Originally posted 07/17/11 in my meta/review blog
The Bordertown anthologies were a shared universe series about a city placed on the border between the human world and Faerie. The series managed to shape a great deal of the “urban fantasy” landscape during its run and generated a few novels before vanishing. The books are extremely hard to find, but well worth the hunt. (You are more likely to find them in a library than a used bookstore. Check the young adult/teen section.) I was extremely excited when I found out there was going to be a new Bordertown anthology.
Since there is a thirteen year gap between the previous anthology and this one, the writers decided to go with the traditional “Faerie time and human world time does not flow the same.” For the people in Bordertown only thirteen days have passed while outside it has been thirteen years. As a result, several of the stories involve people who have been separated by time being reunited.
I liked most of the stories and poems, particularly Jane Yolan’s “Night Song for a Halfie” and Brust’s “Run Back Across the Border.” Among the stories I liked was Will Shetterly’s “The Sages of Elsewhere,” where Wolfboy (who is not a werewolf, thank you very much) has some business problems in spite of or because of a magical book. Another story I liked was “A Prince of Thirteen Days by Alaya Dawn Johnson, which was about a girl with a crush on a statue.
I also liked “Our Stars, Our Selves” by Tim Pratt and the co-written by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windlings “Welcome to Bordertown.” The Tim Pratt story is about an astronomer turned astrologer, a would be rock star and an entirely counterfeit Love-Talker. (The “Love-Talker” is a type of fairy that drains the life out of the people he seduces. This particular ‘Talker is not happy to discover Our Heroine is absolutely immune to his charm.) “Welcome to Bordertown” is about someone looking for his missing sister, an anthropologist who get into trouble way over his head, and a young woman who realizes her attempt to run away from home to find her fortune isn’t quite what she wanted after all.
Two other stories that drew my attention were “Fair Trade” by Sarah Ryan and Dylan Meconis and “Ours is the Prettiest” by Nalo Hopkinson. “Fair Trade” is the story of a young woman trying to find her mother in Bordertown (due to complicated family reasons) for the drama and the twist at the end. Nalo Hopkinson’s “Ours is the Prettiest” features a non-European fairy being and has some interestingly creepy moments.
Overall, I really enjoyed returning to this shared universe. I recommend this book for anyone who loved the older anthologies and anyone who is interested in giving them a try.
The books in the Bordertown Series are:
Life on the Border
The Essential Bordertown
Welcome to Bordertown
Elsewhere (novel by Will Shetterly)
Nevernever (novel by Will Shetterly)
Finder (novel by Emma Bull)
A book that’s at least a kissing cousin of the Bordertown series is John M. Ford’s The Last Hot Time. (It’s very specifically stated by the Bordertown books official site that it is absolutely NOT part of the canon however. Which makes it at least a not quite reboot.)