Bob’s World, which currently lacks a name, is a planet much like Earth in both time and technology. Its citizens face the hazards of daily life while listening to the latest string of protests, sports, scientific discoveries, and sometimes even the latest news from the White House. What sets Bob’s world apart from our own is humankind – or, rather, its complete absence from Bob’s World, which is populated entirely by a conglomerate of sentient “furries.”
The world’s dominant species fall into two main camps – avian and rodent – although there are other, less-developed species hacking out existence in their own small corners of the globe. In addition to the sentient species, a vast menagerie of non-sentient animals – some the non-sentient relatives of the sentient species – are also present. Members of these species are, for obvious reasons, just that – non-sentient. That is, foxes are just as sly and crafty as the ones we are familiar with, and behave the same way – but they can’t talk or do math. They also tend to be smaller than their sentient cousins – non-sentient birds, for example, are on average 5-7 inches in height; sentient birds range 5-6 feet in height. Height differences among sentient species are similar to any society’s – they vary not just between races but between all individuals. For example, were you to run into Ferdia on the street, you’d find her to be just as tall as the average female – say, 5 ft 7” or so – whereas Bob and Ivan stand only about 4 feet. (No comments from the Peanut Gallery about Napoleonic Complexes, please!)
The wide range of sentient species sharing living space on the planet makes for an interesting study of interracial interactions. The peoples of the world are not only confronted with different races, religions, cultures, and forms of government, but also the species barrier. This addition to the long list of things to be bigoted and simple-minded about has lead to serious confrontations in the past; however, even in present-day, forward-thinking societies, some degree of animosity between rodent and avian still exists, to say nothing of that which runs within each phylum. Interestingly enough, though, prejudices amongst the masses have, to a large extent, faded within the rodent families as well as between most species of birds; it persists, however, between the three tiers of avian forms.
As may be immediately apparent, while members of the rodent family (mice, rats, squirrels, hamsters, etc.) all exist in what may be termed typical or “mammalian bipedalism” forms, avian anatomy is rather different. There are three main tiers, or forms, of Bob’s world’s sentient birds. The first resembles the typical mammalian body structure – hands have replaced wings, talons have shrunk into more compact but less dexterous feet, knee joints and leg bone lengths have adjusted themselves to mammalian standards, etc. These birds retain body- and, often, tail- feathers, a hard, toothless beak, and lightweight hollow bone structure, but are otherwise very different from their non-sentient forms. Ferdia, Ferdie, and most of the 42nd Precinct’s officers belong to this class of “mammalian” bird. The second, “intermediate,” class of bird maintain a more avian leg-bone structure as well as longer “wing” feathers; however, they too have evolved a more mammalian arm structure and developed hands. This class, like the “mammalian” class, has for the most part lost the ability to fly. A few individuals, such as Ozzie Oswald, still possess enough primary-like feathers and hollow bones to give them limited gliding ability, but for the most part they, like Chuck and Bob Kiwi, are as earthbound as their mammalian cousins.
The third tier belongs to the “fliers” – a class of birds that shares most of their ancestors’ characteristics. They have retained their gift of flight, maintaining functionally-shaped wings and flight feathers at the expense of hands and fingers. To this end, they find it rather difficult to manipulate many devices – with their wings, that is. Fliers’ talons remain as dexterous as any perching birds’, and many use them as their fingered relatives use hands. Doing so is still more difficult than it would be with hands, however, and for that reason fewer fliers have entered fields requiring such skills – and none have proved able to operate mechanisms that require both hand- and foot- control (such as automobiles, aircraft, etc.). Not only has this robbed many of their dreams, it also tends to impede all but the most skillful video-game enthusiast. Needless to say, fliers’ intense morphological differences with the other sentient species of the planet have contributed to a great deal of animosity and jealousy in contemporary society. The fliers envy the ground birds’ mastery of modern conveniences; the ground birds and the mammals envy the fliers their freedom – and as such, feel the need to present themselves as superior to their winged brethren.
Culture & Society:
Aside from the prejudices clung to by some less-than-admirable sentients, society and its norms work the same way as they do in our world – children run, play, and go to school, adults work and complain about taxes, politicians philander, etc. Cars, planes, bicycles, and other forms of transit are as similar and readily identifiable to us as buildings, professions, and TV shows.
The physical differences between the races, however, do come into play – in all aspects of society. Their effects can be seen in both everyday life and extenuating circumstances. The mundane daily routines of a mouse and a flier, for example, are very different - the flier spends hours preening flight feathers before leaping out of a high-rise and winging her way to work; were the mouse to do this, their suicide would make the news.
Cultures are also impacted by species’ differences. Fliers, naturally more free, tend to have more laid-back attitudes, and their culture reflects this, taking on a loose, casual tone. The hustle and bustle of large cities is often too fast-paced and hurried for fliers, who tend to live either out in sparsely populated areas or in small villages. Because of this, however, and their ability to cover large distances in short amounts of time, fliers often take up the life of the adventurer – traveling alone or guiding small expeditions through undiscovered country. (After all, when you can fly, who needs a map? Spot your destination from the air.) By contrast, mammals and “mammalian” birds (first Tier, remember?) are both descended from communal species and prefer living in cities or towns. Intermediate birds also prefer a lot of company, but are often somewhat territorial and so live a bit more spaced out – in villages and mid-sized towns.
Physical abilities also play an important role in an individual’s instincts and reflexes. For instance, were Squeaks, Ferdia, Bob, and Iiwi to suddenly find themselves plummeting to the ground in free-fall, each would react differently. A flier, Iiwi needs only open her wings and fly or glide to safety. Similarly, Bob, an “intermediate,” flaps his wings furiously to slow his fall. (I’m not saying this is very effective, I’m just saying it’s something he does instinctively.) By contrast, Ferdia and Squeaks lash out in an effort to catch onto a handhold or outcropping that will stop their fall. Failing this, Ferdia can only spread her tailfeathers to create a small bit of drag and aid in orienting herself in such a way so as to receive the least injury when she lands. Squeaks can go limp and try to fall towards whichever area looks like the softer place to land, but is otherwise thoroughly out of his element.
Geographically speaking, Bob’s world is very similar to ours. The stories are set – or at least start – in an area stretching along the middle coastline of the state of California. The Birdie home is nestled in the suburban sprawl of San Bernardino, which, though I’ve since been told it actually exists, probably does not resemble ours in the slightest. Ferdia’s home and workplace, along with Bob Kiwi & Co.’s headquarters and most of the action, lies in the heart of the San Viano Valley, in the coastal metropolis of San Viano.
For all extents and purposes, San Viano is a city just like any other – huge, busy, clogged with traffic and over-ridden with crime and criminals. While it seems to have a reasonable amount of control over its illicit drug trade, San Viano’s crime rate is one of the highest in the nation – prompting its nickname, the “West-Coast New York.” All this, however, lends itself to the fascinating adventures of our heroes - and Ferdia swears it’s the absolute best place to live. (Curiously, though, San Viano’s residents still view L.A. as the most dangerous city in America…)
But enough background. Read about the characters!
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