I’m fairly confident I’ve read this before, not because I recall the plot, but because Alley-Oop the sardonic Neanderthal stuck in my mind. The plot itself, involving aliens, time travel, Little People, and university administration, is convoluted, but it’s held up admirably by strong, fun characters. And the ending of the book, while it’s given shorter shrift than it might be, is sweet.
It’s characters that are Simak’s strength, and the heart of the book is undoubtedly the fun in following along with his odd mix of characters. The plot is interesting, and another writer might have done more with it, but for Simak, it’s the characters that make it all work. There are some shortcuts – in mid-century fashion, the love story is more assumed than spelled out – and a couple of characters (Ghost and Shakespeare) fall by the wayside, their threads unresolved. Shakespeare probably isn’t needed at all, and Ghost’s arc is somewhat random. But overall, it’s good, lighthearted fun.
The title, by the way, is something of a misnomer. There is a goblin reservation, and it is important to the story, but the story’s not really about goblins, per se.
In my e-copy – and I don’t recall where I got it – the OCR and proofreading were pretty haphazard. Very readable, but some wrong paragraph breaks, etc.