I read the introductions (by Holly Black and Terri Windling) and quick-read the city guide Bordertown Basics, the first story by Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling, and the last by Charles de Lint. I’ll read them again later for the detail. No, I wasn’t goofing off; I was hungry anyway, so I went to lunch on the early side when the cefeteria is less crowded and grabbed an empty table way off by the wall, figuring that a new Bordertown book is better company than anyone on these premises. (That’s some careful wording there: I couldn’t say “at this company”, because my husband works here. “Premises” is accurate because he’s away at the moment. But even he knows better than to get between me and a new book, when it’s a special one.)

The premise of the book, meanwhile, is that it’s been thirteen years since the Border was open, on the World side, but only 13 days in the Borderlands. I believe it, because the Border magic hasn’t abated in strength at all. One thing I didn’t realize, until I read the introductions, is that I must have read the original Bordertown almost as soon as it came out in 1986. I was in college 1984-1989, and I remember how excited I was to find the second one, Borderland, in the small SF section of the mystery bookstore that used to be on 19th and Chestnut in Philadelphia. (I just checked – actually Whodunit? is still there, though they phased out SF when I was still in college.) That was one of those jumping up and down in the bookstore moments, and there aren’t enough of those in life.

I wasn’t really cool enough for the Border even at 19, and I knew it then as well as I know it now. It’s even more true now, though, now that I’m 44, with a job and a mortgage and a happy marriage and aging relatives, all those things that tie you so tightly to the World that dreams of running off to the Border are firmly relegated to idle fantasy. I don’t need the Border. I guess I don’t. There are too many rewards for me in this world. And if I refuse to stop believing in Borders and Psammeads and Wardrobes bigger inside than outside, I don’t tell anyone about it (except here, where I am safely ignored except by kindred spirits) and it doesn’t interfere with the ability to function in this world. (1)

But one of the great rewards of this world is exactly that moment, when you open a book, carefully ease it all the way open and spread it out, then step in, sink down, and let the story close over your head.

You can read three Bordertown stories as a sample at the Bordertown Series website. (These are from older collections; one of them, Dancetown, is pretty much the seminal B-town story for me.) The website is also having a contest; if you link to them and spread the word that the way to the Border has reopened, you are eigible to win a goody bag.

Note 1: I never really expected the back of the wardrobe to open for me, so that isn’t a crippling regret. If there are two things I regret because I did build my hopes on them, it’s that I still haven’t been able to set foot on the Moon and likely won’t, and that my two tastes of con-going (one small con in Phoenix, one WorldCon) didn’t give me that feeling of coming home into the world of books and people who are my people that so many others report. No doubt I did it wrong, somehow.