Forum: Here Be Orcs

Discussing: Female Orcs

Female Orcs

There has been dispute over the years regarding the existence of female Orcs in Tolkien's universe.  Even the Dwarves get at least one named female character - Dís - and we have some information about their women.  Not so for the Orcs, and theories about whether there *are* Orc females and how Orcs reproduce include everything from magical mudpits to cloning to mountain-bound snaga-females to butch warriors indistinguishable from their male counterparts (until they shuck their breeches at any rate.)  It seems there is finally some information re: Tolkien's own take on the subject:

I had read some of Mr. Gee's book for my ongoing Orc bibliography and enjoyed it, though I took most of his theories as fairly tongue-in-cheek.  I found this post he made some time ago and am very grateful to him for sharing this information with others.  It's exciting to think of how much there is yet to learn from Tolkien's unpublished writings.

So then.  Would this be considered canon?



Re: Female Orcs

A-ha! I found your HASA forum discussion on 'Female Orcs' a while ago and meant to post a reply – but have until now been foiled in the attempt. Apparently there has been something wrong with this site…

So, are female Orcs canon? Well, we do have it straight from the pen of the great man himself in his letter to the picturesquely-named family Munby. But that said, if a fact is so important that you want it to be canon, as an author you should've remembered put it in the ruddy books in the first place then, shouldn't you? Of course, a fair bit of the little we do know about Tolkien's Orcs comes from after-the-fact snippets of this type, and the danger is that if we start disregarding this kind of thing pretty soon there'll be nothing left. Tolkien clearly didn't have much time these characters, but still went to the trouble of considering a subject he didn't care for in order to write to a young enthusiast and give him a definitive answer to his question. Does that make it case closed on the issue of female Orcs? I'm not sure. 'Not much was known,' Tolkien says. Does that leave the field wide open or doesn't it? Again, it seems open to interpretation.

Incidentally I thought that Tolkien's next comment about Orcs ('in stories that seldom if ever see the Orcs except as soldiers of armies in the service of the evil lords we naturally would not learn much about their lives') was oddly ambiguous. Is there an implication – albeit very slight - in the wording there that suggests a potential for stories in which Orcs would be seen as something other than evil-overlord-bound soldiers – i.e. that they could exist as anything else? Though I doubt it's a point that Tolkien had much intention of making this could be significant, as it may well have a bearing on the much-discussed question of Orcish capabilities for independent thought and action. After all, previous theories / general speculation on Orcish antecedents have been based on almost as little actual evidence (although it's quite possible I'm reading far too much into this).

Clutching at straws aside, it's nice that you should bring up female Orcs at this point, this being something that's bothered me for a while, given some of the fantastic suggestions I see people posting on the internet on the subject of where all the little baby Orcs come from. I have been making a collection of some of the more unlikely theories:


"Spores"- "growing like a fungus"

Regeneration from detached body-parts

Parasitism by 'larval' stages

A reproductive system wherein a single 'queen' Orc spends her life devoted to the task of spawning out thousands and thousands of horrid little toothy sprogs – "like that Queen Alien, in 'Aliens'" (not my comparison)

Thanks to Mr Gee, now clonal reproduction also gets to go on the list. And if his suggestion wasn't intended to be tongue-in-cheek, then somebody needs a good slap round the head with (preferably) one of the heavier basic textbooks on mammalian reproductive physiology.

(Are Orcs mammals? 'Course they are. (Discuss.))

(I should probably send this next part separately as it's unlikely to be of any remote interest to anyone except the Lauderdale, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this particular forum may not have the very widest readership, so will risk it.)

On the subject of female Orcs, you might be interested in having a look at this WIP, which features one of them in later chapters, eventually. (And as I've rated this reply as for general audiences, I should state quite categorically at this point that the story has a NC17 rating and is not intended for younger audiences.)

It has been in preparation for ages - disproportionately long considering the subject material and content (mainly because Shaggers has been steadfastly resisting my every attempt to get him into bed with a laydee).



Re: Female Orcs

This is something I've always wondered about- after all, we know that half-orcs exist, so they must breed somehow- but never actually spent any time doing anything other than prodding half-heartedly at. Perhaps this is a story idea for me, I dunno... thanks for sharing the link regardless!



Re: Female Orcs

Hssss!  If you do, please let us know it, precious!  I'm always up for a new Orc story, and honestly, it's on an interesting topic.

Since it appears that I never responded to draylon's post publicly, I will comment on A) the post, which was erudite and B) the story mentioned: A Family Way, one of a number of stories she has written about her very engagingly characterized Shagrat.  The first, and the best to start with, is Captain of Mordor, available here at HASA.



Re: Female Orcs

Well, this is what you inspired- I'm sorry it's so short and sour?


The prisoner screamed loud and long into the night air- they always did, in the end.

Gharath tried to block it out, but he never could.

He'd tried all sorts of tricks- even jamming chunks of bark and moss and bone into his ears hadn't worked.

So now he had to sit and listen to every shriek, every scream.

Oh, he did it, of course- it was what the Wizard ordered- but still he was glad it wasn't him.

Given a nice female he would have done his duty happily…

But like this?

With a human?

It was sick.





Re: Female Orcs

Ooh, Orc fic!  And a drabble too.  Ah loves it.  Rather dark as well.  A different perspective than I've seen in other stories, because this is an Orc who finds the task profoundly disagreeable.  Which, in turn, is morbidly funny.

"But like this?  With a human?  It was sick.  Sick."

(Coming at it from another angle, I have thought that it would have made sense for Saruman to invest in human males to impregnate Orc females.  Started a story once exploring that possibility, but I never finished it...)

Thanks for posting this, Aruthir!



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