SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE (HUMAN) FRIEND
by Ed Greenwood
There’s something intriguing about animal companions. We look at pet cats and dogs and swear they can read our minds or understand every word when we’re talking to someone else and they’re eavesdropping. And they can do things we can’t do: fly, or hear or smell keenly, or creep about unobserved due to their stealth or size or just being dismissed by other humans as “a dumb animal.” What if we could harness that? Work as a team?
What would it be like, soaring like an eagle? Or seeing through the eyes of one? Or telepathically talking to one?
What if a “beast” was your trusted conspirator in crime? Fellow secret agent? Sword-brother-er, sister, er . . . wing-bushytail? Wise-cracking, perhaps gruff and snarly—and forever different, non-human, with world-views and parts of their brain and depths of senses and instincts you can never see and never share.
Do they trust you? Can they trust you?
Dare you trust them?
And what about love? As in, are they capable of it? Or gratitude? If something goes wrong, will they have your back? Or will their animal natures cause them to do something unhelpful, from scampering away in blind fear to skunks spraying to chewing off their own limbs to going berserk? (My mind leaps to a possible AWAKENED human-lemming partnership, and a story called “Always Leaping Off The Nearest Cliff.” A very short story.)
Boy, I’ve been asking a lot of questions. Fitting; this human-beast-mind-linkage thing provokes a lot of questions.
Yes, if AWAKENED tales are new to you, I did mention a mind-link. When the wolf pounces and bites down to kill, you’re along for the ride . . .
Or to put it a tad more formally, AWAKENED stories explore what it feels like to be in a bond, a mental partnership, a linkage of human and “creature.” Beings who may be smarter than humans. And who, when caught up in events humans might deem “adventures” or even “deadly peril,” may have an endless capacity to surprise other humans.
That’s why AWAKENED tales are such fun for me to pen. Hal Greenberg is a genius to have come up with this ongoing series, and plugged away at keeping various creative folks at work on new human-beast stories. The idea isn’t new, but putting together anthologies of very different takes on this theme between one set of covers for a reader to readily enjoy is . . . filling a gap in entertaining literature that’s obvious the moment you open an AWAKENED book.
This is a fascinating sub-genre, and you have been missing it. The question is (cue not-comfortably-distant-enough wolf howl) will the critters go on missing you?
AWAKENED stories thrive in the fantastical world Hal first envisaged them taking place in, and this book proves they thrive in our modern times. Where and when next? Fantastical creatures? Oh, but I mustn’t start with the questions again, because the stories in AWAKENED: MODERN raise a bunch of their own. And, delightfully, answer quite a few, too!
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of running with the beasts. Grab this book, immerse yourself in its tales, and see if you feel the same way!
Ed Greenwood is a New York Times-bestselling Canadian writer, game designer, and librarian best known for creating The Forgotten Realms® fantasy world fifty years ago. His 350-plus books have sold millions of copies worldwide in more than three dozen languages. Ed was elected to the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art & Design Hall of Fame in 2003, and has won multiple ENNIE and Origins and other awards. Through The Ed Greenwood Group, he now helms many shared storytelling worlds he’s created; they can be found at OnderLibrum.com
Awakened Modern is currently funding on Kickstarter, http://tiny.cc/AwakenedModern.