ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
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 [twitter.com profile] 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.)
ahorbinski: Tomoe Gozen is so badass she glued her OTW mug to her wrist.  (tomoe gozen would haved loved the OTW)
I think many people in my networks have already heard about KudosCon, a new convention celebrating fanworks and fan creators. KudosCon will be held in Bloomington, Minnesota (aka Mall of America Town) from January 3-5, 2013. But, as a new con, KudosCon needs money to happen, so they are funding the con through Kickstarter. There are multiple levels of support available, from joint memberships that you can split to plush plotbunnies that you can cuddle to artists' alley tables and more. Even if you can't attend the con, supporting the con at the lurker level ($5 or more) can help ensure that the con happens for other people.

I know a lot of people who are thinking of going, and I've also seen a lot of people asking if anyone knows anything about the people running the con. I actually do know two of the people who are running it, Lee and Lisa--I have known them for about five years now, since we first met at Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits in Minneapolis. We've continued to run into each other at SGMS and at Wiscon since then, and Lisa and I were actually on an anime and manga panel together at Wiscon at one point. They are married and they have a webcomic, Godseeker, and as far as I know they are pretty cool.

So, I hope to see you at KudosCon! Yes, it will be cold outside, but the love of fanworks will fill our hearts and keep us warm.
ahorbinski: Tomoe Gozen is so badass she glued her OTW mug to her wrist.  (tomoe gozen would haved loved the OTW)
Through the OTW, I spoke to Oakland Tribune writer Angela Hill about fanfiction two weeks ago, and her article, quoting me and a few other OTW and Bay Area people, went live on January 16: "Fan fiction: A world where Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes could meet." 

(I should note that my stories about Irene Adler are more about allowing her to continue being awesome than making her awesome, because as we all know, she's already awesome.)

* I was interviewed by the Burlington County Times during the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2000. Good times.

ahorbinski: Tomoe Gozen is so badass she glued her OTW mug to her wrist.  (tomoe gozen would haved loved the OTW)
Anna Wilson, with whom I am tangentially acquainted, has a great post on where the first duty of the historian lies, RPF, Procopius, and me, over at The Society of the Friends of the Text:

I like the insistence on the tension between our felt responsibility to those we are writing about, and to those we are writing for. I like that poking at that tension forces self-scrutiny, forces me to ask myself who, or what, my work is for, after all: other postgraduate scholars? Undergraduate students? Myself? Where does my loyalty lie? Asking the same question of other historians can often generate surprising moments of understanding that help separate personal context from historiographical content, or at least come to a higher level of understanding about their interrelation (I felt a great “OH!” moment when I read, in Norman Cantor’s Inventing the Middle Ages, that Charles Homer Haskins, a historian of medieval government and university institutions, worked for the CIA).

I'm not sure what to say to this, other than that it's a crunchy post that bears repeated cogitation. Personally, while I find myself frequently sympathizing deeply with my research subjects, my first sense of responsibility always lies, fairly equally, with both the present and the future--everything I write, I hope will carry forward to posterity as well as speak to the present moment. It's a large ambition, but a true one, and for that I make no apology.
ahorbinski: Tomoe Gozen is so badass she glued her OTW mug to her wrist.  (tomoe gozen would haved loved the OTW)
I can feel myself teetering on the abyss that yawns beneath all aca-bloggers, namely, not having enough bloody time. So while I get posts together on the symposium on Japanese politics I attended last week and the documentary Autumn Gem, which I saw today and which is very good, have some links from the current issue of Transformative Works and Cultures. Disclaimer: I know all three of these authors personally (which is why I'm linking to them).


Mikhail Koulikov has a piece on "Fighting the fan sub war: Conflicts between media rights holders and unauthorized creator/distributor networks." 

[personal profile] sasha_feather has a piece on "From the edges to the center: Disability, Battlestar Galactica, and fan fiction."

And Alex Leavitt has a website review of Inside Scanlation.

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ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

May 2016

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