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Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands[ WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN: NEW STORIES AND POEMS OF THE BORDERLANDS ] by Black, Holly (Author) May-24-11[ Hardcover ] Hardcover – May 24, 2011
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I had done a complete Bordertown series re-read in 2004, but since then the books sat on a shelf, drawing comments, and occasionally being loaned out (don't worry; I have loaner copies of nearly all of them) to visitors. They were constantly referenced, praised, geeked about and like most urban fantasy fans of a certain age, I imagined the stories I would have liked to have told, set in the Borderlands. As Emma Bull and Will Shetterly's B-town novels Finder, Elsewhere, and Nevernever were reprinted for the YA market, I continued touching wood and crossing digits that the original anthologies would be reprinted as well; or at the very least that a "Best Of" collection might emerge. But new stories? I never even dared to dream.
Then my dreams came true in February 2009, when editors Ellen Kushner and Holly Black announced they would be returning to Borderlands in a new anthology, Welcome to Bordertown, 13 years after the last anthology was published. Needless to say, I was beyond overjoyed. Because the Borderlands anthologies shaped my tastes as a reader, and influenced my life in so many ways since I first picked up the TOR edition of Borderlands in paperback from a university bookstore in 1992.
Of course, my first thought was to wonder how B-town would look in the 21st century, a quarter century after the first stories were published? Sure, magic and rock & roll are eternal, but even with retro 80s nostalgia at its height and a whole new generation becomes convinced leggings really are pants, guyliner is completely acceptable if not expected at this point, and your hair can never be too big, I worried that the stories and world would seem dated; quaint even, to the current generation raised on computer animation, iPods, and smart phones.
I needn't have worried. Because the new anthology remains as relevant, real, heart-breaking, exciting and marvellous as the first one'with the added bonus that in Welcome to Bordertown we get to see how B-town reacts to the 21st century.
Ever wonder how the internet came to the Borderlands? Or how B-town holds their own version of Carnival? Ever miss Screaming Lord Neville's dramatic costume changes, or browsing the shelves at Elsewhere Books? Want to meet new Bordertown born-and-breds, humans with the dust of the world still behind their ears, or impossibly beautiful Truebloods with their own spinning racks of issues? Welcome to Bordertown has the hottest new bands in the clubs we know like the backs of our hands, the wildest old magic, and stories and poems and songs that make us laugh and cry no matter where we come from, or in what year we were born. Because no matter how much time passes between visits to B-town, people are still people (even when they're werewolves, elves, and dragons), and we still dream the same dreams. They may not keep us fed or warm, our dreams'but they keep us breathing all the same, and sometimes the only difference between living and merely existing are the dreams we have and the dreams we share.
The new Bordertown hardcover hits shelves this month, with stories and poems by returning B-town residents Charles de Lint, Ellen Kushner, Terri Windling, Steven Brust, Emma Bull, and Will Shetterly, as well as newcomers to its streets Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Nalo Hopkinson, Holly Black, Cat Valente, Amal El-Mohtar, and many others. And between its covers you'll find all manner of dreams, in all shapes and sizes. Maybe this will be your first B-town anthology. Maybe it will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed. Maybe it will teach you something you never knew about life. Maybe it will show you things you never suspected about yourself. There's only one way to find out...
What are you waiting for?
Find your way.
In this 22 story/poem collection, with the Ways to Borderland open again, new visitors arrive, to find lost family members, save their lives, save someone elses, find true love, find death and maybe make a little profit. Stories that stand out for me are - well all of them. Usually in an anthology this big there's always at least one I completely skip and one I completely love but these are just plain good. The best part about this anthology is it was big enough to keep me busy!
My top 3 would have to be:
A Tangle of Green Men by Charles de Lint which brings in American Indian traditions as a young man just out of juvie meets a young blind woman at FaerieCon and finds a reason to be a better man every day, only to learn the work of living is harder at some times than others.
Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap by Jane Yolen is hugely entertaining. It's the story of Tamlin in a modern form. Usually I put up with the poems in anthologies and end up skipping them. Not in this collection and especially not this one!
Welcome to Borderland by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling follows a little brother following his older sister to Borderland when her postcard arrives 13 years after she left. Convinced she's alive he starts looking for a needle in a haystick, or a single, average girl in Bordertown. Along the way the magic of Borderland winds him in close even as his sister learns the myths of Bordertown don't measure up to all the learning she has left at home. An elven queen, a Harvard researcher and a loyal dog slowly spiral them into a final meeting. The near misses are frustrating but the stories so good you keep hoping they continue to miss each other.
Now I have to go read every other Borderland collection I can find.
The solution, I think, would be to find at least one of the earlier collections. That might be a bit of a problem but reading one of them, if not all of them, would be a great experience.
That rating up there is a strong four stars. There are five-star stories mixed in with the others and the last story in the book is one of the best ever. The mood is a bit darker than in the earlier collections but there was darkness in those books also and there is light and zaniness in this one. It's just the balance is a bit different.
And it was worth much more than the price of admission to walk into the Dancing Ferret again, order a drink from the proprietor and check out the band.