by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Bleak Horizons, edited by Tarl “Voice” HochDallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, March 2017, trade paperback $19.95 (338 pages), e-book $9.95.
Tarl Hoch states on Amazon that he “is a Canadian writer of primarily horror, mythos and erotic fiction”, with stories of his own in several non-furry horror anthologies. Bleak Horizons is his second book for FurPlanet. His first was the 2014 Abandoned Places, a furry horror anthology. Bleak Horizons is also a horror anthology; “fifteen stories about what horrors lie waiting for those who look to the future.”
Ha! To me, the horror is that most of these fifteen are just funny-animal stories that might as well be with humans. But they are all – well, fourteen of the fifteen — good s-f technological suspense stories.
“Adrift” by Kandrel distinguishes fear, terror, and panic through Evan, an anthropomorphic cat passenger on a starship with his wife Mia and his young son Sammy. There is a disaster:
“The hall is blocked by a family of warthogs trying to drag luggage with them. Stupid, he thinks. You can’t bring luggage into the life pods. There’s no room. This isn’t a time to worry about your things. Leave them. The burly male shouts something as Evan leaps over shoulders and uses the wall to get height. With a bound, he climbs over the unfortunate’s head. A hairy fist swings wildly but misses. He spares no more thought for the warthogs. They’d probably be too slow anyway.” (pgs. 10-11)
Evan, Mia, and Sam make it to the life pod and launch into space. But something goes wrong. Evan wakes from cryosleep in the faulty made-by-the-lowest-bidder life pod while his wife and son are still frozen. Can Evan fix it, or must he watch his wife and toddler die? There are references to Mia’s long horns and muzzle before it’s revealed what she is, but obviously she’s no cat (so what is Sammy?). There’s a plot point to Evan and his wife being different species, which makes “Adrift” more than a funny-animal story.