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Events and News from Borderlands Books

July, 2008

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Borderlands Night at Evil Dead the Musical! (at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez), Friday, July 11th at 10:30 pm

Jay Lake, ESCAPEMENT, (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, July 12th at 3:00 pm

Jay Lake and Susan Palwick are guests of SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Saturday, July 12th at 7:00 pm

Naomi Novik, VICTORY OF EAGLES, (Del Rey, Hardcover, $25.95) and Eldon Thompson, THE DIVINE TALISMAN (Eos, Hardcover, $25.95) Tuesday, July 22nd at 7:00 pm

Harry Turtledove, THE MAN WITH THE IRON HEART, (Del Rey, Hardcover, $27.00) Saturday, July 26th at 3:00 pm

Apocalyptic Novel Double Feature - Michael Louis Calvillo, I WILL RISE (Lachesis, Trade Paperback, $16.50) and Gabrielle S. Faust, ETERNAL VIGILANCE (Immanion Press, Trade Paperback, $21.99) Saturday, July 26th at 5:00 pm

David J. Williams, MIRRORED HEAVENS, (Spectra, Trade Paperback, $12.00) Sunday, July 27th at 3:00 pm

Kelley Armstrong, THE SUMMONING (HarperCollins, Hardcover, $17.99) and Melissa Marr, INK EXCHANGE (HarperTeen, Hardcover, $16.99) Monday, July 28th at 7:00 pm

David Weber, BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, August 2nd at 3:00 pm

Jeff Carlson, PLAGUE WAR (Ace, Mass Market, $7.99), Saturday, August 16th at 3:00 pm

Greg Bear, THE CITY AT THE END OF TIME (Del Rey, Hardcover, $27.00) Tuesday, August 19th at 7:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)

Stay tuned for Fall events with Steven Erikson, Kim Stanley Robinson, S.M. Stirling, and many other exciting authors!

Overheard in the Store

Will Return Next Month.


*Cafe News
Biggest news first -- thanks to all the support from our neighbors and the genre community, we got the planning commission permit that we were hoping for.  Now we've got to wait for about a month and a half to get the permits from the building department (much easier -- no signatures needed!) and then we can actually start work.  Huge thanks to everyone who sent us letters of support and who signed our petitions (both physical and virtual).  We were touched (and helped!) by all the encouraging words and entertaining stories.  Also, thanks to the folks who helped pass the word with notices on their blogs - Karen Burnham, Ellen Datlow, Jeff Ford, John Picacio, John Scalzi, Chris Roberson, Kevin Standlee, and Jeff VanderMeer.  And biggest thanks of all to Cheryl Morgan, who was the person who both suggested an on-line petition and also volunteered to host it on her blog.  You all Rock!  Look for more news here as things move along.

*Sad News:
We are very sorry to report the death of author Thomas M. Disch, who apparently committed suicide on Friday, July 4th at his home in New York City.  Locus magazine has an extensive obituary here: <>

*Alan's on the Radio:
Borderlands is underwriting Anime Ongaku, a new radio show on SF's favorite indy radio station, KUSF 90.3 FM <>. (After being urged to do so by his friend, Jet, the station's Fundraising Coordinator, Alan recorded the underwriting credit spot.  It made him very uncomfortable.)  Anime Ongaku airs every Monday night from 7:30 to 8 pm and features soundtracks and theme music from the top anime series in the US and overseas and is hosted by the lovely E-Chan.  You can make requests at and, if you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast at <> .

*Congrats to Morbid Curiosity:
Loren Rhoads, former editor of the well-loved Morbid Curiosity Magazine, sends us the following exciting news: ". . . Scribner bought MORBID CURIOSITY CURES THE BLUES and plans to release it around Halloween 2009.  The book collects essays from all ten issues of the magazine, focusing on audience favorites and the out-of-print early issues.  I turned the manuscript in this morning.  Woohoo!"  We're thrilled for Loren and all the contributors, and wish MCCTB great success.

From The Office

At some point in the future, electronic books are going to put almost all bookstores out of business.


I don't like it.  Even if I wasn't a bookseller, I wouldn't like it.  But it's going to happen unless something really, really extraordinary happens.  And I mean extraordinary on the level of World War III, a super flu that wipes out 50% of the world's population or perhaps an extinction-level asteroid strike.

The big question is how soon.

Welcome to my last article in a series of four on current trends in the book business.  Last month I warned you this was going to be a gloomy set of predictions.  Well, here we go.

You might have noticed that in previous articles I have stayed clear of making predictions of exactly what will happen.  I'm not going to do that this month.  If you're thinking, "That'll never happen.  No one wants to give up books.  Reading on a screen will never replace the feel and experience of curling up with a good book.  People love books and won't give them up," -- please, shelve those thoughts until you get to the end of this article.  Put that kind of thinking, and the emotions that go with it, aside because what I'm going to talk about has little to do with emotions and everything to do with money and convenience.  And, sadly, it also has surprisingly little to do with the desires of people who love books.  But we'll get into all that in a bit.

The Technology

Electronic Books (eBooks hereafter) really aren't very complicated or magical.  Any model for eBooks has three parts.  The first part is a device to read them on -- which can either be a dedicated eBook Reader (eReader hereafter) like's Kindle or some other electronic device, like a personal computer, smart phone (like Apple's iPhone or a Blackberry), MP3 player, or personal digital organizer (like the ones made by Palm).  As you would expect, eReaders work right out of the box but other types of devices may need a (usually free) piece of software to read some types of eBooks.

The second part is the actual data-file that contains the words and (sometimes) pictures that make up the content of the eBook.  For convenience, I'll call these files "eBooks" from now on since they are the core of the whole thing.  The eBook is what the device actually displays.  eBooks come in a variety of formats, just like text documents or digital photographs.  Some of the formats (like plain text or RTF (Rich Text Format) are very simple and accessible to anyone who has a computer.  Some are a bit less accessible and require specific types of software to read (such as PDF or HTML).  All the preceding types of files are designed for storing pretty much any type of text and are not specifically designed for eBooks.  Finally there are file formats that are specifically designed for eBooks, such as LRF (Sony's format), mobi (used by MobiPocket Reader, software that works on a variety of devices, including smart phones and computers), and AZW (used on the Kindle).  One major difference between these purpose-built formats and others, is that they can be protected against copying and unauthorized distribution (with varying degrees of success).  This quality makes them the preferred choice for publishers who plan on selling eBooks (more on that later).

The final piece is a distribution system for the eBooks.  This ranges from the volunteer-operated Project Gutenberg <> (which has a _huge_, free library of public domain works) through publishers' web sites (Baen Books <> is a pioneer in the eBook field) all the way to and Sony.  Individual authors have also offered their works for free on the internet, notably Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, and John Scalzi.  In short, there are a large number of sources on the internet for eBooks but many of the free ones require a bit of expertise to access and read easily, especially on portable devices, as opposed to sources of content for eReaders (like and Sony) which, though fee-based, are very simple for the average person to use.

eBooks have been around a long time in their simplest form.  The first one that I read was a copy of Poe's work from Project Gutenberg and I read in on a Apple Newton PDA in 1995.  But, there have been some major changes in the past year that have made eBooks much more attractive and accessible to average consumers.  For eBooks to be a reasonable choice for an average user (with a decent income), all three of the parts that I just listed have to work really well.  There has to be a good distribution system that people are comfortable with and that can supply a broad range of titles that people want.  There has to be equipment to read on that is ubiquitous and/or well suited to reading long sections of text.  And, there have to be formats that can be copy-protected so that publishers will feel that they are assured of making a profit that won't be diluted by piracy.  Without all these things in place, eBooks remain what they have been since the early '90s -- a curiosity.

Last year, all the pieces were in place.

The first thing was a new type of display called "eInk" (don't you get tired of all those little "e"s and "i"s nowadays?).  Without going on too long, there are three neat things about it.  First, it doesn't flicker or glow like a computer screen.  Second, the letters are black on a light grey background that doesn't wash out in the sun.  Finally, it uses very little battery power to function.  In fact it uses _no_ battery power to display a page of text -- it only uses power when you change pages.  Despite manufacturers' claims, it doesn't look very much like ink on paper.  But it does look much, much better than any other type of display and, based on users' comments, it looks _enough_ like paper (sort of like the typical MP3 file compared to a CD -- not as good, but good enough).  Other than being limited to displaying black, white and limited shades of gray, the only real downside to eInk is that changing the contents of the display is a bit slow and the screen turns black for just a moment when you move to the next page. (Side note - Epson is getting close to releasing a new type of controller for eInk that will shorten this delay to the point that it is almost unnoticeable).  Many of the current crop of eReaders use this type of screen including the nicely designed Sony eReader ($299), the Amazon Kindle ($359), and the top-of-the-line iRex iLiad ($699).

The second thing that changed is that jumped into the eBook game in a big way, both by producing their own eReader and by quickly building the largest catalog of non-public domain eBooks in the world.  At this point Amazon has over 125,000 titles available for sale as eBooks and they're busily using their power as US publishing's #2 customer (only Barnes & Noble sells more books) to get more and more publishers to make their titles available as eBooks.  All this represents a serious amount of money, both in Amazon's investment and in the potential sales income for publishers.  Amazon is very significant in the eBook equation because these moves have satisfied all three of the requirements I mentioned above -- Amazon's distribution is excellent and used by a large number of average people, the technology for eReaders is good enough, and there's a big catalog of titles out there to be bought.

As the icing on the cake, Amazon also added another twist -- wireless ordering.  Every Kindle has wireless internet access via the same networks that cell phones work on.  Which means that books can be selected at, ordered, and downloaded to the Kindle anytime and anywhere there is cell phone service.

The Customers

But do people _like_ reading on a screen, even a screen that looks more like paper than a computer?  And do people actually _want_ eBooks?  To both questions the answer is, "Sort of but not really."

Let me throw out some numbers.

*A recent survey of 344 random computer users performed by Piper Jaffray & Co. gave this result - 71% said, in essence, that they wouldn't consider buying an eReader.  In fact, 71% said they wouldn't want an eReader, regardless of the price.

*Of the titles that Amazon has available as both physical books and eBooks, eBooks sales are at 6%.  In other words, for every copy of a title that's bought as an eBook, people buy fifteen physical copies.

*Simon and Schuster's eBook sales increased by 40% in 2007 compared to 2006 and it's looking like the increase will be more than 100% in 2008.  Still, the probable final figure for eBook sales this year will only be 0.2% of S&S's total sales.

*Penguin Putnam's eBook sales for the first four months of this year were greater than all of last year's sales.  So, if this continues, their sales should increase by 200% this year.

*Last year eBook sales overall represented a tiny quarter of a percentage point of all book sales, but that's still 67 million dollars spent on eBooks last year.

*eBooks range from being a bit cheaper to _a lot_ cheaper (i.e. $9.99 at Amazon for a bestseller that's going for $27.95) than their physical counterparts.

What all that says to me is that the sales of eBooks are growing really very fast but that's in part because the numbers were really very small to start with.  It also says to me that 29% of people would consider an eBook reader.  Please do remember that number, it'll be important later.

Regardless of the survey results, there are some groups of customers who are a perfect fit for eBooks and who will probably adopt them with enthusiasm.

Tech People.  Reference books are big, expensive (often due to small print runs), and go out of date quickly.  Medical personnel, technicians, IT people, and programmers are all groups who would like something that could hold a bunch of books without weighing a ton.  If they could get updates wirelessly, that would be even better.

Students.  I remember with discomfort the backpack of books that I had to carry around.  It's a good thing that students are often young, otherwise I'm not sure they could carry the weight.  And lower long term costs (eReaders are expensive but the books are cheaper) are a big plus as well.  These are some of the reasons why Oxford, Yale, Princeton and the University of California have all started making text books available as eBooks.  It also makes in easier on the University bookstores since they don't have to worry about over-ordering or not having enough copies on hand.

Travelers.  Not only could you bring your pleasure reading for a six-month long trip in your carry-on but wouldn't it be nice to bring two or three travel guides as well?

Developing Countries.  Even a basic eReader is likely to be as damage-resistant as a soft cover book, but what happens if someone starts marketing a ruggedized eReader (perhaps with a solar charging option - remember how little power the new displays use)?  Enough readers for a school full of children would probably cost less than buying, shipping and housing a library for the same school.  And the number of books that could be stored is pretty much unlimited (as well as being free if they're in the public domain -- remember Project Gutenberg?).

So, there are advantages to eBooks for some people and there are some people who like the idea, but overall most readers are quite happy with books as they are and don't really want a change.  So what the hell was I talking about at the beginning of this article?

The Money

The majority of readers want physical books (based on that survey, 71% of them do).  But 71% of readers ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE TO KEEP BOOKSTORES IN BUSINESS.

Sorry about "yelling," but I've been hearing the argument that "people love books, they'll never go away" for a long time while I've also been watching the beginnings of the avalanche that's going to take out my business and many other businesses that I love.

Bottom line is this -- I don't believe that there is one bookstore in ten that could survive a 29% drop in sales.  And I'm including Borders and probably Barnes & Noble in that figure.  Closer to home, I'd probably be able to operate for about six months if sales dropped by 29% across the board and by the end, the store would be stripped of stock because I wouldn't be able to buy more.

Long term, I'm not sure that I could stay open if I lost 15% of my sales and there are many other stores in the same position. 

Now that I'm done ranting, let's step back for a second and play a scenario out.  Please note that, just for the purposes of this example, I'm going to give a firm timeline but, as I said at the beginning of this article, I don't actually know how quickly or slowly this will play out.

This year, eBook sales go up by 100%.  That means that overall they represent 0.5% of all book sales.  This trend continues for three years.  Now, in 2011, eBooks are 4% of total sales.  Still a very small number but not trivial.  Several things have been driving this increase --

- eReaders have been getting cheaper and better (let's say that the entry price has dropped by half to $150, which is a quite conservative drop compared to other consumer electronics)

- Prices for eBooks have stabilized at close to 50% of the cost of a physical copy of the work as publishers and authors have seen that they net the same profit at this price point since there are no printing, storage, or shipping expenses for eBooks

- Shipping costs have increased due to fuel costs and that has brought up the price of physical books (regardless of whether the book was brought on-line or in a store,) whereas the price of eBooks is unchanged

- Students have gotten used to eBooks at school and continue to use them after they graduate while new students take them for granted

- Environmental consciousness has attracted people to eReaders, especially for "disposable" material like newspapers, since they save trees and gas.  (Side note - a number of prominent papers like the New York Times are already available for the Kindle)

- More and more people carry devices (smart phones and wireless internet devices like laptops) that can be used for eBooks and take advantage of the content that is available, even if that's not the primary reason they carry the device

But the most major change is that publishers, though originally quite opposed to eBooks, realize that books that wouldn't sell enough copies to justify a print run of physical books can be profitable if released only in eBook format because, as we've seen with print-on-demand publishing, the financial risk in publishing is primarily due to the cost of printing, shipping and storing physical books.  Also, authors realize that there is a market, albeit small, for their out-of-print works to be "re-released" as eBooks.  As a result, eBooks become a profitable new tier below mass market paperbacks and short-run softcovers for books that have a small audience.

This sales increase has caused a corresponding loss of sales for bookstores which, combined with other increases in overhead (like shipping costs), starts to drive the most marginal independent stores out of business as well as closing poor-performing chain locations.  As stores start to close, people's access to books decreases, unless they buy on-line and pay shipping charges (which have almost doubled in the past three years due to fuel shortages).  Some percentage of readers (29% perhaps), now that their local store is closed, try eBooks and like them.  This further increases the customer base for eBooks.

Since there are more and more books appearing that are _only_ available as eBooks, more people start reading eBooks when that is the only way to get their favored author's work.  Some of these people even print the books out at home on their printers because they can't stand reading on a screen.  But even they are buying eBooks.

It's 2013 and eBook sales have gained a few more percentage points to 7% of the market.  Publishers are discovering that eBook sales are eating into the sales of physical books to the degree that it's getting harder to affordably publish physical copies of books by mid-list authors.  In essence, the sales bar for profitability is moving upwards as there are both fewer customers for physical books and fewer markets for them (due to stores closing).  But there isn't a way back to the old status quo because, if eBook income were eliminated, the consequence for the publishers would be even worse financially.  So, more books are published only as eBooks.  Which further builds the market.

At the same time, many of the factors that boosted eBook sales in the first place are continuing to affect the market - younger readers are still being introduced to eReaders in school, the hardware is still getting cheaper and better, and still more people are carrying something day in and day out that will display eBooks.  And so the numbers continue to climb as we approach 2015.

It's 2015 and eBooks hit ten percent of book sales.  Now the store closures start in earnest.  Which accelerates the cycle that's started.  More eBook-only editions, more out-of-print works as eBooks and more people switch to reading them.  But still things aren't so bad.  90% of people still want physical books.  Based on survey numbers, all the people who in 2008 were willing to try eBooks (29%) haven't switched over yet.

But the process continues.  An author's level of popularity has to be higher and higher for a physical printing of their book to be profitable.  More books are only published as eBooks because it so damn cheap and efficient.  Which drives more adoption of eBooks.  And more kids learn to read on a screen and add to the numbers.  And the devices to read eBooks get better, cheaper and more common.

And bookstores close.

It's not a picture that I like but I don't see any way that it's not going to happen.  You can argue about the timeline and you can disagree with the assumptions (who knows if eReaders will work out in schools, might not happen) but there are two things that are key -

1)  There are a huge number of factors that are pushing in the direction of eBooks - price, convenience, environmental concerns, easy storage and backup of your library, and so on.  And there is little pushing back other than people's affection for books and dislike of change.

2)  eBooks _do not_ have to _replace_ books to eliminate the majority of bookstores, they just have to attract ten to twenty percent of books sales (counted by number of books, _not_ sales dollars).


Will bookstores completely vanish?  I don't think so.  In fact, I think that there will still be bookstores and people printing books a couple of centuries from now.  (If you've ever been in a synagogue you probably noticed that people are still making _scrolls_ and they went out of style centuries ago.)

But bookstores won't be the same.  I think that, at some point down the road (and, I should point out, close enough that we might live to see it), bookstores will be small, very upscale shops.  They'll mostly be in big cities and the stock will be very limited and very expensive.  They'll be filled with rare first editions, the kind that sell in the $100 and up range now, and they'll also have beautiful, hand-bound limited editions of modern classics that were printed on letter presses.  And they won't have much else.  Any other book that you want, you'll buy on-line and it'll be shipped to you . . . or you'll download it.

I think that we have lived through what will be looked back on as the golden age of the bookstore.  The chain stores started the end, the internet opened the final chapter, and the eBook is going to close it.

But it's not a bad thing, really.  I'm a reader first and a bookseller second.  What a lovely prospect it is to imagine a time when I can have my entire library with me, wherever I go.  And never again to have to get rid of a book because I just don't have room for it (or I can't face moving to a new apartment).  Moreover, I think that we're arriving at a time where a disaster like the burning of the library at Alexandria can't happen again - what the human race has written thus far might be able to persist as long as our race is around.  Perhaps longer.  It's a good trade for people and the world at large.  But I'm not comfortable with it and I probably never will be.

-Alan Beatts

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1. Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey
2. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
3. Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now by Cory Doctorow
4. The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy
5. Line War by Neal Asher
6. The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds
7. Matter by Iain M. Banks
8. Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon
9. Implied Spaces by Walter John Williams
10. House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
2. Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds
3. The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
4. The Man With the Golden Torc by Simon R. Green
5. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
6. The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar
7. Snake Agent by Liz Williams
8. Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey
9. Axis by Robert Charles Wilson
10. Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Trade Paperbacks
1. Spook Country by William Gibson
2. World War Z by Max Brooks
3. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie tie with
    Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams
4. Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
5. Thirteen (Th1rt3en) by Richard Morgan

Notes From a DVD Geek

Hey everyone.  Some great new titles and stuff hitting DVD for the first time.

First up is Stuart Gordon’s "From Beyond".  Made on the heels of Gordon’s classic "Reanimator," this movie is the legendary Lovecraftian S&M bondage movie, and should not be missed.  Previously only available on VHS and Laserdisk, this one is finally making its way to DVD.  Actually, it made its way to DVD several months ago, but somehow I missed it.  Sorry, everyone.  This disk looks to be a tricked-out, remastered edition, with alternate scenes, interviews with Gordon, and other cool stuff.

Another “recent” arrival is a two-disk Collector's Edition of "Serenity," for all you Joss Whedon fans out there.  It has 60+ minutes of documentaries, alternate takes and behind-the-scenes material that hasn’t been released anywhere else.  It’s also got a nifty fold-out box with translucent cover, for those of you with a packaging fetish.

Staying in the realm of SF for a moment, but heading over to Japan, the anime series "Samurai 7" has just been released as a single box set.  Based on Akira Kurosawa’s classic "Seven Samurai," this adaptation is set in a post-apocalyptic science-fictional setting, and is over 600 minutes long, start to finish – which makes it only marginally longer then the original Kurosawa film. 

"Ruins" - the movie adapted from the novel of the same name made a quick theatrical circuit, and lands on video this week.  It’s a well-crafted horror/adventure yarn, with tons of gross, buggy visuals, and some really nice sets and production values.  Definitely worth a peak if you want some silly horror fun, a' la "Tremors".  It is certainly better then most of the dross that creeps its way through the horror section.

Speaking of fun horror, a reader turned me on to a movie that I had heard about but not gotten around to watching.  "Teeth" is a movie that is way better then it has any right to be.  Very fun/funny/savvy take on the classic Vagina-Dentata myth/urban legend. This one is worth checking out.

Turning back to the realm of adaptations of books, the movie "Jumper" hit DVD last month.  It’s loosely based on the novel by Steven Gould. The movie features a number of stunning visual set pieces, and Sam Jackson.  ‘nuff said.

Another fun classic that hasn’t been available on DVD for a while is "X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes," starring Ray Milland in the title role.  This film is one of the truly chilling classics produced by Roger Corman on a shoe-string budget.  You can get it in this new bare-bones release, or you can get this movie as part of a multidisk set containing seven Roger Corman “classics”  ("A Bucket of Blood," "Gas-s-s-s," "The Trip," "The Premature Burial," "X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes," "The Young Racers," and "The Wild Angels").

A new indy film that has been getting a lot of play on the horror film festival circuit is the second feature from Sean Tretta.  His first little horror masterpiece was a scrumptious serial killer flick called "Snuff Film," and wasn’t all the bad.  His new one is called "Death of a Ghost Hunter," and features a Blair-Witch-Project-esque narrative gimmick that he pulls off despite the obvious pitfalls.  This one features a better  cast and acting then most micro-budget horror films, and moody, effective cinematography.  It looks like Tretta is finishing up his third feature, so it’s time to get caught up with the previous work from this Young Turk of the horror field.

Speaking of Young Turks . . . Coming out at the end of the month is THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE, by one of the most exciting young genre directors to emerge in the last 10 years.  If you took all the great genre action/horror movies of the last 30 years and ground them up into sausage, that sausage would be "Doomsday".  It’s a loving tribute to the films featuring  Mad Max and Snake Plissken and a number of other obvious nodds.  But it's done well, and done by a director who knows why those movies work.  Did I mention it features punk rock Scottish cannibals, AND Bob Hoskins?  The director of "Doomsday" is Neil Marshall, whose previous features include "Dog Soldiers," and "The Descent".  The reviewers weren’t kind to this movie, and I think a lot of people just didn’t get it.  But to my mind, Marshall hit it out of the park with this one, and with three genre masterpieces under his belt, Neil Marshall is “the new John Carpenter”.

A high-profile theatrical blockbuster making its way to home video this month is "Cloverfield" -- the disaster/monster epic from the creator of the TV show "Lost".  Have fun watching New York get destroyed. . . . This film officially marks the post-9/11 re-emergence of Hollywood’s willingness to blow up and knock down skyscrapers in New York City.  I’m not sure how you all feel about this type of exploitation flick, but certainly part of the power of this film's narrative is its visual and emotional homage to the events of September 11th, 2001.

Speaking of truly disturbing exploitation films, "The Philosophy of a Knife" is a pseudo-documentary about the horrific exploits at a WW2 Japanese experiment camp and the atrocities committed by unit 731.  It is directed by a (far Eastern) Russian director named Andrey Iskanov, who has completed several feature-length films in Russia, but whose work hasn’t been widely available in the west.  If you've seen or heard of the film "Man Behind the Sun" <>, you know what you are getting into.  But Iskanov brings a completely different sensibility and sense of brutality to this piece; not for the squeamish or faint of heart.  If the torture porn epics coming out of Hollywood ("Hostel," et. al.) aren’t your cup of tea, you might want to give this one a miss.

That’s it for now.  Keep dropping me emails if there’s a really good movie that I missed out, or didn’t cover.

- Jeremy Lassen

Book Club Info

The Gay Men's Book Club will meet on Sunday, July 13th, at 5 pm to discuss CONTACT by Carl Sagan.  The book for August is THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN by Michael Crichton.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, July 20th, at 6 pm to discuss PERDIDO STREET STATION by China Mieville.  In August, due to various obligations (not the least of which is the World Science Fiction Convention!) we'll be taking a short break from the book club.  Look for a new schedule and more info in the next newsletter.  Please contact Jude at for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Borderlands Night at Evil Dead the Musical! (at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez), Friday, July 11th at 10:30 pm - From the Theatre website: "The Evil begins Friday, June 13th!  Come see the musical everyone is talking about  . . it would kill you to miss it!  What can go wrong when five college students break into an abandoned cabin in the woods? Apparently a whole heck of a lot! They unleash evil spirits, turn into Candarian Demons - and sing showtunes! In EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL, Sam Raimi's cult classic '80s films are brought to life in a hilarious, campy show that will make you love the theatre again. As musical mayhem descends upon this sleepover in the woods, "camp" takes on a whole new meaning with uproarious numbers like "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons," "What the F*@k was That?" and "Do the Necronomicon."  Performances will be at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez, with full bar service throughout the show! Performances are June 13 through July 26 at 7:00pm and 10:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights. For a really up-close and personal experience, be sure to sit in the SPLATTER ZONE, where the gore hits the floor (and the audience)!  Evil Dead: The Musical is rated PG-13 for. . . language and campy violence."   Mention Borderlands when you call the box office at 925-798-1300 to get your ticket for July 11th and you'll get a $5 discount!  We'll be working out carpools from San Francisco, so if you need a ride or you're planning on driving, drop a note to  See <> for more details on the show.  Confirmed Borderlands attendees are Alan, Jude, and Jeremy.

Jay Lake, ESCAPEMENT, (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, July 12th at 3:00 pm - We really like author Jay Lake.  He's funny, sardonically intelligent, and extremely prolific, and we're glad to welcome him back to the store.  Jay will be showcasing his newest novel ESCAPEMENT, which takes places in the same steampunky, clockwork world as MAINSPRING.  From the book: "Paolina Barthes is a young woman of remarkable intellectual ability - a genius on the level of Isaac Newton.  But she has grown up in isolation, in a small village of shipwreck survivors, on the Wall in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  She knows little of the world, but she knows that England rules it, and must be the home of people who possess the learning that she so desperately wants.  And so she sets off to make her way off the Wall, not knowing that she will bring her astounding, unschooled talent for sorcery to the attention of those deadly factions who would use or kill her for it."  You won't want to miss Jay!

Jay Lake and Susan Palwick are guests of SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, Saturday, July 12th at 7:00 pm - Check <> for info.

Naomi Novik, VICTORY OF EAGLES, (Del Rey, Hardcover, $25.95) and Eldon Thompson, THE DIVINE TALISMAN (Eos, Hardcover, $25.95) Tuesday, July 22nd at 7:00 pm - We're very excited to host this fantasy author double-feature!  What could be cooler than a well-written fantasy-adventure series set in the Napleonic era?  That same series with an air force of dragons!  Naomi Novik is the best-selling author of the Temeraire series, of which VICTORY OF EAGLES is the fifth book.  We are delighted to welcome her to the store.  We're also happy to introduce you to Eldon Thompson, who is wrapping up his Legend of Asahiel trilogy with THE DIVINE TALISMAN.  We've hung out with Eldon at conventions, but this will be his first time at the store.  Make sure you're on hand to give both of these fabulous authors a warm welcome!

Harry Turtledove, THE MAN WITH THE IRON HEART, (Del Rey, Hardcover, $27.00) Saturday, July 26th at 3:00 pm - Harry Turtledove is the astonishingly prolific author of 19 different series and a host of additional novels, short stories, and other works.  From Del Rey's website: "What if V-E Day didn’t end World War II in Europe? What if, instead, the Allies had to face a potent, even fanatical, postwar Nazi resistance? Such a movement, based in the fabled Alpine Redoubt, was in fact a real threat, ultimately neutralized by Germany’s flagging resources and squabbling officials. But had SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the notorious Man with the Iron Heart, not been assassinated in 1942, fate might have taken a different turn. We might likely have seen a German guerrilla war launched against the conquerors, presaging by more than half a century the protracted conflict with an unrelenting enemy that now engulfs the United States and its allies in Iraq. How might today’s clash of troops versus terrorists have played out in 1945?"  We're pleased to host an event with this undisputed master of alternate history.  

Apocalyptic Novel Double Feature - Michael Louis Calvillo, I WILL RISE (Lachesis, Trade Paperback, $16.50) and Gabrielle S. Faust, ETERNAL VIGILANCE (Immanion Press, Trade Paperback, $21.99) Saturday, July 26th at 5:00 pm - Two apocalyptic stories for the price of one.  Michael Louis Calvillo's novel I WILL RISE was a Bram Stoker Award finalist this year!  Here's how it goes: "Upon death, a bitter societal outcast named Charles is given the ability to annihilate the human race  Risen and relishing the opportunity to make the world suffer, he embraces his bloody destiny, but as his killing touch spreads death and destruction, his new status affords unexpected human interaction. . . . As realization flowers and regrets begin to surface, a choice must be made between the legion of the dead and pleas of the living."  Also joining us will be Gabrielle S. Faust, who will present her first novel ETERNAL VIGILANCE: ". . . described as "if Anne Rice went cyberpunk", is the futuristic tale of the vampire Tynan Llywelyn.  After a century of Sleep, Tynan has awoken to find the world he once knew utterly obliterated by a brutal war of epic proportions.  In a new apocalyptic society, bitterly divided by magic and technology, the Tyst Empire has found that a hundred years of global domination is not enough to sate their thirst for power.  They have discovered the secret of the vampire race and have designed a plan to seize their own sinister form of immortality with the help of an ancient vampiric god. . . ." Join us to meet these two great authors and discover the ways the world ends.  Why choose between vampires and zombies when you can have both?

David J. Williams, MIRRORED HEAVENS, (Spectra, Trade Paperback, $12.00) Sunday, July 27th at 3:00 pm - This is the book we've been recommending to folks who ask for something "like ALTERED CARBON," and no one has been disappointed.  "In the 22nd century, the first wonder of a brave new world is the Phoenix Space Elevator.  Built by the United States and the Eurasian Coalition following a second cold war, the elevator is the grand symbol of the new alliance of the superpowers.  And it's just been destroyed.  The mysterious insurgent group Autumn Rain claims responsibility for the attack, but with suspicions rampant, armies and espionage teams mobilize across the globe and beyond. . . ."  You won't want to miss this chance to meet David and find out more about his excellent cyberthriller.  David also has an intensely cool website where you can read Autumn Rain's manifesto and learn all about the geopolitical makeup of the world in 2110. <>

Kelley Armstrong, THE SUMMONING (HarperCollins, Hardcover, $17.99) and Melissa Marr, INK EXCHANGE (HarperTeen, Hardcover, $16.99) Monday, July 28th at 7:00 pm -  We are delighted to host Kelley Armstrong's FIRST EVER American bookstore signing!  How cool is that? The best-selling author of the Women of the Otherworld series will be here showing off her first novel for young adults, and it's a great one. "Chloe Saunders sees dead people.  Yes, like in the films.  The problem is, in real life saying you see ghosts gets you a one-way ticket to the psych ward.  And at 15, all Chloe wants to do is fit in at school and maybe get a boy to notice her.  But when a particularly violent ghost haunts her, she gets noticed for all the wrong reasons.  Her seemingly crazed behaviour earns her a trip to Lyle House, a centre for 'disturbed teens'.  At first Chloe is determined to keep her head down.  But then her roommate disappears after confessing she has a poltergeist, and some of the other patients also seem to be manifesting paranormal behaviour.  Could that be a coincidence? Or is Lyle House not quite what it seems. . . .?" And joining Kelley will be the fabulous Melissa Marr, author of the NY Times Bestsellers WICKED LOVELY and INK EXCHANGE.  Melissa's new book concerns 17-year-old Leslie, who ". . . knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.  The tattoo does bring changes—not the kind that Leslie had dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic . . . ." We know you'll have a great time meeting these two intriguing authors!

David Weber, BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, August 2nd at 3:00 pm -  We're glad to welcome David Weber, author of the incredibly entertaining Honor Harrington books, back to the store with this sequel to OFF ARMAGEDDON REEF.  From the book jacket:"The world has changed. The mercantile kingdom of Charis has prevailed over the alliance designed to exterminate it. Armed with better sailing vessels, better guns and better devices of all sorts, Charis faced the combined navies of the rest of the world at Darcos Sound and Armageddon Reef, and broke them. Despite the implacable hostility of the Church of God Awaiting, Charis still stands, still free, still tolerant, still an island of innovation in a world in which the Church has worked for centuries to keep humanity locked at a medieval level of existence.  But the powerful men who run the Church aren’t going to take their defeat lying down. Charis may control the world’s seas, but it barely has an army worthy of the name. And as King Cayleb knows, far too much of the kingdom’s recent good fortune is due to the secret manipulations of the being that calls himself Merlin—a being that, the world must not find out too soon, is more than human. A being on whose shoulders rests the last chance for humanity’s freedom.  Now, as Charis and its archbishop make the rift with Mother Church explicit, the storm gathers. Schism has come to the world of Safehold. Nothing will ever be the same."

Jeff Carlson, PLAGUE WAR (Ace, Mass Market, $7.99), Saturday, August 16th at 3:00 pm - Meet Jeff Carlson and hear him read from the thrilling sequel to PLAGUE YEAR! "Earth has been ravaged by the machine plague, a nanotech virus that exterminates all warm-blooded organisms below altitudes of ten thousand feet.  The remnants of humanity cling to life on isolated mountain peaks around the world.  Nanotech researcher Ruth Goldman has developed a vaccine with the potential to inoculate the world's survivors against the plague, but the fractured U.S. government will stop at nothing to keep it for themselves.  Determined to share the cure, Ruth and Cam Najarro, a man who lived through the aftermath of the plague at great personal cost, must brave the devastated wasteland America has become.  Together, they begin a cross-country odyssey where they will encounter both the best and the worst in human nature - unaware that an even greater threat is poised to strike."
Greg Bear, THE CITY AT THE END OF TIME (Del Rey, Hardcover, $27.00) Tuesday, August 19th at 7:00 pm - Living legend Greg Bear is the author of more than thirty books of science fiction and fantasy, including BLOOD MUSIC, THE FORGE OF GOD, DARWIN'S RADIO, and QUANTICO.  You can start unravelling the mysteries of his new novel,  CITY AT THE END OF TIME, by visiting <>.  We are honored to host Mr. Bear here at Borderlands and hope you'll take this opportunity to meet him!

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

THE WORD OF GOD by Thomas M. Disch (Tachyon Publications, Trade Paperback, $14.95) _ From Tachyon:  "In early 2005 (A.D.), wearying of the world's religious schisms, doctrinal heresies, and manifold editorial sins, Thomas M. Disch took matters into His Own hands and became the Deity.  As controversial as it is incontrovertible, the moving true story of His awful transformation and its awesome aftermath reveals, at long last, the hidden web that links Disch, Philip K. Dick, Western wear, the Leamington Hotel, and Eternity itself. Read it in fear and trembling. But read it, or else."

CORY DOCTOROW'S FUTURISTIC TALES OF THE HERE AND NOW by Cory Doctorow (IDW, Signed Oversized Hardcover, $24.99) - Graphic adaptations of six of Cory's short stories, including "Anda's Game" and "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth".

INCANDESCENCE by Greg Egan (Night Shade Books, Hardcover, $24.95) - From Night Shade: "Hugo Award-winning author Egan returns to the field with Incandescence, a new novel of hard SF.  The Amalgam spans the nearly entire galaxy, and is composed of innumerable beings from a wild variety of races, some human or near it, some entirely other. The one place that they cannot go is the bulge, the bright, hot center of the galaxy. There dwell the Aloof, who for millions of years have deflected any and all attempts to communicate with or visit them. So when Rakesh is offered an opportunity to travel within their sphere, in search of a lost race, he cannot turn it down.  Roi is a member of that lost race, which is not only lost to the Amalgam, but lost to itself. In their world, there is but toil, and history and science are luxuries that they can ill afford. When she meets Zak, the male who will become her teacher and mentor, everything starts to change. Their strange world is under threat, and it will take an unprecedented flowering of science to save it.  Rakesh's journey will take him across millennia and light years. Roi's will take her across vistas of learning and discovery just as vast. Greg Egan's blend of dazzling speculation and gripping storytelling will leave you stunned by the depth of his intellectual rigor and the wondrous world of the deep future that he has created."

THE WONDERSMITH AND OTHERS by Fitz-James O'Brien (Ash-Tree Press, Hardcover, Limited Edition (100 copies), $49.00) - From Ash-Tress: "Fitz-James O'Brien ranks with Edgar Allan Poe as one of the greatest writers of modern horror to emerge from the nineteenth century. THE WONDERSMITH AND OTHERS collects for the first time in a single volume the complete macabre tales, dream stories, and fantasies of the Irish-Born American who, from 1852 until his death from a wound during the Civil War, was the pre-eminent writer of supernatural stories of his time."

THE JACK VANCE READER by Jack Vance (Subterranean Press, Hardcover, $38.00) EMPHYRIO, THE LANGUAGES OF PAO, and THE DOMAINS OF KORYPHON in one lovely volume.  Introductions by Robert Silverberg, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Mike Resnick.

IMPLIED SPACES by Walter John Williams (Night Shade Books, Hardcover, $24.95) - From Night Shade: "When mankind's every need is serviced by artificial intelligence, and death itself is only a minor inconvenience, what does it mean to be human? The answer lies hidden, deep within the Implied Spaces.  Aristide, a semi-retired computer scientist turned swordsman, is a scholar of the implied spaces, seeking meaning amid the accidents of architecture in a universe where reality itself has been sculpted and designed by superhuman machine intelligence. While exploring the pre-technological world Midgarth, one of four dozen pocket universes created within a series of vast, orbital matrioshka computer arrays, Aristide uncovers a fiendish plot threatening to set off a nightmare scenario, perhaps even bringing about the ultimate Existential Crisis: the end of civilization itself.  Traveling the pocket universes with his wormhole-edged sword Tecmessa in hand and talking cat Bitsy, avatar of the planet-sized computer Endora, at his side, Aristide must find a way to save the multiverse from subversion, sabotage, and certain destruction."

New and Notable

ASHES OF WORLDS - SAGA OF THE SEVEN SUNS VOL. 7 by Kevin J. Anderson (Little, Brown, Hardcover, $25.99) - From the jacket: "The culminating volume in Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of Seven Suns weaves together the myriad storylines into a spectacular grand finale.  Galactic empires clash, elemental beings devastate whole planetary systems, and the factions of humanity are pitted against each other. Heroes rise and enemies make their last stands in the climax of an epic tale seven years in the making. The Saga of Seven Suns is one of the most colorful and spectacular science fiction epics of the last decade."

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Mike Carey (Warner, Mass Market, $6.99) - I'm crazy about this novel introducing freelance exorcist Felix Castor.  The cover makes it look like a standard horror novel, but really it is a roller-coaster of an urban fantasy, complete with paranoid hacker zombies, wonderfully droll graveyard humor, and an overall noir-ish hero who just can't win.  Recommended by Alan and Jude.

GO-GO GIRLS OF THE APOCALYPSE by Victor Gischler (Touchstone, Trade Paperback, $14.00) - Top of the To-Be-Read Pile right now is this post-apocalyptic fantasy that sounds like a bizarre cross between Chris Moore, Tom Robbins, and Roger Zelazny's DAMNATION ALLEY.  I can't wait!

SANDWORMS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Tor, Mass Market, $7.99) - This franchise is beloved by many, breathlessly awaiting the next book, titled PAUL OF DUNE and due in the Fall.

SPIRITS THAT WALK IN SHADOW by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Firebird, Trade Paperback, $8.99) - Hoffman returns with her unique brand of off-kilter, heart-wrenching awesomeness.  She's one of my favorite writers, and one of the very hardest to describe.  Recommended by Jude.

THIRTEEN (Th1rte3n) by Richard K. Morgan (Del Rey, Trade Paperback, $15.00) - I've already gone on and on about this book in previous newsletters, so suffice to say it is available in trade paperback, and despite its one or two bumps, I really think you should read it.  Fascinating characterizations and quite a lot of subtextual social commentary infuse this novel that was titled BLACK MAN in the UK.  Recommended by Jude, Alan and Jeremy.  Also, look for Richard Morgan's newest novel this fall -- it's a fantasy! It will be called THE STEEL REMAINS in the UK, and A LAND FIT FOR HEROES in the US. 

SATURN'S CHILDREN by Charles Stross (Ace, Hardcover, $24.95) - Personally, I think they made a mistake with the US cover of Stross' latest, portraying the main character as essentially a Second Life avatar, but there's no denying the book is excellent. From the jacket: "Freya Nakamachi-47 has some major existential issues. She's the perfect concubine, designed to please her human masters; there's just one problem: she came off the production line a year after the human species went extinct. Whatever else she may be, she's gloriously obsolete. But the rigid social hierarchy that has risen in the 200 years since the last human died, places beings such as Freya very near the bottom. So when she has a run-in on Venus with a murderous aristocrat, she needs passage off-world in a hurry -- and can't be too fussy about how she pays her way. If Venus was a frying pan, Mercury is the fire -- and soon she's going to be running for her life. Because the job she's taken as a courier has drawn her to the attention of powerful and dangerous people, and they don't just want the package she's carrying. They want her soul. . . ." No one at the store has gotten to it yet, but early reports from our readers are fabulous.

THE MARGARETS by Sherri S. Tepper (Eos, Mass Market, $7.99) - This book garnered the following starred review from Publishers Weekly: "Full of fascinating characters and beautifully detailed settings, Tepper's complex and multifaceted far-future SF novel follows the many selves of Mars colonist Margaret Bain on a mission to save the human race from annihilation.  Long ago, hairless bipeds earned the eternal hatred of the foul-tempered Quaatar after some prehumans stowed away on a Quaatar survey ship.  Now humankind is at the brink of self-destruction through overpopulation and ecological collapse.  The farsighted Gentherans have taken up the human cause within the Interstellar Trade Organization, but as Earthgov struggles to conform to ISTO's enforced sterilization laws while trading excess children for offworld water, the Quaatar continue plotting to destroy humanity. Only Margaret, a secret organization called the Third Order of the Siblinghood and the truth behind an old Gentheran folktale can stop the genocide and give humanity a future.  As always, Locus Award–winner Tepper (THE COMPANIONS) wields grand science fiction themes with skill, vision and a twist of black humor. "

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


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