Will Shetterly’s Bordertown novels: Elsewhere and Nevernever

Will sent me the ePub editions of his two Bordertown novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, which gave me an excuse (as if I needed one!) to read them again. I said before that I adore Finder, which was written by Emma Bull, who is his wife, so I expected that these novels would stand up well to a second reading of them nearly a decade on which they did rather well.  

If memory serves me correctly, these were considered YA when released a decade ago, but their tone and content are not terribly different from Finder which was marketed as a novel for a more general readership. (Emma’s novel has a single sex scene that might make a really sensitive person blush mildly.) Different publishers, different reasoning, I’d guess.

I suspect you know that Bordertown lies halfway between the world of humans and the realm of Faerie, and it is reachable by heading into the ruins of any city that didn’t survive the return of Magic late in the twentieth century.  Here, Elf, Halfie, and human gangs clash by night, music unites everyone, magic often works better than technology, and runaways from The Realm and The World like Ron show up with dreams of changing themselves into someone new, and never heed the warning of be careful what you wish for.

Ron’s come searching for something he thought he’d lost, but instead he finds all sorts of other things — a stitched together family of other somewhat lost souls; a friend in half-elf biker Mooner; and maybe true love in Mooner’s sister, Wiseguy. All for the better if he doesn’t seriously fuck things up as Ron has a serious attitude problem when he first comes to Bordertown.

Getting to Bordertown took Ron a bit of luck and magic; surviving there will be another story full of both joy and grief; and surviving and understanding what being human means is going to be a difficult thing for Ron.

Like Finder, much of the joy of these novels is in the depiction of Bordertown as you can see in this excerpt from the second novel:

The Endless Rave happens at the edge of Soho proper. Some people say the first humans to return to Bordertown decided to celebrate by dancing there, and the dancing has never stopped. The dancers come and go, of course, and so does the music: sometimes it’s made by seedyboxes, and sometimes by B-town drummers gathered to jam, and sometimes by a dancer or two stamping a rhythm and humming a tune. No one knows how large the Endless Rave has been, but everyone swears there’s always at least one kid dancing there.

I’m avoiding telling you the story, or rather stories, here as that would spoil your pleasure in reading these novels for the first time. Sufficed it to say there are memorable characters doing really interesting things in one of the coolest settings imaginable. I envy you for getting to come to them fresh, and I know you’ll re-read them many times. And keep in mind that there’s a lot more tales set in Bordertown as you can discover over here.

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