Review: 'Indigo Rain', by Watts Martin
Watts Martin introduced his mixed human and anthropomorphic animal world of Ranea in the serial “A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood” in Yarf! #5-#8, July-November 1990. Several other stories followed, and Ranea became one of the most popular fictional worlds in Furry fandom. But Ranea seldom appeared outside of Yarf!, and that magazine has been gone for ten years now.
Fortunately, Martin has recently resumed writing stories set in Ranea. Indigo Rain, a 97-page novella (the sixth of FurPlanet’s novella-length “Cupcakes”), is a fine example and one that expands the reader’s picture of Ranea a little more.
Indigo Rain is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)
The Ranean Empire (capital city: Raneadhros) is subdivided into at least the provinces of wintery Achoren in the north and hotter Orinthe further south. Achoren used to be an independent human-supremacist country, and the human upper-class conservatives there still dream of their former social privilege. Ranea is currently undergoing a human-anthro animal social clash which is mostly peacefully being resolved in favor of equal rights throughout Ranea, but with some underground violence from the human supremacists in Achoren and its main city, Norinton.
The formal names of some of the anthro animals are also established. L’rovri = wolf. Procya = raccoons. Vraini = foxes. Rilimi = mice. These are plurals; one mouse is a rilima. There are some background anthros for which no name is given, such as a tigress. The name for the anthro animals in general is Melifen.
Roulette is a raccoon street dancer from Dry Lake in Orinthe who has come to Norinton with a friend and is trying to earn enough money to return home. An elderly human at one of her street dances offers her a big payment for a private performance in his hotel room. After getting his assurance that he will not ask for anything more than a private dance, Roulette agrees. But “Mr. Blue” does try to rape her. Roulette tries to fight him off by spraying him in the face with the blue perfume that he had just given her, but his face melts and he quickly dies. The perfume is really a concentrated acid.
Roulette flees, but she is caught by Lisha, a vixen activist for the Melifen who has been following Grayson, the human who is high in the ranks of the Brothers of Atasos, the secret extremists among the human supremacists. A referendum is about to be held throughout Ranea on the question of equal rights for Melifen, which is expected to pass nationally although losing locally in Achoren. Lisha’s activists have suspected the Brothers of Atasos of planning to sabotage the referendum in some manner that would have repercussions throughout Ranea, although they have not known how. Grayson’s possession of a large quantity of the blue acid is an ominous clue.
All this is in the background to Roulette’s story. She has never been interested in politics, and was only involved with Grayson by accident. Nevertheless, Lisha assures her that the Brotherhood are now aware of her since they were also keeping a surreptitious watch on Grayson, and they will surely kill her.
She [Lisha] ran a hand through her hair, then focused her gaze on Roulette again. ‘Get your things. Just what you can carry.’
‘What?’ The raccoon shook her head. ‘Look. Look. I just want to get out of here. I’m going to go to Raneadhros and –‘
‘The Brothers are going to be looking for you, and if they find you, they WILL kill you. They can’t take the chance, however small, that someone official might listen to you. You’re not going to make it to the border.’
‘What? This is crazy. Who are the ‘Brothers’? Why should I --’
The vixen took her shoulders again, more gently, but her expression remained hard as ice. ‘This is WHY we don’t have time for this. Get your things. Now.’ (p. 23)
Lisha takes Roulette to the local branch of the Pan-Species Aid Society, a welfare agency, for her safety. Roulette makes friends with several other animals there, including Gregir, a handsome wolf refugee and volunteer worker, Tylee, a fox, and Tiran Tharp, the cat manager of the agency. Tiran is friendly, but he considers Lisa an alarmist and refuses to take her warnings seriously – even after Roulette is kidnapped and escapes after a violent fight. Roulette, Lisha, and Gregir are on their own.
Indigo Rain is a well-written mood piece and a mild mystery, but it is too short to make a good mystery novel – which it does not pretend to be. Roulette’s peril is too underplayed, and the mystery too easily solved, to develop any real suspense. The romantic elements are rather bland, too. In fact, I do not understand why FurPlanet feels that this novella deserves an ‘Adult Readers’ warning, unless it is for the very brief attempted rape scene, or the statement that Roulette deliberately considers whether to pursue a heterosexual relationship with Gregir or a lesbian relationship with Lisha.
Indigo Rain is no award-winner, but at only $9.95 you will be satisfied that you are getting your money’s worth.