I find it fitting (to the mood, the spirit and, most important, to the setting of the book) that my copy of Welcome to Bordertown saw more of the world than I ever did and traveled a long road full of detours.
Printed in the US; shipped to South Korea, to Camp Humphreys and its library; sold to a used-book retailer back in the US; advertised and bought on Amazon UK, and finally delivered to Italy. An adventurous life indeed.
And once you know Bordertown, what it is, what it’s meant to be, you get that it’s just perfect.
Because Bordertown is a city of runaway kids, people searching for a new place to start, jumbled magic and even more jumbled technology. It’s a city where you arrive by chance, or because you sought it with all your will, or because you picked the right ritual.
Or, on the contrary, it’s a city that creeps around you and snatches you without you noticing it.
It’s a city where our world and the world of the elves meet.
The only place where the Border between the two realms can be crossed.
And it’s a shared setting that saw four anthologies (this one being the last one yet) and three novels delving into it. In the two introductions you’ll hear the passion that the first two anthologies, published in 1986, ignited in their readers, a passion that is not so distant from the one I felt reading this last anthology.
I wish I heard about Bordertown way before then I did, because…
Well, how can a girl resist the lure of a city where runaway kids re-invent themeselves?
How can I resist a city where elves are real, but are the snobbish, haughty, most times wicked creature of folklore?
How can I resist a city where the economy is moved by barter and one of the most sought out commodity are coffee beans; where spellboxes power the motorcycles of gangs of elves and humans; where dreams and hopes can shatter or become true; where a wolfman owns a bookstore and a street association apologizes for fixing a church tower clock?
How can I resist a city that got stuck out of the world for 13 years that flew just like 13 day, and now is back on time-track?
What is great, is that this whole volume is like a big clock, with all its parts working seamlessly and building a world, giving it life, credibility, feelings. Almost every story and also some of the poems nod to each other, containing hints and winks and characters moving in the backgroud.
It’s well woven together. It’s funny. It’s brilliant. It’s moving.
But in the end, it felt like the characters are never overshadowed by the city.
Bordertown is there, it looms and shines, but first and foremost you remember the characters.
Trish and Mr. Fix-It and Anush from the story titled Welcome to Bordertow (by Terry Windling and Ellen Kushner); Shannon, Jetfuel and her Trueblood sister, Synack, from Shannon’s Law (by Cory Doctorow), with their mad attempt at piercing the Border with informations; little Fig, from A Voice Like a Hole (by Catherynne M. Valente), who ran away from an abusive stepmother, forgot her tootbrush and got to Bordertown just to save another runaway like her; Page, the amnesiac Trueblood, and Camphire the “witch” from Incunabulum (by Emma Bull); Peya and all her desire of love and all her disfunctional family and the sad prince in A Prince of Thirteen Days (Alaya Dawn Johnson); Wolfboy and his talking book (who can only quote Shakespeare) from The Sages of Elsewhere, by Will Shettrerly; Analise and Mirand from Crossings (by Janni Lee Simner) and their unlucky search for true urban fantasy love; Abby from the comic (yes, a comic!) Fair Trade (written by Sara Ryan and drawn by Dylan Meconis), in search for a human mother she thinks abandoned her; the lovely aspiring rock star Allie Land and the astronomer Psyche from Our Stars, Our Selves (by Tim Pratt); sad and self-loathing Lizzie from Elf Blood (by Annette Curtis Klause) with all the hints and nods so well placed; Damiana, Gladstone and Beti from Ours is the Prettiest (by Nalo Hopkinson), and the feeling of imminent disaster that runs through Damiana for all the story; the sense of loss of Marius, from We Do Not Come in Peace by Cristopher Barzak, and the revolution brimming in his friend Mouse; Ashley, the actress who plays for the audience when the cinema’s equipmemt goes crazy, from The Rowan Gentleman (by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare); and last but not least, Joey, main character of A Tangle of Green Man (by Charles de Lint), the best and most heart-shaking story of the whole anthology, in my humble opinion.
It was such a pleasure to read this book that I really, really can’t wait to read the other Bordertown books!
And let’s see if they all will have had the same adventurous life as this one.
P.S. Thanks to my friend Davide who spoke of Bordertown on his blog. Without him I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of entering this world, even if I did it in the “wrong” order.