ANTHRO's index of anthropomorphic literature

The Yarf! reviews by Fred Patten

Note: This is a fraction of the entire listing. If you’re on broadband, you might want to try the high speed version instead.

   Welcome to the “Patten’s reviews” wing of the Anthro Library! Since this is a collection of columns from a dormant (if not dead) furzine called YARF!, a word of explanation might be helpful: In its day, YARF! (aka ‘The Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics’) was perhaps the best-known—and best in quality—of furry zines. Started in 1990 by Jeff Ferris, YARF!’s roster of contributors reads like a Who’s Who of furdom in the last decade of the 20th Century. In any issue, the zine’s readers could expect to enjoy work by the likes of Monika Livingstone, Watts Martin, Ken Pick, and Terrie Smith; furry comic strips such as Mark Stanley’s Freefall and Fred Patten’s reviews of furry books and comics.
   Unfortunately, YARF! has been thoroughly inactive since its 69th issue, which was released in September 2003. We can’t say whether YARF! will ever rise again… but at least we can prevent its reviews from falling into disremembered oblivion. And so, with the active cooperation of Mr. Patten, Anthro is proud to present Mr. Patten’s review columns—including the final one, which would have appeared in the never-printed YARF! #70.

Full disclosure: For each reviewed item, we’ve provided links you can use to check which of four different online booksellers—, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, and Powell’s Bookstore—now has it in stock. Presuming the item in question is available, if you buy it Anthro gets a small percentage of the price.

by issue
by title

YARF! logo
#23 / Mar 1993

   These novels are all sequels to novels reviewed in previous issues of Yarf!

Cover of THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, by Pournelle & Stirling
Title: The Children’s Hour
Author: Jerry Pournelle & S. M. Stirling

Baen Books (New York, NY), Nov 1991

ISBN: 0-671-72089-9

316 pages, $4.99

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   This new “novel of the Man-Kzin Wars” takes place forty-two years after the ferociously predatory tiger-like kzin conquered the human colony world of Wunderland, and began using it to launch invasion fleets against the Solar System. A commando mission is finally sent to Wunderland, to sabotage the latest kzinti fleet and, if possible, to start or support a human resistance movement against the kzin overlords. Good guys and bad guys are found on both sides. The commandos’ assassination target is a charismatic ‘noble enemy’ kzin commander who is more admirable than many of the human low-life types that the commandos have to work with.
   The Children’s Hour was first published as two separate stories in the Man-Kzin Wars anthologies, as was the previous novel reviewed in Yarf! The two halves of Cathouse were better integrated into a single novel. The Children’s Hour remains two obviously separate stories stuck together, with a completely new alien menace, the thrint, appearing unexpectedly halfway through the book to threaten both the humans and the kzin.
   Morph fans will be intrigued by the portrait of the kzin sociology, and how the kzin rulers on Wunderland interact with their conquered human servants. The giant felinoid warriors were originally described by Larry Niven as so touchy, proud, and viciously argumentative that it seemed unlikely that they could work together to build an interstellar civilization. Jerry Pournelle & S. M. Stirling have developed a plausible description of how the kzin culture works. The title refers to the revelation as to how the kzin raise and train their feral young. The telepathic, mind-controlling thrint are also fascinatingly non-human, but they are not depicted in as much colorful detail.

Cover of CATAMOUNT, by Michael Peak
Title: Catamount
Author: Michael Peak

New American Library/Roc Books (New York, NY), Mar 1992

ISBN: 0-451-45141-4

282 pages, $4.99

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   Peak’s second fantasy is again set in the dry foothills around San Diego, California. Sarena, the young puma who was a supporting character in Cat House, is a major character here, but the rest of the cast is brand new.
   Catamount repeats Peak’s formula of switching between three simultaneous stories, two starring animals and one featuring humans; all of them blending animal-fantasy mythology with realistic Southwestern zoology. Sarena is a lone mountain lion wandering through the semi-arid countryside. Pumas are naturally solitary predators, but Sarena has never seen another of her species. She is now old enough to seek a mate. She gains an unlikely companion when she meets Lanakila, a bald eagle driven far from his natural territory. The two team up for their mutual advantage.
   Eight large dogs escape from a kennel where guard dogs are trained. They form a wild pack led by Grash, a German shepherd. Peak gives a sympathetic picture of the potentially dangerous but bewildered dogs trying to live off the land. But there is not enough game for them and the better-adapted coyotes. It appears as though the dogs are either headed for a tragically fatal confrontation with Sarena and Lanakila, or they will be forced to raid suburban back yards and eat pet dogs and cats, which is sure to bring the police and their eventual extermination. Peak keeps the reader guessing whether this fate can be avoided.
   Laura Kay is a reporter for the San Diego Union who covers a report that the California Department of Fish and Game is about to issue 250 permits for trophy-hunting of mountain lions, and that animal-rights activists plan to disrupt the Department’s meeting. She also gets involved with the story of the feral dog pack terrorizing the foothill suburbs, and she learns that Fish & Game is also after some ruthless poachers. As she investigates these stories, she becomes romantically involved with Keith Gallatin, a rock-star environmental activist who has a more-than-natural rapport with animals. Peak makes a pretense at presenting the environmental issue sympathetically but objectively. But it’s clear that the worst of the animal-lovers are merely embarrassingly overenthusiastic but harmless, while the pro-hunters and NRA activists all come across as gun-nut sadists who just love to blow away innocent wildlife and endangered species.
   Catamount is simplistic as propaganda, and Peak resorts too often to dei ex machina to get his protagonists out of the desperate situations into which he casts them. But there are some interesting anthropomorphic characters, even among the villainous coyotes.

YARF! logo
#24 / May 1993

   These are more sequels to novels reviewed in past issues of Yarf!

Cover of MARIEL OF REDWALL, by Brian Jacques
Title: Mariel of Redwall
Author: Brian Jacques
Illustrator: Gary Chalk

Hutchinson Children’s Books (London, UK), Oct 1991

ISBN: 0-09-176405-X

387 pages, £12.99

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   This fourth Redwall novel also follows its author’s formula. We learn that Redwall, the forest abbey where all animals live in peace, is near the seacoast. Mariel, a tomboyish young mousemaid, is brought to Redwall for healing after she has escaped from Gabool the Wild, the dread Lord of Terramort Island, King of the Searats, Warlord of all Rodent Corsairs, Captain of Captains (pg. 5). Gabool’s pirates captured her father’s ship and killed or tortured everyone, and Mariel is determined to return to Terramort and slay Gabool in revenge. Meanwhile, Gabool is going mad and has begun to kill his own officers, whom he suspects of plotting against him. Greypatch, captain of the Darkqueen, decides to desert with his rat-crew, give up the sea, capture Redwall, and live as robber barons with the peaceful animals as their slaves.
   Once again the novel splits into two parallel adventures, one involving a heroic quest and the other set at Redwall. Mariel is joined by the handsome mouse warrior Dandin, the witty rabbit troubador Tarquin, and the stolid young hedgehog Durry Quill. They have numerous near-fatal escapades with quicksand bogs, treacherous toads, a giant lobster, and similar dangers as they decipher the cryptic map that shows the way to Terramort. Meanwhile, Greypatch’s scurvy gang is a laughable menace when compared to the evil armies that besieged Redwall in the earlier novels, but it is now many generations after the days of Martin the Warrior. The current inhabitants of Redwall are totally unfamiliar with having to defend themselves. Abbot Bernard quickly bars the strong walls against the swaggering rats, but how long can the naïve animal peasants and children stand against the sadists who know all the tricks of dirty warfare?
   Mariel of Redwall stands on its own better than the third novel did, and it is a good one with which to start the series. But it does have a couple of annoying aspects. Nobody expects the villains to win, but the ghost of Martin the Warrior keeps appearing so often to help the heroes that there is virtually no suspense. And you need a thick dictionary of British dialects to follow the dialogue, what with the “Harr, shiver me timbers, matey” speech of the searats, the “I say, old chap, wot ho, pip pip, wot bally rot” of the rabbits, and the “Hurr aye, doant ‘ee worrit, owd lad” of the moles and hedgehogs.

Cover of K-9 CORPS: CRY WOLF, by Kenneth Von Gunden
Title: K-9 Corps: Cry Wolf
Author: Kenneth Von Gunden

Ace Books (New York, NY), Feb 1992

ISBN: 0-441-42495-3

250 pages, $3.99

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   K-9 Corps III reads as though it were written by Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame. It opens with space scout Ray Larkin, his human partner Ake Ringgren, and their talking bioengineered scout dog team buying a fancy luxury space yacht with the treasure they found in the second novel. They are just blasting off to return to Earth when they are attacked by a government battle cruiser and five single-pilot fighters, with all atomic cannon and lasers blazing! Oh, no! So there’s this spectacular space battle with the spaceships zipping and zooming around each other, shooting rays and missiles and space torpedoes; and of course the troopers’ shots all miss while our heroes’ shots are all dead hits. Better yet, the space yacht turns out to have anthropomorphic weapons! Its robot missiles and torpedoes must’ve been programmed by a fan of centuries-old Earth movies like Dr. Strangelove and Dark Star. They spout lines like, “I am proud to report that I am fully operational and prepared to execute my instructions,” and, “Open wide, Mama, this cowboy’s home from the range!” as they home in on the Federation’s fighters. (Don’t ask if there’s any reason for this battle; just lookit how exciting it is!)
   That’s in the first two chapters. The story goes downhill from there, after they arrive back on Earth and immediately have to fight all the military warlords and the killer punk biker gangs and the crime bosses who rule the cities, and the giant crocodiles and slavering bears in the sewers under the ruins of New York City, and the carnivorous multi-trunked elephant-squid, and the…
   And the scout dogs still talk funny. Somehow their “We love you, Ray! You our Man! We die for you!” dialogue isn’t as endearing as it was in the first novel. It’s gotten old; it’s a schtick that’s worn out and needs to be replaced by something fresh. An endless succession of battles with increasingly exaggerated menaces isn’t it.

YARF! logo
#25 / Jul 1993

Cover of THE LAST RESORT, by Kenneth Von Gunden
Title: K-9 Corps: The Last Resort
Author: Kenneth Von Gunden

Ace Books New York, NY), Jan 1993

ISBN: 0-441-42496-1

252 pages, $4.99

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   This fourth volume in the K-9 Corps series is the best so far. It’s still nonstop action with little depth, but the drama flows more smoothly and plausibly.
   Ray Larkin, Ake Ringgren, and their team of genetically enhanced talking scout dogs are wandering through 24(?)th-century galactic civilization, which is reeling after the interstellar civil war that led to the fall of the corrupt Terran Federation. The Last Resort begins with the team accidentally saving the life of one of the galaxy’s richest businessmen. In gratitude, he offers to take them as guests to Neverland, the most luxurious, adventurous, exclusive, and expensive resort planet imaginable, which he owns. Can you say Westworld and Jurassic Park, boys and girls? It’s obvious to the experienced team that something is wrong on Neverland even before they land. However, they assume it’s just some minor larcenous enterprise of dishonest employees, which they can easily expose. But it turns out to be much more deadly than that. Soon Our Heroes are fleeing from a planetful of robotic war machines, scientifically resurrected carnosaurs, licensed-to-kill secret agents, and take-no-prisoners commando teams, all out to exterminate them before they can escape offplanet to reveal what they have learned. (But no ninjas. How did he miss throwing in ninjas?)
   Seriously, the progression of the mystery from light-hearted detective work to Oh shit, we’re in real trouble! discovery is nicely handled. The action is choreographed less implausibly than in the third novel, so that it seems like a handful of Good Guys really might stand off a planetful of professional killers.
   More importantly, the dogs—Beowulf, Frodo, Mama-san, and the rest—have an improved role. In the first three novels, they seem to do little more than hero-worship their human ‘pack leaders’ and blindly obey orders. In The Last Resort, they seem more confident. The humans and dogs talk more as social equals, with the dogs joining in the macho good-buddy joshing between Ray and Ake. This gives them a stronger and more likeable personality, and better presents them as individuals rather than interchangeable extras. Also, their bizarro-speech is downplayed, so that it seems more like a colorful accent than an indication of a lack of education or an inferior status. These are encouraging developments. Let’s hope that Von Gunden continues to expand on them.

2007 Note: He didn’t. This was the final K-9 Corps novel. The series was discontinued just when it was starting to get good.

Title: The Nine Lives of Catseye Gomez
Author: Simon Hawke

Warner Books/Questar (New York, NY), Oct 1992

ISBN: 0-446-36241-7

216 pages, $4.99

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   Simon Hawke likes to surprise his readers. This novel is a spin-off of his six-volume Wizard of… series, which began with The Wizard of 4th Street in 1987 and may have ended with The Wizard of Santa Fe in 1991. It is set in the 23rd century, which looks like today’s world except that magic has replaced technology. In the first novel, a group of sorcerous vigilantes comes together to battle a cult of foul necromancers who prey on humanity. The necromancers scatter, and the good wizards have to track them down individually in London, Hollywood, Paris, et cetera. In The Wizard of Santa Fe, they seemingly kill the final necromancer, although there are still some loose ends. One item that did not appear to be a loose end was the appearance of a tough alley cat with magically enhanced human intelligence and speech, who helps the wizards. Catseye Gomez was a colorful character, but his role was not large enough to make the novel stand out as ’morph fiction.
   Now Gomez is back, starring in a novel of his own. He’s wandered from Santa Fe to Denver, where he immediately gets involved in a mundane murder mystery. Because Gomez is a Mickey Spillaine fan. It seems that 20th-century popular literature is still big in the 23rd century, and Gomez’s hero is Mike Hammer, the tough-guy private eye. So he’s not about to stay uninvolved when an investigative reporter is murdered—a reporter who owns a sexy calico cat whom Gomez is interested in.
   Gomez and Princess are by no means the only talking animals in the novel. The 23rd century is full of intelligent dogs, horses, and other pets magically enhanced for rich owners. (Also unicorns and some grotesquely ‘cute’ fantasy hybrids that shouldn’t have been tried.) But the intelligent animals are now demanding civil rights. New social problems are being created. Can a pet bring suit against an abusive owner? If an owner tires of an intelligent pet and throws it out, what should happen to it? You can’t just put an intelligent animal to sleep at the local pound (well, you legally still can, but not even the most callous bureaucrat would dare order that), and the city can’t feed them indefinitely. Can you even lock up or neuter an intelligent animal against its will? The reporter was investigating the newly-formed Equal Rights for Animals (ERA) movement, which is trying to get a bill onto the Colorado ballot in the next state elections, when she was car-bombed. Is someone involved with the movement guilty? Or did the reporter have other enemies who are trying to use the ERA as a scapegoat? The police are investigating, but no PI worth his trench coat would leave a case like this to the bulls, especially when an alley cat can go places and snoop where no human can.
   The Nine Lives of Catseye Gomez is more than a regular murder mystery with a talking-cat investigator. The ERA angle gives it a much wider ’morph connection. The background depicts how human urban society is being modified by the presence of intelligent, but not otherwise anthropomorphized, animals in its midst. For example, many of the animals are cynical over the fact that, whether they win legal rights or not, they’ll always be dependent upon humans’ goodwill for their homes and meals, since animals without hands can’t do much for themselves. Gomez is one of the few talking animals who is willing to revert to ‘wild’ nature to preserve his independence, eating garbage from trash cans and killing mice to devour them raw, instead of getting nauseated by anything cruder than packaged pet food.
   However, Hawke does have a writing problem that makes the novel hard to start. He always begins each story in a series with a summary of what has gone before. Since Catseye Gomez is the seventh set in his magical 23rd century, the book opens with a tremendous expository lump. The plot doesn’t really start to move until page 36. Stick it out, because it’s worthwhile reading after that point.

YARF! logo
#26 / Sep 1993

Cover of SON OF SPELLSINGER, by Alan Dean Foster
Title: Son of Spellsinger
Author: Alan Dean Foster

Warner Books/Questar (New York, NY), Apr 1993

ISBN: 0-446-36257-3

376 pages, $5.50

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   Fans of Foster’s Spellsinger series can rejoice! Six years after The Time of the Transference, which Foster had said would be the final Spellsinger story because he had used up the plot potentials of that funny-animal world, a seventh novel has finally appeared.
   (Curiously, the advance publicity for this novel, including photographs of its cover in ads just before its release, clearly showed the title as Son of a Spellsinger. Did somebody at Warner Books decide at the last minute that the obvious allusion was too risqué?)
   The first six Spellsinger novels related the adventures of Jon-Tom Merriweather, a young human wanna-be rock singer who was magically transported into a world shared by humans and talking, clothes-wearing funny animals. Because music has magic powers, Jon-Tom was drafted as the reluctant aide to Clothahump, the turtle wizard, who sent him to combat various menaces that threatened to destroy or enslave this whole world. Jon-Tom made several friends (notably Mudge, the rascally otter) and formed attachments (notably Talea, a human girl). In what was originally the final novel, he decided to remain in this world instead of returning home.
   Since The Time of the Transference was intended to be the last story, Foster wrapped up all the loose ends and closed it with a happily ever after finale. To keep from reneging on this, Son of Spellsinger takes place eighteen years later, and it stars the children of Jon-Tom and Talea, and of Mudge and his wife. Jon-Tom’s son Buncan, and Mudge’s son and daughter Squill and Neena, are restless adolescents, bored with the lazy life that their parents are content with. When a sloth merchant comes to tell about a legendary fabulous treasure to which a dying fox mercenary gave him a clue, the adults aren’t interested in leaving home to help find it. Buncan, Squill, and Neena see this as their opportunity to have an Adventure, and they sneak away to make the most of it.
   Son of Spellsinger features the same sort of picaresque wanderings as in the previous novels. The human and otter teenagers are constantly in danger as they travel from one new animal community to the next. The menaces that they encounter include a band of hound robbers, a woodchuck wizard, a mink nobleman who kidnaps and tries to ravish Neena, a tribe of murderous meerkat desert raiders, and an evil religious cult (the species is supposed to be a surprise) that is conducting unholy experiments to create new kinds of animals to be their zombie slaves. The three teens also meet new friends: Gragelouth, the sloth merchant who is slow but not stupid; Snaugenhutt, a once-mighty rhinoceros warrior who has become a drunken bum; and Viz, Snaug’s exasperated tickbird squire who has been trying to reform him.
   The novel is fun. Unfortunately, it does not quite measure up to its predecessors. The changes that Foster has made in his formula have weakened it. The earlier novels thrust Jon-Tom, Mudge, and their various companions into desperate quests to save the world. It’s true that this began to feel very stereotyped by the end, but it did give the stories a greater thrill of impending doom than the misadventures of three teen runaways just bumming around. Although the three are often in personal deadly danger, there is always the feeling that they can end their problems just by turning around and going home. Jon-Tom was a more likeable protagonist for the reader to identify with than his shallow, know-it-all, rebellious son. Squill and Neena are more frenetic versions of their otter parents; but while Mudge was often rash, he was not completely foolhardy. Finally, Foster has tried to update the musical magic by making Buncan, Squill and Neena wanna-be rap singers. The problem here may be with me rather than the novel, because I don’t pretend to like rap music, but somehow Foster’s rapping doesn’t seem as convincing as his rocking.
   However, these flaws are only minor and in comparison with the other Spellsinger books. Son of Spellsinger is still delightfully entertaining.

Cover of FORESTS OF THE NIGHT, by S. Andrew Swann
Title: Forests of the Night
Author: S. Andrew Swann

DAW Books (New York, NY), Jul 1993

ISBN: 0-88677-565-5

284 pages, $3.99

Availability: Am / BN / Al / Pw

     This is an incredibly suspenseful thriller. To oversimplify for the sake of an easy comparison, it’s like BladeRunner with the future society’s Replicants replaced by ’morphs—from the viewpoint of the ’morphs. It depicts a mid-21st-century America full of new slang, new high-tech crimes, and new world tensions, but also some very old hatreds and passions. There’s always going to be a downtrodden minority, and this time it’s the ’morphs. But is this just basic human nature, or is somebody deliberately manufacturing a suicidally explosive clash here?
   Swann (the name in the copyright statement is Steven Swiniarski) does an excellent job of presenting a future that has evolved enough to be exotic, but is still familiar enough to be comprehensible. Cryptic references seem at first to be just to build up the colorfully futuristic ambience, but they gradually connect to clarify each other and advance the plot. The clearer it is, the more ominous it becomes.

   It had been only a matter of time before Harsk got involved. He was the detective in charge of Moreytown. He had jurisdiction over anything involving moreaus, and, by extension, any product of genetic engineering. In the case of the shoot-out at Zero’s that covered the victims, the suspect, and the witness.
   A little nonhuman form left Zero’s. The moreau wore a lab coat and carried a notebook-sized computer, the display of which he was reading.
   Nohar called out, “Manny.”
   Manny—his full name was Mandvi Gujerat—looked up from the display, twitched his nose, and started across the parking lot toward Nohar and Harsk. Manny was a small guy with a thin, whiplike body. He had short, brown fur, a lean aerodynamic head, and small black eyes. People who saw Manny usually guessed he was designed from a rat, or a ferret. Both were wrong. Manny was a mongoose.
   Manny reached them and Harsk interrupted before Nohar could say anything. “Gujerat, what have you got on the bodies?”
   Manny gave Nohar an undulating shrug and looked down at his notebook. “I have a tentative species on six of seven. The three bodies outside were all a Peruvian Lepus strain. From the white fur and the characteristic skull profile I’d say Pajonal ’35 or ’36. They all have unit tattoos and some heavy scarring. Infantry, and they saw combat.”
(pgs. 18, 20)

   American ghettos are filled with ‘moreaus’, most of whom are ex-soldiers biodesigned to fight in a spate of foreign wars about twenty-five years earlier, who poured into the U.S. during peacetime until immigration of non-humans was shut off. Nohar Rajasthan is a young, American-born, cynical private investigator of tiger stock. He has played it safe by handling cheap moreau cases exclusively, and not getting involved in ‘pink’ (human) affairs. Then a mysterious client offers Nohar more money than he can afford to refuse, to look into the murder of the campaign manager of an influential Ohio Congressman, who has inexplicably brought pressure to have the police investigation shelved.
   The murder-mystery aspect of the novel is well developed. Nohar is led to increasingly dangerous complications, such as a rat street gang pushing a new, scientifically sophisticated deadly drug; and interference from both local and federal investigators who have their own rivalry, one of whom is an illegally biogenetically-altered human. But the deadliest twist of all is entirely Nohar’s own fault, because he knows that a moreau must never, never get emotionally involved with a pink woman.
   The story is well worth reading on this level alone. ’Morph fans will also appreciate all the tossed-off glimpses of what this moreau society is like, such as a rabbit-owned bar named Watership Down.

   “Who’s your friend?”
   “She’s a lead from the Johnson killing.”
   Sometimes pinks weren’t quick on the uptake when it came to morey gender. Nohar supposed it had to do with the lack of prominent breasts.
(pg. 134)

   If there are any essential novels for a ’morph fan’s library, Forests of the Night is one of them.

YARF! logo
#27 / Nov 1993

Cover of DINOTOPIA, by James Gurney
Title: Dinotopia; A Land Apart from Time
Author: James Gurney
Illustrator: The author

Turner Publishing (Atlanta, GA), Sep 1992

ISBN: 1-878685-23-6

159 pages, $29.95

Availability: Am / BN / Al / Pw

   Artist James Gurney is well known in the SF field for his cover paintings to SF and fantasy paperback novels. He is also known to the readers of National Geographic Magazine for his artistic recreations of lost civilizations. Now he has combined both his specialties in a tour de force which is deservedly a national best-seller. Dinotopia evokes the 19th-century literary wonder of Vernean SF, illuminated with the artistic splendor of a Doré or a Rackham.
   Dinotopia is written as the travel diary of Professor Arthur Denison, a Victorian-era explorer who is shipwrecked with his young son Will on a large unknown island. They find a civilization of humans and dinosaurs living in harmony. Since this is a fictional travel diary, the emphasis is less on story or action than on Prof. Denison’s scholarly notes and sketches. There are full-color paintings on virtually every page, including numerous double-page panoramas of Dinotopia’s forests, cities, and street scenes.
   Some among the general public may superficially consider Dinotopia little more than a variant of Alley Oop or The Flintstones, with better art. ’Morph fans should be aware of the significant difference that this is not a land of humans with domesticated dinosaurs, but a society in which humans and intelligent dinosaurs live as equal partners. There is apparently some debate as to whether Dinotopia should be considered anthropomorphic, because the dinosaurs are not designed as funny animals. There are degrees of anthropomorphism. Suppose that you were developing a world in which most* mammals were equally intelligent and willing to live and work together; humans, horses, dogs, elephants, deer, pgs, etc—but were not otherwise any more anthropomorphized than they are in reality. How would you design a common language for so many different mouth forms and vocal chords? What would a written alphabet look like that must be used by many species with hooves or paws but no hands? What would houses, public buildings, furnishings, or sanitary facilities look like for so many different body types? This is certainly a scenario that should interest Yarf!’s readers.
   Gurney’s human-dinosaur civilization is richly and intriguingly depicted, eve if its practicality seems idealistically utopian. Denison’s diary runs from November 1862 until, apparently, late 1866. It covers four years’ worth of touring the small continent’s forests, farms, cities, schools, government buildings, industries, health facilities, transportation and communication networks, cultural events, and so forth; but there is not one word about the less pleasant social services—police, courts, prisons, armies. Can everyone among all the species, even the intelligent Tyrannosaurii, be so reasonable and good-natured? There is not even a fire-fighting agency mentioned, despite one city, Volcaneum, being located next to an apparently active volcano; and another, Treetown, being totally constructed of wood.
   Although this is a pseudo-scientific journal, there are some personalities in it. Prof. Denison is happily willing to spend years compiling his notes, which he vaguely expects to eventually bring back to Boston’s learned societies. Will, twelve years old when they are shipwrecked, is growing up to become a Dinotopian. A romance develops between him and Sylvia, a teen-aged human native; and he dreams of becoming a Skybax rider, one of the elite couriers who fly upon pterosaur partners between the island’s cities. The first person whom the Denisons meet is a young female Protoceratops, Bix, “one of the few dinosaurs who can ‘speak’ human languages.” (That is, one of the few saurians whose vocal chords can produce human speech. The humans and dinosaurs have become accustomed to each other’s languages, and Bix helps the Denisons to comprehend the meanings within the reptilian grunts and squeaks.) Bix becomes the Denisons’ friend and personal guide. Most other individuals, human or saurian, are met only in passing, such as “a distinguished Stenonychosaurus named Malik, the timekeeper for all of Dinotopia.”
   Dinotopia describes the Victorian present of this fabulous land. A sequel, The World Beneath, scheduled for fall 1995 publication, will present Prof. Denison’s findings in the island’s subterranean caverns, which (it is hinted) contain the secrets of man’s prehistoric arrival upon Dinotopia and the development of this unique civilization. Gurney’s imaginative tale may not be standard funny-animal fiction, but it is definitely of interest to intelligent fans of anthropomorphics.

* Only ‘most’, not all, since there should conveniently be some dumb animals for the carnivores to feed upon without disturbing their intelligent neighbors.

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