Welcome to Bordertown

Ellen Kushner, Holly Black
Welcome to Bordertown Cover

Welcome to Bordertown

Ann Walker

*This review pertains most specifically to the audiobook verstion of Welcome to Bordertown*

I came late to the Bordertown books, discovering them as an adult, but once I did I collected them assiduously on Amazon and eBay and devoured them greedily. I was delighted when I learned that there would a new collection, and that Ellen Kushner, my favorite writer, would be one of the editors.

The Bordertown series was the first of the "Urban Fantasy" genre, set in a world very close to our own contemporary world, rather than faux-medieval-Earth or some other planet entirely. So the issues of gang violence, racism, and political and economic inequalities, are just as real in this world as they are in ours, and present in a way that are very relevant to young readers (as well as older ones).

The premise is that Bordertown has been closed off from the world, for thirteen years in world time, but only thirteen days in Bordertown. This plays into a number of stories, most significantly the opening, "Welcome to Bordertown", by Ellen Kushner and Teri Windling. In this story, a little boy waits thirteen years to grow up and journey to Bordertown in search of his sister. When he is reunited with her, they have both made surprising discoveries about themselves.

I liked most everything in this anthology, but I loved "A Tangle of Green Men" by Charles de Lint, "Incunabulum", by Emma Bull, and particularly "We Do Not Come in Peace" by Christopher Barzak.

The performances of the narrators Cassandra Campbell, MacLeod Andrews, and Ellen Kushner, are particularly noteworthy. Kushner's reading of "Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap" by Jane Yolen made me howl with laughter. Andrews' interpretation of the narrator, Marius of "We Do Not Come in Peace" was a perfect portrayal of a disillusioned young man who considered himself beaten down by life in Bordertown. Campbell's multiple dialects in Nalo Hopkinson's "Ours is the Prettiest" were loads of fun.

If you are planning a summer trip with kids in the YA age group, this would be a great and thoughtful introduction to the genre of "Urban Fantasy", and something the whole family could enjoy.