Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Welcome to Bordertown

Sometime in the dim dark ages (mid 1980's) editor Terri Windling dreamt up an idea for a shared world that she called Bordertown. The Borderlands, sometimes called Bordertown was an area where the boundaries between our world and that of the faeries blurred and this seemed to draw disaffected youth from both places like moths to a flame. A number of Terri Windling's authorial acquaintances also liked the idea and contributed to it. There were a number of anthologies released and they achieved respectable popularity at the time.

I never got into Bordertown back then. I had other reading interests and the covers didn't do a lot for me. I wish I had, the original collections are very hard to find and horrendously expensive. The last collection was released in 1998 and the borders remained closed until 2011. Welcome to Bordertown is a brand new anthology of Bordertown stories edited by Ellen Kushner and popular YA author Holly Black with an introduction by Terri Windling. While I found the artwork on the original covers unappealing that's not the case with Steve Stone's bright image of an ivy covered motorcycle on this new collection.

The two ladies have assembled a formidable roster of talent, including names such as Cory Doctorow, Holly Black herself, Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, the wonderful Cat Valente and the Urban Fantasy pioneer Charles De Lint.

Welcome to Bordertown is an eclectic collection of stories, poems, songs and even a comic strip.

Like most short story collections there are some good ones, some not so good and one absolute stand out.

I could take or leave the poems, they rarely do connect with me. I don't think the collection would have suffered if they had been removed. Two examples of good stories were Cat Valente's dark, but beautifully written (that woman uses words so well) entry; A Voice Like A Hole, and the bewitching Elf Blood by Annette Curtis Klause. As a new visitor to Bordertown I also appreciated the Bordertown Basics at the front of the book and felt that the excellent Welcome to Bordertown by Terri Windling and Ellen Kushner also gave newbies a good introduction, explaining how the entrance to Bordertown had been closed for 13 years in our world, but 13 days in the Borderlands. One story that I really didn't like or see the point of was surprisingly from one of the original contributors to the Bordertown books Emma Bull's; Incunabulum. The stand out was Charles De Lint's closer; A Tangle of Green Men. I tried De Lint years ago, but could never really get into him, I may have to have another go at it.

Welcome to Bordertown will hopefully entice previous visitors back and attract a new generation to this wondrous place so that more collections can come out and maybe even have the older ones reprinted. I want to go back.

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