March 03, 2014

The Authors Who Put the “P” in “SF”

by Jeremy Lassen

(Editor's note: since Alan is still busy doing construction -- if you've been in the store during the last month, you've probably heard the power tools --  I've asked some other staffers to contribute From the Office pieces for the next few months.  Don't worry; all the rest of us are just as opinionated as Alan, and he'll be back with his own special brand of analysis in a few months.  But meanwhile, enjoy a second guest piece from Jeremy Lassen, Borderlands' first (and longest continuous) employee.  (Please note that while Borderlands is probably the only bookstore in the world with its own SWAT team, and that Alan and I will personally back any of our employees in a street fight, their opinions are their own and don't necessarily represent the store. - Jude Feldman)

We had so much fun last time, I figured I would give it another go.  And since saying “Fuck Nick Hornsby” didn’t generate enough ire, I thought I would violate one of the first rules of polite society and talk politics.  Wait, wait, wait. . . . Not in the way that you think.  I’m not going to bore you with MY political views, or observations about various political theories and paradigms.  I’m going to bore you with observations about political thought as expressed in science fiction novels.

I’m not talking about the political views of the authors, although of course that may come up.  But if the author is genuinely interesting, what you think of as “their politics” may in fact not be.  Let’s start with good old Bob Heinlein as an example.  It’s really easy to base your perspective of an author’s personal politics on that first novel of theirs that you read.  If you read STARSHIP TROOPERS, clearly Heinlein was a fascist.  If you read STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, well, he was a Leftist Cult-Hippie.  If you read THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON, you would think he was a libertarian, and if you read THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, you could be pretty sure he was a bomb-throwing anarchist and revolutionary.

February Bestsellers

1. The Waking Engine by David Edison
2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
3. Pandemic by Scott Sigler
4. The Martian by Andy Weir
5. A Darkling Sea by James Cambias
6. What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
7. Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman
8. V-S Day by Allen Steele
9. Seven Wild Sisters by Charles de Lint
10. Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3. The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
4. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
5. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
6. Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
7. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs
8. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
9. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
10. Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Trade Paperbacks
1. Annihilation by Jeff Vadermeer
2. Hyperbolye and a Half by Allie Brosh
3. Miss Peregrin'e Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
4. Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
5. Indexing by Seanan McGuire

February News Roundup

* The New York Times comments on the recent trend of series books being released more quickly in order to satisfy "binge readers":

* Fans of Pat Murphy's THE CITY, NOT LONG AFTER or Michaela Roessner's VANISHING POINT will especially appreciate these eerie photos of an empty San Francisco:

* Neil Gaiman and Australia's Four Play String Quartet are coming to The Warfield June 25th.  Tickets are $40.

* Wonderful, creepy old photos out of context; especially for fans of Ransom Riggs, but haunting for everyone!

March Upcoming Events

Brandon Sanderson, WORDS OF RADIANCE (Tor, Hardcover, $27.99) Thursday, March 6th at 6:00 pm

Marie Brennan, TROPIC OF SERPENTS: A MEMOIR BY LADY TRENT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, March 9th at 7:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, HALF OFF RAGNAROK (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, March 15th at 6:00 pm

Edith Maxwell, A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE (Kensington, Hardcover, $24.00) Sunday, March 16th at 1:00 pm

Bruce DeSilva, PROVIDENCE RAG (Forge, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, March 16th at 3:00 pm

Nick Mamatas, Jim Nisbet, Sin Soracco, and Ken Wishnia: PM Press Crime Writers' Short-Fire Reading and Signing, Wednesday, March 19th at 7:00 pm

Dan Wells, RUINS (Balzer + Bray, Hardcover, $17.99) and Robison Wells, BLACKOUT (HarperTeen, Hardcover, $17.99), Friday, March 21st at 7:00 pm

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

Details after the break