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The Vine: September 23, 2011

Submitted by on September 23, 2011 – 8:50 AM9 Comments

I've tried Google and asked my Facebook friends: one suggested I try Tomato Nation. The work I am trying to find was written in German, and is something between a short essay and a vignette. A young king, long ago, set up a school for the rich, and one for the poor. The school for the rich was to teach humility and giving, while the one for the poor was to teach pride and how to accept graciously.

Unfortunately, the king died and no one understood his scheme, so the rich were sent to the grand-looking school, intended for the poor, and the poor to the humble-looking one, intended for the rich. Thus it is that the rich learn to take and the poor learn to give. Any clues would be appreciated.

Signed,
Hunting through my old books.

*****

Hey Sars. My husband's been looking for a book, and since Google and other places have failed, I'm hoping you or your readers might be able to help. He read it sometime in the late '70s or early '80s.

It's a sci-fi/fantasy book. The protagonists were cat-like people, with retractable claws and (he thinks, but isn't sure) fur. They lived on a world with an "evil" race of vulture-like people, who viewed the cat people as food. They used spears and natural weapons to hunt the cats, and the cats used compressed air dartguns and biplanes to fight the vultures. At some point in the book the cats used a submarine armed with more dart guns, and had to fight a big fish. The world had a strange atmosphere, with a lower dense layer and a light upper layer. There's a violent turbulent area where the layers meet.

I'm hoping that's enough to jog someone's memory.

Meri

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9 Comments »

  • Kriesa says:

    Meri, could the book be one of the "Balzan of the Cat People" series by Wallace Moore?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balzan_of_the_Cat_People

    This photo of one of the covers shows a winged (vulture?) creature in the background:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28348954@N00/3347122067/

    I thought I remembered a different book that fit your husband's description, but I think I may have been thinking of the 80s cartoon, "Thundercats".

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Sooner or later, everything leads back to Thundercats.

  • Kriesa says:

    Also, googling brought up this article about cat-people in science fiction:
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2010/08/i-can-has-ray-gunz-cat-people-in-science-fiction

    To me, it doesn't sound like any of the books in the article itself match your husband's book. But there are a lot of comments adding more cat-people to the list, and maybe one of them will ring a bell.

  • JenV says:

    Hunting: I don't know anything about the short story that you are looking for, but it sounds really interesting. I hope someone can help you (and that I can read it too, if there's an English version!)

  • Anne says:

    Meri, your husband may be thinking of the Chanur series by C.J. Cherryh. I was obsessed with the cover art when I was very small and, though I never actually read the novels, your description immediately called those covers to mind.

    Here's the link to the Wikipedia article: http://is.gd/IxAkQW

    Also, I may have to find copies and read them. How did I never get around to them?

  • Reyn says:

    Hunting-

    I haven't had a chance to check my copy (as it's some where in a box and I don't know which box), but I would look into Hermann Hesse's fairy tales if you haven't already. For some reason, it just struck me as something he would write. And he's German! Bonus! If it's not him, his fairy tales are wonderful (though quite dystopian).

    Good luck! If I actually dig my copy out and read it soon I'll let you know if it's in there.

  • saro says:

    Jen S1.0 speaks the truth.

    Thundercats HOOOOOOOO

  • Sandman says:

    Now that G.I. Joe and Transformers have been made into movies (though not equally successfully), a Thundercats film seems inevitable. Probably starring Wossname Lautner as Lion-O. Gack.

  • Teela says:

    I think the cat-people book may be the something in the series called Man-Kzin Wars. There were a number of stories and novels so I can't point you to the particular one he may have read and the series focuses on humans and Kzin fighting in space (maybe the story he read was a flashback? or background?) but you could start with the wikipedia page. There's also a reference guide, Annals of the Man-Kzin-Wars: An Unofficial Companion Guide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-Kzin_Wars

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