I’ve started reading the urban fantasy collection Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner, which has got me thinking about being a reader today versus prior to widespread Internet use (a.k.a. my teenage years). The Borderland series debuted in the eighties; I’ve never read the original books. But I remember when the most recent book came out last year, and how the editors were keen to acquire stories written by honest-to-goodness Bordertown fans from back in the day. No posers. Understandably, they wanted writers familiar with the world and canon.
The first story in the recent anthology, the title-track “Welcome to Bordertown” by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling, is a great introduction to the collection. The premise is that the ways to Bordertown have been closed, and thirteen years in the human world have passed as mere days in Bordertown. Now the ways are open again. In the opening story, Jimmy goes to Bordertown in search of his runaway big sister, who is still seventeen years old. And here I immediately saw the appeal of the series. The story of a teenage girl obsessed with Prydain (hover for spoiler) speaks to a certain group of readers, myself included.
But it also made me think how different it must be for young readers today. You can connect via the Internet with people who love the same weird things that you do! I think this is wonderful. I get a sense of tribe with my online writer friends for sure, but it would have made a world of difference to my shy bookish teenage self who never knew a single other person who read Prydain and The Dark is Rising and Robin McKinley and Pern and Forgotten Realms. Not one. (I did grow up in a small town.)
So today I am very happy for the Internet.
And here are some teaser pics from our trip to B.C. over Memorial Day weekend. Longer post to come.