I am so terribly sorry to hear that after 18 years, Borderlands Books
in San Francisco will be closing by the end of next month
. The news leaked on Twitter Sunday night Tokyo time, and I sat there in shock for a good five minutes when I saw it.
The thing is, Borderlands was never just a science fiction fantasy bookstore. It is and was a community of readers and geeks who were interested in the same sorts of things, and it was extraordinarily welcoming to me. I moved to the Bay Area in August 2010, only a few months after attending my first science fiction fandom convention (WisCon 34, to be exact), and I suspect I first heard about Borderlands through a post on Seanan McGuire's LJ--can you believe that it was only 4.5 years ago that Seanan published her first novel? I sure as hell can't, but the release party for Rosemary and Rue
in September 2010 sounded fun, so I hopped on BART and headed over. I think I wandered up and down Valencia for at least 20 minutes before I actually poked my head into the store (this was before they opened the wall between the bookstore and the cafe, IIRC). I remember feeling very awkward, but I had a good time eating mini cupcakes from a bakery I'd never heard of and hearing Seanan and her friends perform music I would have said I didn't like and listening to Seanan read from the book, and Seanan and everyone there was super friendly. She's only one of the awesome people who I've met through Borderlands, who I'm proud to say that I know, and who I know to expect (even more) great things from in the future.
I kept coming back, and though I never had as much time to go to events as I would have liked (blame graduate school) and I never had half as much money to spend on books there as I would have wanted (again, blame graduate school), Jude and Alan and everyone on the staff made Borderlands a place that I was always happy to return to. Part of a conversation I had with a friend there one afternoon made it onto their "overheard in the store" feature on Twitter. I'll never forget how, a year and more ago, I stood in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and searched "science fiction bookstore" on Google Maps on a lark, and the first result that came up was Borderlands. The store was a beacon, and partly because of that, it was able to attract a stellar roster of non-local authors as well as staunch stalwarts like Seanan. It was also partly because everyone there had impeccable taste. I'm even gladder now that the store has been immortalized in Seanan's seventh Toby Daye book, Chimes at Midnight
, and I'm unspeakably sad that I won't be able to get back to the store to try to tell everyone there how much it meant to me in person before it closes.
There's no inspiring closing line that I can write for this post. This morning I ordered some books through the store's online service
, and I also spent some time reading the WSFS Constitution Article 3
, which covers the Hugo Awards.
[I believe it would be possible to nominate Borderlands as a "Best Related Work,"]
[SEE BELOW] and it would also certainly be eligible for a Special Award from Sasquan
, the 2015 WorldCon. I'm not sure how much precedent there is for either, but a Hugo nomination (and award!) of some kind would be the least that Alan, Jude, and everyone at Borderlands deserve for the hard work that went into maintaining what was, in its time, one of the best SFF bookstores in the country. I and everyone else who's ever been there will miss Borderlands so, so much.
ETA: I just had a very informative conversation on Twitter with pnh
about the propriety of the idea of the Best Related Work nomination--apparently nominating platforms for BRW is looked upon dimly, although the language of the article is vague enough that it's legal and it keeps happening. (To me this suggests that some kind of explicit Hugos recognition for platforms would be beneficial; one of the things contemplating Borderlands' demise brought home to me was the very importance of platforms, online and off, for fostering the SFF fandom community--but that's another story.) That being the case, I would all the more heartily encourage the Sasquan awards committee to consider Borderlands for special recognition, which it very richly deserves. (I haven't actually looked at the nominations form yet; if there's a write-in or additional information box, I will put this in there.)