Genre Spotlight: ElfPunk

BookRiot recently put out an article that had my little faery-loving loving heart all a-flutter, an introductory reading list in the fantasy subgenre elfpunk. Hallmarks of elfpunk include a modern urban setting, new spins on old folk beliefs about the fae, fast cars, a dollop of teen angst, and lots and lots of rock and roll. Elfpunk tends to skew towards Western European folklore, and never seems to get tried of staging ballads of lost love in hazy nightclubs or pitting roving gangs of sidhe punks against each other in back alleys. I would call it my guilty pleasure but there’s nothing guilty about it; elfpunk shaped me into the writer I am today, and it’s still my favorite genre to read, full stop.

Emma Bull is among the authors on this list, and should be as one of the originators of the genre, and so is Holly Black, an author who remains almost unflaggingly loyal to stories of fae and humans in the modern day. But one huge piece was missing, the sprawling, enchanting originator of the entire genre: The Borderland Series.

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The Borderland series is a collection of short story anthologies and spin-off novels set in the shared universe of Bordertown, a city on the border of Faery and a large American metropolis. Bordertown is a shifting, dangerous place full of buskers and runaway teens and rock bands looking to strike it big in clubs crawling with feuding species. The original anthologies captured the wild dirty color of youth culture in the eighties, and were so successful that a follow-up anthology was published in 2011 featuring writers who had cut their teeth reading  Borderlands books as kids, heavy hitters like Catherynne Valente, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Charles DeLint.

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I checked the 2011 reboot out from my library three times in high school. Three.

It’s impossible to overemphasize the ripples Bordertown has made in the fantasy world; some people say it kicked off the urban fantasy genre wholesale. It’s inspired in part by Terri Winding’s experience of being a young artist in the mean streets of New York, which is an excited/terrified/starry eyed bouquet of emotion that so many of us can relate to. Everything Windling touches turns to gold, especially her anthologies, but the Bordertown Series is by far the most iconic.

So if you’re looking to get into some anachronistic, enchanted reads, don’t pass up this series. It’s really true what they say: even after all these years, Bordertown is always there waiting for you.

Brontë Lovers Rejoice!

It is a good week for Charlotte Brontë fans, as two previously unpublished manuscripts have been rescued from obscurity by the Brontë Society and are slated for publication in autumn of 2018.

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In a very Brontë -esque twist, The 77-line poem and 74-line story were found pressed between the pages of a book belonging to Charlotte’s mother, which was salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast of Devonshire in 1812. The book and its precious contents were passed around from private owner to private owner before coming to rest in the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Yorkshire in 2015. As you can probably imagine, the book cost a pretty penny. According to an article in The Bookseller, it was “acquired with a £170,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund as well as support from the V&A Museum and the Friends of the National Libraries”.

That’s right folks. Not dollars. Pounds.

This discovery comes on the heels of a controversy regarding the appointment of actress and model Lily Cole as a “creative partner” of the Brontë Society early this year. A member of the society, Nick Holland, quite in a huff and accused the Society of giving in to the pressure to push a younger, sexier brand. What Holland failed to mention, however, is that Lily Cole holds a double first in Art History from Cambridge, has worked on a number of humanitarian campaigns, co-owns a bookstore, and is the founder of a “gift-economy” app that enables people to donate their services. She’s hardly uneducated about the arts, and is certainly not disengaged with the philanthropic world. Some other members of the society cried snobbery, and took to social media to remind their former colleague that the Brontës  themselves had been young women struggling to be taken seriously due to their age and sex.

The new manuscripts, including commentary by scholars, a drawing by Charlotte’s brother, and annotations by Charlotte’s mother, will be in stores in time for the Christmas holidays with a limited edition available exclusively to Society members.