"An Essay in Defence of the Human-Animal Hybrid Roleplay"
P. "Gryphus" S.
June 2016 to December 2016.
Goal of this essay is to analyze and comment idea behind Cody Faulkner, a fictional character, which is based on real life scientific theses - and facts - regarding the human consciousness and the controversial practices of human-animal hybrid research. It is also a response to the question, if idea of such a hybrid either belongs to the world of pure fantasy or does have actual point of existence in both real world and science-fiction genre.
This paper was written down as result from the roleplaying gaming community dejection of so-called 'furry' characters from their universe, demanding removal after calling them "unfitting for the setting and belonging to fantasy rather than science-fiction" (Discovery RP Gaming Community, 2016.) While it is an understandable argument against, lack of proper lore denying such experiments - however, with existence of cloning and genetic alternation being present - had been opening the door for such a roleplay, the fact used by a very few players in said community. It may be also hinted that the players inside the community shares a reservation towards the idea – even to the point of open hostility by the members which do not have any ties to furry fandom or would be interested into similiar subject.
The original character was raised up in the Discovery RP gaming community. It garthered a few followers who got interested into idea, but also shown the opposition made of members of the community. In fact, the character itself was loosely based onto other player's work – roleplay of whom had been lasting for over seven years (since 2009) until furry characters were banned. It is noteworthy that both players pointed out that nowhere in the lore the existence of such creatures is denied. The character itself, named Cody Faulkner, was initially heavily inspired onto the other player's roleplay. However, as the author saw the criticism and sought for a proper solution, the character was expanded to be finally edited on the bases of insightful sources regarding two subjects: the hybrid-animal research and the topic known from the theoretical modern medicine: the mind uploading ("Mind Uploading". In: Wikipedia.) Both cases however were simplified to prevent overusage of jargon. The following extract comes from the recent independent setting for the character:
The 25th Century is a heavily multicultural (to some extent) and offers a quite advanced technology. However, there is one subject being quite disapproved by the society inhabited by humans: the hybrids. While it is a relatively outlawed practice, the experiments on human-animal hybrids are on a pretty advanced stage. However, with such research failing to create a fully sentient creature from the scratch, as it would both take too long and would be too costly. To shorten the process and cut the budget, the common practice is to implant a chip with human consciousness (preferably this of terminally ill people) into the artificially engineered body - created from mixture of animal and original host's DNA. It is done in order to make sure the biomechanical chip would be easily accepted into the new body.
Despite the prepared draft in order to explain the roleplay behind the character, which in spirit was the very same thing but placed in Freelancer Discovery's setting, raised so much controversy within the gaming community that the Administation Team – in charge of the forum laws – made an official in regard to such a roleplay:
From now on, Furries will be relegated to the Reservation, along with the Bronies, Ponies and other assorted non-Disco universe characters that have already been assigned there. They have no place in the RP environment of Disco. They will be removed if they are found in Transmission Bars or other areas of Role Play threads ("Furries", 2016. In: Discovery RP Gaming Community.)
This decision put an end to the players who roleplayed the human-animal hybrids, claiming them as breaking the immersion for the other players, what met with opposition of the players still maintaining such a roleplay – with Cody Faulkner's explanation never being posted. The case has not been resolved entirely, but it is assumed that Administration Team is not likely to change the decision – which was met with zealous acceptance of the community – as for July 2016. With roleplay deemed as unofficial, the owner of the character expanded the lore around it and cut the character's ties with the original setting, making it a fully independent creation.
Idea of human-animal hybrid is not that new. It strongly predates the existence of actual furry fandom, which is creation of late 20th Century – according to the fandom historian, Fred Patten, who pointed out many non-historical influences, such as Japanese animation Kimba the Lion - released in 1966, U.S. that influenced the subculture (Patten, F. Retrospective: "An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom". 2012.) Going a bit further into the history of mankind, the common folktales regarding the usage of anthropomorphic creatures, like Pan from Greek mythology or entire Kemetic (Egyptian) pantheon of Gods, such as cat-like goddess Bastet or god of death, known as Anepu (or Anubis). The similiar creatures of this time can be kitsune or Chu Pa-chieh – a pig-man – from Chinese novel, Journey to the West (16th Century).
The Island of Doctor Moreau, which was mentioned earlier, had not been the only creation of anthropomorphic animals during the Late Victorian and Late Edwardian periods. An English writerand natural scientist, known as Beatrix Potter, was keen to use such creatures in her children literature. Her tales, such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) or The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909), used the animals expressing the human attrubites and attitudes, such as being dressed, having a broad ability to speak and behaving like normal humans. A pretty similiar way was taken by Brian Jacques in his Redwall Series (1986 – 2011).
However, those are the children books which were created and dedicated to be well-read by children and early teenagers. The undeniable, more adult view onto the subject of mixing up the human and animal genes undeniably belongs to H. G. Wells' novel. However, one of the most influential sources most likely was his novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau. This Victorian novel from 1896 depicts the Beast Folk, which are the creations made by vicious titilar character via brutal and unethical vivisection. As the novel proceeds with its plot, the Beast Folk revert from their human-like consciousness into their original animal instincts. The novel itself was adapted many times, but also inspired several other titles, which do pursue the subject of such the creations.
With expansion of the modern science, the possibilities of various exprements emerged. Like it was mentioned in the introduction, the research onto hybrids is already a very expansive subject. Idea of hybridization is broadly used in genetical engineering of plants in order to make them resistant to various diseases, insects or even to adapt into the climate that would kill their original unmodified breeds – or, simply, to create new breeds of plants. However, when it comes to the hybridization of the species, especially the two that do not share sentience – a human and an animal – the criticism and reception made by the public and media is fairly poor.
According to the common definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, hybrid is "an animal or plant that is produced from two animals or plants of different kinds." However, according to more expansive explanation, the hybrids are classified as it follows.
1) Hybrid generally refers to any offspring resulting from the breeding of two genetically distinct individuals, which usually will result in a high degree of heterozygosity, though hybrid and heterozygous are not, strictly speaking, synonymous.
2) a genetic hybrid carries two different alleles of the same gene
3) a structural hybrid results from the fusion of gametes that have differing structure in at least one chromosome, as a result of structural abnormalities
4) a numerical hybrid results from the fusion of gametes having different haploid numbers of chromosomes
5) a permanent hybrid is a situation where only the heterozygous genotype occurs, because all homozygous combinations are lethal (Rieger, R.; Michaelis A.; Green, M. M. Glossary of Genetics. Springer-Verlag, 1991.)
It means that hybrid is either a natural process that happens between two species – for example, mixture of Neandertal and direct Homo Sapiens Sapiens genetical ancestors – or it is an artificial creation created in non-natural enviroment and/or under certain circumstances – such as breed of lion and tiger, known as liger. However, the latter, which is an artificial crossing of the species, is the main subject – namely, the human-animal hybrid the essay is focused on.
As it was written before, the idea of mixing the human and animal genes already brought a lot of controversy. However, thanks to this kind of research, the transplantation of the pig's heart into human body is possible, although after serveral and heavily crucial genetic modifications. Despite the positive aspect of this kind of research onto modern medicine and pharmacy, the subject stirrs the public to the levels that several states in the USA completely outbanned such kind of research or allowed it under very strict circumstances and moral codes (Johnson, A. "Human-animal mix might become illegal" in: Columbus Dispatch, 2012.) The scientists themselves are also heavily confused where to draw a line between humans and non-humans, yet no consensus has been achieved to cope with such a problem. Such an issue however has been tried to be resolved by the United States, in order to at least regulate the problem of the possible human-animal hybrids in the future – at least in the scope of bioethics and artificial hybrid engineering (Weiss, Rick. "U.S. Denies Patent for a Too-Human Hybrid". In: The Washington Post, 2005.)
A short conclussion should enclose this essay as well. To sum up all the arguments, the roleplay consisting of the human-animal hybrids is more or less plausible, given the science-fiction setting that the character is placed in. The character which was originally created for non-author setting presented inside Discovery RP Gaming Community. But with the Administration Team decision, although it could be a justified one due to community uproar, presentation of full explanation on how such a hybrid character would work in that universe was denied to the roleplayer, yet it resulted into later expansion as the independent creation. At the same time however, whole character was made on basis of scientific and political facts and the theories regarding gene-manipulation, being sources gathered on the internet and within the book publications. Therefore, argument that so-called "furry characters" or "furries" belong entirely to fantasy or fairy tales has been proved as invalid, taking into account all gathered research data.
1. DeMello, M. Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies. Columbia University Press, 2012.
2. Doyle, R. Wetwares: Experiments in Postvital Living. University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
3. Hoad, N. Berlant, L. G. Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion. Psychology Press, 2004.
4.. Johnson, A. "Human-animal mix might become illegal" in: Columbus Dispatch, 2012.
5. Maryann, M. "Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy". National Geographic News, 2005
6. Palmer, R. "Zonkey, Wholphin, Liger, Tigon: Fascinating Animal Hybrids". International Business Times, 2013.
7. Patten, F. Retrospective: "An Illustrated Chronology of Furry Fandom". 2012. Internet Source.
8. Rieger, R.; Michaelis A.; Green, M. M. Glossary of Genetics. Springer-Verlag, 1991.
9. Weiss, R. "U.S. Denies Patent for a Too-Human Hybrid" in: The Washington Post, 2005.
10. H.R. 5910 — 110th Congress: Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2008, Congress of the United States of America, 2008.
11. S. 2358 — 110th Congress: Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2007. Congress of the United States of America, 2007.