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Author Topic: PC017: Goblin Lullaby  (Read 36858 times)

Heradel

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on: July 22, 2008, 11:15:22 AM
PC017: Goblin Lullaby

By Jim C. Hines
Read by Christiana Ellis (of Christiana’s Shallow Thoughts)
First appeared in Fantasy Gone Wrong  (DAW)

“I’ve never seen a goblin infant,” said the elf, stepping closer.

“You thought goblins sprang fully formed from the rocks for you to slaughter?”  She jammed a knuckle into Jig’s mouth for him to suck.  His baby fangs were just beginning to pierce the gums, but the pain in her finger was better than listening to him cry.


“We slaughtered nobody.”  The voice came from below the outcropping.  The elf relaxed his bow and knelt, hauling his companion up onto the ledge. “You goblins attacked us.  We defended ourselves.”

Grell stepped to the edge and studied the woods below.  Goblin blood turned the earth a gruesome shade of blue.  Elves wove through the trees, making no noise save the twang of bowstrings and the ripping sound of blades tearing through goblin armor and flesh.  ”Defended yourselves?  Next time, why don’t you defend yourselves over in the hobgoblin tunnels rather than sneaking onto our land to do it?”

The archer caught his companion by the arm.  ”She’s an old woman, Jonathan. With a child.”

“She’s a goblin, Rindar.”  But he relaxed slightly.  He was bulkier than his companion, and the mane of red hair meant he was no elf.  Red stubble dotted his chin, though he was too young to grow a proper beard.  He wore a heavy mail shirt, with a green tabard depicting a white dragon coiled around a tree.  ”If we let her live, she’ll lead another attack against us.”

Grell kicked the corpse of the goblin drummer.  ”If you let me live, I’ll go back to the nursery and get some sleep.”

“I won’t risk letting you go free,” said Jonathan.  ”Not until my quest is complete.”

Rated G. Contains not necessarily overlapping groups of heroes and good guys.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Listener

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Reply #1 on: July 22, 2008, 01:05:12 PM
Very good intro.  Sometimes I sing my daughter "Code Monkey" and "Soterious Johnson" and she enjoys them.

The story didn't grab me at first, but as we moved toward the end, I knew the sleep spell in the cave would come into play.  I suppose the diaper thing was the three-strikes rule... set it, remind it, use it.  (I'm sure there's a word for that.)  Jonathan and the diaper was a lot more resonant to me, as a dad, than "The Yeti Behind You" when it comes to parenting; I still get the ickypoos when I touch baby poop, not that it happens a lot but it's not something you forget.

The reading was fine, though Christiana Ellis isn't my favorite reader.

I'd call this one solid, middle-of-the-road fantasy with some really funny and thoughtful bits, like the whole thing about Humans and their quests, and how the Goblins are in the middle of it all.

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Reply #2 on: July 22, 2008, 02:48:22 PM
  I tend to like fantasy tales told from the "evil" perspective, and this was a pretty good one. All the references to questing heroes made me think of the old "Dungeon Keeper" series of games.

  I found the "heroes" to be very two-dimensional, but I am assuming that is intentional since they are supposed to be the stereotypical questing fantasy heroes, and it all worked quite well. I think this may well be the first story I've ever read/heard where someone was defeated by a dirty diaper... a weapon even MacGyver could be proud of.

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lhoward

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Reply #3 on: July 22, 2008, 04:39:13 PM
This is my favorite PodCastle story so far.  Christiana Ellis was the perfect choice of narrator for this tale.  I really enjoy these kinds of stories that take typical story patterns and flip them around, seeing everything from the opposite point-of-view.



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Reply #4 on: July 22, 2008, 04:42:31 PM
An excellent story. I've always thought that goblins are unfairly maligned in mainstream fantasy; they're actually far smarter (and certainly far more cunning) than the so-called "heroic" races.

You say there are some novels by this guy in the same vein? I shall have to check them out.

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Reply #5 on: July 23, 2008, 01:02:25 AM
I absolutely agree with void.  I love stories told from the "evil" perspective.  I love this story so much it was one of the first stories I tried to get for our podcast.  Podcastle beat us to it, but Jim Hines gave us the story of the baby Jig all grown up (Jig also appears in the trilogy about him).  In the story Goblin Hunter on clonepod you can find out how Jig got his pet firespider.  If you liked Goblin Lullaby, you'll like Goblin Hunter!

Listen to sff stories at my podcast, clonepod.org


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #6 on: July 23, 2008, 02:15:18 AM
Go ahead and drop the link in, clonepod.



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Reply #7 on: July 23, 2008, 03:33:09 AM
I absolutely agree with void.  I love stories told from the "evil" perspective.  I love this story so much it was one of the first stories I tried to get for our podcast.  Podcastle beat us to it, but Jim Hines gave us the story of the baby Jig all grown up (Jig also appears in the trilogy about him). 

I thought this story seemed a bit familiar.

I've only listened to about the first ten minutes, but had to comment ...  I was under the impression that "Rockabye Baby" was a more common lullaby than the "Mockingbird" song.

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Reply #8 on: July 23, 2008, 08:23:06 AM
Excellent! My favorite Story thus far.

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cuddlebug

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Reply #9 on: July 23, 2008, 09:31:52 AM
Ohh, what listening pleasure. Great story, and excellent reading by Christiana Ellis.



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Reply #10 on: July 23, 2008, 09:54:45 AM
I haven't listened to this story yet (I have a 24 hour plane trip tomorrow and I'm saving up my podcasts for it), but I actually read this one back when it first came out. I remember enjoying it then and I anticipate enjoying it again.



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Reply #11 on: July 23, 2008, 01:42:05 PM
Very good intro.  Sometimes I sing my daughter "Code Monkey" and "Soterious Johnson" and she enjoys them.

The story didn't grab me at first, but as we moved toward the end, I knew the sleep spell in the cave would come into play.  I suppose the diaper thing was the three-strikes rule... set it, remind it, use it. 

I had always heard this referred to as "The Gun In Act One."  Note its existence in the beginning, brandish (but don't use) it in the middle, and then shoot it at the end.

Eldest Raggirl would only fall asleep to Elton John.  Youngest Raggirl will fall asleep to anything by the Indigo Girls.  Medium Raggirl was the only one who needed traditional lullabies.  We used "Mockingbird." (Also, "'Til There Was You" by the Beatles (and the Music Man)).  I think its true that more people KNOW "Rock-a-bye Baby" than "Mockingbird" but I don't think any the people who know it actually sing it a baby to get her to sleep. 

As to the story, I particularly enjoyed the way it poked fun at fantasy tropes and conventions.  It was overall enjoyable, but tended to drag along in parts.

I rate it at 17 out of 24 Baby Goblin Teeth.



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Reply #12 on: July 23, 2008, 01:50:29 PM
The story didn't grab me at first, but as we moved toward the end, I knew the sleep spell in the cave would come into play.  I suppose the diaper thing was the three-strikes rule... set it, remind it, use it. 

I had always heard this referred to as "The Gun In Act One."  Note its existence in the beginning, brandish (but don't use) it in the middle, and then shoot it at the end.
More technically, it's Chekhov's gun.

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hautdesert

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Reply #13 on: July 23, 2008, 04:03:05 PM
Or "The Gun on the Mantelpiece."

Yeah, more people know Rockabye Baby, but it's actually really hard to sing.  I've never known anyone to actually use it.  Mockingbird has fewer big leaps (it's got basically two jumps, the very first interval is a  major sixth, and the start of the next phrase is a fifth).  Rockabye baby has...well, okay, now I'm humming it, only three--a major sixth, a fifth, and a minor seventh.  I think it's that minor seventh that's the challenging part.  It's too easy to miss that landing.

But you're right, it could have stood a mention.  It completely slipped my  mind.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #14 on: July 23, 2008, 06:09:56 PM
Quote
  I've never known anyone to actually use it.

I use it. ;)



Ocicat

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Reply #15 on: July 23, 2008, 07:54:06 PM
This was a really solid fluff piece.  Very enjoyable.  I too really enjoy tales told from the other side's perspectives, and what made this even better was that it wasn't a goblin warrior or chief, but the nanny.  That added a lot, and she was a very fun perspective character. 



DKT

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Reply #16 on: July 23, 2008, 08:19:04 PM
Quote
  I've never known anyone to actually use it.

I use it. ;)

Me too.  (You can use it without hitting the notes, right?  Right?)


hautdesert

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Reply #17 on: July 23, 2008, 08:21:11 PM

Me too.  (You can use it without hitting the notes, right?  Right?)

Of course you can! :)  Though once you're using different notes, it's arguably a different song, or at least a variation... ;)

edited to fix my stupid coding mistake



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Reply #18 on: July 23, 2008, 09:49:13 PM
I have to say, I really enjoyed this one.  It had elements of both Terry Prattchett (turn fantasy on its head by introducing practicality, I.E. shut those soldiers up because someone has to get the kids to sleep) and the recent XBox 360 game Overlord, which, as everyone's already said, turned things on their head by showing things from the evil race's point of view.

At least I think it was recent.

I definitely agree that the heroes were a bit two-dimensional, but I'm quite certain that was the point.  I particularly enjoyed that the elf was kind of annoyed with the Princeling at the end.



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Reply #19 on: July 24, 2008, 03:50:34 AM
This story was just fun.  And I'm glad to see that here at Podcastle, not that there haven't been any fun stories, but to me this story was fun just for the sake of being fun.  It was also well written and read, and a great perspective on the classic quest.

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Reply #20 on: July 24, 2008, 04:51:20 AM
... and the recent XBox 360 game Overlord, which, as everyone's already said, turned things on their head by showing things from the evil race's point of view.

Dungeon Keeper did that eleven years ago.

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #21 on: July 24, 2008, 06:01:46 AM
Quote
I'm glad to see that here at Podcastle, not that there haven't been any fun stories, but to me this story was fun just for the sake of being fun.

I agree.

As an editor, I've found that it's hard to find stories that are both lots of fun, and quality. In my opinion, Jim C. Hines is an exemplar of someone who straddles those qualities.

He sort of reminds me of John Scalzi, except working with fantasy tropes instead of military SF.

(For the record, we're always on the lookout for stories that are quality and pure fun. We've got a few in stock, including one from the Chicks in Chainmail series by Writers of the Future judge K. D. Wentworth, a piece by Esther Friesner, and a really disarming Peter Beagle fable. The Friesner and the Wentworth are also high fantasy, so they hit the trifecta of the things we don't see as much of in terms of quality as we'd like to. The Friesner stars an elf and a sorcerer. The Wentworth stars a barbarian. In conversation with the other editors, I've been calling the Wentworth our chainmail bikini story, though of course it's got a twist.

I've also been looking for some large-scale adventures that play out on an epic scope like "Osteomancer's Son." We've got a Tim Pratt adventure scheduled for August which I think is going to rock some serious socks, and in September we'll be running a fantasy/mystery/action-adventure by Richard Parks set in medieval Japan.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 06:11:08 AM by Rachel Swirsky »



stePH

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Reply #22 on: July 24, 2008, 01:06:17 PM
In conversation with the other editors, I've been calling the Wentworth our chainmail bikini story,

Not surprising for a story that's part of some series called "Chicks in Chainmail"  ;D

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Reply #23 on: July 24, 2008, 03:54:11 PM

In conversation with the other editors, I've been calling the Wentworth our chainmail bikini story, though of course it's got a twist.


A chainmail bikini... with a twist?  That sounds especially uncomfortable...



Listener

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Reply #24 on: July 24, 2008, 04:13:33 PM

In conversation with the other editors, I've been calling the Wentworth our chainmail bikini story, though of course it's got a twist.


A chainmail bikini... with a twist?  That sounds especially uncomfortable...

Actually, I would think--

No.  Not going to go there.  Not at all.

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Reply #25 on: July 24, 2008, 04:36:17 PM
I have been a subscriber of all 3 podcasts since the beginning and this is the first one time I have posted a comment.  I really enjoyed this story because of the way Jonathan was portrayed.  Instead of the classic noble quest point of view, I really enjoyed the how his pomposity was displayed.  It shows how there are always two sides to every story.



Roney

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Reply #26 on: July 24, 2008, 10:16:07 PM
I think I've been reading too many D&D parodies recently because this story kept irritating me.  Rather than see it as a standard High Fantasy setting I kept thinking that the whole throne-stealing/wood-elves/quest/goblin-raid scenario sounded like the inspiration-free scribbling of a teenage D&Der.  This may have been intentional but it made it really difficult for me to suspend disbelief and engage with the story, which I prefer to do even with the fun stuff.

I also couldn't help comparing it unfavourably to Goblins.

Great reading, though.



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Reply #27 on: July 24, 2008, 10:30:07 PM
I liked this story.

Technically, it was well constructed and well executed.

The story plot itself was simple, as a short story's ought to be.

The voice of Christiana Ellis is always welcome, especially in a fun story.

Three thumbs up!



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Reply #28 on: July 25, 2008, 01:10:13 AM
Great story, and a great reading by Christiana. I've only heard her read one other piece (Mary Hobson's God Juice over on Escape Pod) and I've loved both performances.

This story does a great job of examining the consequences of fantasy tropes. I'll have to look for his work. Thanks to Podcastle for introducing me to his work.



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Reply #29 on: July 25, 2008, 01:37:22 AM
... and the recent XBox 360 game Overlord, which, as everyone's already said, turned things on their head by showing things from the evil race's point of view.

Dungeon Keeper did that eleven years ago.

Fascinating.  Unsurprising that someone did it before, but still really cool.

And Robney, that point makes me want to run a campaign in D and D of all Goblin Raiders.



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Reply #30 on: July 25, 2008, 08:35:32 AM
I have nothing new to add to the general chorus of approval.  I just want to say that I've never enjoyed a Podcastle story quite as much as this one.  (Not that all the others were ponderous, solemn affairs.)

I'm relieved I wasn't the only person to think of Dungeon Keeper.  I'm relieved I wasn't the only person to remember Dungeon Keeper.

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Reply #31 on: July 25, 2008, 12:26:56 PM
I also cheer in this chorus of approval! What a great story and very well read by Christiana Ellis. Her voice gave the main character a nice extra level, with her down-to-earth moping about diapers and being all sarcastic about the prince's quest.

As VewDew already posted: "It shows how there are always two sides to every story."
That's what great about this story. I always love the 'other' point of view in a story, because it points out what you normally take for granted in a story. Like in this story, it plays with the whole quest thing and the pompous prince and that makes this story great fun!

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Reply #32 on: July 25, 2008, 02:47:08 PM
I'm relieved I wasn't the only person to think of Dungeon Keeper.  I'm relieved I wasn't the only person to remember Dungeon Keeper.

  I loved those games, espeically the second one. I could never beat the first one because it always crashed on the last level :( .

  I was really disappointed when the third one was never made, but with Fallout 3 coming out I guess there is always hope.

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Reply #33 on: July 26, 2008, 12:30:13 AM
I'm relieved I wasn't the only person to think of Dungeon Keeper.  I'm relieved I wasn't the only person to remember Dungeon Keeper.

  I loved those games, espeically the second one. I could never beat the first one because it always crashed on the last level :( .

  I was really disappointed when the third one was never made, but with Fallout 3 coming out I guess there is always hope.

I never played Dungeon Keeper, but it came out at a time when my thumb was firmly on the pulse of PC gaming, so I still remember it.

I did play the hell out of its predecessor Magic Carpet, and am currently revisiting that game in its Playstation port.

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Reply #34 on: July 26, 2008, 12:50:35 AM
Good story; great reading.

I especially liked the practical use for the magic curse and the elf's reaction.



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Reply #35 on: July 26, 2008, 04:21:28 AM
Did anyone else think that the story had a distinctly anti-war message?  It's not that the Goblins are uniformly righteous and misunderstood.  In fact, Goblin society at large seems just as senseless and bull-headed as humanity.  But the bloodshed between the humans/elves and the goblins is nonetheless pointless.  The looming war between Jonathan and Wendell seems like it would be particularly catastrophic, and the conclusion the Goblin protagonist effected seems like the best of all possible outcomes.



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Reply #36 on: July 26, 2008, 02:33:20 PM
I loved this one

that is all. :)

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Reply #37 on: July 28, 2008, 09:29:52 PM
Ahhh, Dungeon Keeper.  That was one of the best presented games of all time.  I still remember the wonderful intro, the snarky narration, the obnoxiuos horned reaper.  I can see how it plays in this story.  This makes me want to fire it up again and kick some goody two-shoe adventurer ass.

This story tickles the cynic in me.  I love the practicality of the protagonist.  She's pragamatic to the hilt and doesn't give a damn about ideals, chivalry, or even piracy.  And the author makes her clever to boot.  She sees the situations sideways so she takes advantage of the unobvious.  The oblivious knight didn't have chance against the ultimate weapon.

I don't see this as an anti-war story.  The goblin nanny could care about the war, she just sees her own personal problems.  If the war helped her, she support it.  In this case, it gets in the way of a good nap.  I know the feeling, I'd rather have a good night sleep these days than anything else.



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Reply #38 on: July 28, 2008, 10:05:15 PM
... and the recent XBox 360 game Overlord, which, as everyone's already said, turned things on their head by showing things from the evil race's point of view.

Dungeon Keeper did that eleven years ago.

... and how could I overlook the obvious ... playing the "orc" campaign in any of the Warcraft games (I cut my RTS teeth on Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness.)

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Reply #39 on: July 28, 2008, 11:54:40 PM
Tide of Darkness...who could forget the hammer-wielding, Al Pacino-quoting Orcs?  Good times.



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Reply #40 on: July 29, 2008, 04:12:17 AM

I'm late to the party -- delayed by work travel -- but this one was a blast.  Like others, I appreciated seeing the Goblin Nanny as the main character.  And what a character she was...

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Reply #41 on: July 29, 2008, 10:17:10 PM
This story was a par on excellence. It was the clash of down-to-earth reality and common living meeting the ether of formulaic fantasy.

I suppose this story should be a warning to all those adventurers out there not take appearances lightly. What may appear to be a harmless old goblin could in fact turn out to be a 50th level uber-goblin of absolute common sense just trying to find a little peace and quiet.   

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Schreiber

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Reply #42 on: July 30, 2008, 12:37:02 PM
Quote
I don't see this as an anti-war story.  The goblin nanny could care about the war, she just sees her own personal problems.  If the war helped her, she support it.  In this case, it gets in the way of a good nap.  I know the feeling, I'd rather have a good night sleep these days than anything else.

"Hey hey!  Ho-ho!  This Elf campaign has got to go! Hey-hey!  Ho-ho!"

No, this is true.  The goblin nanny certainly wasn't on a "quest" of her own to stop wars in general.  But I think that strengthens the anti-war message rather than weakens it.  Her outlook never suggested that the skirmishes between humans and goblins were wrong per se, just stupid and destructive.  Which strengthens the message because it doesn't it couch it in a monolithic, overarching worldview that makes too many demands on us, but rather in plain, simple common sense.



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Reply #43 on: July 31, 2008, 06:44:31 PM
this was a very fun story :) very entertaining, and kept me smiling throughout the entire reading.  Christiana was a great pick for the reader too

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Reply #44 on: August 03, 2008, 06:53:03 PM
I'm not much of one for fluff pieces like this one.  It also had all manner of the standard D&D markings on it: sarcastic humor, quests that no one cares about, a general cheapening of life and archetypes galore.  Furthermore it had something I'm coming to see as a mainstay of PodCastle--the dry  lead that deals with all the mundane crap (literally in this case), who doesn't care one bit about the other characters except as nuisances that need to be put aside for life to happily continue.

I'm looking forward to more stories that push outside of the archetypes and use fantasy as a lens into our own world.  I really do enjoy fantastic elements in stories, but having something to relate to helps in my enjoyment.  I can join a D&D campaign any time I want and get a story just like this.  I hope we can get some more stories from authors that have surprising and refreshing ideas, rather than those who just beat the dead horse from a different angle.



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Reply #45 on: August 05, 2008, 01:04:42 PM
Did anyone else think that the story had a distinctly anti-war message?

If anything I saw this story as strongly feminist, or at least the sort of story many feminists would say we don't get enough of. It told the story of war, but from the point of view from an old lady who is merely trying to look after a child. It was her story, and the war was only incidental to it. She was well and truly 'other' for the wannabe prince. She just went about her business as well as she could in the hopes she would be able to quieten the war down so she (and her child) could get some sleep. In the process she stopped a war, but probably started another one.

How many wars have been won or lost because of the activity of women behind the scenes? Those stories are as much a part of our history as the noble deeds of heroes, yet they're not considered to be anywhere as important. Fair enough too, I suppose. I want to hear tales of heroism and valour, not menial domestic stuff. Still, women were there, and the great heroes had to do the menial stuff as well. Women have always had to commit acts as brave as their men. The problem is that it's not always so glamorous.

Of course, massive flamewars have been started by comments as innocuous as this, so I'd better stop. I'm trying to be observant, not brave!



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Reply #46 on: August 05, 2008, 01:59:53 PM
Of course, massive flamewars have been started by comments as innocuous as this, so I'd better stop. I'm trying to be observant, not brave!

CammoBlammo, you brave and observant knight. I will leave my flame torch in my pocket, my hands are full of diapers at the moment anyway. Women... we're so busy with all the menail stuff, we don't have time for flamewars!

;P  Sorry, my domestic alter ego had me say that. Now I have to go and be a great hero somewhere. Tatadadaaaaaa!


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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #47 on: August 05, 2008, 05:03:29 PM
Quote
If anything I saw this story as strongly feminist

Heh, I see it as a story about class struggle, particularly the kinds of class struggle relating to fuedalism. Goblins are peasants, often treated cruelly and made to suffer because of what the elves and kings desire.

I'm so avoided lit theory, but if I recall all my history correctly... The literary movement Romanticism (1800s) was the first time when writers said, "Hey, you know, it's nice to write about kings and all that, but we think people from the lower classes are just as appropriate as subjects for stories." (The equivalent happened in art with Impressionism, where the Impressionists painted prostitutes, actresses, and other people who had previously been considered too lowly to bother with.) I see this story as the fantasy equivalent of that. Beautiful elves and gallant kings are nice and all, but how about the goblin we dispatched before we even got a +1 sword?



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Reply #48 on: August 18, 2008, 05:50:39 PM
I rather liked the angle of this story.  The humor of the goblin just wanting peace, doing whatever it takes to get her moment of quiet.  Of course, it's not the way the legends are told, but probably just how one or two of them actually played out before they were doctored by time and wishful thinking.

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Dwango

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Reply #49 on: August 29, 2008, 09:03:34 PM
Just a note, I liked this story so much, I got the novel.  This is the first story on any of the escape artist shows that got me to buy a novel by the author.  I finished Goblin Quest and I'm going to get the next two books in the series.  Really fun stuff.



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Reply #50 on: September 01, 2008, 07:03:15 PM
Late in the game here, but this story moved me to tears of laughter.  Diapers are a part of my life and I see them extend into the future. Great to know they have now been used in the fantasy world as well.

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csrster

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Reply #51 on: October 07, 2008, 11:08:34 AM
I like it so much I bought the book.



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Reply #52 on: November 20, 2009, 05:49:07 PM
This was quite a fun story, turning a lot of D&D cliches on their head for humor.

The ultimate weapon--poop!

I laughed at quite a few places.  The prince and elf were cardboard, but that was kind of the point--it wasn't supposed to be realistic, it was supposed to poke fun at fantasy cliches and it succeeded at that.  :)

Next time I start a campaign I am bringing along the Diaper of Extreme Stinkiness just in case...



dwebb64

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Reply #53 on: December 15, 2010, 09:45:49 PM
This is one of our all time family favorite Pod Castle stories.  Despite the fact that we have heard it at least a dozen times our kids still can not get eanough of it.



yicheng

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Reply #54 on: December 22, 2010, 07:02:28 PM
This was a classic Podcastle for me as well.   ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D



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Reply #55 on: May 05, 2013, 06:44:05 PM
Dang. My local library network doesn't have the goblin books. I'm gonna have to work harder to read these. Anyone have a review of the books to encourage me to go get them?

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Just Jeff

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Reply #56 on: May 05, 2013, 08:15:02 PM
They're very entertaining, and you should read them.

;D



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Reply #57 on: May 24, 2013, 12:34:39 PM
Dang. My local library network doesn't have the goblin books. I'm gonna have to work harder to read these. Anyone have a review of the books to encourage me to go get them?

I dont know about your library, but at my library if I request a book they don't have they try to purchase it or borrow it from a nearby library system.