Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hairy Characters

No, I'm not talking about werewolves or demons. I'm talking about pets. Domesticated pet characters are a rarity in science fiction, especially in space voyage and off world subgenres, which I think is a shame.

Let's break it down even more, to cats and dogs, which are the two most prominent animal companions for humans. There is something about cats and dogs that call to a natural bond with human beings. Not to mention their natural tendency to offer themselves as protector and friend.

Cats have been domesticated as early as 3500 BC by ancient Egyptians. (I personally believe the ancestral God-worship of cats is why felines can often be so cocky and "superior" to others...including us.) Okay, yeah, they had a bad break during the Middle Ages but they recovered with the whole Black Plague incident when they turned superhero and killed the plague-infected rats.

Scientifically, petting your animals lowers your blood pressure. Pet owners tend to live longer. They also reduce depression and studies have shown they improve how people see their quality of life.

And you think cats are long-standing companions, then you'll be blown away by dogs.

Canine partnership with us Homo Sapiens has be as long ago as 4500 BC. Most people think they started as only hunting "tools" but it's been shown they were hunting companions, not tools, and in fact were also revered by Egyptians.

This relationship has not waned with the evolving times. So, why would this change for the future? Why are domesticated animals so far and few between in SF works? Yeah, there are a few scattering pet characters, but not many.

When I began writing the second book in the Telomere Trilogy, it was natural for me to work a pet into the story. A male character, Damani, wasn't him without his dog. They were a pair. I further expanded that relationship in the third book, End of Eternity, when he took center stage as the main male character.

Below is an excerpt of End of Eternity, showcasing the bond between this man and his dog. (Just remember, this book is in draft form and hasn't been edited to publisher's specifications. The final could - will - be different.)


"Zane." Damani crouched, buried his face in his dog, and didn’t care who saw or heard the emotion in his voice. He nuzzled Zane's neck, rubbed his side, and patted his belly. "There’s my boy. Aren’t you a sight for tired eyes. You miss Daddy?"

Zane barked, jumped his front paws onto Damani’s thighs, and barked again.

"That’s a big fat yes," Galvin decided. "Though, he might want custody rights with Makai. The way my brother spoiled him, you’d thought Zane was Makai’s dog. They were inseparable."

"You have a new friend?" Damani asked Zane, cupping his jaw.

With his world once again right, Damani let his attention return to Luna and Jetta. A definite change from when the women first met. No verbal communication, but Damani was sure mind speech was happening. A lot by their expressions and Jetta's sly glance in his direction. They hurried off, out of the hangar bay.

"I don't need to hear minds to see you're in deep trouble." Galvin positioned himself next to Damani and watched the woman leave. "I've seen the same look from her several times and it never ends well."

"So have I," Jace added and slapped Damani on the back. "Sorry, Watcher."

"No matter. Let me clean up and then I'd like to know where we're at with the case."

"Noah's already called for a mission briefing in three hours. Rest a bit. Seems you need it," Galvin said with a sarcastic pat on his cheek.

Galvin and Jace strode off together.

"Come, Zane." Damani snapped his fingers and both walked side-by-side towards his quarters, where he planned for a long shower.

It seemed the two men worked out the remaining stiffness between them as well. He shook his head. Chaos. It's what family and friends brought. Chaos, turmoil, and stress. Happy one moment, fighting the next, then flipped to happy all over again. He didn't need any of those things.

 *     *     *     *     *

Hope you liked the excerpt.

Who knows, there could be doggies out there, ready to explore the stars at our side. Let me know what SF books you've read with strong cat or dog characters. I'd love to add them to my TBR list.
Oh! And remember, next week our summer crossover event starts. We'll all be hopping around from here and swapping blogs with each other.

It'll be crazy! It'll be wild! It'll be fantasmic!


  1. You have a good point--if we've bonded with them for so many thousands of years, why would that change? If our bodies can withstand space travel, why not theirs?

    1. Thanks Patty! LOL, I love when my thoughts actually amount to something. I know for sure that NASA and the Russian space programs have tested with some pets and they can withstand it.

      I really do think that they will be at our sides when we finally (finally) get off the 3rd rock from the sun and venture out.

  2. None of the SF books I've read have pets. You have an excellent point. The SF idea that's been stirring in my head will definitely have pets!

  3. Added to my wish list! Damani has already captured my heart. :-)

  4. THanks Laurel. I fell for him from his first entry in the story. Captured my heart so much that I rearranged the third book so he could find love. A sweetie with hard covering.

  5. I've been wondering about the lack of furbaby companions, both in fiction and in TV shows and movies for awhile now. Of course, in certain stories a character having a pet might seriously affect the plot. I'll use the movie Mission Impossible (any of them) as an example. There's non-stop action without much character development, so when in this story would a pet be appropriate? Or in a book like The DaVinci Code?

    Romance, because the stories tend to be character driven, lends itself to having animal companions. A cat or a dog can convey to the reader a lot about the character. Robin Owen's sci-fi heart series features animals. And when possible I like to give my characters animal companions, or as my husband calls them "four-legged, fur-bearing varmints."

    1. Haha "four-legged, fur-bearing varmints"! Love it Elysa! I think you have a great point about the type of story working with animals.

      I'll have to check out Robin Owen's work and add her to my TBR list. Thanks!

  6. I adored the fidgets and furzels (cat-like pets) in Linnea Sinclair's SFR book, Games of Command. For me, they really made the book.

  7. Yes! I loved that book to! Linnea Sinclair really does rock.

    There's another SF series that includes cats and I can't think of the name, but the main character's name is Harrington. Her people have a mental connection with their domesticated pets and actually grow sick when they're seperated. (Totally from memory - obviously - so if anyone else has the title name and more details please speak/type up.)