Where the hell do I go for decent Sci-Fi?!

I was killing time this morning between appointments, and I ended up in the Barnes & Noble in Clarendon perusing for the miserable collection of “books” that passed for their Science Fiction section. Good God if it wasn’t full of just the pulpiest of pulp books. Not a decent piece of recent fiction, half of Charlie Stross’ novels weren’t on the shelves, and definitely not his newest. The section for a few of my other favorite authors was sorely lacking, and missing most of the newer hardbacks.

What’s a Space Opera fan to do? I got a really great Anthology this Christmas, and I’d like to branch out to a few of the authors from the book. But of course, the entire store was picked over and the shelves barely full.

And full of crap, mostly.

Where can I find a decent sci-fi section in this town!?

10 Comments so far

  1. David (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

    There’s always Amazon.


  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

    As much as I dearly love Amazon, it’s not the same as just perusing a few books in a nice store. I miss that from time to time, and I’d like to get that back.

    Kramers? Olssons?


  3. Ian (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

    I’ve found that the Borders at Pentagon City is passingly decent. Still not great, but definitely heads and tales above the section at the B&N in Clarendon.

    Sadly, I think the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre’s are still looked at as niche genre’s, despite the strides being made by a lot of popular fiction into the best seller list, and onto the big screen – stores now carry those stories, but still don’t expand their sections to the point where people might be able to find and buy something actually interesting.


  4. IntangibleArts (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

    I agree about the appeal of a decent brick-and-mortar store, vs. Amazon. But sadly, DC is hurting in this area.

    Decent sci-fi is the stuff of indie shops, which are increasingly rare. It’s just not a viable business anymore; far too expensive to rent the square footage, vs. the return from sales.

    I love Kramers to death, but they just don’t get the spread of fiction. No room. If you have time to kill, Capitol Hill Books is a joy; it’s such a delightful messy pile in there–treasure hunting–definitely not a quick stop. But fun.


  5. Don (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

    Ian, have you been to that Borders since they contracted? I haven’t tried to shop for sci-fi there – I’ve been spoiled till recently by the excellent variety in the Loudoun library collection – but their computer books selection is most certainly not what it was before the reduction in floor space.


  6. matt s (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 7:16 pm

    I seem to remember the Borders at the White Flint Mall having a decent sci-fi section. Actually, all of the Borders’ I’ve been to in central MD have had decent sci-fi sections.

    If you go to http://www.bordersstores.com you can search the inventory of the local stores to see who might be worth browsing.

    You may also want to do a Google search for the DC area sci-fi society and see if they recommend any shops.


  7. stir (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

    If you liked that Hartwell collection, also check out:

    The New Space Opera

    The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction 2007

    Both of which has a lot of space opera. I just found the Hartwell book meself. Then what I like to do in stores is open these anthologies and check the ToC to remember authors. I still do that with Mirrorshades actually! And of course, another good trick is keep a print copy of your amazon wishlist in your wallet! I can never remember anyone beside my top 5-10 favorites authors!


  8. darpino (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

    Borders at Baileys Crossroads usually has a very nice trade paperback SF section. Better than most chain stores in the area.

    And if you love SF/Fantasy/Comics/Oddities and haven’t tried them out yet – you must experience the chaos of Barbarian Books in Wheaton at least once in your life.


  9. Bill Bittner (unregistered) on January 4th, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

    I really enjoyed Alistair Reynolds books.


  10. Joelogon (unregistered) on January 5th, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

    The library?

    Seriously, for the longest time, I forgot that libraries existed. This week, I just read one of the David Weber Bolo books and Nick Sagan’s Everfree, neither of which are space opera, but sci-fi is sci-fi.

    Not sure what your local branch’s offerings look like — mine seems to be half Harry Turtledove alternative history sci-fi.



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