Sunday, May 15, 2011

Essential Bordertown

Some time not too long ago, no one knows how or why, the Border between the human World and the faerie Realm bisected a modern city, which was soon renamed Bordertown.  Neither technology nor magic is entirely reliable in the Borderlands; anything powered by electricity or internal combustion has to have a spellbox for backup power, while spells should only be undertaken with caution, in the knowledge that not only may they fail, they may fail spectacularly. Quickly abandoned by many residents who couldn't cope with the sudden infusion of weirdness, B-town just as quickly became a magnet for disaffected youth on both sides of the Border, and developed a musical and artistic culture of misfits powered by the runaways squatting in the slums of the district called (what else) Soho.  This book offers a sort of home-grown travel guide for malcontents, with illustrative examples of everything you need to know to survive on the Border.

I stumbled across editor Terri Windling's shared world of Bordertown kind of late in the game, when the second anthology of short stories (also called Bordertown) was reprinted in 1996, ten years after its original publication. Or maybe it was Emma Bull's 1994 Bordertown novel Finder that I read first? I forget, now that I try to pin it down, and that's okay, because Bordertown is kind of unpinnable anyway.  I do know that I scoured the new and used book stores of Chapel Hill trying to track down the other anthologies and novels; the first and third, Borderlands and Life on the Border, I got used, but the novel Nevernever I bought new, and I never did track down a copy of Elsewhere to buy (though I did read it, thank you Chapel Hill Public Library). It was also the library that provided me with a copy of this book when it came out in 1998.

I recently learned that after 13 years there's finally a new Borderlands book coming out later this month, Welcome to Bordertown. On learning from the Bordertown Series website that the books I didn't own were still in print, I ordered them just as soon as I finished my fangirl squee; I've got a pre-order in for the new one as well.

This series is one of the foundations of modern urban fantasy, and I can't recommend it enough if you like that kind of thing.

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