Baker, Mishell. Phantom Pains.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2017.

This is only the author’s second novel, the close sequel to last year’s urban fantasy Borderline, but it doesn’t suffer one bit from the dreaded “sophomore-novel-itis.” And by “close,” I mean it picks up almost exactly where the first volume ended, and without a lot of explanation of what went before, so you really have to read them in order.


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Baker, Mishell. Borderline.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

I’ve been a heavy reader of all sorts of science fiction all my life but I’m much pickier about fantasy. Tolkien, for instance, doesn’t do a thing for me. I do like a lot of “urban fantasy” though, and Baker, whose first novel this is, is a welcome new addition to that sub-genre. Here she tells the story of Millicent Roper, who is barely getting along a year after a badly failed attempt at suicide when she was a film student at UCLA. Millie went off a seven-story building and survived (unintentionally) by crashing through a tree, but the fall cost her all of one leg and half the other one, and now she has to deal with prosthetics and a cane and a wheelchair. On top of the that, she has Borderline Personality Disorder, and some days she can barely hang on. And she’s in a private therapeutic facility but the money’s running out.


Gaiman, Neil & Charles Vess. Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie.

NY: DC Comics, 1997.

Neil is the modern master of the fairy tale, and he writes all kinds, from comic to wistful to thoroughly noir. This one is of the traditional variety, though often with tongue firmly in cheek. Gaiman won a number of awards for this one, and deserved them. Vess won another bunch of awards for the art which greatly enhances nearly every page. He reminds me a little of Arthur Rackham and a lot of Alicia Austin, and that’s praise.


Windling, Terri & Delia Sherman (eds). The Essential Bordertown.

NY: Tor, 1998.

Bordertown is the principle population center of the Borderlands, where the human world and the elvin land of Faerie bump up against each other, where neither technology nor magic functions reliably, and which has become a haven for the young who are running away, either to or from. Think the Hashbury c.1968, but with pointy ears and chancy spells.


Black, Holly & Ellen Kushner (eds). Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands.

NY: Random House, 2011.

Back in 1987, I was introduced to author Emma Bull at a con by another SF writer whom we both knew. Emma had just published her first novel, War for the Oaks, one of the pioneering works of what came to be called “urban fantasy,” and I was an instant fan of her work. She recommended I check out Terri Windling’s Borderland and Bordertown anthologies, published the year before, and I did. Now, four anthologies and three novels by various authors later, Bordertown is still one of my favorite universes.