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.

I am a professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on 20th/21st-century American culture, science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology.

Posted in Conference, Liverpool, Review, Science Fiction
4 comments on “Neil Gaiman’s “Goliath”
  1. Christian says:

    I brought that story up in one of our discussions in the ‘Time and Consciousness’ philosophy module and suggested it to you. Shame you don’t recall it; well, shame on me rather, I guess I’ll have to try and make more memorable contributions and recommendations. ;)

  2. Jason Ellis says:

    That’s right–we were in Forbidden Planet and you mentioned a story to me that sounded like “Golea” and I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We had to sort out the story title by looking in the table of contents in Fragile Things. I had forgotten about that until now–I started afresh with these stories when I read the introduction.

  3. Christian says:

    Hey, it’s not my fault you practitioners of the English language(s) are so notorious at mispronouncing anything Greek/Roman/Aramaic/Hebrew/… that my poor attempts at phonetic mimickry, especially when it comes to guessing what something foreign to your tongue may be known to you as, are so utterly comical! :D

    Ceterum censeo linguam latinam reinstituturam esse linguam francam totius orbis terrarum.

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Who is Dynamic Subspace?

Dr. Jason W. Ellis shares his interdisciplinary research and pedagogy on Its focus includes the exploration of science, technology, and cultural issues through science fiction and neuroscientific approaches. It includes vintage computing, LEGO, and other wonderful things, too.

He is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY (City Tech) where he teaches college writing, technical communication, and science fiction.

He holds a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University, M.A. in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, and B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture from Georgia Tech.

He welcomes questions, comments, and inquiries for collaboration via email at jellis at citytech dot cuny dot edu or Twitter @dynamicsubspace.


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