Do you dare to open the secret door in the virtual Fairyland?

Over at Tor.com, there's a fantastic story by There and Back Again author Pat Murphy, called "About Fairies." A woman is working on developing a virtual fairyland for a toy company that sells fairy dolls, but she and the other members of the team start developing their own secret fairylands. It turns into a beautiful meditation on fairies, while the main character is also grappling with the impending death of her father.

Top image: Neal Murphy.

Here's an excerpt:

My name is Jennifer. I am on my way to a toy company in Redwood City to have a meeting about fairies.

I met the company's founder at an art opening and he said he liked the way I think. I was a double major in art and anthropology, and we had had a long conversation (fueled by cheap white wine) about the dark side of children's stories. As I recall, I talked a lot about Tinkerbell, who tried to murder Wendy more than once. (My still-unfinished PhD dissertation is a cross-cultural analysis of the role of wicked women in children's literature, and I count Tinkerbell is right up there among the wicked.)

Anyway, he hired me to be part of his company's product development department. He told me he liked to toss people into the mix to see what happened.

After he hired me, I found out that he had a habit of hiring people for no clearly defined job, then firing them when they didn't do their job. He hired me, then left for a month's vacation. He is still gone. I wasn't sure what my job was when I reported to work three weeks ago. I still don't know. But this is the first steady paycheck I've had in a couple of years and I'm determined to make sure that something positive happens.

Today, I'm going to a meeting about fairies.

Tiffany is the project manager. We met by the coffee maker on my first day. While we were waited for the coffee to brew, I found out what she was working on and chatted with her about it. She invited me to come to a few team meetings to "provide input."

The company is creating a line of Twinkle Fairy Dolls. Among three to six year-old girls, fairies of the gossamer-wing variety are a very hot topic. That's what the marketing guy said, anyway. He was at the first meeting I attended, but he hasn't been back since.

Each Twinkle Fairy doll will come with a unique Internet code that lets the owner enter the on-line fairyland that Tiffany's team is developing. In that world, the doll's owner will have her own fairy home that she can furnish with fairy furniture. She will have a fairy avatar that she can dress with fairy clothes.

It's a rather consumer-oriented fairyland. Players purchase their furniture and clothes with fairy dollars – or would that be fairy gold? And if it's fairy gold, will it wither into dead leaves in the light of day?

These are questions I do not ask at the meeting.

Read the rest at the link. [Tor.com]