…the hidden city on the border between our world and the Realm of the elves? Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, brings readers back to one of the first shared worlds of urban fantasy. This new anthology includes works by some of the biggest names in fantasy and science fiction – Terri Windling (who created Bordertown and edited the first collections of stories about it), Cory Doctorow, Patricia McKillip, Catherynne M. Valente, Jane Yolen, Tim Pratt, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, and many others. In addition to short stories, there are poems, song lyrics, and a graphic novel.
Bordertown is a difficult, confusing city caught between the World of technology and the Realm of magic. It is hard to reach under the best of circumstances, although a route can usually be found from almost any urban area. However, the way there was closed completely for thirteen years. At least, it was thirteen years in the World; only thirteen days passed in Bordertown itself, and no one knows how much time went by in the Realm. Magic and technology work only intermittently in Bordertown, so those who live there learn to rely on both and neither – strange mishmashes of spells and batteries and engines that run when you whisper a charm over them. Newcomers bring new technology, dreams, and ideas to the city, but they have to adjust to a world without the internet or cell phones or instant access to everything.
Bordertown is a world of fairy tales, but it is far more Grimm than Disney. Many of the stories feature runaways and young people looking for adventure, from both sides of the border. Frequently, they find both more and less than they expected – gangs, cheap squats in rundown buildings, strange plants and animals (and people), music, art, the chance to live their dreams, and the chance to starve to death. Life on the border is not easy, but it can be beautiful.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)