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[page 3] MIDDENGEARD. {Title Art: The title is written in stylized block letters shaded with points at the bottom.} - The Editor's Page - -----oOo---oOo---oOo----oOo--oOo---- {Image: A drawing of a unicorn decoration atop a well appears to the right of the first paragraph. The unicorn has a horn the length of its own body and is the center of a set of radiating lines. The image is titled "The Well." and is unsigned.} I think it'd be best if I gave you some idea, here and now, as to what you can expect to find inside the covers of this 'Eldritch DREAM QUEST', and accordingly I'll try to answer your queries about it before you have a chance to raise them. What is a short story, even by the illustrious Mr. Moorcook, doing in this issue? Well, a secondary consideration of this journal ((?)) is that I'd like to foster some sort of interest in mythology and folklore amongst those of you who've never read anything other than science-fiction or fantasy. And that shouldn't be too hard a thing to achieve when you consider that the myth cycles must undoubtedly rank amongst the first fantasies ever written ... being a form of elaborate folk-fantasy. Under these circumstances I don't think that Mike's story, involving the Celtic God "Cromm Cruiach" (_not_ the Conan variety), is at all out of place. Policy? Well, the general idea behind this amateur publication is that it enables me to show my appreciation for two of the greatest fantaisistes @fantasists@ that ever put pen to paper - namely Lord Dunsany: the Irish bard who, in this field, was undoubtedly _the_ formative influence of this century; and Professor Tolkien: who is surely the greatest fantasy novelist in the English language. Now whilst both of these emminent @eminent@ authors chose essentially the same genre for their writings, their modes of expressing themselves could not be further removed. Dunsany, on the one hand, was primarily a dreamer who set down his visions with a seeming ease and beauty that is wondrous to behold - though it's apparent that his early dream - like tales of the "..islands in the Central Sea, whose waters are bounded by no shore and where no ships come.." are now sadly neglected due to their scarcity and the prices they command. [page 4] Now Tolkien, on the other, is a Philologist whose love for the old myths and folktales led him to create a very believable, half mythical 'Middle-earth' on which his hobbits and dwarven folk, and his elves and trolls could live their lives and wage their wars. The first of his 'Middle-earth' tales was, as is to be expected of a book written expressly for children, full of the whimsy, charm and homeliness of the folk and fairy tale; but it's in his second such epic, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, that the contrast between his and Dunsany's style is really marked. For Dunsany's tales were of that rare dream-like quality that inspired Lovecraft in his stories of Ulthar and Celephais; whereas Tolkien presented a truly realistic, material world full of life's whimsy and charm, it's sorrow and joy, and of it's grimness and tragedy ...... though admittedly with the same witchery of words. "But what exactly _is_ a Middle-earth ?" you might well ask. I'm certainly no authority on the subject myself, so I'll just have to give you my _interpretation_ of the term along with a number of pertinent examples. Well, a philologist of Professor Tolkien's ilk was bound to come across this old English word early in his studious career - it being the archaic and obselete expression for this world of ours which lies 'twixt Heaven and Hell. This in turn, as anyone familiar with the Norse Eddas can tell you, is derived from the world that Odin created from Ymir's body, and which is connected to Asgard by the rainbow bridge Bifrost. The All-father's name for this abode of the human race was 'Midgard' - which is Middle-Earth -a word that came into our language in the Old English form of 'Middengeard'. It's here that the problem comes into being, for obviously a tale of Middle-earth can't take place in this day and age, with one exception that I'll mention later on. The task aheadof me now is to choose the right setting, and also the stories that fit into it. One of these settings is obviously in a past so distant that the elves, trolls and other mythical creatures of this earth enacted a history that was handed down as legend; and which is still preserved in the form of myth, folklore and suporstition @superstition@. One such example, and undoubtedly the best by far, is the 'RING' saga of J.R.R. Tolkien which started off so unobtrusively with _THE HOBBIT_ in 1937; was brought up to epic - perhaps even Classic - status by _THE LORD OF THE [page 5] _Rings_ in 1954; and which is to be continued in the forthcoming _THE SILMARILLION._ Another first rate, beautifully written tale with this Middle-earthern setting is Poul Anderson's _THE BROKEN SWORD_ epic (1954) which took the changeling Skafloc from his birthplace in Midgard to his foster-home in Alfheim: whence he took part in the Elven raids on Trollheim and even, in the latter part of the story, venturing into Jötunheim itself with Mananaan Mac Lir as his sole companion. For anyone with a love of the old Celtic and Teutonic myths this book is a veritable must. Mr. Anderson also hinted that a sequel to his saga - doubtless concerning the hero's son who, at the end of 'The Broken Sword', had become a ward of the Aesir - was forthcoming, but six years have passed us by since the story was first published and no news has come to ear yet. But perhaps we can take heart from the fact that Tolkien himself spent over fourteen years in writing the sequel to his 'The Hobbit' (as he readily admits), and surely Poul could do worse than follow suit. Another obvious example is Fletcher Pratt's pseudonymous _THE WELL OF THE UNICORN_ (1948) which tells of young Airar Alvarson's rise to power amidst the wars and sorceries of the world of The Well. This being so it follows that _KING ARGIMENES AND THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR_, Lord Dunsany's second play and the _Dunsany Fragment_ of this issue, is also in the right vein - but more of that anon. Thus far we haven't delved into the magazine field, and it's here that we find the great majority of such stories: many of these were, admittedly, not worthy of second consideration, but amongst those that remain are some really first rate series. The best and most obviously Middle-earthern of those were Fritz Leiber's yarns about a certain loveable pair of scoundrels hight '_Fafhrd_' and '_The Mouser_'. These escapades of Fafhrd and The Mouser in their mythical world of Nehwon first saw light of day in the revered 'Unknown' magazine in 1939; and, incidentally, is the only series of it's kind still being published (both in amateur and prozines). Amongst the other possibles are such series as the Hyperborean and Atlantean tales of Clark Ashton Smith; the Hyborian Age stories of Howard that revolved first around King Kull in 1929, and then Conan the Cimmerian in 1932; and also, amongst others, the 'Elak of Atlantis' yarns of Henry Kuttner - all of which appeared in the old 'Weird Tales' in it's @its@ hey-day. [page 6] Or perhaps, and I hesitate to say this, the events could take place in the far distant future when necromancy and mythical beings are prevelent @prevalent@ on a dying-earth ... as in the 'Zothique' tales of Clark Ashton Smith. This is, I concede, a more than debateable @debatable@ point - and to be quite frank with you the possibility only occurred to me because it's one of my favourite series - and as such I'd like to point out that there's plenty of room in the letter column for discussion of this and any other topic. The other form of 'Middle-earth' is the 'other-dimensional' world more usually associated with the science-fiction field. Now before you come up in arms about this, let me make my point. In their collaboration _THE ROARING TRUMPET_ for 'Unknown' (May 1940), L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt came up with the idea that there is an infinity of simultaneously-existing worlds .. none of which is any realer than any other except as impressions received by the individual. Furthermore these worlds, of which our myths and epics are a reflection, can be reached by manipulating the symbols of symbolic logic. The aforementioned story took the brash, irrepressible 'Harold Shea' to the parallel world of Norse mythology at the time of the 'Fimbulwinter'; it's successor, _THE MATHEMATICS OF MAGIC_, to the Faerie realms of Spencer's allegoric 'The Faerie Queene' and the last tale in the trilogy, _THE CASTLE OF IRON_, into Ariosto's 'Orlando Furioso'. Another tale by these two authors, unconnected with the Harold Shea series, took it's hero to _THE LAND OF UNREASON_; ,which is the fairy-land of Shakespeare's 'A Mid-summer Night's Dream', ruled over by Oberon, and was in the same whacky vein as it's predecessors. Poul Anderson also put this idea to good use some years later, when he wrote _THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS_ for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction. In this the hero, to all outward appearances a Danish engineer called Holger Carlsen, suddenly finds himself in the parallel world of Carlovignian romance. It appears that he hes returned to his world of origin, but certain elements are trying to keep his real identity from him - for reasons best known to themselves. I guess that everyone's found something to comment on by now,, I think I'd better make a tactful withdrawal!! -ENTISHLY YOURS- -The Editor-