Coded gray.

Monday 29 July 2002

Screenshot Morrowind

Pic of the day: Catgirl in magic armor, screenshot from Morrowind.

Future furries

They aren't animals, they are your children.

Well, that was also a day. I woke up, thought about furries, went to work (which I am not supposed to write about), went home thinking about furries, fell asleep and slept till 10 in the evening, dreaming about being a hero cat boy or perhaps a cat girl (not quite sure which) in magic armor.

***

So I guess it will be furries then. More exactly anthropomorphic animals. These seem to be quite popular in online comics. Physically they have human shape, which is why they are called anthropomorphic. (From the ancient Greek words for "human" and "shape".) The characters also have some animals traits: Ears and tail are always animal's, and usually feet and facial features. Horns or antlers are present but often smaller than the animal's. Claws and canine teeth may also be shown. Intriguingly, anthropomorphs from different animal species speak the same language, live and work together, fall in love and have offspring.

If you had asked me even a couple years ago to make up an origin for these anthropomorphic societies, I would have made a story about various animals being elevated to human level by some superior race. But not today; today I have another explanation.

A society of anthropomorphs could theoretically arise in our future. And it would consist of humans with genetically added animal traits.

There is a group of genes that regulate the body plan during the early development of the embryo. These are known as homeobox genes. They are surprisingly similar in all animals from slugs upward. In the fruit fly they determine what part becomes antenna and what part becomes leg. In chickens they determine what part becomes wing and what part becomes foot. And so on. By tampering with these and related genes, it may soon become possible to actually incorporate animal traits genetically with no risk of rejection. Immune rejection, that is! I dare say there would be a risk of social rejection. But I'm not sure that would stop it from happening.

We already have a subculture of "furries": People who identify strongly with an animal. They may adopt certain traits from that animal's behavior. They may dress up as that animal. They may insist that these animals are as important as any human. In extreme cases they may literally believe that they are "an animal trapped in a human body". But usually it doesn't go that far. It is more like a vote of sympathy.

Nor is this a new thing: Totem animals are found in primitive cultures across the globe. Perhaps it is a way to connect us to the physical world? Animals are physical creatures, and not ashamed of it. The totem animal may be an outlet for our physical nature, a counterbalance to civilization and its pull away from nature. It may be only natural to seek back to these roots in a time when civilization progresses so fast we can barely keep up.

Innocence there is an innocence in animals when they do animal things; if we do animal things, we have lost that innocence. I can see how people may want to regain innocence. And if that means their children will be born with fur and a tail, some may want to pay that price. It's not realistic right now, and it may never be. But as possible future? Yes. I can see that.

And it would make for quite a good novel, I believe.


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One year ago: Favorite computer games
Two years ago: Wish I had some Placebo
Three years ago: How not to sell lamps

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