Welcome to SFF Bestiary!

Since the beginning of February 2017, I’ve been tuning in every other week to talk about all kinds of horses in and around the SFF genre. SFF Equines, aka the Horseblog, has had a long and happy run. But I’ve been getting the urge lately to expand my nonfictional universe.

Tor.com admin has agreed that this is a worthy endeavor. And, they asked, might I turn it into a weekly column? Hence, the transformation of SFF Equines into the SFF Bestiary.

I have not forsaken the equines or the equinoids. But in this new series I’ll be looking at the whole range of SFF fauna, from the fantastical to the science-fictional, from unicorns and dragons to aliens of all sorts, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial. I’ll explore not only the weird and the wonderful but the apparently ordinary—finding new ways to look at animals we may all think we know.

First I’ll introduce each species in a general article. Then the following week I’ll talk about a book or series of books that focuses on this species. I may, if I’m inclined, give it a third week, too, with a film or series.

As with SFF Equines, I’ll be delighted take questions and recommendations. If you have a favorite species, or a favorite book or film, do let me know. I’ll circle back to equines now and then, because of course I will.

In fact I’ll begin with the equine-adjacent, one of the most iconic of them all, the unicorn. Later on I’ll talk about dragons, and about other mythical beasts. And werewolves (and were-other things). And gods and powers in animal form, in multiple cultures all over our planet. And space aliens—lizard aliens, cat aliens, dog aliens. And Earth aliens, real creatures who are as strange as anything we can imagine.

I won’t forget more familiar Earth animals, either, or the roles they’ve played in the human imagination. The beast fable is an ancient and honorable genre. It morphed in more modern times into a whole range of talking-animal stories, from Alice in Wonderland to The Wind in the Willows to Watership Down.

I hope you’ll come along with me. There are so many worlds to explore, and so many species to discover. I can’t wait to see where we’ll go.

Judith Tarr has written fantasy and science fiction as well as historical novels, many of which have been published as ebooks. She’s written a primer for writers who want to write about horses: Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right. She lives near Tucson, Arizona with a herd of Lipizzan horses, a clowder of cats, and a blue-eyed dog.

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