Tor.com has reprinted China Mieville's inspired introduction to The Borribles, the classic, 1980s urban fantasy young adult trilogy by Michael de Larrabeiti, recently relaunched in the UK. As Mieville points out, The Borribles are fundamentally a fractured love-poem to London, and its love-hate relationship to children:
Think of all the signs of newsagents' doors—'Only Two School Children At A Time'. Watch the faces of the passengers when a bunch of noisy school-uniformed roughnecks appear on the bus (topdeck—bagsy the back seat). Listen to our politicians slapping down curfews wherever young people are bored and rowdy, locking them indoors like animals.
And do you really, honestly think that children don't notice? Is it any wonder that the idea of living without adults, these lumbering morons who are so clearly terrified of them, is so appealing? Living in a world where elders won't try to convince them that 'you little terror' is a term of endearment?
Faced with a society that doesn't know what to do with them, children want to live by their own rules.