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Thread: Goblins

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    Registered User SilentDan's Avatar
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    What kinds of these little fellas have you seen in fantasy fiction? (or any fiction, really) I'm wondering what variations have been done - or not done.

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    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentDan View Post
    What kinds of these little fellas have you seen in fantasy fiction? (or any fiction, really) I'm wondering what variations have been done - or not done.
    Every which way. Goblins, or things that came to be called goblins and related species, are in nearly every culture's mythology. They don't have to be little. In Tolkien's work, orcs are goblins. Or they can be quite small -- from pixie size to big monsters. They are often put in the company of brownies. They are frequently described as having bat ears. They are frequently shown as having green skin (therefore the Green Goblin in Marvel Comics.) They may also have grey, brown or yellow skin. They may look very much like humans (see David Bowie as the seductive goblin king in the movie Labryinth) or not at all. They may be servants, allies, enemies or monsters or multiple roles. They are given numerous different powers magically. They are frequently portrayed, in myth and fiction, as tricksters and prank players who it is not wise to annoy.

    In Asian cultures, they are a form of spirit, who can often be summoned, and that is also the way the term is often used in Western culture -- ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. Goblin is also something of a catch-all name for all sorts of monsters and demons. There are also hobgoblins, also related to brownies or sometimes portrayed as part of the Seelie fairy court, who can be small tricksters or very large, tough monsters. Puck in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream is a hobgoblin and they are frequently portrayed as shape-shifters. And then there are things like bug bears, a form of goblin that are moderately large and are a type of boogeyman. And there are kobolds -- the German word for goblin, who haunt mines and are very dangerous, and the British Redcaps, another murderous form of goblin.

    Some prominent ones for fiction:

    The Princess and the Goblin -- the famous children's tale by George Macdonald, The Hollow Kingdom trilogy by Clare B. Dunkle, a YA series that won the Mythopoeic Award in which the goblins are kind of like a fairy court. Hilari Bell also has a different take on goblins in YA series The Goblin Wood. Jim C. Hines' Jig the Goblin trilogy, which satirizes fantasy fiction and D&D games and is quite well done. Ari Marmell's also satiric The Goblin Corps series, which has all forms of "goblins": orcs, bug bears, gremlins, kobolds, etc. Clifford D. Simak used them SF style in The Goblin Reservation. Teresa Edgerton has goblins and hobgoblins in her series that change in different phases. J.K. Rowling made them the bankers in Harry Potter. C.J. Cherryh's The Goblin Mirror has goblins using Eastern European myths as magically powerful obstacles. Mary Gentle and Stan Nicholls both went the satiric route well with novels about mercenary orcs in Grunts and the Orcs series. Vincent Courtney had a horror novel called Goblins, in which a horror filmmaker's wife may be giving birth to a goblin, etc.

    Goblins are popular in satiric fantasy, children's and YA fantasy in various forms, and they are getting popular in romance fantasy. In horror fiction, they are less common than some other monsters in their directly called goblin form. In horror films, they tend to be the small, scary, underground type. In game and game tie-in fiction, they tend to be the greenish bat eared type, though they may be small or large, or reptilian.

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