by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
The Pride of Parahumans, by Joel Kreissman
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, December 2016, trade paperback $11.99 (161 pages), Kindle $2.99.
The Pride of Parahumans starts with a small, cramped prospecting spaceship in the Asteroid Belt in the late 2100s or early 2200s, crewed by four parahumans (bioengineered anthro animals); Argentum, the black fox mineral analyst (and narrator); Cole, the raven pilot, Denal, the red panda mechanic, and Aniya, a human-wolf-possum mix taur rescue/medic. They’re exploring asteroids, looking for a big strike. They may have just discovered one when they’re attacked by an unknown pirate spaceship. They shoot back and destroy it, killing its one-parahuman crew.
Unfortunately, they (and probably the pirate) are from the Ceres Directorate, the major Asteroid Belt and parahuman government. And the Ceres Directorate has a draconian law against killing. Self-defense is no excuse. Anyone (and in this case the whole crew) who kills has all assets seized and is sentenced to fifty years at hard labor. They agree to keep everything secret and return to Ceres.
“Naturally, we got the first indication that things on Ceres were about to go wrong just as we were leaving the cavern.” (p. 24)
The Pride of Parahumans begins as an okay space opera, full of action and suspense. Unfortunately, it seems very similar to Kismet by Watts Martin, which is also about an anthro space pilot involved in action and suspense in an asteroid belt full of furry characters and space governments, published at almost the same time. And Kismet is MUCH better written.
There are differences. Argentum is a bioengineered experiment, designed to be without genitals and androgynous. (The pronoun zie is used.) The other furries have genitals but they were made sterile (they reproduce by cloning), so they can indulge in lots of sex without worrying about getting pregnant. (Argen qveches that zie’s missing out on the fun.) The Asteroid Belt governments are more chaotic and dictatorial – they all seem like wretched hives of scum and villainy — which increases the suspense, but are less logical.