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Faerie Gold
edited by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff and Raechel Henderson
Eggplant Productions, electronic chapbook

Faerie Gold
Eggplant Productions
Besides Faerie Gold, Eggplant Productions publishes other e-zines, including Jackhammer. Faerie Gold is the sequel to their web-based electronic chapbook The Goblin Market.

SF Site Review: The Goblin Market
Eggplant Productions

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Like its predecessor The Goblin Market, Faerie Gold collects a number of high quality new short works of "classical" modern fantasy. "Classical" in the sense that they are more in tune with the mood and style of authors like Cabell, Dunsany, Eddison, or Morris than with that of much of current fantasy. With a mix of poetry, short stories and a multi-media narrative, Faerie Gold offers a pleasant alternative to the current spate of multi-volume fat-novels (the ones that also serve well as doorstops), and makes an excellent venue for the oft-neglected shorter forms of fantasy.

Pleasantly, Faerie Gold doesn't try to take itself too seriously, having a good balance of light humorous material -- the difficulties posed by an armoured knight's drop-down visor for a maiden's first kiss ("Maiden's First Kiss" by Chris Gregory )-- and more cerebral material such as a ode to the heroes of Greek mythology ("Minotaur Boys" by Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen). The other poetical works are nicely evocative without getting bogged down in arcane word-play for the sake of word-play.

As was the case with its predecessor, Faerie Gold is accompanied by two mediaeval-like instrumental compositions ("Gemma Florens" and "Kalenda" by St. Marks' Consort). While they are less dreamy and more upbeat than the music that accompanied The Goblin Market they are equally well chosen in their ability to enhance the written material without distracting from it. The graphics were similarly simple, nice, and unobtrusive.

The short fiction in Faerie Gold is quite varied, ranging from heroic fantasy of deceptions and double crosses (in the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser vein) to the Japanese folk-tale. In James A. Hartley's "A Simple Game of Dice" an amoral grifter gets his just desserts when he tangles with the wrong woman. In Judy L. Tucker's "The Black Bowl," a moral tale of old Japan, a young woman braves ridicule and learns that honesty and humility have great rewards. In Connie Wilkins' "The Way Between" a prehistoric female cave-artist takes her art one step further to interact in a whole new way with her artistic medium. Michael Mahoney's "The Last Dragon King" tells of another young woman destined as sacrifice to the aging dragon-wizard whose fate is linked to that of her people -- exactly what sort of sacrifice will she become?

Finally, Faerie Gold contains a 4-minute multi-media fantasy montage: "Fantasy Story." When I listened to it a first time after reading all the text material, I wondered how such weak material had made it into an otherwise strong publication. The graphics, considering the staggering animation that can be done with a generic PC these days, was crude, simple pop-up figures appearing and disappearing. The voices were equally grating, a hero with what can only be described as a very ordinary voice, and a wizard who sounded like Huckleberry Hound. However, upon a couple of weeks reflection and a second listen, I took it for what it is (I hope) -- a spoof of the genre -- and found it at least amusing. Still, the graphics were pretty crude. Part of this problem could have been alleviated if the editors had included a short mission statement or introduction perhaps outlining the genesis and scope of Faerie Gold. Such material was included in the press material I received and is presumably at the Eggplant Productions website, but wouldn't be superfluous on the CD itself.

Technically speaking, the system operated flawlessly in both Windows 95 and 98 (I have a knack for crashing PC operating systems). However, some author's Internet links were no longer supported, and a graphic from one story was mixed into another. The window in which Faerie Gold ran was of a set size (about three quarters of my 15-inch screen) and would not go full screen, though this could perhaps be a hardware problem. Overall, these minor problems did not detract from the quality of the material presented in Faerie Gold. So, while Faerie Gold might not rank with Eggplant Productions' The Goblin Market, the editors are to be congratulated for having tried to expand their publication and its contents into other media.

Despite its limitations, the actual stories and poems in Faerie Gold, which rather than the technology or presentation are really the crux of the whole publication, are well worth the read. There are a limited number of outlets for fantasy short-fiction, a form which lent itself so well to the prose-poems of the fathers of modern fantasy. If not in Faerie Gold, where is one to find the upholders of this tradition? So rather than doing weight training with the latest fantasy saga, just slip Faerie Gold into your PC and enjoy.

Table of Contents
Arlene Ang Sickle Moons
Daniel J. Bishop Unicorn
Monette Ellison Miraiki's Magic
Chris Gregory Maiden's First Kiss
James A. Hartley A Simple Game of Dice
Michael Mahoney The Last Dragon King
Jason Ryan et al.Fantasy Story
Lawrence M. Schoen Minotaur Boys
Judy L. Tucker The Black Bowl
Connie Wilkins The Way Between

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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