by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Griffin Ranger. Volume 1, Crossline Plains, by Roz Gibson. Illustrated by Amy Fennell.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2015, trade paperback $19.95 (369 pages).
Roz Gibson is better known as an artist than a text author, but she won the Ursa Major Award for Best Short Fiction of 2013 for her novelette “The Monkeytown Raid”. Now with the first volume of her first novel, she shows that she is an excellent text author for longer works as well.
Griffin Ranger is set in a totally alien alternate universe. The land masses are the same as on our Earth, but the life forms and civilization that have evolved are dominated by birds. (The reader will have fun identifying both geographical features such as the Twin Continents, the Alpha River, the Five Lakes, and the Endless Ocean, and the cities and towns like Defiance, Flatlands City, and Foggy Bay. Griffin Ranger’s publication was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, whose donors got a large color map of this alternate Earth. It would have been very helpful to readers if this map had been included as an illustration in the book, even in reduced black-&-white.) Since birds don’t have hands, the main intelligent landbound mammals are the raccoon/lemur-like “hanz” that are their symbiotic partners, and two species of canines: the wild wolfen, and the more domestic herders that have evolved from them. This Earth’s civilization is dominated by the griffins, who are the principal inhabitants of what the reader will recognize as the Americas, Europe, and Asia. But in the last few hundred years the greenies, an aggressive bird species, have erupted from the Emerald Isles (New Zealand) to spread over the world. The griffins of the Northern Continent have allowed the greenies’ partial settlement there under strict supervision, but there are suspicions that the greenies are preparing to take over totally.