by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Koa of the Drowned Kingdom is the tenth of FurPlanet’s “cupcakes”; novellas instead of novels. It seems at one point to be a variant of the Cinderella legend, but that’s misleading.
The setting can be taken variously as another world, as completely imaginary with funny animals, or somewhere in Melanesia in the far future. It’s a civilization of giant mangrove trees rising out of the Southern Sea, inhabited by anthropomorphic fruit bats (flying foxes), otters, wallabies, and monitor lizards. (No other Melanesian fauna like rhinoceroses or monkeys, though.) Their money is the rupiah, the real life currency of Indonesia. Magic is real, though officially only practiced by the bats.
The society is developed in rich detail. Each mangrove tree is a huge separate Kingdom with homes and shops upon its branches, with the trees all locked together by rope bridges and boat travel at the bottom. Each giant tree is divided into habitats ranging from the Crown at the top, down through the Head, the Shoulders, the Belly, the Knees, and the Toes at the bottom which are the mangrove’s roots rising above and sinking beneath the ocean. The trees’ branches are Arms. The habitats are also divided socially, with the Crown inhabited by the flying fox aristocracy who set great prestige on their ability to fly, down through the Shoulders relegated to the upper classes, the Belly to the merchants, and the Knees to the lowest class, the otters who are fishermen. Nobody lives on the Toes, which dip into and out of the ocean. Different Kingdoms are the Kingdom of Titan, the largest tree; the Kingdom of Beards, whose branches are covered in beardlike moss; the Kingdom of the Great Drinker, a bulbous hollow mangrove with a large pool of drinkable water collected from rain and dew in its belly; and others – including the Drowned Kingdom, Atlas, once the mightiest of all until it was uprooted by the Great Storm and toppled beneath the Southern Sea. Kingdom can also refer to the social strata, with the Crown as the elite of the Upper Kingdoms and the Knees as the least desirable of the Lower Kingdoms. The division is not just social; the flying foxes use magic to keep other animals out of the Crown and Head Kingdoms. Read the rest of this entry »