by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Children of Steel, by John Van Stry.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, February 2012, trade paperback $12.99 (350 pages), Kindle $3.99.
Interregnum, by John Van Stry.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, May 2015, trade paperback $9.99 (198 pages), Kindle $2.99.
John Van Stry first came to the notice of furry fandom with the story “Changes” in Yarf! #51, December 1997. But he began writing before that under the pen name of Banner Von Trippen, with “Waiting for Shadamehr (or Someone Like Him)” in Yarf! #49, July 1997. His serialized Dialene, beginning in Yarf! #64, April 2002, under the Von Trippen name, featured a foxmorph living in his Children of Steel universe. Since then he has been publishing through CreateSpace under his real name. Most of his stories have been published as science fiction, not furry fiction, even when they feature anthropomorphic animals.
Children of Steel is set in a familiar-to-furries future. To quote its rear cover, “Raj is just your average everyday genetically modeled and artificially created anthropomorphic worker for one of the many corporations of the future. Extensively trained and conditioned from birth he’s now indentured for the next fifty years of his life; assuming he doesn’t die first, or somehow manage to pay off his creation and training debts. Created by the corporations to deal with the harsh labor shortages of the twenty second century when humans will no longer take on the dangerous jobs Raj finds himself now in the harsh world of space exploration, trading, corporate maneuverings, and sometimes the even more dangerous fanatics that hate Raj and his fellows.”
Raj Rakir is “‘a sentient leopard-man of .7 human norm on the Rourstat scale,’” created by the Tri-Star Mining and Manufacturing corporation. He is presented “‘with your bill for creation and training by the corporation. As covered in the created species act of 2069 you must now work for above said corporation until you have either paid this bill, or completed a term of 50 years indentured servitude.’” (p. 4) The bill comes to three-plus million new dollars. Even with an expected lifespan of a hundred years – assuming he isn’t killed in one of those dangerous space jobs first – Raj can expect to spend most of his life working for Tri-Star. But he’s not worried about it.