Sunday, May 17, 2015

Part of Your World

The Ursa Major Awards have been officially decided! I won’t list the full awards here, but you can certainly head over to the Ursa Major Awards website to read them for yourself. 

However, I will list the winners of some of the fiction categories:

Best Anthropomorphic Novel

Winner - Off the Beaten Path by Rukis

Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction

Winner – When a Cat Loves a Dog by Mary E. Lowd

Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work

Winner – Blacksad: Amarillo by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

It’s my hope to read every one of these stories so that we can truly celebrate the fiction that the community of genre fans has decided upon as the best. I’d like to share them all with you as well, though I am wary of doing so with Off the Beaten Path as that book is officially rated as NC-17 for violence and sexual content. I would like to keep this blog as clean and approachable as I can for readers of all ages.

If you readers have any strong opinions on that matter, please share them!

On another note of thought, I’ve been musing about a common problem in anthropomorphic media, and science fiction media as a whole: The ‘rebranding’ of the planet Earth.

I love that the 'twist' of this movie is in the title.

I say ‘problem’, but really I suppose one could call it a trope of the genre. Usually, when one has a world filled with creatures that are unfamiliar to human beings, it’s tough to get away with calling the planet Earth. However, for writers, it’s rather hard to escape the pull of our own planet. After all, we understand most of the nitty-gritty details for how our planet works and what is required to build life as we know it. Most planets that stories take place on have oxygen and water, a cycle of seasons and weather, at least one moon, one sun, and normal-ish gravity. Some writers will certainly add moons and suns or create terribly inhospitable weather on their planets, but I think I’ve yet to see a book where the home planet is a gas giant. Really, most planets that are presented as alien worlds in science fiction stories are still fairly easy for us to relate to from an Earth perspective.

For anthropomorphic novels, though, this concept tends to get a bit grayer. The obvious alien element already exists: walking and talking animals. So it doesn’t take much convincing to make the reader think they’re some place other than the planet Earth. However, it is a frequent habit of anthropomorphic stories to still take place on Earth… and yet not call it Earth at all.

This usually takes one of two forms: The first is where animals basically are filling in for human beings without much concern for how it was biologically possible (Mr. Toad drives a car around England? Eh, why not?) The second is where animals have evolved either in place of humans or after the fall of humanity. I’ve seen at least a couple of stories where one of the big twists is that, despite all the strange species the reader sees walking around in the world, we’re still on planet Earth! It’s just several thousand years into the future after the nuclear fallout/trip to mars/summoning of Cthulhu/etc.

Mr. Toad and Winston Churchill live in the same universe?
We now need a story where they team up!

So, really, what would be preferred? Is it better or more fun to truly be in a different world altogether, or does having the story take place in a version of Earth help us to identify with the characters and situations better? Most good anthropomorphic stories involve, at their heart, a theme of what it truly means to be a person, if not simply a human being. Maybe one of the results of that is our necessary tie to the planet that we come from.

What do you readers think? What sorts of worlds do you prefer being presented to you, and what are some of your favorites?

Oddly enough, I've been working on other projects and drawing things aside
from your friendly neighborhood blue raccoon.
For instance, drawing beavers without a reference!
Doesn't tie into the theme, but eh. They rebuild the world every day.

Until next time, happy reading, all!


Currently Reading:

The Forges of Dawn by E.M. Kinsey

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