Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just arrived at Main Street in time for spring: Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden, a title we've repeatedly special-ordered for customers and finally decided to carry new, the best one-volume introduction to sustainable ecological design currently in print.

"Permaculture is notoriously hard to define in a sound-bite. Here's one way to describe it: If you think of natural building, sustainable agriculture, solar energy, graywater recycling, consensus process, and the like as tools, then permaculture is the toolbox that helps organize those tools and suggests how and when to use them."

It's Never Too Late...

89 year-old Frederik Pohl, author of Gateway, Man Plus, The Space Merchants (with C.K. Kornbluth), and many other excellent works of science fiction, has a new blog.

As Mr. Pohl explains, "A big part of this will be talk about SF writers I have known — as clients when I was a literary agent, as contributors when I was editing books or magazines, as collaborators, as traveling companions over a big part of the world — which is basically all of the writers anyone has ever heard of over the last many years."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lots of new books in house since Monday, including David Foster Wallace's much-requested Infinite Jest (above). As of last week, we now have accounts with twelve different North American book distributors, meaning we can order 99% of books currently in print, always at a discount -- usually 20% -- from their Canadian list price.

Q: Why the sudden headlong expansion into new books?

A: Many other Vancouver bookstores are cutting back their inventories in response to the so-called recession-depression-economic downturn. Fewer good new books equals fewer good used books, which makes it harder to keep the shop full of interesting used stock. Plus, if you buy a new book from us and don't read it in the tub, we will usually want to buy it back from you when you're done.

Q: Anything else coming soon?

A: All of Roberto Bolano's scarce titles. All of David Foster Wallace's books. Lots of mass market science fiction and fantasy (Scott Lynch; L.E. Modesitt; Orson Scott Card; George R.R. Martin; Stanislaw Lem). And a bunch of older titles by Georges Perec, finally available in Canada.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Buying Update

We are currently seeking large quantities of RECENT pocket mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy and literary classics. If your usual bookstore isn't buying due to economic conditions, we'd be happy to see you and your books before 5pm on any day of your choice.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

After Watchmen

Via staff comics guy James N.:

In an attempt to cash in on the recent media blitzkrieg that was the Watchmen film, DC Comics launched the "After Watchmen, What's Next?" website, with a list of graphic novels for you to try, if you enjoyed the film or comic.

I have yet to see the movie, but loved the comic. I am Pulpfiction's resident comic monkey, so I was interested, amused, and horrified at some of their choices.

DC broke the graphic novels down into categories, and so rather than you having to navigate your way through hordes of men in pervert suits, I'll highlight a few choice comics here, for you blossoming comic geeks:

We're going to ignore the obvious choices; the great Alan Moore comics that were already adapted into horrible movies: V For Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and From Hell. All of them are awesome and all of them are worth reading (but not watching).

As for the rest:

  • The Authority: Relentless, written by Warren Ellis & illustrated by Bryan Hitch. The seven most powerful superhumans on the planet join together to become the Earth's moral hammer, to create a finer world, at any cost. They start out on the defensive; stopping ten thousand super-terrorists from divebombing Los Angeles, or repelling an invasion from an alternate Earth. But as the series progresses, they become more and more proactive, threatening sovereign governments to change their corrupt ways or risk getting squashed. "We are the Authority," they say, "BEHAVE."

  • Promethea Book One, illustrated by J.H. Williams III. A five-volume series that lies somewhere between Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Wonder Woman. A fantasy adventure through the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Alan Moore, by the way, is a Magician. A real one that studies Magick. With a "k". Yes. Promethea is how Alan Moore sees the world.
  • Transmetropolitan Vol 1: Back on the Street, written by Warren Ellis & illustrated by Darick Robertson. The adventures of journalist Spider Jerusalem, who is Hunter Thompson reborn in a perverted future, armed only with a bowel disruptor and The Truth.

DC Comics actually publishes comics from a number of proper novelists. Jodi Picoult, Greg Rucka, and Brad Meltzer have all taken a stab at the superhero genre. But the most recognizable name would have to be good old Neil Gaiman: novelist, screenwriter, object of goth desire.
  • The Sandman Vol 1: Preludes & Nocturnes, written by Neil Gaiman & illustrated by Sam Kieth. An occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. And so begins a wonderful anthology of stories about the power of dreams and the nature of stories. Everyone should read Sandman at least once.

If comics were movies, "Mature Readers" would be the equivalent of an "R" rating. It means there are F-Bombs and Nipples between the covers.
  • Preacher Vol 1: Gone to Texas, written by Garth Ennis & illustrated by Steve Dillon. Jesse Custer is a small-town reverend, slowly losing his flock and his faith. Until he is possessed by a spiritual force called "Genesis" the child of an angel and a devil which gives Custer the power of The Word: the ability to make people do whatever he says. With that, he begins a violent (and occasionally hilarious) journey across America to track down the God that abandoned Earth and everyone on it.

All of these fine graphic novels are available at either branch of Pulpfiction, or are easily ordered at 20% their Canadian cover price. I can also recommend about five thousand other great comics if you can handle being talked at by a hypercaffeinated nerd.

Pulpfiction Books is pleased to present Mercury Station, a new science fiction novel by Mark von Schlegell.

A reading and signing by the author will be held on Saturday, March 28, from 7-9pm.

Pulpfiction Books
2422 Main Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada. V5T 3E2

Mark von Schlegell's science fiction can be found in underground newspapers, chapbooks and zines the world over. Venusia, his first novel, was shortlisted for the James Tiptree, Jr. Prize. His criticism is published internationally by magazines and institutions like Parkett, Flash Art, the Whitney Museum and L.A. MOCA. Realometer, a collection of literary essays, is forthcoming shortly from Merve Verlag, Berlin.

Von Schlegell is based in LA, CA and Cologne, Germany.

von Schlegell’s debut novel Venusia (Semiotexte(e), 2005) was hailed in the sci-fi and literary worlds as a "breathtaking excursion" and "heady kaleidoscopic trip," marking the arrival of an important new voice in vanguard science fiction. Mercury Station, Book 2 in von Schlegell’s System Series, continues the journey into a dystopian future.

It's 2150. System Space has collapsed and most human civilization with it. Eddard Ryan and his fellow prisoners continue to suffer the remote-control domination of the Mercury Station Borstal and its condescending central authority, the qompURE MERKUR— programmed to treat all prisoners as adolescents. When self-styled chrononaut Count Reginald Skaw shows up off
Mercury with an inter-station cruiser at his disposal, there’s suddenly the possibility of escape -- into the past. Ryan, an Irish Republican, has always fancied himself a skeptic where time travel is concerned. But the girl of his dreams, Black Rose Army confederate Koré McAllister, thinks otherwise. And when Koré mysteriously disappears with Count Skaw, a little witch emerges out of the textual wilderness of fourteenth century Preussland to dispute the legitimacy of history itself.

Fusing new wave SF with hard medieval fantasy, sparkling with allusion and vivid detail, Mercury Station performs a daring prison-break from Einsteinian spacetime, inhabiting new reaches of the imaginable future and the impossible past.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meanwhile, Elsewhere in the Neighborhood...

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Guardian Spirits on the Land: Ceremony of Sovereignty, 2000

"Western Front Exhibitions is pleased to present the work of Vancouver-based artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Curated by Candice Hopkins and Mark Soo, the exhibition presents a single painting. . .alongside a selection of pulp science fiction novels [sourced last week from the Main Street shop by the exhibition organizers]. The exhibition is held in conjunction with a series of talks by writers that explore Yuxweluptun’s work in relation to the genre of science fiction.

Drawing from Aboriginal Northwest Coast and Coast Salish cultural myths and iconographic traditions as well as the conventions of epic Western painting, Guardian Spirits on the Land: Ceremony of Sovereignty depicts a congregation of spiritual beings encamped upon a hallucinatory and supernatural landscape. These spirits, whose intense colourings glow with extraterrestrial luminescence and whose ovoid forms bear resemblances to mechanical or android-like parts, are portrayed as caught in a state of ambiguous reverie."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Box after box of new mass market paperback science fiction in-house!

Former BC resident Robert Charles Wilson is one most underrated science fiction novelists working today. His Spin (above, winner of the 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novel) has some genuinely jaw-dropping moments scattered throughout it, mostly related to using the effects of time dilation as a potential solution for social problems, a la Chris Marker's La Jetee. Also recommended: A Bridge of Years, Wilson's clever and funny reworking of the plot of the original Terminator movie set in present-day Washington State.

Monday, March 16, 2009

New 400 page detective novel from Mr. Pynchon coming in August. An "entertainment," probably more Vineland than Mason & Dixon. We'll have copies.

Via Pynchon's publisher:

"It’s been awhile since Doc Sportello has seen his ex-girlfriend. Suddenly out of nowhere she shows up with a story about a plot to kidnap a billionaire land developer whom she just happens to be in love with. Easy for her to say. It’s the tail end of the psychedelic sixties in L.A., and Doc knows that 'love' is another of those words going around at the moment, like 'trip' or 'groovy,' except that this one usually leads to trouble. Despite which he soon finds himself drawn into a bizarre tangle of motives and passions whose cast of characters includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, a tenor sax player working undercover, an ex-con with a swastika tattoo and a fondness for Ethel Merman, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists. . . ."

Just finished faxing an order to University of Chicago Press. Coming soon: an assortment of Deleuze titles (Plateaus, above, plus both Cinemas and Kafka), plus an inexpensive edition of Thomas Bernhard's great short book of rewritten Austrian journalism, The Voice Imitator.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Say, Where's Your Section on Con Men and Hustlers?

We don't have one, because any good used book on confidence tricks, games of chance, swindles, magic tricks, sideshow subculture & etc. usually lasts about fifteen minutes on display before it sells.

We are, however, carrying brand-new copies of Simon Lovell's encyclopedic How to Cheat At Everything, which teaches the lowdown on marked cards, crooked dice, three-card Monte, bar bets, sideshow games, and everything in between. Over 400 pages of useful information, and definitely the most complete in-print guide to scams and hustles we've seen. If you like, we'll roll you for it. Best out of three!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Some of Our Other Favorite Bookstores

Someone writes hoping this blog isn't going to be a great big multi-part ad for the shop. I'd hope not; I hate ad blogs that try to instantly try to convert you into a consumer. So here's two of my favorite Vancouver bookstores: Duthie Books on 4th Avenue, and the Book Warehouse on Davie Street, ably managed by my pal Elinor M. Both shops have excellent selections and knowledgeable staff. I'm a happy, long-term customer of both. If we don't have something and you need it in a hurry, chances are that one of these two will, or will be able to get it for you.

(Book Warehouse photo courtesy Book Warehouse. Duthie Books photo by Flickr member Jacek S., who has a great set of bookstore photographs, including one of the Kits shop).

Title Wave

Someone writes to ask how the shop's holding up in the recession. Pretty well, so far. Sales are up at both locations, which I attribute to books being pretty inexpensive entertainment on a per-hour basis (compare with a feature film, a night out at the bar, or a GM Place concert) and to our ever-expanding selection of new books, all carried at 20% off the publisher's Canadian retail price. We've opened half a dozen accounts with new distributors in the last two weeks, and will soon be carrying all of Richard Brautigan's in-print novels, Orson Scott Card's Ender Wiggin saga (which flies off the shelf at both stores), and books by environmental activist Derrick Jensen, published by our friends at Chelsea Green Press. Jensen's books arrived because customers kept asking for them, particularly at the Kitsilano shop, and because the one or two used copies we did see usually left within an hour or two of us purchasing them.

Someone else writes to ask about the economics of carrying new books in the first place, which involves a lot of investment, a lot of back-end work (phone calls; border brokerage; complicated software) and a lot of research. Some people like waiting for used books to turn up serendipitously -- case in point, the customer who's been coming in for almost nine months, looking for a used copy of Mark Kurlansky's Salt, and finally found one yesterday, less than twenty minutes after we bought it and put it out on the shelf.

Other customers need to read something for a course, or for their book club, or in a hurry, and I've always felt guilty about that old-school used bookseller's refrain: "You're just gonna have to keep checking back." New books are an option for folks who don't want to wait, or need a title quickly, or don't want to give a used copy as a gift (more common than you'd think). And lots of customers -- staff included! -- would rather choose their new books from a hand-curated selection, instead of from a big box store, where publishers have paid for display space, or from an internet service that will take your money today but not deliver your book for a week or more, or will deliver it instantly to their proprietory complicated hand-held gizmo, but snatch it away again the second you stop paying for access to "your" digital content.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Other Good Fantasy Books We Read While Waiting on George

Steve Erickson, Gardens of the Moon

M. John Harrison, In Viriconium

Gene Wolfe
, The Shadow of the Torturer et al.

Tim Powers, Last Call

C. June Wolf
, Finding Creatures & Other Stories

("Don't forget Patrick Rothfuss' Name of The Wind," says Bonnie)

The first volume in Scott Lynch's snappily inventive Gentleman Bastard series. Swashbuckling fantasy set in a magical alterna-Venice full of narrow canals and looming streets, like Paul Bowles' Tangier, or an Errol Flynn stage set. One of the few recent fantasy novels read and recommended by more than one staff member, and a worthy substitute for the long wait ensuing while staff favorite George R.R. Martin updates his website, incessantly blogs about pro football, swans around international fantasy conventions, and generally neglects completing A Dance With Dragons.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Just a month after announcing a restructuring that led to layoffs and the shuttering of an entire division, HarperCollins Publishers hopes to jazz up its book lists by opening a new imprint.

This fall the company will publish 21 new hardcover and paperback original titles under the It Books imprint, focusing on pop culture, sports, style and content derived from the Internet, like a planned collection of Twitter posts called Twitter Wit."

Ms. Betty Davis, purveyor of some mighty dirty funk. On high repeat on the Main Street shop's stereo this cold, clear winter morning.

Hunter S. Thompson: Everything Old is New Again

We just opened an account with Simon and Schuster Canada, publisher of some of Hunter Thompson's more obscure titles. Now in stock at both stores: The Rum Diary, all the 70s journalism, and Screwjack.

Monday, March 9, 2009

New title from San Francisco's Lloyd Kahn, focused on an idiosyncratic collection of owner-built houses scattered in various undisclosed coastal locations between California and British Columbia. Gorgeous full page color photographs of shaped roofs, Escher staircases, stained glass and weird hippie fantasies that would be right at home in The Dark Crystal or on Endor's forest moon. Lots of construction details, too; the book's as suitable for builders as it is for architectural tourists. The first of a number of new books on sustainability, permaculture, self-sufficiency and green design, stocked at both stores.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Unfinished

Good long New Yorker article by D.T. Max about shop favorite David Foster Wallace's life, depression, suicide, and his unfinished novel, The Pale King. Courtesy Salt's Kurtis Kolt, with thanks.