by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Companions, by Sheri S. Tepper.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Eos, September 2003, hardcover $25.95 ([vi +] 452 pages), Kindle $9.99.
In the far, far future, the galaxy is being explored and colonized, and Earth is incredibly overpopulated. The Worldkeeper Council government, supported by the humans-only IGI-HFO political majority, declares that all animals (only pet dogs, cats, and small cage birds are left by this time) are to be exterminated because they take up too much room and use up too much air. The tiny underground movement that wants to keep the animals alive, called arkists because they have accumulated spaceships to use as arks to evacuate the remaining animals from Earth, decide to take them to Treasure, the moon of a newly-discovered and poorly-explored world covered in moss, where they can be hidden in safety. Jewel Delis, the narrator, is an arkist who goes from overcrowded Earth to care for the “companions” of humans, especially the dogs.
The Companions contains dialogue, but mostly Tepper writes in long, blocky narrative paragraphs:
“Earth scared me at first. The towers were huge, each a mile square and more than two hundred stories high. Podways ran along every tenth floor, north on the east side of each tower and south on the west side. Up one level, they went west on the north side and east on the south side. They stopped at the pod lobbies on each corner, so when you were on one, it went woahmp-clatter, rhmmm, woahmp-clatter, whoosh. That’s a pod-lobby stop, a slow trip across the street, another pod-lobby stop, then a mile long whoosh, very fast. The pod-lobbies were full of people, too, and that’s the clatter part, the scary part. Taddeus and I saw more people in one pod-lobby than we’d ever seen together anywhere on Mars, and many of them were dressed in fight colors: Tower 59 against Tower 58, Sector 12 against Sector 13, all of them pushing and shoving and tripping over each other. Often they got into fights or screaming fits. It took us a while to figure out how to dodge them and keep out of their way, but when we got good at it, it turned into a kind of game, and we rode the podways for fun. It was a lot safer than it sounds, because there are so many monitors on the pods that people are afraid to do anything really wicked unless they’re over the edge. Tad and I thought part of the fun was spotting people that were about to go over the edge. We could almost always tell.” (p. 18)