Monday, 1 March 2010


funny pictures of cats with captions
So, today a little moan. (What's new? You may ask. :) ) A while ago I wrote a post titled
10 things every potential UF heroine needs to know. It was me kind of poking fun at the cliches that seemed to be arising in Urban Fantasy fiction. I am now adding a new one to the list, and the picture is a clue - Ferrets!

If I read one more UF novel where the heroine has a ferret companion I am going to scream until my ears bleed.

I can almost understand how this trend started. A female fantasy heroine needs an animal companion, it can't possibly be a cat because that's what's expected and we have to be original and fresh. And it can't be a dog because that would be just too...doggy.

It's got to be something small, cute, independent, reasonably intelligent with a knack for getting into and out of trouble. A raccoon would just be ridiculous, and a skunk far too smelly. I think that leaves us with ferrets.

Ferrets, ferrets, ferrets.

Only they're no longer an original and fresh idea. Plus having seen the pilot episode of Warehouse 13 I now can't help but associate them with impossible wishes. (For those who missed that particular ep, if you make an impossible wish (e.g. world peace) using a magical object, what you actually end up with is a ferret. The last original idea in fantasy using ferrets that I can remember.

There are other members of the mustelid family, though I find it hard to imagine them cropping up in UF. However, it would give me the chance to use the 'a weasel is weasily recognised whilst a stoat is stotally different' rhyme in a review.

So are there any fictional animals that annoy you? Or failing that are there any cliches that you feel are really being overused recently? I have a copy of Demon's Daughter by Emma Holly to give away to one poster to this thread. Poster chosen at random by on Friday (or possibly Saturday).


Nicole said...

My biggest complaint regarding fictional animals are ones that don't act like real animals. Dogs that are fine when left alone for days on end, cats that read minds... that kind of thing. If an author wants to give a heroine a ferret as a pet -- or a raccoon (my parents knew a couple that had one), or a chinchilla, or... you get the picture -- fine. But make it ACT LIKE ONE.

LesleyW said...

Nicole - I agree I'm not really a fan of anthropomorphism. I like animals to be animals. One of my favourite scenes from an animal's point of view is one that Meljean Brooks wrote in Demon Angel. It's just a short paragraph told from the point of view of a hellhound, but it's clearly not a human viewpoint and that's why it works so well.

D. B. Reynolds said...

I'm with Nicole. I cannot get into any story that portrays animals with human-like intellect and abilities. Or even worse, the ones where the animal is the smartest creature in the scene! I will not read any book where the animal is the central character. I'm not even particularly fond of animal guides or familiars, especially not when they're endowed with almost all-seeing abilities!

You want the heroine to have a dog and/or cat and/or bird companion? What's she going to do with said pet when she's gone for DAYS? Maybe because she's trapped by the bad guy, or just has to go off and investigate something. Who's feeding the dog? You can't take a cat on a surveillance mission. It'll wander away. And a dog WILL bark. It's what they do. Deal with it in a rational, realistic way, and I'll buy it.

But don't have the cat solve the crime, okay?


LesleyW said...

DBR - Good points. I've just finished Rosemary and Rue where the heroine is turned into a fish for fourteen years. Not any kind of anthropomorphised fish, just a fish who thinks fish thoughts not human ones.

Review coming soon. :)

Carolyn Crane said...

I loved that hellhound POV of Brooks. Also, I've always appreciated how Kelley Armstrong's werewolves feel so wolfy, though they're still mentally not just wolves. And that fish thing in R&R was my fave part! Really wonderful open. I'll be curious to see your review.

I'm not really entering.

LesleyW said...

Carolyn - hopefully review will be up this week. :)