An Introduction to Bordertown

In the 1980s, Terri Windling changed the face of fantasy forever, by creating and editing a series of shared world anthologies where the elves of folklore and legend met modern kids in a modern city. Before then, most fantasy still took place in rural settings a whole lot like Tolkien’s Middle-Earth (or maybe a dungeonmaster’s underground lair). But young, beginning writers like Charles de Lint and Emma Bull were already bringing urban energy and even rock’n’roll to the gates of Elfland. Terri just gave them all a shove—and, some say, Urban Fantasy was born in Bordertown, the town they invented together with the rest of the Bordertown writers. Bordertown anthologies and novels came out regularly until 1998 (see here for a complete list; and read three of the original stories here). And then they stopped.

So when editors Holly Black (one of today’s premiere urban fantasists) and Ellen Kushner (one of the original Bordertown authors) decided it was time to invite writers to create a book of all-new Bordertown stories, they had to figure out how to bring Bordertown into the 21st century of laptops and iPods, without making the old, beloved town seem dated. Their solution? As the publisher of the forthcoming Welcome to Bordertown (pub date: May 24th) describes it:

Bordertown—a city caught between our world and the elfin Realm that has suddenly returned. Magic doesn’t quite work there, and neither does technology. Kids from both sides of the Border run away to find themselves there, recreating themselves in the squats and clubs and artists’ studios of Soho. It’s been 13 years since anyone from our world has been able to find the Way into the Borderlands…but to the people of Bordertown, it seems like it’s only been 13 days since they saw anyone new come in from outside.

Now the Way is open once again—and things are about to change completely.

In the 1980s, one of the teens who read the original series over and over was Cory Doctorow . . . . and now we’re proud to offer a sneak peek at his new story, “Shannon’s Law,”    from Welcome to Bordertown. (It’s also available as a podcast from Escape Pod.)

You can also check out more articles regarding Welcome to Bordertown and the Borderlands right here on!


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