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Welcome to Bordertown by Holly Black

Welcome to Bordertown

by Holly Black (Editor), Ellen Kushner (Editor)

Other authors: Christopher Barzak (Contributor), Holly Black (Contributor), Steven Brust (Contributor), Emma Bull (Contributor), Cassandra Clare (Contributor)18 more, Charles de Lint (Contributor), Cory Doctorow (Contributor), Amal El-Mohtar (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor), Nalo Hopkinson (Contributor), Alaya Dawn Johnson (Contributor), Annette Curtis Klause (Contributor), Ellen Kushner (Contributor), Patricia A. McKillip (Contributor), Dylan Meconis (Illustrator), Tim Pratt (Contributor), Sara Ryan (Contributor), Delia Sherman (Contributor), Will Shetterly (Contributor), Janni Lee Simner (Contributor), Catherynne M. Valente (Contributor), Terri Windling (Contributor), Jane Yolen (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Borderland (anthology)

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Bordertown was one of my favorite set of stories back when I was a teen. The writing was often a little clunky, and once I started going to night clubs and having adventures of my own the stories became much less exciting. I wouldn't really recommend the majority of it anymore--it's just too self-consciously trying to be hip. But I still have a soft spot for the concept of Bordertown, and a few of the stories have stuck with me.

"Welcome to Bordertown" by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling. These two stateswomen of the first Bordertown collections set up the overall plot for the reboot. One day, Bordertown became disconnected from the human world, and though 13 years passed for most of humanity, only 13 days passed for Bordertown. A teenage runaway arrives in Bordertown just before the disconnect. When her younger brother comes looking for her, only days have passed for her, but he has grown up. Fairy-tale lover Trish realizes that she'd rather go to college than be a runaway, while her engineering-minded brother decides to stay in Bordertown to play with the odd mixture of tech&magic. Trish feels like a retread of all the starry-eyed runaway teenagers who read a lot of fairy tales but have little street knowledge, and for much of the story she's quite boring. But the path she chooses is a novel one.

"Shannon's Law" by Cory Doctorow. Doctorow decides to bring the internet to Bordertown. Of course he does. I really liked the ways the main character tried to make magic work like technology, but mostly I was just annoyed at the smarmy, ain't-I-the-smartest feel of this story.

"A Voice Like a Hole" by Catherynne M Valente. Fig runs away, but she knows she's not going to fairyland. That's for older, prettier girls. She just wants to get through each day and maybe eat bacon for breakfast. Perfect and fabulous until the last paragraph, which is pure cheese.

"Incunabulum" by Emma Bull. Like a fairy tale happening in a small run-down city. An elf passes through the Border not knowing his name, nor anything about himself, and decides what kind of man he's going to be. Very good.

"A Prince of Thirteen Days" by Alaya Dawn Johnson. This was one of most surprising stories in here. I expected human teens running away to meet elves in Bordertown, discovering that magic alone won't bring them happiness, and then realizing that their own inner strength. Instead, this is the story of Peya, who grew up in Bordertown with a magic-wielding grandmother who says "the Lord is my shepherd" like someone else might say 'Don't fuck up" and a beautiful street-busking mother who's still hung up on the man she left back in the World. Peya likes the magic all round her, but mostly just wants to have sex. I really liked this! The characters felt very real, and very unique.

"The Sages of Elsewhere" by Will Shetterly. Shetterly brings back his old character Wolfboy, who's running a bookstore named Elsewhere these days. He fires an elven assistant who was plotting to steal a magical book from him, and she and her nefarious confederates pretend he's racist against elves to pressure him to give up the book. Sample text: "The small print said we had fired our elfin staff and we refused to do business with stores owned by elves. I began laughing when I got to the part about Elsewhere carrying kids' books that literally belittled elves, and fantasy novels that made elves into 'noble elf' wish-fulfillment figures." A boycott starts, then a mob forms, and Wolfboy and his ladylove (who does literally nothing the entire book) are nearly killed when the mob starts a fire. But wait! The mob was just riled up by evil-doers' magic and lies, and Wolfboy quickly proves that he's not a racist after all, and is in fact much more high-minded and generous than everyone else. It's written in a very basic, kinda clunky style.

Jane Yolen's "Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap" is a "modern" retelling of Tamlin. Every verse is worse than the one before it. Just to give you a taste, it begins,
"I am a single Soulja Grrl, I've got gold in my hair,
A rose is at my boobies, and my feet are always bare.
And no one else can tell me that I can't go here or there.
'Cause a single Soulja Grrl goes anywhere." Jane Yolen's poems are clearly in the collection only because of her name--they're all awful (like everything else she writes nowadays).

"Crossings" by Janni Lee Simner. Analise and Miranda are seventh-grade bffs who run away to find werewolves and vampires in Bordertown. Unfortunately, they find a blood-drinking elf, and Miranda has to save her friend from being overcome with glamor. Not good.

"Fair Trade" is a graphic short story written by Sara Ryan, drawn by Dylan Meconis. A teenager tries to find her mother, lost in Bordertown 13 years ago. I love the art, which is clear but has a style of its own, and I wish there was more to the story, because what is there is written well.

"Our Stars, Our Selves" by Tim Pratt. Allie comes to Bordertown to become a rockstar. There, she is given one wish, to do whatever she pleases, and decides whether to use it to become the star she dreams of being. The dialog tries too hard ("'When you put it that way, I can see your point.' 'Sure you can,'Allie said. 'My point is the pointiest.'"), the plot non-existent, and it doesn't expand Bordertown in the slightest. Forgettable.

"Elf Blood" by Annette Curtis Klause. Lizzie traveled to Bordertown in order to feed on an elf to cure her. She picks Sky, a beautiful musician, to be her next meal, but he's always surrounded by groupies. Instead, his bookish brother Moss befriends her. This was one of my favorites of the collection.

"Ours Is the Prettiest" by Nalo Hopkinson. Damy tries to keep her ex's new girlfriend safe from her ex. But though the new girlfriend is new to Bordertown, she's not new to magic. Probably my favorite story in the collection, both because I like the main character and because it opens Bordertown up so much more. A sense of menace and imininent danger creeps into the story as a children's rhyme follows the characters around, and the magic is just barely-comprehensible.

"We Do Not Come in Peace" by Christopher Barzak. A washed-up street musician helps a young runaway find his feet--but then the runaway starts a movement against the elves. I liked the inner voice of the musician, who has had to compromise a great deal to survive and, a final indignity, has lost his gift for music. But I don't get the plot. Alek leads a mob to burn down Oberon House, and as he walks there Marius plays him a song. Alek turns away from the mob to join Marius and says, "Seems like I have to go to extremes to get your attention. I knew you would come through for me, Marius." In what way has Marius come through for him? I don't get iiiiiiiiit.

"The Rowan Gentleman" by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Ashley is part of the troupe that acts out movies at the Magic Lantern, so when the movie stops playing (as it inevitably does) the actors can fill in the gaps. Her biggest problem is that her lazy elf boss is courting her, and she fears he wants more than she'll give. But then a street kid stumbles in and dies on the floor of the theatre, and Ashley is swept up in the Rowan Gentleman's story. This is like an urban fantasy retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel. The plot is a bit thin, and the ending a little abrupt, but overall it's a fun, readable story.

Neil Gaiman's "The Song of the Song" is the only poem I actually like in this collection. It's witty and a little edged but not that weighty.

"A Tangle of Green Men" by Charles de Lint is the tale of an alcoholic juvenile delinquint named Joey who finds new life with a pretty blind girl who teaches him about magic. Unrealistic dialog, personalities, a nearly non-existent plot, and a terrible ending. Cheesey and pandering all round.

Overall, a few great short stories and a few very enjoyable ones. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This volume comes the closest to recapturing the feeling of the original two books as anything that's been published since then. There are a couple of stories here that didn't work for me, but the rest delighted me enough to keep it at 5 stars. Holly Black Gets It.

I was excited enough about this book being released that I preordered it. (Very rare, for me.) I got it in the mail... continued to be excited... and then it disappeared. I loooked and looked... couldn't find it anywhere. It just resurfaced, nearly 3 years later. Considering the premise of the book, I found that odd and appropriate: The 'way' to Bordertown mysteriously disappeared. In Bordertown, only a couple of weeks passed. Out in the World - thirteen years went by. Many humans began to believe that the Border was mythical. Others lost contact with those they loved. (And, it's an excuse to have more modern characters enter a basically-unchanged scenario.)

Bordertown Basics (Letter from the Diggers)- Set out in the form of a local newsletter, this sets the stage...

Welcome to Bordertown - Terri Windling & Ellen Kushner
A 'typical' guy sets out to find his runaway older sister, who's been missing for thirteen years. He makes it to Bordertown, and keeps looking. However, while he searching for her, he finds a life for himself. In the end, both he and his sister must re-evaluate what it is they really want from life. Perfect. Wonderful. Everything I've loved about this series, my whole life, is somehow channeled here. (I suppose it doesn't hurt that this is by the originators...)

Shannon's Law - Cory Doctorow
I can see that some people might have mixed feelings about this one [due to too much focus on technology?], but it totally worked for me. The new arrival to Bordertown here is a young IT entrepreneur, who sees the spotty communications and intermittent workings of magic and technology as a challenge and an opportunity. He's got a punky, DIY-flavored start-up - and his Grail is to establish communication with the Realm. The story gives just enough - and holds back from demystifying things too much.

Cruel Sister (poem) - Patricia A. McKillip
Throughout this book, there are poems and lyrics which really give a sense of the art, music and creativity that's so much of Bordertown's milieu. I have to admit, I'd rather have had a whole story by McKillip, but this is a good poem.

Voice Like a Hole - Catherynne M. Valente
This is one of the stories that didn't work for me. I'd read it recently, in 'Magic City.' It just doesn't have the feel of the original stories. It's an OK story, but the magic wasn't there. Two runaway girls are on a downward spiral, and make it to the Border. But their transportation is just a bit too deus ex machina, and doesn't fit with the original... The Bordertown bit felt a bit tacked-on.

Stairs in Her Hair (song*) - Amal El-Mohtar
Definitely song lyrics. Loved it. I could almost hear the music...

Incunabulum - Emma Bull
I expect good things from Bull, and she does not disappoint. A young Trueblood (elven) man finds himself in Bordertown, with no memory of his name, or why he's there. Disoriented, he meets a woman he believes to be a witch, but who is actually an artist. (Is there a difference?) Gradually he comes to consider: what is more important - who he was, or who he can become?

Run Back to the Border (song) - Steven Brust
I think this is a hard rock one... Fun - but again, I would rather have had a whole story from Brust.

Prince of Thirteen Days - Alaya Dawn Johnson
A fairytale of a virgin girl in love with a beautiful statue instead of a real boy... This story, one could argue, is only coincidentally set in Bordertown, but Johnson really does have a feel for the setting - and the way in which the story works everything out is just about perfect. [It's nicely sex-positive, you can have your dream and then have more...]

The Sages of Elsewhere - Will Shetterly
Shetterly return to his beloved character Dogboy here, with a tale of a rivalry between two bookstores, curses, and a priceless book of elven magic. Great fun.

Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap (song) - Jane Yolen
As it says... I've never thought of Yolen as a rapper, but hey...

Crossings - Janni Lee Simner
Two naive girls come to Bordertown. Each is hoping to find love: one is obsessed with werewolves, and one with vampires. Each, briefly, thinks they've found their dreams - but neither works out as they hoped. The story rang more true in some ways than I'd like to admit; and is also a reminder of the darker side - while most of us survive and live to laugh at our younger selves' reckless foolishness, not everyone makes it through intact.

Fair Trade (Comic) - Sara Ryan & Dylan Meconis
I really enjoyed this brief graphic representation of Bordertown. The story was fairly basic: A girl whose dad's in jail is being threatened with foster care. She runs to Bordertown in search of her mom, and finds a place that might be for her...

Lullabye: Night Song for a Halfie (song) - Jane Yolen
OK, this is more what I expect from Yolen...

Our Stars, Our Selves - Tim Pratt
An aspiring rock star makes it to Bordertown, and quickly realizes that the town's a bit rougher than she expected. Luckily, she meets an astrologer (who misses her former expertise in astronomy, rendered obsolete by the oddness of the Border). The story becomes one about wishes - their use, and misuse - the adjustment of expectations, and the importance of self-reliance. All good stuff. I also liked the glimpse of the Nevernever.

Elf Blood - Annette Curtis Klause
I kind of felt that one story with a vampire theme was enough for this book, because while blood magic is fine, that's not what Bordertown is all about. But both 'Crossings' and this story are done so well, I can't really object. Here, a street artist finds the redemption she longs for. Klause is new to Bordertown, but she does a great job with it.

Ours is the Prettiest - Nalo Hopkinson
Just because you make it to the Border, doesn't mean your life isn't a mess. In the midst of Carnival celebrations, a group of lesbians negotiate a complex web of love, jealousy, violence and resentments. And get blindsided by some unexpected magic. Probably the best thing I've read from Hopkinson.

The Wall (poem) - Delia Sherman
Another good poem...

We Do Not Come in Peace - Christopher Barzak
Friendship, sorrow, initiation and exploitation are all explored in this piece. Nicely done - I think I'll seek out more writing by Barzak.

A Borderland Jump-Rope Rhyme (poem) - Jane Yolen
And... Yolen gets three in this anthology? It's OK, she deserves it...

The Rowan Gentleman - Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
An actress at the local theater company finds a group of masked vigilantes... and love. Art, justice, and the Bordertown way. Great fun, with mystery and action. As I said before, Holly Black Gets It.

The Song of the Song (song) - Neil Gaiman
Gaiman's always good for contributing a poem to a good anthology. This is particularly beautiful.

A Tangle of Green Men - Charles de Lint
Rather a huge disappointment at the end of the book. Honestly, I'd say skip it and end on the Gaiman poem. Read this later, separately. This is not a story of the Border - Bordertown is unnecessarily tacked on at the end. The story has nothing to do with the themes I expect...
Mainly, this is an arrant attempt to drum up atttendees for FaerieCon. It's a FaerieCon/FaerieWorlds story. Don't get me wrong, I love FaerieCon, but this is just not a very good story. Native American convention worker randomly meets blind FaerieCon exhibitor and falls in insta-love. She dies, he gets suicidal. Blah.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A solid collection of short stories set in the shared land of Bordertown. Like all collections, some stories/poems were better than others. ( )
  lgildersleeve | Feb 6, 2014 |
Very enjoyable read - not a weak story in the lot. Overall it's a darker view of Bordertown, showing the problems as well as the joy. ( )
  CateK | Jan 21, 2014 |
A remarkably strong collection of short stories* from the shared-world universe of Bordertown, a city that sits on the border between the World (earth) and the Realm (Fairyland). Despite being the fifth collection of stories, you don't need to know anything about Bordertown before picking this book up. All the stories are self-contained and there's a primer at the front for any concepts or terms that you may stumble over. I should know. I'm a "noob" myself to this series.

The conceit for the anthology is clever. Like Brigadoon, Bordertown vanishes from the World for a time, but now the Ways are open once more, with one complication: While thirteen days passed over there, thirteen years have passed over here. Thus is Borderland unchanged from it's previous incarnations from years ago (appealing to old fans), and is confronted by people from today's world (appealing to new readers). Much of the narrative power in these fourteen short stories comes from exploring that friction.

There was one outstanding story, six excellent tales, six average tales, and one disappointment. Not a bad track record!

Outstanding *****

"A Tangle of Green Men" by Charles de'Lint
Joey, a troubled, young Native American fresh out of juvvie, tries to turn his life around. A chance meeting with an eccentric family of fairy tale lovers changes his life in ways no one expects. This is a really simple and touching love story told with a deft and gentle hand, that gently blends Native American and Celtic myth. The last and best story of the collection.

Excellent ****

"Shannon's Law" by Cory Doctorow
Leave it to Cory to take a fantastical, otherworldly setting, and tell a tell of networking and information theory.

"Incunabulum" by Emma Bull
An interesting tale of sorcery induced amnesia that leads it's victim to wonder if he wants his memory back, or if he is more than man he was meant to be without it.

"A Prince of Thirteen Days" by Alaya Dawn Johnson
A young teen who is destined to fall in love in thirteen days is determined to make a statue in the park.he object of her affections.

"The Sages of Elsewhere" by Will Shetterly
A wolfman who runs a used book store finds his life threatened when he comes into possession of a very old (and very talkative) book.

"We Do Not Come in Peace" by Christopher Barzak
A street musician takes a new arrival to Bordertown under her wing. But before long, he's sowing the seeds of revolution.

"The Rowan Gentleman" by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
A murder at the Magic Lantern Theatre sets Ashley, a young actress, on the trail of a notorious villain. A fun tale full of buckles that need swashing, and 'dos' that are very derring indeed.

Average ***

"Welcome to Bordertown" by Ellen Kushner & Terri Windling
A little brother is determined to find his older sister when Bordertown returns. But the older sister is no longer older, and the little brother is no longer little. A good intro to the rest of the stories. Co-written by the editor and creator of the series.

"A Voice Like a Hole" by Catherynne M. Valente
Fig, a runaway girl named with a beautiful voice, doesn't believe in the magic of Bordertown, but runs into Mara, a beautiful girl who does. But the price to reach it is different for each.

"Crossings" by Janni Lee Simner
Miranda & Analise brave the crossing into Borderland in the quest for love. Alas, they've read too many teenage vampire romances. . .

"Our Stars, Our Selves" by Tim Pratt
A noob just arrived to Bordertown can't seem to stop being hit on by an Elf. She wishes he'd go away, but you have to be careful what you wish for in this city.

"Elf Blood" by Annette Curtis Klause
A victim of a terrible disease, young Lizzie believes she knows the only cure. But an immortal will have to die to get it . . .

"Ours is the Prettiest" by Nalo Hopkinson
Gladstone's new girlfriend is not what she seems. A visitor to Bordertown, she's not from the World or the Realm. But what else is there? I appreciated the story for it's complex character relationships, but I'm not sure I understood the end.

Meh **

"Fair Trade" by Sara Ryan & Dylan Meconis
It takes more than being the sole comic in a short story collection to be unique. A generic story that doesn't bring anything new to the table, which is too bad since I'm a big fan of comics.

* - There are also some poems and songs, but with the exception of one strong entry by Neil Gaiman, it's thin gruel and not worth commenting on. ( )
  dgmillo | Jun 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Black, HollyEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kushner, EllenEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Barzak, ChristopherContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Black, HollyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brust, StevenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bull, EmmaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clare, CassandraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Lint, CharlesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doctorow, CoryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
El-Mohtar, AmalContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hopkinson, NaloContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Alaya DawnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klause, Annette CurtisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kushner, EllenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McKillip, Patricia A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Meconis, DylanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pratt, TimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ryan, SaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sherman, DeliaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shetterly, WillContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simner, Janni LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Valente, Catherynne M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Windling, TerriContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yolen, JaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375867058, Hardcover)

Bordertown: a city on the border between our human world and the elfin realm. Runaway teens come from both sides of the border to find adventure, to find themselves. Elves play in rock bands and race down the street on spell-powered motorbikes. Human kids recreate themselves in the squats and clubs and artists' studios of Soho. Terri Windling's original Bordertown series was the forerunner of today's urban fantasy, introducing authors that included Charles de Lint, Will Shetterly, Emma Bull, and Ellen Kushner. In this volume of all-new work (including a 15-page graphic story), the original writers are now joined by the generation that grew up dreaming of Bordertown, including acclaimed authors Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente, and many more. They all meet here on the streets of Bordertown in more than twenty new interconnected songs, poems, and stories.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:14 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Stories and poems set in the urban land of Bordertown, a city on the edge of the faerie and human world, populated by human and elfin runaways.

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