Borderlands Books Owner Accused of Sexual Assault

Deeply disturbing charges from two women about being abused by Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books, were aired by The Horror Show With Brian Keene on July 2.

Content warning for physical and sexual assault, and incest.

The charges were initially shared by Sarah Read on June 20, when she tweeted a screencap of the account posted by Beatts’ ex-girlfriend on Facebook. (The source post either is not public, or has since been removed.) 

“Alan Beatts is the owner of Borderlands Books in San Francisco and my ex-boyfriend. He grabbed me by the hair and threatened to kill me with a knife to my throat. He tried his damndest to rape DoveStep Beatts. I know there are others he assaulted and abused. It feels weird to ask for people not to support an indie bookstore right now, but please don’t support Borderlands Books,”

DoveStep refers to Beatts’ daughter.

Brian Keene spoke to the daughter and the unnamed ex-girlfriend, and his podcast reports their allegations in graphic detail. (A transcript of that podcast segment is available here. Content warnings apply for the podcast, and today’s Mission Local article: “Borderlands Books owner publicly accused of sexual assault by daughter, domestic violence by ex-girlfriend”.)

Keene also spoke to Alan Beatts in an off-the-record conversation – disclosing that Beatts is someone he had a 20-year professional and personal relationship with, that he is not only “intricately tied to,” but is the subject of an entire chapter in Keene’s recently-published memoir End of the Road.

The Beatts charges are not only toxic to hear about, they are shattering to the community that supports Borderlands Books. When Beatts announced in February 2015 he could stay in business if 300 people bought sponsorships for a hundred dollars apiece, the number of sponsors needed to underwrite the store’s survival plan came forward in less than 48 hours, and by May he had 800. This overwhelming response allowed the store to envision buying its own building, and in 2017, 49 individuals loaned $1.9 million to purchase a new location on Haight Street. 

Keene said on the podcast: “This is the one that broke me, folks. …All I can say is I’m sorry to everyone involved. …I will not be doing any more signings at Borderlands Books.” 

Author Christopher Golden tweeted a link to Keene’s podcast with the comment that these allegations are “stomach-turning” and that “I love the store but as long as he’s connected to it, I couldn’t support them.” 

And the store’s Events calendar indicates several virtual items which had been scheduled for this week have been called off, with only the explanation — “Due to unforseen circumstances, this event has been cancelled.” This includes virtual appearances by Katherine Addison, Jo Walton, Mike Chen, Kelly McWilliams, Kate Elliott, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

Charles E. Gannon Q&A with Jim Freund Today

Author Charles E. Gannon will discuss Nebula Awards finalist Marque Of Caine, with Jim Freund today. The livestreamed discussion hosted by Mysterious Galaxy bookshop in San Diego begins at 7:00 p.m.

Tune into their Facebook page under the “discussion” tab at the time listed to participate. See ticket link for details on purchasing a book. If you can’t make the schedule time, check out the archived stream in Mysterious Galaxy’s Virtual Event Archive after the event.

Award-winning author Dr. Charles E. Gannon is a Distinguished Professor of English and a Fulbright Senior Specialist. A recipient of five Fulbright Fellowships and Travel Grants and is a Nebula finalist, his book Rumors of War and Infernal Machines won a 2006 American Library Association Choice Award. His latest sci-fi novel, Marque of Caine, is the fifth book in his Caine Riordan series. It has been two years since Caine was relieved of his command for following both his orders and his conscience. Now he’s finally received the message he’s been waiting for: a summons to visit the ancient and enigmatic Dornaani; the same Dornaani that still have his mortally wounded love, Elena Corcoran. As clues and new threats push Caine’s quest beyond the edge of known space, he discovers that the Dornaani empire is in decline, meaning his beloved Elena is now only half the mission…

Signed bookplates are available for books purchased through the shop. Indicate the request in the comment field at checkout.  All bookplate orders are due July 13, and will be are arriving separately from the books free of charge.

Tomorrow Is Arriving

New York City seems to be getting closer to what Frank R. Paul had in mind.

Look at New York YIMBY’s construction photos and artist’s designs for these four projects.

“450 Eleventh Avenue Prepares To Go Vertical In Hudson Yards”

Construction is about to go vertical at 450 Eleventh Avenue, a 487-foot-tall, 531-room hotel from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in Hudson Yards. Designed by DSM Design Group and developed by Marx Development Group, the 43-story tower is one of several new high-rise structures sprouting up around the Jacob K. Javits Center.

“Exterior Hoist Comes Down For Virgin Hotel At 1225 Broadway, In NoMad”

Façade work is nearing completion on the Virgin Hotel at 1225 Broadway in NoMad. Designed by Stantec and developed by Lam Group, the 38-story, 476-foot-tall structure will yield 300,000 square feet with 460 hotel rooms. Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group will be in charge of managing the property, which is the first Virgin Hotel in New York City.

“The Spiral’s Steel Superstructure Continues To Rise At 66 Hudson Boulevard In Hudson Yards”

Bjarke Ingels Group‘s 66 Hudson Boulevard, aka The Spiral, is rapidly climbing above Hudson Yards. Like its next-door neighbor 50 Hudson Yards, the 66-story supertall has nearly doubled in height since YIMBY’s last update in December. Tishman Speyer is the developer, Turner Construction Company is the construction manager, and Banker Steel is in charge of fabricating the steel for the 1,031-foot-tall commercial office skyscraper, which is expected to cost $3.7 billion.

“YIMBY Checks In On The Site Of 350 Park Avenue In Midtown East”

Perhaps the most exciting skyscraper project proposed for New York last year is 350 Park Avenue, a nearly 1,500-foot-tall skyscraper from Vornado Realty Trust and Rudin Management. After YIMBY broke the news on Vornado’s expected 2027 completion date for the tower back in February, we stopped by the site to check on the status of its current occupant. Located between East 51st and East 52nd Streets, a total of two edifices would need to be demolished to make way for the development.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Courtney Milan Comments About Mixon Report on Sriduangkaew

THE UNEXPECTED. Not counting the times she was nominated for literary awards, Benjanun Sriduangkaew hasn’t been in the news here since 2017. It’s not clear she’s done anything newsworthy even now, but the fact that she’s been mentioned so often on Twitter in the past week has made people wonder why.

In 2014, Laura Mixon published a report identifying Sriduangkaew as the abusive blogger Requires Hate (among other handles), a piece which earned Mixon the 2015 Best Fan Writer Hugo.

D Franklin tweeted in this thread that the increased discussion of Sriduangkaew in the past week was specifically in response to another thread, however, yesterday there was a kind of “crossing the streams” when Elizabeth Bear tweeted, “Just so you all know, an unknown actor who is possibly Requires Hate is just about to launch a really fucking big disinformation campaign about @scottlynch78 and me. If a whole bunch of accounts you’ve never heard of start launching really wild accusations, don’t be surprised.”

Alexandra Erin tweeted a skeptical response: “Last night I blocked Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch, who both had followed me for some time after she did the equivalent of detonating a tactical nuke as a flash bomb to distract the audience, blaming all emerging accusations against her on someone her community will accept.”

While paging through the allegations, defenses, and comments from the parties’ friends and critics, something else emerged that did warrant a story.

COURTNEY MILAN. A Google search shows people have known for several years Sriduangkaew and Courtney Milan are acquainted, but this past winter Milan’s profile grew more visible after her unjust treatment by Romance Writers of America triggered member protests that led to a complete turnover in RWA leadership and a great deal of media coverage. And last week when Milan started to speak out on behalf of Sriduangkaew, and criticized the Mixon report, the connection became more interesting to people active in sff.

Milan made a general comment:

Then, responding to the last of several non-public tweets from Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s protected Twitter account, Courtney Milan threw shade on the Mixon report:

D Franklin responded:

Milan added more commentary about the Mixon report. Thread starts here.

Courtney Milan signed off the exchange with this apology:

More Bradbury Literary Dividends

(1) IN VINO VERITAS. How’s your Finnish? Tähtivaeltajablogi has put up a post about the translation of Bradbury’s Dandleion Wine, “Kirjat – Ray Bradbury: Voikukkaviiniä”. The beautiful cover speaks for itself!

(2) LASFL DAZE. “Ray Bradbury’s Clubhouse” chronicles Ray’s earliest contact with fandom at First Fandom Experience.

…In Surround Yourself With Your Loves and Live Forever, edited by John L. Coker III, Bradbury’s friend Ray Harryhausen later recalled:

“In the mid-1930s when I was still in high school, Forry told me about the little brown room in Clifton’s Cafeteria, where the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League would meet every Thursday. Robert Heinlein used to come around, and a guy named Ray Bradbury. We were a group who liked the unusual.

“Ray would arrive wearing roller skates. After selling newspapers on the street corner he would skate to the meetings because he had no money. He used to go meet the stars at the Hollywood Theater where they did weekly radio broadcasts.”

(3) RAY & RAY. Eyes on Cinema presents an undated video of these two friends and creators in dialog: “The importance of curiosity with Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen.”

(4) CALLING. This is from an interview with Tobias S. Buckell in the June Locus.  Buckell grew up biracial in the Caribbean Islands.

“Ray Bradbury has a story in The Martian Chronicles about a couple with a kid that dies.  The Martians can adopt whatever form people around them want, so one of them goes to their parents and looks just like the kid.  Their son is back from the dead, and they don’t care why–they fold him into their routine.  He starts disappearing a lot, so they follow him, and realize he’s also being a lot kid for another family along the way.  The two families call him back and forth like a dog until he just rips apart and dies.  I read that in high school in the US Virgin Islands and broke into tears.  That story literalizes a metaphor about the question you asked earlier, about being pulled to one side or the other.  That story is not about being biracial–but for me it was.”

(5) DESPARACION DE LOS LIBROS. Ray Bradbury was interviewed by Cristina Mucci on the Argentine TV show Los siete locos in 1997. The program is “dedicated to the dissemination of books and culture.” Bradbury’s answers were broadcast with Spanish subtitles. Early on, he was asked about Fahrenheit 451.

(6) A VISIT ON CABLE TV. The Planetary Society has posted this 1982 interview with Bradbury on their YouTube channel.

Mat Kaplan crossed paths with author, poet, and visionary Ray Bradbury many times across three decades. UK Planetary Radio fan and Bradbury expert Dr. Philip Nichols recently revealed that he had a VHS copy of Mat’s first interview with Ray, conducted in 1982. The author of The Martian Chronicles was a frequent visitor to Long Beach, California where Mat managed a cable television channel. Here’s that interview.

(7) SCREEN PASS. Christine Novell considers “Modern Plagues and the Prescience of Ray Bradbury” at The Imaginative Conservative.

…In the world of pandemia in 2020, Bradbury’s stories resonate with a different irony. For those who can afford the technology, screen life has become more critical than ever, critical to education, business, government, and ministry. It has become a way of connecting, a method of community. It keeps us close, yet as Bradbury thought, isolated from our neighbors and family. But that’s the nature of the current virus, a destroyer of community. Bradbury did not predict a plague-inspired isolation, at least not this type of plague.

Instead I think he saw technology as the plague that isolates, a relentless social force. He would ask us, “What are we dependent on? What can we not live without?” As if Bradbury was thinking aloud, he offers several “solutions.” We could destroy technology, especially if we realize it controls us too much. In “The Murderer” (1953) Albert Brock is arrested for shooting a television set, murdering a telephone, a wall radio, a wrist radio, intercom system, and other things. Brock is happily committed to an institution for six months in a quiet cell. This is the stance of a rebel, not a conformist….

(8) THE TAKEAWAY. Sam Weller, the Bradbury biographer, has assembled an online course for Columbia College Chicago, “Creative Storytelling Featuring Ray Bradbury”.

Experience the transformative power of creative writing through the life and works of famed fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury. As the author of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury remains one of the 20th century’s most visionary and celebrated writers. This course explores practical creative writing strategies through a deep dive into the “dark fantasy” of Ray Bradbury.

(9) APOLLO 11 NIGHT. Ray Bradbury is interviewed on the night of the first moon landing by Mike Wallace. From Comic-con 2009, Ray’s own DVD. Part 1 of 2

Ray Bradbury Moon Landing Interview part 2

Marc Scott Zicree (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) tells where he was when the Moon landing happened. And he also relates Ray Bradbury’s anecdote about why he skipped out on David Frost’s show that night to find someone who would interview him about this great event.

(10) WICKED GOOD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Angela Haupt asked 13 novelists “which books they like best when they need to get away.”  Pierce Brown recommended Something Wicked This Way Comes.  Diana Gabaldon is the only sf or fantasy novelist whose name I recognize (I don’t know current YA novelists) and she recommended Shogun. “Salman Rushdie, Diana Gabaldon and other authors reflect on the books they find most transporting”.

(11) NO THANKS. It’s a 1980 rejection letter from Ray Bradbury to Stan Lee. Makes you wonder what Stan submitted to Ray…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster, for these stories.]

Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore GoFundMe Approved

Don Blyly of Uncle Hugo’s.

Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis, told Facebook readers today they have taken over the GoFundMe originally announced by Alexi Vandenberg and it is now the authorized fundraiser.

Straight from Don: The guy from New Jersey who set up the GoFundMe page without permission was an honest guy just trying to help, but was over-eager. Last night he transferred the site over to Uncle Hugo’s. People no longer need fear that it is a scam from New Jersey.
Best,
Don Blyly

So friends, feel free to donate!

Uncle Hugo’s, in business since 1974, and neighboring mystery bookstore Uncle Edgar’s, since 1980, were burned May 30.  

Now renamed the “Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund”, the appeal’s change in status was explained in an update:

This is Sam Blyly-Strauss, Don’s son. Alexi has turned over the GoFundMe to my dad, who is having me handle the tech end of things. We’re still not sure what form any eventual rebuild of the business will take or what the timeline might end up being, but you can all rest assured that any donations to this GoFundMe will reach Don Blyly for use in rebuilding. As my day job is managing security for a multi-building site in Downtown Minneapolis, I’m pretty swamped right now but will be placing updates here when they become available. The Uncle Hugo’s Facebook page is another good place to check for general updates. I’ll respond to any questions as I’m able, but I can’t guarantee a super fast response time with everything else going on. Thank you all for your continued support in this difficult time.

The fund has raised $23,945 from 494 donors as of this hour.

Times Are Booming for
Archive of Our Own

What else have people to do during the lockdown but read fanfic? Or so it seems. Not only have AO3’s readership numbers gone through the roof, they’ve been able to raise plenty of money to keep the site healthy.

“For a lot of book lovers, rereading old favorites is the only reading they can manage at the moment” says Sarah Wendell in the Washington Post.

Fanfiction sites have also been experiencing a massive surge in traffic during the Quarantimes. Hugo Award-winning site Archive of Our Own announced that it was taking emergency steps to manage server loads with “weekly page views increasing from 262 million to 298 million in just two weeks.” The increase isn’t surprising: Fanfic was already popular, but now it offers the soothing experience of new stories set in recognizable places with characters we already know. A large portion of the cognitive work is already done before you even begin reading.

Here’s this year’s traffic graphed month-by-month. The green line at the top is April.

Archive of Our Own’s administrators reported a surge of donations, too.

The OTW’s April fundraising drive is over, and we are humbled by your incredible generosity. Your donations far surpassed our initial goal of US$130,000, bringing our total to US$458,501 donated by 14,905 people from 96 countries. We are beyond grateful, and as committed as ever to this community that we’re all building together, every single day. We cannot thank you enough for helping our mission and for ensuring that our projects will grow even more in the future.

FOLLOW-UP. Meanwhile, AO3 remains blocked in China, however, the actor at the center of the controversy has made a widely-viewed, though not very specific, apology: Global Times writer Gong Qian has the story — “Chinese actor Xiao Zhan’s apology video goes viral following AO3 controversy”.

A video of an interview with Chinese singer and actor Xiao Zhan has gone viral on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, with many Chinese netizens praising the star for his courage to apologize to the public for the actions of fans who caused overseas fanfic platform Archive of Our Own (AO3) to become blocked in the Chinese mainland back in late February.

In the video released Wednesday on Sina Weibo, Xiao said, “Some time ago, some disputes related to me occurred, and this dispute happened during the key period of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I feel very sorry. If those disputes caused some trouble to some people, I want to make an apology to them.” Although the star did not specify what the “disputes” were, many Chinese netizens have surmised that he was referring to the AO3 controversy from three months ago. The video had earned more than 39.15 million views as of Thursday afternoon.

In February, the star and a portion of his fandom became the center of controversy after a group of Xiao’s fans reported overseas fan fiction site AO3 to the Chinese authorities for hosting fan fiction that depict Xiao and his male co-star Wang Yibo from the hit TV drama The Untamed in a same-sex relationship. The fans claimed they reported the site to protect their idol’s reputation being ruined from what they claimed were pornographic stories. The platform, which was extremely popular in the Chinese mainland, became inaccessible soon after, provoking a huge backlash among the public, with some criticizing the fans for damaging artistic freedom.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

Brianna Wu Ends 2020 Candidacy

Brianna Wu announced April 28 she has ended her 2020 campaign for Congress. It was Wu’s second attempt to unseat incumbent Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ District 8. Both are Democrats.

Her statement on Medium, titled “How would I feel if someone died going to vote for me?” explains why the social effects of the pandemic and associated risks led to her decision to drop out of the race.

…Before the coronavirus hit, my campaign was very well poised to compete. Slowly and steadily, we’ve built up an army of small dollar donors, and every quarter our filing was larger than the last….

Most of that money had been invested into a killer field operation. This had been my plan for two years: to quietly raise money, building up an army. And then, to flood the district from May to September. The Democratic presidential primary had given us amazing data. We knew not just which towns would vote for us, but which specific precincts. We would be very competitive. Engineers are not optimists by nature, but judging from the data, I felt confident in our chances.

And then coronavirus hit.

Suddenly, new questions began to keep me up at night. How would I feel if someone on my team caught COVID-19 executing our plan? How would I feel if someone on my team died? How would I feel if someone died going to vote for me?

This is not a theoretical question, we are at war with a pandemic, and life and death matters are at stake.

At the end of her first run for office in 2018 she tweeted: “I’ve said this in interviews before, but my biggest mistake early on was NOT HIRING EXPERIENCED PEOPLE at the beginning. I thought I could do it like a startup, and we could learn as we went. By the time I realized that was a failing strategy, it was too late.”

She expanded on that in her latest statement, saying:

The biggest lesson I learned in 2018 is you cannot win a congressional election with digital alone. We tried this in 2018, doing amazingly well for a first time candidate and getting almost half the votes we needed to win. But, a lot of people are simply not reachable through ads, as Mike Bloomberg can attest to. When you hold digital events, the people that show up tend to already support you. The other half of my win number would have to come from canvassing and local events. That is not possible to pursue in an ethical way.

The other factor is what voting will look like in September. I dearly hope our legislature will do the right thing and move to an all mail-in ballot system, mailing one to every registered voter’s home. But the truth is, the best thing for our democracy would seriously disadvantage my campaign. An all-absentee ballot race would favor the incumbent with higher in-district name recognition.

Wu concluded, “I’m not sure what’s next for me. I’ll be taking time to mourn and find my balance. I’ll let all of you know when I figure it out.”

Clarion West Won’t Be Held in 2020

The director of the Clarion West Summer of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which was to be held in Seattle from June 21-July 31, has notified their mailing list that this year’s workshop has been cancelled. The announcement indicates the students and instructors will participate instead when the workshop resumes in summer 2021.

Here is the GiveBIG 2020 link for the May 5–6 fundraiser.

This announcement is not unexpected with the Clarion workshop at UCSD having been called off a week ago.

ALA Lists the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2019

During National Library Week, April 19 – 25, the American Library Association (ALA) released its 2020 State of America’s Libraries report.

The report found that the popularity of libraries in 2019 continues to soar. According to a recent Gallup poll, visiting the library is the “most common cultural activity Americans engage in by far.” In 2019, US adults reported taking an average of 10.5 trips per year to the library, a frequency that exceeded their participation in other common leisure activities like going to the movies, a museum or the zoo.

Additional report findings illustrate a 17% increase in the number of books targeted for removal or restriction fueling library staff efforts to protect the freedom to read. Hundreds of attempts from the public to remove or restrict materials, cancel programs, and dismantle displays and exhibits took place in public, school and academic libraries. The majority of library materials and services targeted for removal included or addressed LGBTQIA+ content.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Overall, 566 books were targeted.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  Most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

Here are the “Top 10 Most Challenged Books in 2019,” along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

1. “George,” by Alex Gino

Reasons: to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”

2. “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out,” by Susan Kuklin

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased

3. “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

4. “Sex is a Funny Word,” by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

5. “Prince & Knight,” by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis

Reasons: featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint.

6. “I Am Jazz,” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

7. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood

Reasons: profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

8. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

9. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Reasons: referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

10. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole

Reason: LGBTQIA+ content

Other library trends are available in the full text of the State of America’s Libraries 2020 report, available at here.

[Based on a press release.]