by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
D’Arc: A Novel from the War With No Name, by Robert Repino. Illustrated by Sam Chung and Kapo Ng.
NYC, Soho Press, May 2017, hardcover $26.95 (386 pages), Kindle $14.99.
I don’t usually quote other writers’ blurbs, but how could anyone resist this from Corey Redekop, the author of Husk, on the front cover:
“Think The Fantastic Mr. Fox, with advanced weaponry, Charlotte’s Web, with armed combat, The Wind in the Willows, with machetes. D’Arc is all this and way more besides.”
S-f author Paul DiFilippo compares D’Arc to Cordwainer Smith’s Underpeople, David Brin’s Uplifted dolphins, Puss in Boots, and Brian Jacques’ Redwall. If I looked hard enough, I could doubtlessly find many comparisons to Animal Farm and Watership Down as well.
D’Arc is a sequel to Mort(e). Almost the first thing that you learn in D’Arc is a big spoiler for Mort(e): yes, Mort(e) the cat, the renamed Sebastian, does find Sheba, the pet dog who he was searching for all through that novel.
The first chapter, though, introduces Taalik and his Sarcops. They will appear again later. They are not Changed animals, but a new mutation. To quote a later description of them: “Part fish, part crab, part cephalopod. A bulbous head. Black eyes. Segmented armor on the spine, with four tentacles unfurling from within. Two jointed claws extending from the shoulders, with longer ones at the pelvis that could be used for walking. A long tail with spikes on the end of it.” (p. 54)
Mort(e) and Sheba appear in Chapter 2. Mort(e) does not join either the Changed animals or the remaining humans. He strikes out on his own – with Sheba. The “strange technology” of the ant Queen that Changed all natural animals into anthropomorphic animals in Mort(e) was actually a pill that the unnoticed ants inserted into each animal; and the Queen had not given this pill to Sheba in order to control Mort(e). After the Queen’s death and the disintegration of the Colony, Mort(e) and Sheba sail up the Delaware River, where Mort(e) gives Sheba the pill that Changes her. They continue past the abandoned ruins of Philadelphia, and finally leave the river and trek into the Pocono Mountains.