Of all the Zimmer stories and poems I've had to track down, "The Border Women" excited me most -- women don't often make a large appearance in his fiction. Unfortunately, I've had the damnest time finding the darn thing. First, I interlibrary loan'd it. Took forever and, when I got tired of waiting, I purchased it from two different sellers on Amazon. The first seller cancelled on me. The second, after missing his first Amazon-imposed delivery deadline, also missed the second self-imposed one after I contacted him. So I just cancelled that one as well.
But the book has arrived at the U of A, and I pretty quickly saw why it was relegated to Special Collections (meaning that I couldn't check it out of the library). The book itself was in good shape, but apparently it was part of a limited 300-edition volume. That limited edition business explains why I had such a tough time finding it on Amazon itself.
Anyway, what do I think about the story itself?
Well, first, it's cool that it's set at the very end of events from The Dark Border -- the story's about a group of women alone in a redoubt when the Border flares, their men all away fighting Hansio's war.
It's also cool that PEZ's sense of horror, which is usually relatively muted in his other Dark Border fiction, comes out in full force here.
And it's also cool that PEZ tries working with a range of non-martial characters unusual for him.
Some things, though, were not necessarily bad but, well, off. This story clearly runs afoul of the "How do you add swearing in a genre without swearing" problem. One character keeps yelling "you rotting thing!", which gets annoying after about the 4th or 5th time. Also, PEZ has a slight tendency to reuse plot points from previous work. For example, the encountering-a-former-friend-turned-vampire plot point also appeared in "A Swordsman from Carcosa," which in turns re-uses the "Istvan has recently lost his son" theme from The Dark Border.
All in all, though, the story's decent enough, and I'm glad to have finally gone through the entire Paul Edwin Zimmer corpus. I'll begin writing my essay as soon as my current project is done (hopefully soon!).