Human and Equine: Meeting Halfway

SFF Equines horse herd rider El Dorado

This is a segue of sorts from the Space Equinoids thought experiment, back toward terrestrial horses and the humans who live and work with them. I often call my horses Space Aliens in horse suits, and refer to them as aliens in the pasture. They’re very much their own creatures; even humans for whom they’re nothing but sports equipment or transport will have to understand the basics of equine psychology. Horses are just too big, too strong, and too self-willed to take for granted.

No matter how dominant the human, the horse still outweighs him, and horse instincts and psychology will rule unless the human finds ways to work with them. As the adage says, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

You can, however, ask him to do so. And make drinking a desirable activity. If he’s been working and he’s thirsty, ...

Edged Weapons, Time Travel, and the Unexpected: Andre Norton’s Trey of Swords

Trey of Swords is not actually a novel. It’s a micro-trilogy: three interlinked and consecutive novellas. The viewpoint character of the first two is Yonan, son of a Witch of Estcarp and a Sulcarman, and the third novella is narrated by his lifelong crush, Crytha, an untrained but powerful witch.

The chronology is interesting, because it happens shortly after Three Against the Witch World, while Kemoc and Kaththea are off dealing with the events of Warlock of the Witch World. Eldest Tregarth triplet Kyllan plays a role, and he and Dahaun are very much an item, but the other two are busy elsewhere. I kind of enjoyed seeing Kyllan from the outside, and watching him be competent and in charge, though of course Dahaun rules.

I did not remember this one at all.

I must have read it, but nothing stuck, except the part about the three novellas instead ...

When Humans Met Equinoids: First Contact with Space Horses

We’ve been building a spacefaring species of equinoid for a while now, but one thing we haven’t done is introduce the human element. I’ve had that in the back of my mind, as I’m sure many of you have. Now it’s time to see what might happen if our doughty space explorers of both species happen to meet.

I’ve got my own ideas about how that would play out, but there are so many options. I hope people will weigh in in comments with what they think would happen. So, I’m leading off, with what I hope will be the catalyst for some nice, chewy exchange of ideas.

I can think of numerous scenarios for a first contact between equinoids and humans. A lot depends on the nature of the contact, whether it’s accidental—two expeditions happen to meet out on the edges of their mutual territories, or one species happens ...

Werecats and Moon Magic: Andre Norton’s The Jargoon Pard

After the slog of Year of the Unicorn, The Jargoon Pard reads as if Andre took readers’ criticisms of first book, thought carefully about all of them, and wrote a better, tighter, stronger book. I was surprised to find I really liked it. I devoured it in an afternoon, and was actually sorry when it ended. When I first started rereading, I hadn’t remembered much except the title—I’m a sucker for unusual words—and a vaguely positive vibe about the book. As I got into it, I remembered more and more, including the fact that I enjoyed it a great deal the first time I read it, too. This is a sequel to Year of the Unicorn, though that’s not immediately obvious. The structure by now is familiar. Our young, usually male protagonist tells his life story from birth onward. This time we’re told that our hero is named ...

Werecats and Moon Magic: Andre Norton’s The Jargoon Pard

After the slog of Year of the Unicorn, The Jargoon Pard reads as if Andre took readers’ criticisms of first book, thought carefully about all of them, and wrote a better, tighter, stronger book. I was surprised to find I really liked it. I devoured it in an afternoon, and was actually sorry when it ended. When I first started rereading, I hadn’t remembered much except the title—I’m a sucker for unusual words—and a vaguely positive vibe about the book. As I got into it, I remembered more and more, including the fact that I enjoyed it a great deal the first time I read it, too. This is a sequel to Year of the Unicorn, though that’s not immediately obvious. The structure by now is familiar. Our young, usually male protagonist tells his life story from birth onward. This time we’re told that our hero is named ...

Werecats and Moon Magic: Andre Norton’s The Jargoon Pard

After the slog of Year of the Unicorn, The Jargoon Pard reads as if Andre took readers’ criticisms of first book, thought carefully about all of them, and wrote a better, tighter, stronger book. I was surprised to find I really liked it. I devoured it in an afternoon, and was actually sorry when it ended. When I first started rereading, I hadn’t remembered much except the title—I’m a sucker for unusual words—and a vaguely positive vibe about the book. As I got into it, I remembered more and more, including the fact that I enjoyed it a great deal the first time I read it, too. This is a sequel to Year of the Unicorn, though that’s not immediately obvious. The structure by now is familiar. Our young, usually male protagonist tells his life story from birth onward. This time we’re told that our hero is named ...

The Sacred and the Equinoid: Horses, Spirituality, and Space

This part of the thought experiment is going to be tough, because if it was hard to set aside human assumptions about sex and violence, the ones about religion can be downright intractable. Just as it’s a given that sex must be an obsession and mass violence must be inevitable in a sentient species, it may be argued from the (Western, patriarchal) human model that every sentient species must worship some sort of god. But is it a given? When it comes to sex and war, we can observe equine behavior and extrapolate from it, but there’s no such evidence for belief in divine power. There’s no way to ask, and it’s not something we can deduce from behavior. Unlike dogs, who seem (to human eyes) to tend toward adoration of their human companions, horses maintain a certain distance. They may bond with a human, sometimes deeply, but it’s a ...