Most of that loss was a result of their overseas operations (over $100 million) but the domestic side wasn't doing very well either.

Borders' reaction was very strong -- they decided to close or sell all their overseas stores, close more than 120 of their shopping-mall oriented Waldenbooks locations (they started 2006 with 678 Waldenbooks stores and ended 2007 with 490) and started a massive redesign effort for their flagship stores.  This store redesign is based on stocking _fewer_ books, providing all sorts of high-tech, multi-media services (vanity book publishing, photo album design and ordering, eBook and music downloads and more), and, according to the original plan, a stronger focus on CD and DVD sales (which changed to a much _weaker_ focus on CDs sometime last year when they realized that music downloads were killing the CD business).  The multi-media services come along with staff specifically trained to give assistance to people who aren't terribly comfortable with computer stuff.  

This process moved along slowly (the first of the redesigned stores opened this January and they still haven't found a buyer for their overseas stores anywhere except in the UK) and, as last year progressed, it seemed to be too little and a bit too late.  By the end of last year, Borders' management was really hoping for a good holiday season.  Which they didn't get.  At the beginning of this year, Borders was short enough on money that they set up a loan from Pershing Square Capital Management (an investment fund and one of their major shareholders) at a very high interest rate.  Exactly what Borders needed the money for is beyond the scope of this article but, to put it very simply, companies are just like you and I -- they don't take out loans at a high interest rate unless they really need the cash and don't have another place to get it.  Based on Borders' recently released shareholder report . . . wow, did they need the money.  Their loss in 2006 was $151.3 million, right?  In 2007 the loss was up -- $157.4 million.  In two years, Borders has lost over three-hundred million dollars.

As of last month they managed to get better terms on the loan (still not great though -- around one-and-a-half times the current, usual interest rate for businesses) and they've gotten themselves some breathing room so that they can, in the words of Borders' CEO George Jones, "review their strategic alternatives".  But they're still in financial trouble and everything hinges on whether their new business model is going to work (and if they can manage to make their interest payments).  If it doesn't, they're very likely on the way out.

What Might Happen -  It's possible that Borders' current plan will work.  Closing less profitable stores and their new super-store format should reduce their losses and open up new sources of income.  But closing stores isn't a cure-all.  Closing a store creates other types of loss (selling off the fixtures at a loss, returning inventory, and getting out of leases which are far from expired) as was clearly demonstrated last year when closing their overseas stores produced an enormous loss.  This may be a little graphic but closing stores is a little bit like cutting off a mangled limb -- the blood loss and infection stops but the patient is still missing the leg.

The new super-store format is very smart in a couple ways:  The plan to reduce stock by eliminating titles that sell slowly (or not at all) instead of trying to have everything that any possible customer might want is a technique that has worked well for independent stores that were struggling (Cody's in Berkeley and Kepler's in Palo Alto are two prime examples).   Offering computer services, free computer time, and tech help for people trying to build a "digital lifestyle" are all things that make a bookstore both a destination and hang-out spot.  The best-case assumption is that these services are going to both attract shoppers as well as creating a new source of income.  Of course, attracting shoppers is only useful if they buy something but in principle it's a good thing.

The flip side of the new store format is that it's still predicated on selling books, DVDs and (to a much lesser and perhaps vanishing degree) CDs.  A fair amount of Borders' current troubles came from the unanticipated (at least by them) crash of the music CD market (their CD sales were down more than 14% last year) and, based on plummeting CD sales, they abandoned the CD-heavy element of their new store design and have been shrinking their CD sections in all stores like crazy.  But may DVD sales go the same way?  Apple is busily building their movie download market and Amazon is working on a similar project (more about Apple and Amazon's competition for downloadable media next month).  If DVD sales follow CD sales then Borders can expect another huge revenue hit in the next couple of years.

As for book sales, Borders is still facing competition from on-line retailers (21% of overall book sales last year) and places like Target, Walmart, and CostCo (9% of sales).  Though the last two outlets are not likely to increase their sales, internet sales will probably continue to grow over the next few years, especially as some towns are left without a bookstore as Borders continues to close Waldenbook locations.  Overall 33% of book purchases are at chain bookstores.  In comparison, independent stores get 3% of sales.  Though it's possible that the sales going to the internet will come from independent store customers, it seems unlikely since the majority of people who shop at independent stores do so for qualities that the internet cannot provide, whereas shoppers at chain stores are often motivated by price, convenience and selection -- three qualities that on-line companies have in abundance.  In summation, one of the three lines that Borders concentrates on is pretty much gone (CDs), one of them may be on the way out (DVDs), and the final one is certainly not going to grow and is likely to shrink (books).  They are building a new service-based income source (on-demand book printing, photo album printing, download services, and etc.) that, while useful to many people, is dependent on a customer base that doesn't have the knowledge to do it themselves.  The catch here is that, if their customers get educated, they evaporate, since everything that Borders is offering can be had on-line at a lower cost and with greater convenience.

As my brother, the bank-guy, said, "_I_ wouldn't invest in them".

So, let's say that Borders continues to have financial trouble.  What happens?  My bet is that they close.  I'm pretty sure no-one is going to buy their business, neither the whole company or piecemeal (i.e. a local chain buying up three or four locations).  The only business that might be interested in buying Borders as a complete business entity would be Barnes & Noble and, to be blunt, there's no reason that B&N would want it.  Most places where there's a Borders there's a B&N nearby so B&N wouldn't buy Borders to add to their markets.  Borders' inventory is very similar to B&N's and the same goes for their staff.  Borders doesn't own any of their buildings so there is no real estate asset that would be attractive.  In short, Borders doesn't have anything that B&N would want, other than its customers.  And, if Borders goes out of business, all B&N needs to do to get the customers is wait.  It's possible that some other company would want to buy Borders but essentially all that Borders owns that's worth anything is its inventory and store fixtures.  That's not enough value to be worth the trouble of buying the company.  The same argument applies to the possibility of Borders being broken up and sold piecemeal to other bookstores.  There just isn't anything that Borders has that's unique or particularly difficult to duplicate.

Without a buyer or a source of capital, continuing losses for Borders probably means bankruptcy.  In cases of bankruptcy like this, it's very common for creditors to be paid somewhere between 30 and 70 percent of what they are owed by the bankrupt company (though it can go as low as 10% or less in some cases).  That would mean that almost all of the publishers in the US could lose as much as 14% of their _total_ accounts receivable.  To put that in real-world terms, imagine what your personal financial situation would be like if your employer cut your pay by a similar amount (i.e. instead of making $40,000 a year you made $34,000).  The effect on publishers would be at least as bad.

What Are The Consequences - If Borders declares bankruptcy and closes there will be a cascade of effects.  Publishers will lose a great deal of money owed to them.  The five major US publishers (Hachette, Macmillan, Peterson, Harper and Bertelsman) and the the big distributors (Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Diamond Books, and so on) will be able to weather it without too much disruption but all the smaller publishers in the country are going to be hurt.  Many of them may be hurt badly enough that they'll close.  Publishers closing has the immediate effect of reducing the number of books that get out to the consumers and also reduces the number of places that authors can sell books.

These effects will be amplified by the loss of bookstore shelf space nationwide.  Here's a simple equation -- the ability of a publisher to purchase a book from an author and print it is determined by the number of copies the publisher believes will sell.  The format (i.e. hardcover, large-size softcover, or paperback) of the book is also determined by expected sales.  You would think that the number of copies that will sell is simply based on the number of readers who will buy the book but it's not that simple.  For a reader to buy a book, they have to find it and the most common way that readers find a book is on a shelf at a bookstore (though word of mouth and publicity are also important).  If there are fewer shelves and fewer stores in the country, fewer books will sell.  So, in the immediate aftermath of Borders closing, fewer books will be sold in the US.  Perhaps a great deal fewer -- remember, of every six copies of a book that are sold anywhere in the country, Borders sells one of them.

So, on the heels of financial losses as a result of a bankrupt Borders not paying its bills, there would also be a potentially major decrease in book sales over all.  Which would cause more independent publishers to go out of business.  Consequently even fewer books are published, authors have more trouble selling their books and readers have less choices in reading.  It's also possible that print runs would get smaller, which means less money for authors.  Less income from writing means that some authors won't be able to spend as much time doing it, which also means fewer books out there for readers.

Which brings us to the final consequence -- readers' access to books.  Borders and Barnes & Noble have been so successful over the years that there are many towns and cities in which the only bookstore is either one or both of those chains.  If Borders closes, there are many towns that will be without any bookstore of any sort or, if they do have a bookstore, it will be Barnes & Noble.  In the first case, the residents will have the choice of either ordering books on-line or driving long distances  (in these days of four-dollar-a-gallon gas) to get to a store.  In time, a local store might open or B&N might move into the area but it could be a long time coming, if at all.  In the areas that have a B&N as well as a Borders things will be better but there's a catch - the buying decisions for chain bookstores are made at the corporate level.  In other words, for any given section (like SF and fantasy for example) one person decides for all the stores not only what books are going to be stocked but also how many copies each store gets.  As far as I know, the buyers for the chains are all nice people and they really care about books but they are still individual people with all the assumptions, biases, and foibles that you'd expect.

Let's say, for example, that the science fiction buyer for B&N decides that British hard SF is too complicated for an American audience and therefore won't sell.  In a world without Borders, that might mean that a huge number of readers wouldn't be able to read Iain Banks or Alastair Reynolds since the only store near them wouldn't have their books.  Even worse, without significant orders from B&N, it's quite possible that those authors wouldn't even be published in the US.  And there would be no way of proving that the authors would be popular since the books would simply be unavailable (though people might order them from British outlets).  If this seems farfetched, consider that A) that comment about "too complicated" is an exact quote from a US editor and that, due to their huge market share, B) both Borders and B&N have enough influence with publishers to get cover art and even book formats changed, pretty much on a whim.

To sum up, Borders closes.  Some small publishers close.  Book sales drop.  More publishers close.  Number of books published per year drop.  Print runs get smaller.  Authors sell fewer books and get less money for the books they do sell.  Fewer books get written.  Many areas are without bookstores or only have a representative of the one remaining chain.  Readers have less access to books and the books they do have access to are increasingly the product of a single corporate "style".

Who loses in this scenario?  Publishers, authors, and most of all readers.  And who wins?  To some degree, independent bookstores since some portion of Borders' former customers would end up going to them.  But the big winners are Barnes & Noble and when they divide up what's left.  However many of the pressures that have been squeezing Borders are going to affect B&N as well, so how long will they stay profitable?  And then we're left with Amazon.  Who is making a huge bid to avoid the fate of their non-virtual competitors.  And that's the topic for next month.

- Alan Beatts

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1) Infected by Scott Sigler
2) Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold
3) The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
4) Small Favor by Jim Butcher
5) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
6) Starry Rift edited by Jonathan Strahan
7) Wit's End by Karen Joy Folwer
8) Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi
9) The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford
10) On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

1) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill tie with
     Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
2) Poison Sleep by T.A. Pratt
3) The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
4) Ravenous by Ray Garton
5 ) Hilldiggers by Neal Asher
6) Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews tie with
    Snake Agent by Liz Williams
7) The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
8) Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
9) The Demon and the City by Liz Williams
10) Judge by Karen Traviss

Trade Paperbacks
1) World War Z by Max Brooks
2) Wastelands edited by John Joseph Adams
3) Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
4) Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
5) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Notes From a DVD Geek

I’m going to cover some old ground with this one, but the really high profile new release last month was "I Am Legend".  I’ve gone on about this one before, but I figure I’d mention some of the interesting bits about this release.  The two-disk special includes the “original” ending that actually speaks to the source material, and addresses the problems I had with the first half of the movie, and the intelligence of the zombie/vampires.  It’s still not a very good movie in my opinion, but it’s not as bad as the theatrical version, which is also included with the DVD.

Speaking of Bad Adaptations, "The Golden Compass" came out at the end of last month.  It’s got a nice CGI polar bear battle, anyway. 

Another big SF franchise hitting DVD this month is "Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem".  The word on the street is that this one isn’t as bad as the original "Alien Vs. Predator" movie. That’s high praise indeed.

Another adaptation that just hit DVD is Tim Burton’s "Sweeny Todd".  Neither of the leading actors can sing very well, and Burton manages to screw up the framing device, but hell . . . it's Sweeny Todd!  Even Tim Burton can’t squeeze the goodness out of the source material.

On the good side of the DVD releases this month, there’s a two-disk 25th anniversary edition of "War Games".  Would YOU like to play a game? 

On the anime side of the shelf, the sequel to "KITE" just hit DVD.  "KITE Liberator" follows high-school student Monaka as she becomes a feared and highly-skilled contract killer.

Two films from Spain to check out:  one very high-profile movie just released was produced by Guillermo Del Toro:  "The Orphanage".  It got a wide theatrical release and a ton of well deserved positive reviews.  On the opposite side of the spectrum is "Crazy Eights," a Spanish horror/exploitation film from the Afterdark Horrorfest series, starring Tracy Lords. "Crazy Eights" was released last year, so this isn’t one of Lord’s early efforts.  But it’s got all the right moves for a gruesome little indy horror film.  Check it out.

Another After Dark Horrorfest release is "Deaths of Ian Stone".  I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s a sort of slasher version of "Groundhog Day".  Ian Stone must relive the day of his death, over and over until he solves his murder.  I’m definitely looking forward to giving this one a watch.

And, finally, to the truly sublime part of this month's releases, we have "The Mist".  This adaptation is very true to the original novella by Stephen King, and features top notch performances.  It also has some really stunning fx work, and has an unbelievably grim ending.  What’s not to like?  This was one of my two favorite movies of the year last year, so I hope you’ll check it out.  There’s a two disk special edition of this one that features an extensive mix of extras that are worth the extra $3.

-Jeremy Lassen

Book Club Info

The Gay Men's Book Club will meet on Sunday, May 11th, at 5 pm to discuss THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.  The title for June is CHILDHOOD'S END by Arthur C. Clarke.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, May 18th, at 6 pm to discuss MATHEMATICIANS IN LOVE by Rudy Rucker.  The title for June is"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" from THE WIND'S TWELVE QUARTERS by Ursula K. LeGuin.  Please contact Jude at for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

SF in SF presents free movies "Silent Running" and "Outland," in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Wednesday, May 7th - 7:00pm "Silent Running" directed by Douglas Trumbull,  9:00pm "Outland" directed by Peter Hyams.  Free movies! Free popcorn! Cash bar! The screenings will take place at Variety's Preview Room, located in The Hobart Building, 582 Market Street @ Montgomery, San Francisco.  Doors open at 6:30 pm and the first movie starts at 7:00 pm.  There will be one thirty-minute intermission between the two films. Seating is limited and seats are available on a first-come, first seated basis, so arrive early! Refreshments will be available for purchase, and your purchase benefits Variety Children's Charity of Northern California, a non-profit organization that supports children in local communities who are dealing with poverty, neglect, violence, and physical disabilities.  For more information about upcoming movies, write  For more information on Variety Children's Charity, see their web site at <> or write

Marc Acito, Mark J. Ferrari, Adam Mansbach, Alejandro Murguia, and April Sinclair are guests of Writers With Drinks at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd Street, Saturday, May 10th at 7:30 pm - Writers With Drinks is exactly what it sounds like -- writers with drinks!  Emceed by the madcap and inimitable Charlie Anders, this is a monthly spoken-word variety series that takes place at a bar down the street from Borderlands.  Do not miss this odd mix of authors, alcohol and fun! Sliding scale, $3 - $5 at the door, proceeds benefit good causes locally.  Borderlands will be on hand to sell books at the event.  More info at <>

Paul Genesee, THE GOLDEN CORD - THE IRON DRAGON VOL. 1 (Five Star, Hardcover, $25.95) Wednesday, May 14th at 7:00 pm - From Paul's website: "Paul lives with his incredibly supportive wife Tammy and their collection of frogs. He spends endless hours in his basement writing fantasy novels, short stories, crafting maps of fantastical realms, and occasionally copy-editing manuscripts for a small press publisher. . ."  We are happy to welcome Paul, in an unusual mid-week event, to the store for the first time.  He'll be presenting his debut novel THE GOLDEN CORD, the first volume of his Iron Dragon series. Paul describes the book thus: "Take a journey to the harsh plateau world of Ae'leron.  The dragon king has risen from the Void, forcing a hunter to leave behind the woman he loves, give up all hope of survival, and guide his most hated enemies to the dragon king's lair."  Read the first chapter at <>.

Cory Doctorow, LITTLE BROTHER, (Tor, Hardcover, $17.95) Thursday, May 22nd at 7:00 pm - We're very excited to welcome former local author Cory Doctorow back to Borderlands.  This time, he's presenting what may be his most important novel to date.  All of the staff here has already read LITTLE BROTHER and we're crazy about it -- in fact, it is one of only three novels in the past ten years that everyone on the staff has loved! Here's the text from the book jacket, so our enthusiasm doesn't give you any spoilers: "Marcus, a.k.a "w1n5t0n," is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works-and how to work the system.  Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school's intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems.  But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco.  In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they're mercilessly interrogated for days.  When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself."

Ripley's Birthday Sale and Celebration, Sunday, June 8th from 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm - Now she is six!  Come down to the annual Ripley's Birthday Sale and celebrate with an indifferent feline.  Buy two used paperbacks and get a third of equal or lesser value free, and all non-book items in the store (excluding staff and cat, sorry) are 10% off!  Ripley will of course be on hand to greet admirers and be spoiled (unless she decides to hide in the stock room,) and there will also be cake and cat treats (but not together).  Ripley says "I already have everything I need, so instead of bringing me gifts, please donate some money or volunteer time to the San Francisco SPCA <> or to Wildcare <>.  You'd better come and adore me, though."

Jacqueline Carey, KUSHIEL'S MERCY, (Grand Central, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, June 21st at 3:00 pm - As always, we are delighted to host Ms. Carey, author of the fabulous KUSHIEL books, and this year  you won't have to choose between attending her appearance and attending Pride!  KUSHIEL'S MERCY closes out the Imriel trilogy.  From the book jacket: "Having paid dearly for ignoring Elua's edict to love as thou wilt, Imriel and Sidonie have finally come forward to publicly confess their love for each other -- only to watch the news ignite turmoil throughout the land. Those who are old enough cannot forget the misdeeds of Imriel's mother, Melisande, whose self-serving lies plunged their country into war.  In order to quell the uprising, Queen Ysandre hands down a decree: she will not divide the lovers, but neither will she acknowledge them. And if they decide to marry, Sidonie will be disinherited.  That is, unless Imriel can find his mother and bring her back to Terre D'Ange to be executed for treason . . . ."  Join us to meet the delightful Jacqueline Carey, and learn where she will take the magic next!

Carol Emshwiller and Pat Murphy are guests of SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Saturday, June 21th at 7:00 pm -  More information to come.

Borderlands event policy - all events are free of charge.  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 it until you can come in to pick it up or we can ship it 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.  Call or email for details.

Chapter Two - Book Listings

Small Press Features

ON STRANGER TIDES by Tim Powers (Subterranean Press, Hardcover, $18.95) - Lovely, affordable hardcover reprint of this classic pirate fantasy adventure.  Recommended by Alan and Jeremy

STEAMPUNK edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer (Tachyon Publications, Trade Paperback, $14.95) - Lucky us -- it's the month of great anthologies, starting with STEAMPUNK!  Wonderful gadget-driven fiction by some of the biggest names in the genre including Ted Chiang, Michael Moorcock, and Neal Stephenson.  Also includes three context-rich essays on the history and origins of steampunk by Bill Baker, Rick Klaw, and Jess Nevins. Recommended by Jude.  And speaking of notable Tachyon anthologies, THE NEW WEIRD, also edited by the Vandermeers, was just named a BookSense Notable Book for April.  Way to go, guys!

New and Notable

LIFE SUCKS by Jessica Abel, Warren Pleece and Gabe Soria (First Second, Graphic Novel, $19.95) - What if being a vampire wasn't all elegant clothes and fabulous eternal life?  What if your prospects for eternity were working at a convenience mart forever and being ignored by lovely goth girls?  What's a nice-guy vampire to do?  Meet Dave Miller, unfortunate victim of circumstance and learn what he does about his (ahem) dead-end life in this bittersweet and funny graphic novel.  Recommended by Alan and Jude.

LINE WAR by Neal Asher (Tor UK, Hardcover, $37.61) - Asher does a great job of wrapping up the events that have been building in the last two Cormac novels and he continues to improve his plotting.  I was very, very happy with it.  Recommended by Alan.

MAPS AND LEGENDS by Michael Chabon (McSweeny's, Hardcover, $24.00) - Essays and short-form memoirs, with one of the most beautiful and clever dust jacket designs I've ever seen.

THE DEL REY BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY edited by Ellen Datlow (Del Rey, Trade Paperback, $16.00) - Sixteen original works by some of specualtive fiction's finest writers, including Pat Cadigan, Carol Emshwiller, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Paul McAuley & Kim Newman, and Maureen F. McHugh.

LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow (Tor, Hardcover, $17.95) - I can't remember the last time we were all so excited about a book! Cary says LITTLE BROTHER "may be the most important book we've ever sold".  I don't know if I would go that far, but it is certainly chilling, topical, San Francisco (and Mission District!) local, funny and vital.   Pretty much everyone should read it.  Short version: a teen hacker and his friends are in the wrong place at the wrong time when a major terrorist attack occurs in San Francisco.  Once released by the DHS, they decide to take civil liberties matters into their own hands, or actually, keyboards.  Recommended by everyone on staff.

GREEN GLASS SEA by Ellen Klages (Puffin, Trade Paperback, $7.99) - Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.  Not science fiction, but fiction about science, this is an incredible coming of age story starring eleven-year-old misfits Dewey Kerrigan and Suze Gordon, set in a city that didn't officially exist -- Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1943. Look for the sequel, with the awesome title WHITE SANDS, RED MENACE, coming in October.  Recommended by Jude.

LAVINIA by Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt, Hardcover, $24.00) - From the dust jacket: "In The Aeneid, Virgil's hero fights to claim the king's daughter, Lavinia, with whoim he is destined to found an empire.  Lavinia herself never speaks a word in the poem.  Now Ursula K. Le Guin gives her a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills."

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH by Philip Pullman (Knopf, Other Hardcover, $12.99) - Excellent short-story prequel to HIS DARK MATERIALS that includes the very first meeting of Texas balloonist Lee Scoresby and armored bear Iorek Byrnison.  This pretty little volume also contains an ingenious board game called "The Peril of the Pole". This volume matches LYRA'S OXFORD, (ONCE UPON A TIME has blue boards) and rumor says that there will eventually be a third volume, with green boards, that will tell Will's story.

HOUSE OF SUNS by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz, Hardcover, $39.44) - From the jacket: "HOUSE OF SUNS is a dazzling, dizzying space opera with a hard SF heart in a glorious new universe: this is Alastair Reynolds at the very top of his game."

THE STARRY RIFT edited by Jonathan Strahan (Viking, Hardcover, $19.99) - Fabulous new anthology of teen-oriented science fiction.  Stories by almost everyone you could ask for - Stephen Baxter, Cory Doctorow, Greg Egan, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Ian McDonald, Garth Nix, Alastair Reynolds, Walter John Williams and more! Recommended by Jude.

DVD New Arrivals

Will return next month.

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
Contributors - Jeremy Lassen

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


APRIL, 2008
MARCH, 2008

AUGUST, 2007
JULY, 2007
JUNE, 2007
MAY, 2007
APRIL, 2007
MARCH, 2007

AUGUST, 2006
JULY, 2006
JUNE, 2006
MAY, 2006
APRIL, 2006
MARCH, 2006

AUGUST, 2005
JULY, 2005
JUNE, 2005
MAY, 2005
APRIL, 2005
MARCH, 2005

AUGUST, 2004
JULY, 2004
JUNE, 2004
MAY, 2004
APRIL, 2004
MARCH, 2004