Featuring stories by Charles de Lint, Ellen Kushner, Stephen R Boyett and Terri Windling (writing as Bellamy Bach), Borderland introduced me not only to a world where Faerie had returned and both human and fey runaways flocked to a crumbling human city where technology and magic were equally wonderful, unpredictable and dangerous (much like the B-town residents themselves), but to the nascent genre of urban fantasy which I had only sampled up to that point.
I had done a complete Bordertown series re-read in 2004, but since then the books sat on a shelf, drawing comments, and occasionally being loaned out (don't worry; I have loaner copies of nearly all of them) to visitors. They were constantly referenced, praised, geeked about and like most urban fantasy fans of a certain age, I imagined the stories I would have liked to have told, set in the Borderlands. As Emma Bull and Will Shetterly's B-town novels Finder, Elsewhere, and Nevernever were reprinted for the YA market, I continued touching wood and crossing digits that the original anthologies would be reprinted as well; or at the very least that a "Best Of" collection might emerge. But new stories? I never even dared to dream.
Then my dreams came true in February 2009, when editors Ellen Kushner and Holly Black announced they would be returning to Borderlands in a new anthology, Welcome to Bordertown, 13 years after the last anthology was published. Needless to say, I was beyond overjoyed. Because the Borderlands anthologies shaped my tastes as a reader, and influenced my life in so many ways since I first picked up the TOR edition of Borderlands in paperback from a university bookstore in 1992.
Of course, my first thought was to wonder how B-town would look in the 21st century, a quarter century after the first stories were published? Sure, magic and rock & roll are eternal, but even with retro 80s nostalgia at its height and a whole new generation becomes convinced leggings really are pants, guyliner is completely acceptable if not expected at this point, and your hair can never be too big, I worried that the stories and world would seem dated; quaint even, to the current generation raised on computer animation, iPods, and smart phones.
I needn't have worried. Because the new anthology remains as relevant, real, heart-breaking, exciting and marvellous as the first one'with the added bonus that in Welcome to Bordertown we get to see how B-town reacts to the 21st century.
Ever wonder how the internet came to the Borderlands? Or how B-town holds their own version of Carnival? Ever miss Screaming Lord Neville's dramatic costume changes, or browsing the shelves at Elsewhere Books? Want to meet new Bordertown born-and-breds, humans with the dust of the world still behind their ears, or impossibly beautiful Truebloods with their own spinning racks of issues? Welcome to Bordertown has the hottest new bands in the clubs we know like the backs of our hands, the wildest old magic, and stories and poems and songs that make us laugh and cry no matter where we come from, or in what year we were born. Because no matter how much time passes between visits to B-town, people are still people (even when they're werewolves, elves, and dragons), and we still dream the same dreams. They may not keep us fed or warm, our dreams'but they keep us breathing all the same, and sometimes the only difference between living and merely existing are the dreams we have and the dreams we share.
The new Bordertown hardcover hits shelves this month, with stories and poems by returning B-town residents Charles de Lint, Ellen Kushner, Terri Windling, Steven Brust, Emma Bull, and Will Shetterly, as well as newcomers to its streets Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Nalo Hopkinson, Holly Black, Cat Valente, Amal El-Mohtar, and many others. And between its covers you'll find all manner of dreams, in all shapes and sizes. Maybe this will be your first B-town anthology. Maybe it will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed. Maybe it will teach you something you never knew about life. Maybe it will show you things you never suspected about yourself. There's only one way to find out...
What are you waiting for?
Find your way.