8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2003
I have just finished this book for the third time and I still find it to be as fascinating and engaging as I did when I first read it in Junior High School, and again in High School. I am now 26 and though it may be a bit simple to read at this age, it still makes me feel the same as before. Fantasy readers are romantics at heart and so is this book. Underneath its somewhat common subject matter like magical elves and hollywood runaways are universal themes of angst, lonliness, rebelion, and needless to say, love. Does this sound familiar to those of us who were once teenagers? "Alison Gross" still gets me everytime. Honestly, my tag for the longest time has been "Skydeki", which is a half-bite off of one of the Rainbow Godesses in the short story of Alison Gross. Whenever people ask what it means I start on a diatribe about my love for this book, and all of its other great shorts. Please read this book if you're a teenager who enjoys fantasy writings. Even if you're 50, so long as you can remember a time when shirking your responsibilities and running away seemed like a great idea.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Some years ago, Windling thought up a highly original setting for "urban fantasy" stories -- a city after the return of Faerie to our world, a border region where magic sometimes works, technology is undependable, and runaway kids, both human and elf, are seeking their dreams. It's a little Haight-Ashbury, a little Oz, and a lot of fun for the reader. In this volume (one of several that have been published, plus a couple of novels), seven authors set their stories in Bordertown with varying degrees of success. "Nevernever," by Will Shetterly, an old Borderlands hand, is about Wolfboy, how he came to be what he is, and what he does when the opportunity arises to get even. A very good story. Kara Dalkey's "Night Wail," about banshees and dealing with death, is a bit of a downer but well written. "Alison Gross," by Midori Snyder, is about true love and dark magic. Charles de Lint's "Berlin," one of the two really good ones here, is about dragons and drugs and getting even. "Reynardine," by Michael Korolenko, about shape-changers and other horror tropes, just didn't do much for me. Craig Shaw Gardner's "Light and Shadow," a take-off (sort of) on THE MALTESE FALCON, is just dumb. Bellamy Bach's "Rain and Thunder," also a love story, is kind of the other side of "Berlin," and it's very, very well done. There's also a frame story by Ellen Kushner consisting of unmailed letters home written by a young human runaway, describing her arrival, her time in Oberon's House (not a nice place, and for not very obvious reasons), and how she survives. All in all, it's an above-average volume.
on December 4, 2013
LIFE ON THE BORDER is the third installment of the Borderland series created and edited by Terri Windling. Like the two volumes before it, is an anthology of short stories by multiple authors set in a shared universe where Elfland has returned to the human world, bringing with it trade, unreliable magic and technology, and the elves. This volume is larger than the previous two and features new authors as well as familiar ones. But Life on the Border felt different from BORDERLAND and BORDERTOWN to me in a couple of important ways, both of which, I think, made it a stronger collection.
First, LIFE ON THE BORDER does a really excellent job capitalizing on the fact that it’s the third book in the series. The authors here dig deeper into the stories of characters who have come before, picking up threads and answering questions the other two volumes left behind. Bellamy Bach’s “Rain and Thunder,” for instance, revisits Gray, a character first introduced in Borderland who we last saw leaving the human world in the form of a cat. Stick and Koga, also introduced in previous volumes of the series, get a strange and unexpected shared backstory in Charles De Lint’s “Berlin.” And Will Shetterly starts Life on the Border with a Wolfboy story. The intertextual connections don’t stop there—Farrel Din alludes to the plot of “Prodigy” in this volume’s “Light and Shadow.” Characters who appear in one story within this volume, such as the curiously magical skateboarder Deki, show up again later. Altogether, this serves to create a sense of a real, living neighborhood. By using the groundwork laid by Borderland and Bordertown, this volume makes the reader feel more like they are coming home than venturing into some unknown place. Three volumes in and Bordertown has become a place where you know everyone’s name.
The other real strength of this volume is that it feels like it’s grown up with the reader. BORDERLAND was published in 1986, and LIFE ON THE BORDER was published 5 years later in 1991. Where BORDERLAND felt distinctively (and I believe intentionally) Young Adult in tone and content, LIFE ON THE BORDER feels much more adult. The first two volumes felt like the runaway’s honeymoon period; this volume feels like when the runaway really learns what town is like. The elves, for instance, have been flighty and tricky in previous volumes, but the elves in this volume especially are dark, mean creatures. Wolfboy runs into a particularly brutal batch of elves in the Nevernever who clearly see him as less than a person. Bordertown is plagued by an elvin monster in “Reynardine,” and it seems implied at the end of “Alison Gross” that Alison herself is an elvin witch since she’s banished across the border in Elfland. There is, again, the punishment meted out to Gray when the elves across the border find out she’s human. The protagonist of Ellen Kushner’s “Lost in the Mail” finds out the hard way that the theft of humans’ individuality is an elvin hobby when she lands in Oberon House—it’s a chilling, vampiric view of the elves that has stuck with me since I first read this volume years ago.
All in all, LIFE ON THE BORDER is more cohesive than its two predecessors. Standouts for me in particular were “Nightwail” by Kara Dalkey, “Rain and Thunder” by Bellamy Bach and “Nevernever” by Will Shetterly. On the whole, I think the strengths of this book are lost if you haven’t read and loved the previous two volumes in the series, so I wouldn’t say it’s a stand-alone book or a particularly great introduction to the Borderland series, but it is an excellent extension of that series. I would have liked to see more insight into elvin culture—as I said, I appreciate the darkness of the elves here, but the book’s unrelenting focus on human stories could have been better balanced. It felt, a bit, like the book was written by the Pack—Bordertown’s staunchly human-only gang.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 1998
Described as "where Elfland meets rock and roll", this is part of a collection of stories based on the idea of what if the world of magic, fantasy and elves returned to our world. The border is a place where the Elflands and the world meet; where neither magic nor technology reigns supreme. These 9 short stories introduce new characters and expand on some of the old favorites from the bordertown series. They are all very light reads, the kind of book you tote around for reading while you wait. You must have this book if you are a fan of Terri Windling's creation, the Borderlands.