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The Goblin Market
edited by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff and Raechel Henderson
Eggplant Productions, electronic chapbook

The Goblin Market

Original Cover:
The Goblin Market
The Goblin Market
Eggplant Productions
In addition to The Goblin Market, Eggplant Productions also publishes other e-zines including Jackhammer.

Eggplant Productions

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

The works in The Goblin Market do tend to hearken back to the lush prose-poems and imagery of writers like James Branch Cabell, Donald Corley, Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, William Morris, Clark Ashton Smith. While most of today's fantasy writers tend to avoid or minimize in their works the archaisms, atmosphere building and pseudo-mediaeval imagery of these writers, only writers like Morris and Dunsany could do justice to morning dew in an English forest, hoar-frost on the moors, dissipating mist on a the sunrise-illuminated reach of a slow-flowing river. So it is nice that there are still people out there trying to emulate the prose-poetry of the past masters.

The original Goblin Market, was a poem written in 1859 (published 1862) by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) for her love-lorn sister Maria Francesca. Christina, along with her brothers D.G. and W.M. were associated with the literary and artistic movement termed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. While nominally considered a classic narrative poem for children, the story of the straight-laced Lizzie and the wild Laura, lured to eat fairy fruit by the nasty goblins at their market, packs gobs and gobs of repressed Victorian eroticism:

"[...]Then [she] sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the empty rinds away[...]
Given the above, I was expecting that the electronic, 90s version of Goblin Market might have a bit more "spice" than it does. Unfortunately, in their introduction Henderson and Tentchoff never really delineate what the purpose or content of The Goblin Market is supposed to be, and what, if any, the link is with Rossetti's work.

Some works, like "Thy Days May be Long Upon the Land" by Tom Piccirilli and Gerard Daniel, or "Where the Sun Comes From" by Nancy Bennett are poetic and largely non-narrative -- telling in the first case of the death and rebirth of a people dedicated to the message of their God, and in the second of a child's curiosity about the sun, in a Norse context. Some like "Wistril Besieged" by Frank Tuttle, are more humorous, telling of a beer-swilling pacifist wizard defending his castle. Others are stories with a twist: "Waiting for Springtime" by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff, tells of a stubborn water sprite's demise; "Changeling" by Ben Peek, of a young child claimed by the little people; and "Passion Play" by Paul Pence, of an insect king getting more than he expected in a mate. Yet others, like Steve Goble's "The Hungry Bottle" and Barbara Davies' "The Princess and the Barbarian" are more standard horror and fairy tale variants, respectively.

The Goblin Market also has a number of illustrations (by Duncan Long and others) and margin graphics that give the work a pleasant layout. I might have perhaps chosen the more Victorian styles of the likes of Aubrey Beardsley and Laurence Housman and their contemporaries, or some of those gorgeous British paintings of women done in Pre-Raphaelite period, but then I'm not the editor of The Goblin Market and I do tend to have rather odd tastes.

The text-background colour combinations have been well chosen to minimize the problem some of we people who haven't learned to read from a computer screen -- yes we hoary people of the paper and ink generation -- might have with this alternate medium. Included with the whole package is a nice mood-enhancing background musical piece by "The Dreamsharer."

Besides the prose and poetry, The Goblin Market interjects a number of legitimate advertisements, but some mock-ads of the publishers' own design are also included. From a classified section with fairly clichéd ads for dragon harnesses to a "full-page" ad for an inter-realm travel agency, these really added very little to the overall experience of the work. Not that I find anything wrong with injecting a bit of humour, but it works better if it isn't so sophomoric and actually makes me laugh.

Overall, The Goblin Market is a nicely presented anthology and is well worth the admission. If you like your fantasy in a more prose-poem mode than the current more down-to-Earth trend in fantasy prose, this is for you. Besides, it's time to come out from those musty Victorian and Edwardian tomes and get with the times -- e-chaps rule!

Table of Contents
Nancy Bennet Where the Sun Comes From
Barbara Davies The Princess and the Barbarian
Steve Goble The Hungry Bottle
R.J. Lloyd An Interview with Raymond Feist
Jeremy Osborn How Far is it to Avalon
Ben Peek Changeling
Paul Pence Passion Play
Steve Lazarowitz Slaying the Beast
Tom Piccirilli and Gerard Daniel Houarner Thy Days May be Long Upon the Land
Marcie Lynn Tentchoff Waiting for Springtime
Frank Tuttle Wistril Besieged

Copyright © 1999 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.

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