Winner of “The Sword & Laser: The Sequel” Contest, and part of The Sword & Laser Collection on Inkshares, The Animal in Man is a science-fiction novel disguised as epic fantasy. The story starts with swords-and-sorceries, but will ultimately become pure science-fiction - sub-stratospheric space platforms, mind-altering apparatuses, plasma cannons... And even a rickety underground train ride, for a sort of steampunk stopover along the way.
Herbridia is a small world of anthropomorphic animals who talk, walk upright, and whose collective unconscious has just ’awoken’ after centuries of murdering each other. They’re struggling to put their weapons down and build some kind of society. On a lonely floating rock, lost in the darkness of space. But the beasts that claw within the deepest chambers of their hearts threaten to bring it all down before it can actually begin. In other words, it’s our story. The story of mankind. The Animal in Man. See? It’s also loosely based on the seminal text which has defined so much of my own life. I’m talking about Plato’s "Allegory of the Cave," because in this world of animal-people, nothing is ever what it seems to be.
The Animal in Man is the story of Maxan, a young fox man in the service of the city guard. Maxan is a ’shadow,’ something like a spy, whose sole duty is to observe, report, and never engage. But when his conscience pulls him to defy those orders - to leap in and engage with enemies he knows are bent on evil on an unprecedented scale - Maxan escapes with a mysterious weapon that can drive all around him into an inexplicable killing frenzy. Seemingly immune to the calls of his own inner beast and unsure of what to do, Maxan is approached by the Monitors, the ancient guild sworn to safeguard the dormant devices that float above and are buried below the surface of this world. The dwindling Monitors and a powerful cult called The Mind soon draw the fox into their secret war for control of these artifacts and ultimately the minds of every Herbridian. At every turn of his journey, the truth of these groups is revealed and Maxan’s loyalties are tested. Little does he know that the corrupt leader of the Monitors has been drawing him near all along, for Maxan, who had himself been lost all his life, is the key to unlocking the true history of his world. With truth as his weapon, Maxan will have to choose which nature defines him - to remain a puppet or become the puppeteer - to be just another Animal, or to be Man.