Tuesday, Nov. 4 The steampunk genre champions the marriage of the old with the new, pairing modern technology with the vintage panache of brass, zeppelins, and lace. The uninitiated can address questions to Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, editors of the new anthology Steampunk (Tachyon Publications, $14.95), featuring authors like Michael Chabon and Neal Stephenson. Don't forget your ascot and mechanical monocle. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer appear at 7 p.m. at Borderlands Books, 866 Valencia (at 20th St.), 824-8203, www.borderlands-books.com.
Monday, Nov. 10 The AIDS crisis, macrobiotic diets, child rearing, and sex are all topics that cartoonist Alison Bechdel has tackled in her long-running comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For." Starring the lovably neurotic Mo, the cast of characters has morphed from angsty hipsters fresh out of college to people with, like, jobs. And like all grown-up strips (read: Doonesbury and Calvin and Hobbes), Bechdel's work has been compiled into a tome of required reading. Bechdel discusses The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25) at 7:30 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), 863-8688, www.booksmith.com.
Wednesday, Nov. 12 Question: I am in desperate need of a ninja to kill someone for me. Are ninjas for hire and is there an online service that facilitates that? Answer: Wah! Wah! Wah! I need a ninja to kill someone for me! Well, you know what? Ninjas are not just about killing people! We're about killing people really, really well. Douglas SarineandKent Nichols are the team behind askaninja.com and have been fielding such wussy questions from their weakling fans online for so long that they decided to write The Ninja Handbook (Random House, $14.95). Sarine and Nichols appear at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 601 Van Ness (at Golden Gate), 776-1111, www.booksinc.net.
Sunday, Nov.16 Depending on how the election goes, attending Riki Ott's "Why It's Not Okay to Drill, Baby, Drill Tour" will either stoke the roaring flames of smugness, or fuel a sense of impending doom. Her book Not One Drop (Chelsea Green, $21.95) details the fallout from the Exxon Valdez disaster, and its impact on the inhabitants of Cordova, Alaska, who live near ground zero of the largest oil spill in American history. Ott appears at 1 p.m. at the San Francisco Green Festival at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St. (at Brannan), 490-5985, www.sfdesigncenter.com.
Monday, Nov. 24 File Ethan Canin under "Guys You Secretly Hate for Their Success." Born in Michigan, Canin grew up in San Francisco, got his undergrad degree at Stanford, and then went on to Harvard Medical School, where he graduated a doctor and became a resident at UCSF. Then he published The Palace Thief, a critically acclaimed collection of short stories, ditched medicine, and started a little something called The Writers' Grotto. Canin will talk about his latest book, America America (Random House, $27) at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200, www.jccsf.org.