Any seasoned traveler will tell you that the best way to get to know a town is to ask a local, and Bordertown, a city located on the border between the elfin realm and the world of man, is no exception. If you’re hoping to get the real low-down on this magical city, then it doesn’t get any more local than Ellen Kushner, co-editor of the fiction anthology Welcome to Bordertown, newly available in paperback.
Kushner was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions from this Bordertown newbie. If you want to know more, be sure to visit www.BordertownSeries.com.
Where can I find lodging?
So I guess someone swiped your Tough Guide to Bordertown, huh? Or maybe the version you found stuck in the $1 bin in the back of an old used bookstore, or managed to hack online, is so out of date it’s not doing you any good? Never mind. Here’s what you do:
If you don’t have money, go to one of the Diggers’ Safe Houses. They’ll put you up while you find your feet here. Just remember, while you’re there you have to follow Digger House Rules: no weapons, no drugs, no gangs, and everybody helps to clean and cook.
Otherwise, check out the message boards at the Dancing Ferret or at Elsewhere Books; also try the free ads in the back of The Mad River Weekly or the Housing List for students at The University Without Floors. There’s always someone moving in or out of a squat, or a new one forming, looking for roommates.
And you can — hey, what? You’re just a tourist, here to check out the town, planning to go home in a week?
Well, um, good luck with that.
Where’s a good place to eat?
Depends on what you like. Godmom’s probably has the best pizza in Soho, and you get a free wish with every order (though they’re not always guaranteed.)
If you’re adventurous try the Japanese-elfin fusion over at Ozeki (but be sure to ask which Border fish is safe for humans to eat).
Or, if you’re really brave, you could take on the fabled Meltdown Burrito at Taco Hell.
Everyone’s talking about this new place I haven’t tried yet: OMGWTFBBQ. (Yeah, you can get a T-shirt there. Unless they’re out again.)
And of course, if you’re planning to stay, you probably know that noobs can head over to the Dancing Ferret to meet Farrel Din. The owner. The Elf behind the bar. Just look him in the eye and say you’re new in town. He’ll ask if you want a beer. Say “Yes,” because the first one’s free.
Are the natives friendly?
Natives? You mean the people who were born here? There aren’t a lot of us; most people came here from the World, looking for magic, or from the Elfin Realm, looking for — well, I don’t know what the Elves are looking for, and it’s not a really good idea to ask. They can be prickly, the Elves – oh, sorry, you’re supposed to call them Truebloods. They don’t like being called “Elves.” My friend Wind-on-the-Water, she said to me once, “Do I look like I make toys or sell the Cookies of Keebler? And, no, I do not know the way to frikkin’ Rivendell, so do not ask!”
As long as you’re polite, they’re fine, really. But “Truebloods” is not the same thing as The Bloods, who are a gang in Soho who don’t like humans much. The human gang, the Pack, might protect you if you get into trouble with them. Or they might not . . . But don’t worry; there’s a truce this week as long as you don’t go south of Ho Street. Oh, and stay away from the Wharf Rats, a nasty gang of little kids addicted to Mad River Water. You do know about not drinking Mad River water, right?
Where can I find some entertainment?
Pretty much everywhere! Buskers and artists on the streets of Soho, all looking to get famous or at least to make enough to eat tonight. (If you want to go to the fancy part of town, sorry, I can’t help you there. Do I look like I belong on Dragon’s Tooth Hill?)
For nightlife in Soho, The Dancing Ferret on Carnival Street is the oldest club here; I think Ossian Feldenkranz is playing harp there early tonight, and if he’s there, then that crazy Gypsy/Klezmer guy, Yidl Mitn Fidl, will probably sit in, too. The late set is a great band called Widdershins, led by a halfie – oh, sorry, halfling, “halfie”’s rude – called Spider, the guy who lives at the Chimera – there might be crash space for you there – anyhow, it’s a great band with some truly unforgettable special effects.
Danceland (Ho and Third) is the biggest and the loudest; and The Wheat Sheaf (far east Ho) is the best of the Big Three for music; a lot of Elves like to play there. I think some of the best bands are the ones where Truebloods and humans mix. I hear Allie Land’s band, Allison Wonderland, is playing tonight, and the opener, a singer named Fig, is supposed to be really good - did you see that YouTube video of her song “Stairs in her Hair,” back in the world before you left?
We do have a movie theater! It’s called the Magic Lantern. Yeah, I know technology doesn’t work reliably here, so, yeah, half the time the movie doesn’t actually show, or it only shows part of it – but that’s OK, the Lantern has a standing rep company of live actors that will act out the rest of it for you. They’ve got the lines all memorized and everything. I actually think some of them are better than the original movies!
And of course, at Cafe Cubana, the proprietor, Screaming Lord Neville, is a giant floorshow all him/herself.
Are there any areas I should avoid?
Seriously? You don’t know?
Look – here – I’m going to lend you my copy of The Tough Guide to Bordertown. I don’t really need it any more. Just see this page with the red ribbon in it? It’s OK, the spell’s worn off it, you can touch it . . . It’s this bit, here, the one marked PLACES & NEIGHBORHOODS. Just read it, and you’ll be OK. Probably.
Yeah, I do want it back, I guess. It’s no big deal, but . . . .
Why don’t you meet me a week from tonight at the Dancing Ferret?