Neil Gaiman’s “Goliath”

I’ve been considering writing a paper to submit to the 2007 Short Story Conference at Edge Hill University. This year’s theme is, “‘The Story Shall Be Changed’: Tales and Re-tellings in the Short Story.” I knew that Neil Gaiman had done this sort of thing with some of his novels such as American Gods and Anansi Boys, but I wasn’t sure where to start with his short stories. Luckily, Gaiman provides ‘liner notes’ in the introduction for each story and poem in his collections Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things. One story grabbed my attention in Fragile Things, called “Goliath.”

He originally wrote it after reading the script to The Matrix for inclusion on the movie’s official website (read it here). The story is set in the machine world future of The Matrix, and it’s about one human being selected to protect Earth from an alien intruder in nearby space. What makes this story special is that Gaiman inverts the David and Goliath story in his retelling of the tale. I’ve only just begun my research on this, but I think it will lead to a promising essay.

If you haven’t read this cyberpunk story, I recommend you check it out. Even though SF isn’t Gaiman’s modus operandi, it’s a well developed story that evokes the feel and detailed imagery of The Matrix.

Published by

Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.