by Michæl W. Bard
©2005 Michæl W. Bard
Ah, furry fiction! Writhing piles of fuzzy vixens with oversized chest balloons and floatation devices all drenched in
Like all fiction, taste and preferences vary from person to person. In my case I prefer realism, or as realistic as one can reasonably expect. And I prefer Science Fiction. Now, a case could be made for furry fiction being fantasy rather than SF, but I have my preferences and know what I like to read. Ultimately, it all boils down to whether or not I, as a reader, can buy into the world, and sustain my willing suspension of disbeliefwhich is a requirement of all good speculative fiction. What this means is that the following is my POV. Your kilometreage may vary, use at your own risk, etc. All my opinions are my own, there are many exceptions to every flaw I point out, so dont go taking any of it too personally
The first, and biggest, flaw I read again and again, is the fact that a furry world is portrayed to be exactly like our ownexcept that people are different kinds of furries. Same presidents, same level of technology, same style of architecture
Sadly, it simply couldnt happen that way unless everybody suddenly got zapped into furries just before the story started and forgot all about not being furries. And even then, thered almost certainly be supply issuesappropriate different types of footwear, if nothing else. Our current culture is the culmination of a near-infinite number of random events, and is unique. Any major change would, at the very least, change the names and personalities of the people involved. And, I dont mean just changing them to bad puns on the persons actual name
If you can change all the people in a story back to human and have the background be recognizable as today right down to the names, I just cant buy it and I put it down. Sorry.
The second (and nearly as big!) flaw I also read again and again is the friendly co-habitation of all kinds of furries; herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores. Such a society may evolve into an armed truce where all coexist after having fought to get what they got, but it wouldnt start out that way. Or, at least I cant believe that it would. Look at humanitys history of bloodshed and violenceand we generally dont eat each other! Yes, intelligent anthropomorphic carnivores could choose to not eat other sophonts, but why would they avoid a viable food source? Back when they were primitive stone age tribesfurs, surely theyd consume whatever protein they could get! Of course, if the carnivores prey was sentient, that would strongly affect the definition of whatever they could get. But note that this would mean fighting back, with weapons and tacticsin other words, war between carnivores and herbivores. And that would take a long time to get away from.
In short, you could have a world with multiple furry speciesbut they would not live together like brothers, and there would be a lot of memories and bad blood from centuries of violence, slavery, and predation. And you think everyfur is going to live in harmony? Yeah, right! Dont work for me!
Of course, if the furries are genetically engineered by an advanced race and brought up to be peaceful, to respect one another, and to co-habit, thats a different story. But that had better be mentioned in the background somewhere
The third, and final flawwhich occurs in a lot of commercial science fiction and fantasy too, so Im not just picking on you furries hereis the humans in fursuits syndrome. Suppose you took out the fuzzy descriptions and replaced them with humans; if the story would be unchanged, you have a humans in fursuits story on your hands. For omnivores, Ill grant its possible that replacing them with humans might not affect anything important. But for herbivores and carnivores, however, I just cant buy it. What is it like to know that one might be eaten? And what is it like to only be able to eat raw meat? Got meall I can say is that if I had that sort of dietary restriction, Id definitely be different than I am now.
Finally, as an example of what I consider good furry fiction, and to avoid stepping on claws and inflating egos to dangerous levels, let me refer to my own Becoming a Patrolsentient in this issue. In it, the history is different from that of contemporary Earth. Yes, there have been world wars, but not against Germany. There is no United States, no NASA, no President Bush, etc. The furries co-habitate, but not that peacefully. There have been warslots of wars. Also lots of bloodshed, lots of hatred. Only the threat of universal destruction due to atomic and fusion weapons enabled a kind of peace to form along with a unified government. And even then not all go along with it.
Ive tried to give my furries characteristics of the animals theyre derived from. Nothing overt, but minor little bits. Its only really in the POV character, particularly the herd aspect, but at least its there. I did my best to get across his fears and nervousness around those who could eat himto make him not human, but understandable nonethelessand hopefully Ive succeeded!
So, read, enjoy, think, and write stories that Id like to read. Who knows, you might make me a furry yet