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The Fair Folk
edited by Marvin Kaye
Science Fiction Book Club, 328 pages

The Fair Folk
Marvin Kaye
Author of 15 novels, 6 non-fiction books, several plays & play adaptations, and editor of 25 (and counting) fantasy, mystery and theatre anthologies, Marvin Kaye currently is editor of H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, and contributes his column, "Marvin Kaye's Nth Dimension," to Science Fiction Chronicle. He has published books through his imprint, Marvin Kaye's Nth Dimension Books, a division of Wildside Press. A native of Philadelphia, he lives in New York, where he heads the tutoring staff of the Manhattan campus of Mercy College; is Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at NYU, and serves as Artistic Director for The Open Book, New York's oldest readers theatre company.

Marvin Kaye Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Dragon Quintet

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

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The Fair Folk is a collection six, novella-length stories, by well-known writers. There is no connecting thread between them, other than their genre and the editor's requirement that each story feature at least one elf.

The first story is "UOUS" by Tanith Lee. It's loosely based on Cinderella, including two beautiful sisters who are ugly on the inside. Lee serves up a lesson in obligation, with an intriguing twist on the well worn theme of three wishes. There is a handsome prince, but he has his own agenda, and the nature of the ending was nicely different to what I'd been led to anticipate.

Next up is "Grace Notes" by Megan Lindholm. The subject is a modern take on problems caused by an overenthusiastic Brownie, who thinks nothing of using the charge card of the human she is helping. It's a light hearted story, with a touch of romance, and the subtle hint of something nastier, if due respect is not shown.

"The Gypsies of the Wood" by Kim Newman, is the third story. It features two rural children from Victorian England, who go missing in the woods. They are later found, but not safe. One child seems to have aged many years, and the other is not what she seems. An investigator from the Diogenes Club tries to solve this changeling mystery, and ends up revealing the darker side of Faerie.

"The Kelpie" by Patricia A. McKillip is fourth. The cast are a small group of artists, riddled with both professional and emotional jealousies. It seemed to me like several fragmented ideas had been bolted together, with only the barest nod toward the required Fey element. Try as I did, I could not engage at all with this story, so I skipped on to the next one.

"An Embarrassment of Elves" by Craig Shaw Gardner, presents a new addition to his Ebenezum series. I hadn't read any previous works, but this proved no obstacle to understanding. Unfortunately, I was not in sync with the humour, which I found rather light for my tastes. The exception being the character of Fritz, a Dark Rider, who is a winner. Having said that, humour is very much a personal issue, and others may find Gardner's work side-splitting.

Last up was "Except the Queen" by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. It's a tale told via an exchange of letters between two sisters, long exiled from Faerie lands. There's some lovely use on language here, but I couldn't get away from the feeling that the authors were writing what they thought a serious take on Faerie should be, rather than from the heart of imagination.

What we get in total is a mixed bag of the usual suspects by the usual suspects. Marvin Kaye is not alone in preferring to use the names of established writers to generate sales, rather than roll the dice with some fresh blood and even fresher ideas. It's not personal, it's just business. There's nothing startlingly original here, but originality was never the aim. This collection is a workman-like contribution to a genre which appreciates a certain amount of predictability.

Copyright © 2005 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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