cover image Animals


Don LePan, Counterpoint/Soft Skull, $13.95 paper (176p) ISBN 9781593762773

At the center of this dystopian novel lies a philosophical premise: that the line between human and animal is too unclear to justify inhumane treatment of the latter—whether pet or farm animal. In a twenty-second century America, a combination of mass extinction and economic hardship has led people to look for an alternate source of meat: disabled human beings, stripped of their humanity, who are either kept as pets or farmed, with cruel efficiency, as food. Sam is one such person, a deaf child abandoned by his mother and adopted as a pet. The "found manuscript" that tells his story, and the accompanying scholarly commentary, paint a convincing picture of moral decline and ethical inconsistency on a devastating scale. Though at times heavy-handed, Animals nonetheless has the moral clarity and narrative drive of the best of the genre. LePan's vision is extreme, and though he focuses more on the evils of factory farming than on vegan evangelism, some may find it off-putting. But even those who might disagree with his thesis will be compelled by the implications of this well-plotted and formally audacious tale. (Jun.)