Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Welcome to Bordertown: The Wall by Delia Sherman

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.

I have so much love in my heart for my Borderline anthology. Back in the 80's Terri Windling came up with this crazy idea of mixing punk elves, music, contemporary settings and magic and asking friends to contribute to an anthology. The outcome was the original set of 4 Borderland anthologies. These are:

Borderland - edited by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold
Bordertown - edited by Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold
Life on the Border - edited by Terri Windling
The Essential Bordertown - edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman

These anthologies were completely new things. They rocked the fantasy world, introducing readers and writers to new avenues and new stories and ushered in the boom in urban and paranormal fantasy as we see it today. Through these anthologies people like Holly Black recognised what Terri was doing - giving them real teens with attitude, crazy hair, too much sass and the ability to get into real world danger as well as otherworldly danger - these stories also gave the reader something else: the permission to believe in something magical.  A whole new breed of writer was born and influenced by these anthologies - not many readers realise this as they tuck into books by Cassandra Clare, Emma Bull, Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint, Holly Black et al.

Several years on, Welcome to Bordertown is the brainchild of Holly Black and Ellen Kushner. They asked Terri if they could play in the town and Terri gave her permission.  The stories are wide and varied and the authors run the gamut of the who's who of well known writers in both the adult and young adult world of literature.

I chose Delia Sherman's poem as my first review from this superb anthology. I chose it because I think it embodies not just what Bordertown is about but what makes urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy (including paranormal romance fantasy) it's own creature and keeps us coming back for more.

The poem is from a young scribe's point of view - they go around asking humans and elves what they think of Bordertown and the answers are wildly different, revelatory and genuinely forms the framework of many an aspiring writer's thoughts about creating an urban fantasy.

I give you part of the last stanza:

Mortals need mysteries.
They may not like them, but they need them
As vampires need blood,
As elves need mortals.

Stay tuned to MFB for more reviews from Bordertown, but in the meantime, check out the dedicated website here. 


Vivienne said...

Oh! I am at a loss for words. I have to have all of them! I love Charles De Lint and now I can see there are others out there like him. These are all going on my wishlist.

Jenni (Juniper's Jungle) said...

I totally agree with Vivienne, it's like there's been a hole in my reading life I didn't know existed! Definitely going onto my wishlist.