03 October 2012

5. book you wish you could live in

Enter Stage Left: the best thing ever.

(more or less) everything you need to know for your trip to the border. 

This is only one of the most recent books in the great grand shared-world anthology series that is the Bordertown books, but it's the one I got started on. First book I ever contemplated stealing from the library, as a matter of fact (I didn't). Now that I'm older and have something resembling a half-decent income, I've moved on to collecting them in (usually) more legitimate ways.

So, background: back in the 80s, when Terri Windling (a woman more than worthy of her own post, but for now I'll just direct you to her website, here. If you head over, make sure to take a look at her Bookshelf and Recommended Reading section on the right-hand side; there's a lot of very good stuff there.) was working in New York as a book editor, and got an assignment to create a shared-world series for teenagers. Bordertown was what she came up with - a city on the border between the human world and Faerie, variously identified with New York, Los Angeles, and Just The Next Town Over. The stories are chiefly about underage runaways, persecuted halfies (both of the black/white and human/elfin persuasion), starving artists, non-starving artists, wannabe rock stars, gang members, homeless people, gay people, straight people, poets, dancers, drinkers, working stiffs, and everyone else with a label.
It's a vibrant little universe, this city is, and a scary one. It's a place where motorcycles can run without wheels (but you're taking your life in your hands to try it), drinking the river water can steal your sanity, the werewolf next door is just a regular guy, and sometimes you can get the morning news out of your teapot.

Terri invited some of her brilliant fantasy-writing friends to come play with Bordertown; most of the details I've mentioned come from their stories. If you know fantasy, you might recognize some of their names: Ellen Kushner, Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, and Will Shetterly are a few of them - and more recently, Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow have joined the fun. There was a thirteen-year gap after the first round of books - you know how it goes; everyone goes off and gets a solo career and some success and sometimes things get forgotten for awhile - but happily, Ellen Kushner and Holly Black have undertaken editing some new anthologies (with Terri's help, of course), and the border is back!

Some of original covers, plus The Essential up there...

New kids!

 I mean, do I even have to say it? You should read these books. They're amazing, and you won't regret it. Some of the references are a little dated (I mean, they started in the eighties, so you're gonna encounter the occasional boombox), but it is so worth it. Reading this series made me want to write, but it also made me want to see a lot more of the world. Well done as always, Ms. Windling.

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