17 September 2011

Animalians, Vegetalians, Minerinvasivans - Non-humans who people fiction & other arts

At next week's Conflux conference that I mentioned (so I could pick your brain about a banquet for overspace guests—and your advice, menus, and reading recommendations) here, there is yet another panel that I'd like to get your input on, whether you are human or not.

Animalians, Vegetalians, Minerinvasivans—Non-humans who people fiction & other arts
A discriminatory exploration of non-humans in fiction (humanoids will be shunned, even if they threaten to bite and are called 'The Doctor'). Many non-humans have been the good bones, uh, flesh and, uh – living substance – of a great story. Who are they? And in our age when few humans interact with other species willingly, are real non-humans (with complex personalities) endangered? Panelists: Marilyn Pride and Anna Tambour. Participation from the floor will not only be encouraged, but if everyone sits like inanimate objects, they should expect to be stimulated by the odd non-human animal and tendril.

What do you think? What would you recommend?

Starting the discussion with a list of 5 great stories—creepy, haunting, fun, outrageous, and all published recently —

Explanations are Clear by L. Timmel Duchamp (in Never at Home)

Fjaerland by Rudy Rucker and Paul Di Filippo (in Flurb #12)

The Bird, the Bees, and Thylacine by Thoraiya Dyer in the Andromeda Spaceways #51)

Leng by Marc Laidlaw (in Lovecraft Unbound)

Fossil by Angelo R. Lacuesta (in A Time for Dragons)


JP said...


JP said...

Tarka The Otter?

(I am trying to avoid anthropomorphised animals. But Angela Carter's Puss In Boots deserves a mention?)

JP said...

Asmodeus, the black cat in Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. A naturalistic and significant feline character. Household was generally good with animal characters.

There's this one tree in Kate Wilhelm's 'Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang'. Oh and in Dhalgren.

anna tambour said...

Wonderful additions all. Thank you! Keep 'em coming.

Jeff said...

"They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson. It's a gimmicky but fun little SF story in his collection Bears Discover Fire. (The title story, it occurs to me now, may fit the bill here too.)

If I remember correctly, Cliff Simak's City, a collection of stories turned into a novel, considers the fate of humans from the perspectives of (along others, I think?) dogs, ants, and a robot.

anna tambour said...

These are perfect. Your mentioning that "Bears Discover Fire" is in his collection is a good opportunity to remind people that it is still in print.

And Simak! One of my favourite authors, but I almost never heard of him. He was as unique as Lafferty, but his stories miss the classics lists and anthos. I've got his collection, The Civilisation Game, which is out of print, but widely copied. Have you read it? The last story in it, "The Big Front Yard", is indelible, not least because of Towser, the dog. Is it time for a Simak revival? Thank you for talking about City. I didn't know about it. Happily, it's in print.

Please suggest more. You're far more widely read than I am. I only found out about Simak a couple of years ago when my local library was selling its vintage copy of The Civilisation Game for 20 cents--I didn't expect anything readable, with that irresistibly cheesy cover. The stories were a complete surprise. So whoever chose that cover which was only accidentally camp, is, I hope, in Hell, bloating out on spaghetti with hairballs.

Jeff said...

Nope, I've not read widely in Simak, but City was a revelation when I read it two years ago. Even though his descriptions of technology were dated, the book still felt fresh--weirdly fresh. (Although there is such a thing as weak Simak; Why Call Them Back From Heaven? does not live up to its evocative title.)

I'll bet Lafferty has stories that focus on non-humanoid-ish beings, but I'd have to go back through my anthologies and collections to confirm that.

(And I feel like there must be several more examples floating just beyond the boundaries of my brain...)

anna tambour said...

I look forward to the reports from your explorations.

Jeff said...

Came across two more for you! "Beyond Lies the Wub" and "Not by Its Cover," both of them short stories by Philip K. Dick.

Anonymous said...

A YEAR NEAR PROXIMA CENTAURI - set on a planet, in tone a bit like Southern France, on which every living thing is delicious - gigantic meals, served in wheelbarrows, garnished with dead flies...

Adam B

anna tambour said...

Sorry to be late responding, Jeff. "Beyond Lies the Wub". Yes, yes, yes! But I didn't know about "Not by Its Cover" so thank you for both of these.

And Adam, thanks for this recommendation. It looks hard to find, but from what I can see, it's a satiric novella by Michael Martin (1991) — is it a takeoff on Peter Mayle's 1989 bestseller autoerotifoodography, A Year in Provence?