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Old Aug 26 2009, 01:31 PM   #1
DragonDance
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Thumbs up Companion to Wolves

I just wanted to see if anyone else here has read Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear. It reminds me of Pern in many ways.

It takes place in a Norse-inspired world where men bond with immense trellwolves to fight off vicious and brutal trolls that are raiding villages. Members of the werthreat---the wolf-man bond---go to the villages bound to them to pick out likely boys to bond each bitch's pups.

The wolves here are executed just as well as the dragons of Pern, if not better. They feel intelligent, but in a different way than humans. They do not fade into the background like a lot of Mercedes Lackey's animal companions do. They hunt, fight, have their own set of politics, and behave like the animals they are. The issues we've discussed about green and blue and brown riders regarding sexuality is discussed more openly here. How do macho Norse men with giant wolves handle 'lying down for someone' and maintain their own personal sexuality, especially when those they protect don't always respect them. (Dragonflight, anyone?)

The names do get confusing, but you get the hang of it. Its a tad more graphic then Pern, but nothing too bad (No Hamilton type stuff for sure).

The pacing is excellent, the world well-built, and I must highly recommended it to any Pern fan. Check it out!
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Old Aug 26 2009, 03:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: Companion to Wolves

I just added a new book to my read pile.
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Old Aug 28 2009, 02:43 PM   #3
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A tad more graphic? Hahaha. It's not porn-without-plot like LKH is, but it IS porn-connected-to-the-plot in some ways. (Not a bad thing per se, but yes, it does have a lot of sex in it.)

I believe the authors did write this book as a response to AMC's Pern books, and perhaps also Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, which are the two big series that have telepathic beasts linked to people. But mainly as a response to Pern, as the relationships between men who've bonded to female/queen wolves and the men who have bonded to male wolves is examined in great detail.

Overall, I liked the book--they did a lot of research on how such a primitive society would work, and the writing is just GOOD. But then again, I am a Pern fan, and I came at the book knowing what subject it was exploring and that it was pretty much a literary response to Pern. From the reviews on Amazon, those people who did not come at the book knowing this rated it lower, because it does expand a lot of time on the male/male relationships, perhaps more than a stand-alone book can withstand.

I'd like to see a sequel, just to see what happens to the main character's daughter. The book also examines female gender-roles in addition to male, and that was interesting because it was less the poorly-though-out-feminism that you see far too often, and more something that felt realistic.
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Old Aug 31 2009, 02:20 AM   #4
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Default Re: Companion to Wolves

Thanks. This sounds better than Tara K. Harper's Wolfwalker series which is also about people bonding with highly intelligent wolves an another world.
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Old Aug 31 2009, 05:15 PM   #5
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Default Re: Companion to Wolves

Just added to my Birthday/Chirstmas wish list
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Old Sep 11 2009, 12:48 AM   #6
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100 pages in and this book makes the Pern books seem like an easy read with all the confusing names for people, wolves, places, ranks, etc. Not big on the man loven but I can put up with. Its been a good story so far.
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Old Sep 12 2009, 04:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Companion to Wolves

I have to point out something, because its become one of my pet peeves. Just because someone writes a companion animal book does not mean it's some response to Pern. I understand as readers of Anne it's the first thing some think of when there are companion animals, but Anne was not the first to use the concept and it's widely used.

There are two sequels being planned, the first is currently being written with a release date in 2011, the other 2013.
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Old Sep 14 2009, 01:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pam View Post
There are two sequels being planned, the first is currently being written with a release date in 2011, the other 2013.
Oh this just made my day.
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Old Sep 19 2009, 05:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pam View Post
I have to point out something, because its become one of my pet peeves. Just because someone writes a companion animal book does not mean it's some response to Pern. I understand as readers of Anne it's the first thing some think of when there are companion animals, but Anne was not the first to use the concept and it's widely used.
Actually, when I stated that I was being literal. Here's some sources: Elizabeth Bear's Livejournal, entry from 2005.

And the quote in particular:

Quote:
It's like the sex and mud and beard lice in A Companion to Wolves. No sex, no beard lice, no book. Because part of what that book is about is an argument with the tendency, in certain tendrils of the fantasy genre, to kind of sweep anything vaguely unpleasant under the rug. The Inciting Incident, of course, was the infamous semi-elided dragon-mediated rapes and less-infamous extremely-elided institutional homosexuality in the early Pern novels. But then the book takes on a life of its own, and the worldbuilding does too, and if you pull out that one thread (i.e., isn't a bit icky that dragonriders are making off with teenaged boys, some of whom are going to wind up bonding to green dragons, and we all know what those green dragons are like, and wouldn't it be interesting to tackle those social issues head-on rather than eliding them) then the whole structure of the book collapses. And you essentially have a fuzzy wish fulfillment fantasy about a boy and his wolf fighting trolls and obtaining an understanding of the world, and the world really doesn't need another one of those.
(Bolding the key sentence for emphasis.)

Here's another link supporting this. For those that don't know, truepenny is Sarah Monette.

Quote:
The correct answer, for me, to "where do you get your ideas?" is "All over the place. They just have to cook."

truepenny: 1. This process happens whether you're watching it or not. It can be conscious--we wrote A Companion to Wolves, after all, because we were consciously transmuting something old (Anne McCaffrey's Pern books and certain of their unexamined assumptions) into something new. But it doesn't have to be conscious. Mostly, in my experience, it's more in the "belated epiphany" class. Oh, THAT's what I was doing!
(Again, bolding the important bits.)

So, there are public quotes from both authors mentioning Pern.

I get your pet peeve, Pam, but in this case it actually WAS written as a response to Pern (in part, at least.)
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Old Sep 20 2009, 12:10 AM   #10
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Argh! I did a really crap search of her lj then. I found the following on her webpage and that's what I was going on:

Quote:
A Companion to Wolves is a novel that happened by accident. My friend and writing partner, Sarah Monette, and I were swapping emails one night, and we were talking about companion animal fantasy, and some of the stuff we find problematic about it. And we started, on a whim and to blow off stress, to write a novella that we intended as something of a satire of the subgenre.

Two hundred pages later, we figured out that this wasn't going to be any novella. Nor was it exactly a satire anymore, because our young protagonist had miraculously turned into a complex and conflicted young man, and his world was developing a kind of richness and depth and internal consistency that fascinated us both.
That Pern was part of those things being satired in the beginning I'm not surprised in the least. I just couldn't find the proof to satisfy me enough that it was indeed involved on a first name basis.

I'm going to still carry my pet-peeve around in its bedazzled fluffy pink carrier I've found AMC fans (like any really dedicated fan group) think the world revolves around their chosen star and everything in the universe that they can relate to it, must. It's extremely rare for a claim of connection to actually exist. As a matter of fact, I think in my almost 8 years of being a mod on AMC related boards this is the first
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Old Sep 20 2009, 09:18 AM   #11
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Default Re: Companion to Wolves

Hah. I did a google search with the keywords Companion to wolves and pern and I think also matociquala because I knew that the only way I would have discovered that this book was a response to Pern would be because my Livejournal has lots and lots of published and unpublished authors friended and I probably heard it through that grapevine. (Livejournal is the way to go if you want to follow the pro and upcoming SF&F scene, basically.)

Anne McCaffrey actually has been a greatly influential author, across entire generations, so regardless that some fans see her with rose-tinted glasses, I wouldn't necessarily assume that all books a fan might compare to her are NOT inspired by her, just that in previous generations it's been difficult to confirm a connection exists as most pre-internet authors aren't all that net-savvy still, and unlikely to be asked the question in a way that spreads the answer around--either because the person who asked and got an answer didn't share, or because nobody cared enough or knew to ask. I suspect that AMC's influence may not be quite as sublimated into the genre as, say, Tolkein's (where people who never read him still create stories about elves and the like because the trope has spread around the entire genre) but I think there may be considerable unconscious influence. Of course, you're correct that not every case is OMG INSPIRED BY AMC! But I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand--she's been in print for decades, and many authors coming of age would have read her as children.

I think in the Internet Age, you'll be more likely to see authors admitting whatever prompted them to write a particular story (a la Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette who are both extremely active on the web and on Livejournal) because fans can get close enough to ask (very easy--just email or comment or tweet or whatever in a polite fashion and they usually reply) and the answer can be shared around the web at the speed of light...and also archived for Google to find.
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