Feb 9 2011 4:22pm

Humankind’s Best Friends: SFF Pets!

Doctor and K-9 investigate the hoomans and goggies

At the beginning of the week, we asked our Facebook and Twitter friends and followers to name their favorite cuddly or not-so cuddly pets from all of science fiction and fantasy. We thought we were ready for the various scores of cosmic and mystical animals out there in the multiverse, but naturally, we there were a whole slew of creatures we didn’t expect. Click below for the highlights!

Honor Harrington series treecatsTreecats from David Weber’s Honor Harrington series

Though arguably not entirely domesticated animals, these critters are extremely popular! (We saw numerous mentions of them on Facebook and Twitter.) It’s easy to see why, because Treecats are amazing. With six limbs, opposable thumbs, elongated bodies, and physic abilities, the Treecats seem to beat normal cats any day of the week. Now all we need are LOLTreecats.


AppaAppa from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Again, though Appa is extremely intelligent, and not necessarily “pet-like” we felt he had to be included due to his overwhelming popularity. (Especially here in the office.) What is not to love about this wonderful sky bison? He’s loyal, fierce, enormous, and totally adorable. In any case, Appa makes a strong case for the notion that the best kinds of SFF pets are more like people.


Fire Lizards from the Pern seriesThe Fire Lizards from Anne McCaffery’s Pern Series

Unlike the full-blown telepathic Dragons of Pern, the Fire Lizards are smaller, more demure versions of their fire-breathing cousins. Also known as “dragonets” the Fire Lizards were present on the planet Pern long before human colonization. Like the relationship between monkeys and humanoids, the fire lizards represent a sort of evolutionary throwback, with the specifics of how they evolved into intelligent dragons still partially shrouded in mystery.


Daemons from Philip Pullmans’ His Dark Materials series

This animal companion isn’t even an animal at all. While the daemons from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy always take animal form, they are in truth an aspect of the personality of their “owner.” There are deep taboos against touching another’s daemon, as while they commonly represent a physical advantage in comparison with humans they are nonetheless treated as a vulnerability during conflict. And love? Well, relationships between the daemons of two lovers gets... complicated. In terms of their literary origins, Pullman found inspiration in certain classical paintings like Da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine” (pictured right).


Salacious CrumbSalacious Crumb from Return of the Jedi

According to official Star Wars sources, Salacious Crumb is a Kowakian monkey-lizard who long-evaded Mandalorian rat catchers before coming to live with Jabba the Hut. Once on Tatooine he became the court jester at Jabba’s Palace, which means he basically just sits there and laughs like a lunatic. Even if he’s partially intelligent, we’re sure Jabba thinks of him as a pet.


Luggage from DiscworldThe Luggage from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series

Another entry in the category of incredibly useful SFF pets comes The Luggage, which is quite simply, a trunk with legs. Like a TARDIS, the luggage can apparently hold many dimensions within it, and will even swallow people into said dimensions of they threaten its master. Like all good pets, The Luggage is immensely loyal, though simultaneously feared by many. It was also briefly worshiped as a God.


Sarah Jane and K-9K-9 from Doctor Who

Whether it’s K-9 Mark I, II, III, or IV, there’s no question that he is the most loyal tin dog in the universe. His reassuringly upbeat “affirmative!” coupled with his laser-beam and sometimes ability to levitate make him a very good dog, but also extremely useful, too. Who cares if he doesn’t play fetch. Do you know any real dogs that can remember the basecode for the TARDIS? Didn’t think so.


FizzgigFizzgig from Dark Crystal

Fizzgig comes off like a Tribble with teeth, although far more loyal, and talkative. (We’re pretty sure he’s not born pregnant, either.)


There were lots more suggestions for SFF pets. In no particular order, here are the honorable mentions:

  • The talking cat from The Last Unicorn
  • Muffit from classic Battlestar Galactica
  • Cringer/Battlecat from He-Man
  • Oy from The Dark Tower series
  • Ein from Cowboy Bebop
  • Lummox from The Star Beast
  • The Maze-Running Mice from Redemption Ark
  • Keesha from the Gandalara Cycle
  • 1812 from Farscape
  • Bill the Pony from Lord of the Rings

Thanks to all our Twitter and Facebook followes who chimed in! What’d we miss? (Besides Bela from the Wheel of Time. Although it seems wise to not consider a horse/Creator as sneaky as Bela as a “pet.”)

Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of and tends to be a voice for semi-official business and general randomness from the staff.

Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Obvious picks - the Direwolves from Martin's ASOIF; Nighteyes the Wolf and Nosy the Dog from Hobbs' Farseer Books.

2. dragonsRock
I'm sorry, but your Pern knowledge is off, the dragons were genetically engineered from the fire lizards. Not murky at all.
4. Rowanmdm
Mercy Thompson's cat Medea. Any cat that can live with a shape-shifting coyote and a werewolf, as well as deal with vampires, is pretty cool in my book.
5. Kwhopper88
YOSHI! from Super Mario bros.
Don't even try to tell me that a universe populated with nice dragons, evil dragons, walking bombs, airships and vicious turtles isn't some variant of SFF. Not to mention the two social climbing plumbers who manage to kill/destroy all of the above examples by merely jumping.
Yes, including Yoshi. Traitors!
6. Nentuaby
Er, I hate to be That Guy, but there are a couple of *really big* nitpicks here...

First, treecats are not pets at all. They're people. They've got language and a stone age technological society.

Second, there's no mystery how fire lizards became dragons. There's an entire book about the genetic engineering project responsible.
Steven Halter
7. stevenhalter
The minidrag, or "Alaspinian Miniature Dragon" of Alan Dean Foster's Flinx books.
8. dwndrgn
Fanuilh (book of same name)
Crookshanks, HP
Scabbers, HP
Hedwig, HP
Mouse, Dresden Files
Mister, Dresden Files

Tons more that I am just not recollectin' at the moment.
Sim Tambem
9. Daedos
In the spirit of healthy discussion, I'd like to propose the notion that Cringer (A.K.A. The Battle Cat) is in no way a pet. C'mon guys; he is so much more. Companion, friend...confidant - they could have practically named the show after him. Ram-Man was more of a pet...

Also, Scabbers? A pet? Anyone else see something wrong there?
David Levinson
10. DemetriosX
Calling the Luggage a pet is somewhat debatable. It seems to be more or less intelligent, not to mention a force of nature. Lummox is definitely out. She was an intelligent alien who considered the protagonist of the book to be her pet.

And where are the Martian flatcats (The Rolling Stones)? I'll rule out Willis from Red Planet for the same reason as Lummox. Lots of pets in Heinlein: Petronius the Arbiter (The Door into Summer), Pixel (The Cat Who Walks Through Walls), the spider puppy from Starman Jones...
11. RobinM
How about Catwings by Ursula K. Leguine or they are actuall pets in the Forgetten Realms (Waterdeep AD&D).
14. Dr. Cox
Scabbers . . . yeah, see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
There's also Pigwidgeon (sp? I don't have a copy of Goblet of Fire to check the spelling tho' the owl first appears in Prisoner of Azkaban).
15. mmzy
How about Gizmo from Gremlins?
F Shelley
16. FSS
Spot the cat from ST: TNG
That beagle from ST: Enterprise
Trevor the frog from Harry Potter
Perrin from The Wheel of Time

I'm sure there are others...
17. Dietes
Qantaqa from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
Triskele from The Book of the New Sun
The Rancor
The Rat-Things from Snow Crash
18. Barleymash
H.Beam Piper's Little Fuzzies — Pets at the beginning but… well, that would be a spoiler, wouldn't it?
Robert Heinlein's Buck the Mule. I named my car after him.
Old school, Baby!
Noneo Yourbusiness
19. Longtimefan
We are already to 18 on and no one has mentioned Bela the wonder horse? Well I will mention her.

Bela, the Wonder Horse!

If you have to ask what book series she is from you have been missing some aspects of Important and interesting aspects. ;)

as to mmzy@15, Gizmo ca-ca.

and to FSS, Perrin is not a pet he is just very sulky.
20. HenrikT
The Otak in Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K Leguan?
21. weregopher
Ponch from Diane Duanes Young Wizards series. A dog who can cross
between the universes just to find one with squirrels in to chase and
communicate with his Humans by using the universal wizard speach has got
to be a great pet.
Rob Munnelly
22. RobMRobM
LTF - Bela is mentioned in the closing text of the article. Hence, the silence in the comments (until you, that is). Rob
23. dwndrgn
Yes, Scabbers was Ron's pet rat - even though he turned out to be something else he was still, originally, a pet rat.
*blows raspberry* So there!

Ohh, the ferrets from the Beastmaster! Those were awesome pets. Can't remember their names at the moment though...someone help me out.
24. Lord TabooLy
What about Bubo the Owl from Clash of the Titans?
It truly was a gift from the Gods.
Nick Rogers
25. BookGoblin
@23 dwndrgn

Kodo and Podo. Didn't even have to google, which just makes me miss my misspent youth watching TBS every Sunday morning. I swear that movie came on after Cartoon Express every weekend for about three years.
Drew Holton
26. Dholton
I can't believe I didn't think of this right off, much less anyone else...Tribbles of course! ALL of them!

Borg Tribbles are, of course, optional.
27. Gerry__Quinn
Nibbler from Futurama.

Gene Wolfe has a few interesting pets - Oreb from Book of the Long Sun, and Mani from The Wizard Knight.
Ashe Armstrong
28. AsheSaoirse
Definitely glad to see Oy mentioned. Oy was a good boy. He was brave and loyal and loved his master, "Ake." Oy...he was definitely a good boy.
Gary Schaper
29. Garyfury
@8 dwndrgn:

Mouse isn't Dresden's pet. Dresden is Mouse's pet.

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