Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner — book review

Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner. Random House $19.99

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

When Terri Windling’s Borderland and Bordertown appeared in the late ’80s she was not the first by any means to imagine a place that lay between the Realm and the World. But her Bordertown is the construct said, by many, to define the roots of modern Urban Fantasy. Her Bordertown is a land filled with runaways and lost souls in search of those things that we desire the most and never quite manage to attain. That is not to say that this is a volume filled with unremitting angst. It isn’t. Its streets are dark and its inhabitants most often darker, yet filled with music and art and esoterica — that fills us with wonder. If anything the overriding theme of this collection is of dawning realisations and acceptance.

The content dives between short fiction and poetry (and even one short graphic-story) by many of the biggest names in urban fantasy: Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Ti  Pratt, Will Shetterley, Patricia McKillip and many more. Most deal with the rigours of being a ‘noob’ in the city. In Charles de Lint’s ‘A Tangle of Green Men’, it’s all about the getting there; and why. And though most are seen from a World dweller’s perspective, ‘Incunabulum’ by Emma Bull shows what it is to be from the other side, from the Realm, with all of the resultant expectations made of her protagonist by Worlder noobs.

But then expectation is at the root of all that occurs in the streets and back alleys of Bordertown. In amongst the dirt and the fight for survival is the music and the art that make it all worth the while. This is Urban Fantasy as it should be. Excellent collection. Highly recommended.

Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner. Random House $19.99

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

When Terri Windling’s Borderland and Bordertown appeared in the late ’80s she was not the first by any means to imagine a place that lay between the Realm and the World. But her Bordertown is the construct said, by many, to define the roots of modern Urban Fantasy. Her Bordertown is a land filled with runaways and lost souls in search of those things that we desire the most and never quite manage to attain. That is not to say that this is a volume filled with unremitting angst. It isn’t. Its streets are dark and its inhabitants most often darker, yet filled with music and art and esoterica — that fills us with wonder. If anything the overriding theme of this collection is of dawning realisations and acceptance.

The content dives between short fiction and poetry (and even one short graphic-story) by many of the biggest names in urban fantasy: Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Ti  Pratt, Will Shetterley, Patricia McKillip and many more. Most deal with the rigours of being a ‘noob’ in the city. In Charles de Lint’s ‘A Tangle of Green Men’, it’s all about the getting there; and why. And though most are seen from a World dweller’s perspective, ‘Incunabulum’ by Emma Bull shows what it is to be from the other side, from the Realm, with all of the resultant expectations made of her protagonist by Worlder noobs.

But then expectation is at the root of all that occurs in the streets and back alleys of Bordertown. In amongst the dirt and the fight for survival is the music and the art that make it all worth the while. This is Urban Fantasy as it should be. Excellent collection. Highly recommended.