Blog post
tagged Science fiction

The Pelted SF: Adventure and Ethics, with Gengineered Furries

M.C.A. Hogarth calls herself "an anthropologist to aliens" in her author bio, and it shows. A lot of her stories explore different fictional cultures.

On the list of her available ebooks, she splits her writing by setting, and sometimes further. One of those settings is a science fiction universe in which humanity created furries, which formed their own cultures on other planets. I had a look at the stories in this universe not listed as "military SF"

The novelette A Distant Sun features as main character a committed history teacher. If you're going to present some historical information about your setting, there are certainly worse ways to do it, particularly since here it does not degrade into personality-less infodumps. The story touches on ethical problems of creating new intelligent species, but to me the practical matters, shows through things that personally affect our protagonist and his students, stand out more.
Interesting ideas, engagingly presented.
(available at Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)

Rosettes & Ribbons is another novelette. Working as an intern at an archaeology dig, Pelipenele gets to translate a previously unknown legend. She is also drawn into problems due to misunderstandings.
Of all five stories in this group, this feels most "stand alone"; a completed story in itself, rather than a snippet of or introduction to something bigger. I think that's a good thing. The interweaving of legend and present-day narrative was a bit very convenient, but, hey. I really enjoyed this story.
(available at Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)

In the short story The Elements of Freedom, a seismologist has to convince a tribe to leave their land before it is destroyed by earthquakes, and has to convince them by performing one of their rituals.
One of Hogarth's greatest strengths in my view is describing or conveying emotion and sensation, which is something that stands out to me here, in addition to the reveleations.
(available at Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)

The shortest work in this group, Tears is a sweet little story about a young woman with self-confidence issues caused by birthmarks that make her look like she is crying all the time.
(available for free at Smashwords | B&N)

Butterfly, lastly, is another novelette. A sibling pair of nobles try to bring their abandoned-at-birth sister Noelle "back" to her "home". Problems are not only the culture shock, but also the fact that Noelle was abandoned in the first place.
I'm afraid I couldn't really warm up to this one, a combination between the viewpoint being religious feudalists, and how it kept going on about how beautiful Noelle was. I suspect that was meant as a counterpoint to her assuming people would consider her a "freak" or "mutant", but having so much value put on looks makes me uneasy.
It still had beautiful word-pictures and interesting looks at a strange culture (including checking of assumptions).
(available at Smashwords | Amazon | B&N)

Bottom line: For the low pricepoint, they're definitely worth a try if the general topic intersts you. My favourite is Rosettes and Ribbons, which I'd like to recommend again.

(Disclosure: I have no link with the author other than liking a lot of her work, and bought those books myself.)