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Author Topic: Furries in classical literature  (Read 3266 times)
tempest
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« on: February 19, 2010, 11:07:16 PM »

Today an old story I read as years ago crossed my mind. It's one of rare antropomorphic stories written by a classical author Ivo Andric (also a nobel prize winner). I managed to find an English translation few weeks ago and I thought here could be a nice place to post a pointer.

Story's about a sheep who tricks death by dancing. Of course, as with all classical literature, it has many layers and meaning, yet it's puzzling me why Andric decided to use anthromorphs instead of humans. It's not a long story, and it could be worth reading if you can spare some five minutes.  link: http://tinyurl.com/ykzmhfo

Now, if you have some extra references, pointers or recommendations (heh, something less familiar than fables or Alice in Wonderland) here's a place to post them!
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2010, 01:03:07 AM »

Just...wow

by any chance, do you know when this was written?
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2010, 02:10:13 AM »

many native american tales, with coyote, hare and the like.
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2010, 02:20:54 AM »

Beautiful story. I can see why Andric is a Nobel winner.

With regards to the choice of anthro over normal, I'm guessing it's because he wanted to impart the feel of a folktale.... Folktales have this special air that kind of makes them feel different from regular stories, because of the age and the hand-me-down oral tradition and so forth. And that's not to mention the symbolism each of the animals carries. Lambs are innocent, symbolic of life; wolves are crafty and cynical, usually symbolic of death (though I would disagree). I found it interesting why the author used the older sheep to symbolize tradition/conservative thinking. Is it because sheep flock? Aska's flightiness may then have been a reference to the Christian parable of the Good Shepherd - in this case, varied either by the absence of such a Shepherd (=individuality) or the transformation of art into that Shepherd (=the saving grace of the arts).

Of course, I be reading more into this than is actually there, but isn't it fun to speculate? Wink
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2010, 06:33:10 PM »

Just...wow

by any chance, do you know when this was written?

1953.


Okay, here's another one I got. Anyone heard of David Brin? He's a great science fiction author, one of the great three B's (Brin, Benford and Bear) that brought new light to the sci-fi of eighties and nineties. A Brin's favorite topic is a so-called 'uplift' - ascension of an animal species towards sentience carried out by an already sentient race. Wikipedia and Google are your friends, and if you want to be thrown into the thick of it, read Sundiver (more hard SF) or Startide Rising (some soft SF elements). The latter's one of those novels that creep into your soul, and there are chapters that actually made me cry.

Now, what's David Brin got to do with furries? Well, for the insight, he tells a very realistic way of how the furries would work in reality or near future. It's an groundbreaking idea, when you look at it. Here's a free available story http://www.davidbrin.com/aficionado.htm. Now, now, I know the dolphins aren't actually furs, but hey - at least they're mammals. Wink
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2010, 02:14:09 AM »

Yes, I'm familiar with David Brin. Interestingly, some of the ideas he uses were previously explored by Cordwainer Smith. Both looked at many of the same aspects of the concept.

I also like the older novel The City by Clifford Simak, in which humans have disappeared and left the world to robots and talking dogs.  Cheesy
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2010, 08:55:47 AM »

Hey, thanks for pointing it out! I've got a translation of The City in my library, gathering dust at the end of a long checklist. I always wondered why there were dogs on the front cover of a sci-fi novel. Cheesy

Unfortunately, C. Smith seems a rare critter to find both in paper or digital.

Here's another one: Arthur Clarke with Gregory Benford - Beyond the fall of night. Book's second half follows a human girl accompanied by a talking super-intelligent animal resembling a raccoon. There are some very nice concepts, like, a living colony starship.
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2010, 07:11:42 PM »

Far from an exhaustive list, but other classical science fiction with furry themes and characters would include:

H. Beam Piper, The Fuzzy Papers and associated works
C. J. Cherryh, The Pride of Chanur and sequels (five books total)
Steven R. Boyett, The Architect of Sleep and Ariel
Alan Dean Foster, Spellsinger and sequels (four books I think)
Anne McCaffrey, The Pern books, Dragonflight, Dragonquest, etc.

If we expand to include fantasy without specific science themes, the list becomes very large indeed.
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2010, 07:21:26 PM »

How could I have omitted C. S. Lewis' classic work, Out of the Silent Planet, in which linguist and philologist Arthur Ransom finds himself shanghaied into a secretive trip to Mars where he meets wise and sentient furred and feathered races much older than humanity: the Hrossa (otterlike,) the Surnibur or Sorns (flightless birds,) and the Pfifltriggi (vaguely described as froglike)?
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2010, 09:35:45 PM »

May I offer two additional authors for consideration:

James White.
All of his aliens have believable personalities that match their biological make up. Case in point the Sector General series. Dr Prilicla is a empath from an low gravity insect race, so she constantly has to tell little-white-lies to avoid feeling other's pain and will avoid other's touch because of her fragile body. The big furry DBFG caterpillars like Nurse Kelgon are brutally honest because their fur constantly shows their true emotions.

Andre Norton.
She could be considered the Queen of the animal/aliens as hero. A massively underrated Silver Age author because her work is constantly rated as Young Adult Fiction. All of her non human beings think as their biological make up would dictate. Her works are too numerous to list, but many are now turning up the open domain.

Other authors works worth a look at:
  • Cradle of the Sun by Brian Stableford - a very enjoyable `Old Dying Earth' tale that features a civilisation of rats.
  • The eariler SF works of Piers Anthony (before he went all Xanthy). Two examples are Prostho Plus -  dentist's in space, and Mute featuring a whole zoo of mutant intelligent animals.
  • And just for contrast: White Fang Goes Dingo by Thomas M. Disch where the humans are the animal/pets.
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2010, 01:51:52 AM »

redwall, classic children's series
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2010, 02:16:58 AM »

Well, yes. And if we include Brian Jacques, then also:

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Hunting of the Snark
Mary Sewell, Black Beauty
Marshall Saunders, Beautiful Joe
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Felix Salten, Bambi and Perri
Thornton W. Burgess, Mother West Wind series

and even...

Mark Twain, A Dog's Tale and A Horse's Tale
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2010, 04:30:28 AM »

I do include it, because its was a stepping stone for serious ;literature for a lot of young kids. 
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