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Tag: bats

Rats, Bats & Vats / The Rats, the Bats, & the Ugly – book reviews by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten

Fred writes: a few reviews of furry books that I wrote in 2003 or 2004 have vanished from the Internet.  I wrote them for the first version of Watts Martin’s Claw & Quill site, which he has apparently taken down. Here they are back online.

510BY7EKV5L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Rats, Bats & Vats, by Dave Freer & Eric Flint. Maps by Randy Asplund.
Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, September 2000, hardcover $23.00 (388 pages), Kindle $6.99; September 2001, paperback $7.99 (448 pages).

The Rats, the Bats, & the Ugly, by Eric Flint & Dave Freer. Maps by Randy Asplund.
Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, September 2004, hardcover $24.00 (391 pages), Kindle $6.99.

I had intended to review just the latter “sequel”. But it is such a close continuation of the former that to read RBU alone is like starting an 800-page novel in the middle. The introductory synopsis is adequate, but it is much more enjoyable to read the whole story.

Harmony and Reason is a colony planet founded on utopian ideals, which has evolved into a split between an elite upper class of founding Shareholders and an oppressed labor class of cloned “Vats”. Unknown aliens, the sea-urchinlike Korozhet, come to HAR to warn that it is about to be conquered by still other aliens, the brutal insectlike Magh’ empire. But the friendly Korozhet will share their superior technology with the humans to help them defend themselves. Among this technology are soft-cyber implants (brain chips) to increase the intelligence of animals. The two species of animal soldiers that HAR bioengineers are bats, for flying explosive devices into Magh’ camps, and “rats” (actually a bioengineered cross between rats and elephant shrews) which make fanatically vicious commandos.

It does not take long for the front-line troops to realize that the Korozhet are not the benevolent saviors they claim to be. They have engineered the Magh’ invasion to whittle down HAR’s defenses so they can safely conquer it for themselves. The creation of the bats and rats is to develop new cyber-controlled slave species. But by then, the Korozhet have gained psychological control over the incompetent Military High Command. To complicate matters, neither the Korozhet nor most humans realize that the bats and rats are more than just computer-guided cannon fodder. They are truly intelligent and are each planning their own revolt.

This may sound dramatic, but the two-volume novel is mostly a military-political s-f comedy. Much action revolves around the evasions that the front-line troops use to get around the stupidly suicidal orders from the pompous High Command so they can effectively battle the Magh’.

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Koa of the Drowned Kingdom, by Ryan Campbell – Book Review By Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

koa the drowned kingdomKoa of the Drowned Kingdom, by Ryan Campbell. Illustrated by Cooner.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, September 2015, trade paperback $9.95 (146 pages), electronic edition $6.99.

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 »