by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Reborn, by J. F. R. Coates
Capalaba, Qld., Australia,, Jaffa Books, October 2016, paperback, $15.00 (271 pages), Kindle $4.26.
“‘Jesus fucking Christ, I have a tail.’” (p. 49)
You can tell from that sentence that the speaker is not a furry fan. It’s Captain Rhys Griffiths, a rising naval officer of the Terran Interplanetary Empire; soon to be promoted to one of the youngest Admirals of the TIE. Or he was, until a transporter accident puts his mind into the body of a lowly, giggly starat.
The starats are described earlier in Reborn:
“Rhys glanced back to find the reason for his [Cardinal Erik’s] reaction; one of the starats was approaching. Starats were a breed of artificial creatures, created in a laboratory over two hundred and fifty years ago. They were still the pinnacle of genetic engineering. Pressure from the Vatican had led to all genetic research laboratories closed down shortly after the creation of the starats. They had been created from a concoction of many different animals’ DNA, so many that even their creators had lost track. The result had been a short, furry humanoid of reasonable intelligence and capable of speech, mostly resembling a stoat or weasel. They had been bred to be subservient and weak-willed. As a consequence they were perfect at what they had been designed for: namely to serve humans in whatever way they could.” (p. 16)
Rhys spends a couple of weeks wallowing in drunken self-pity at his transformation before coming out of his funk:
“Neglecting to take a glass, Rhys chose to drink straight from the bottle instead, but he failed to take into account the design of his new mouth. Crimson liquid poured from the side of his muzzle, spilling on to his cheeks and shoulders, staining his overalls red. Suppressing an irate growl, Rhys tried again with greater care, taking just a small swig from the neck of the bottle. Still the wine wetted the fur on his cheeks, but more of it reached the back of his throat.” (pgs. 56-57)
He finds, needless to say, that the starats are much more intelligent than anyone in the TIE has realized. Once he accepts that he is now a starat –
“His humanity was fading away to nothing. Was there anything left of Captain Rhys Griffiths, the human? Did he even care anymore? For sure, there were times he wished he didn’t have to put up with the revolting discrimination starats faced, but were he offered the opportunity to become human once more, he was no longer convinced he would take it.” (p. 207)
– he leads them in their fight for equality in the Empire.