A few years ago Niall Shapero asked me to write a song-to-order, an anthem for a Furry rebellion, that included the words “crimson skies” at the end of the last verse. No problem: I was already working on a song – guaranteed to put a twist in the knickers of the Parlor Pink crowd – called “God Bless Hate”, and I could easily slip the code-words into the last verse, which I did. When I asked him about the peculiar phrase, he explained that he was writing a Sci-Fi novel about, yes, a Furry rebellion. Of course I wanted to read it right away, so he sent me then-current first draft. I really liked what I saw, including the libertarian politics of course, so I sent him the song (hard-copy and, IIRC, I sang it to him over the phone), and urged him to hurry up and finish the novel.
Well, he didn’t exactly hurry up, he picked up a co-author/conspirator on the way, and the novel has expanded into a trilogy called “The Chinese Curse”, but the first book – “Red Skies” – is finally in print, from Jarlidium Press, and should soon be up on Amazon soon, if it isn’t there already. No, my song isn’t in this book, but I expect it’ll show up further in the trilogy when the revolution starts. “Red Skies” is about the set-up situation that makes the rebellion necessary.
As it stands, the book is a tight and complex police-procedural thriller, whose hero is a classic honest cop in a crooked police department. The police department is in a future
the cop is a Siamese-cat Furry, the other cops are mostly human bigots, and the
background is a recent war fought with Furry cannon-fodder in which the Furry
veterans are seriously mistreated (sound familiar?). Detective Carl Siam is tapped by a federal
secret task force to go undercover in the LA Furry ghetto, to find and
infiltrate a rumored Furry revolutionary/domestic-terrorist group (familiar
again?), only to find that the rebels are friends and neighbors in his own back
yard, and their goals and tactics are very different from what he’s been
told. Naturally, his own loyalties come
under a lot of strain (ditto). Within
the familiar tropes, though, there are a lot
of original situations and plot-twists.
Furry Sci-Fi very often consists of allegories on present-day human racism and political corruption, and political attitudes in modern Sci-Fi vary between classic Progressivism and Libertarianism, often taken to theoretical extremes. “Red Skies” clocks in solidly on the Libertarian side, but the politics are far from preachy; they’re smoothly shown, not told, leaving the reader to connect the allegorical dots him/herself. In that sense, “Red Skies” compares favorably with Heinlein’s classic “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress”. We’ll have to wait for the rest of the trilogy to see how well the Furry rebellion is depicted as a possible handbook for the future, but I expect it will be very convincing.
I’m particularly impressed with the ring of authenticity in the detailss of police procedures and politics, and don’t doubt that the next two books will be just as keenly researched and plotted. The true test of Science Fiction is how realistic it appears, and on that score “Red Skies” succeeds masterfully.
Well done, Niall. I can’t wait to see the rest of the story.