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"Small, Vulnerable ETs": The Green Children of Woolpit

John Clark
Science Fiction Studies
Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jul., 2006), pp. 209-229
Published by: SF-TH Inc
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4241432
Page Count: 21
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"Small, Vulnerable ETs": The Green Children of Woolpit
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Abstract

This article considers the multifarious interpretations and influences of the story of the two green-skinned children who, as it was reported by two medieval writers, suddenly appeared in the fields of an English village in the middle of the twelfth century. Some have explained it as a folktale, some as a garbled account of unusual but mundane events, and some as a record of intervention by extraterrestrial beings in human affairs. Other authors have found in it inspiration for fictions of their own: not just simple retellings, but stories that draw on it or refashion it in unexpected ways. In particular, the paper considers two cases where the Green Children have found a place in works of science fiction: Francis Godwin's The Man in the Moone in the seventeenth century and Herbert Read's The Green Child in the twentieth. Some of the most effective versions have been those that have best retained the inherent mystery and romance of the original story.

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