First published in 1989 and recently released in a new edition, Alan Dean Foster’s Quozl is the comic tale of a race of extraterrestrial rabbits who intend to colonize the third planet from the sun, only to discover it is already occupied, by humans.
Foster spends a good portion of the novel developing the Quozl into a fully functional society with traditions, history, and a philosophy all their own. The Quozl have dispatched multiple colony ships in a desperate attempt to solve the problems of overcrowding at home. They do, in fact, literally breed like rabbits, although efforts have been taken on board the generation ships to limit births. They have a long history of violence and war, although they have since developed a more peaceful, rigid society. Violent impulses are mitigated through ritual combat—physical and verbal—where drawing blood is the ultimate humiliation.
Polite and hierarchical, they are initially ill-equipped to understand human nature. Having long believed themselves the only intelligent life forms, the Quozl find humans barbaric and often inexplicable. Arriving during the height of WWII, and with a return trip impossible, they resolve to live on Earth in secret until they deem humanity mature enough for peaceful contact—a few centuries perhaps. Unfortunately fate intervenes.
The Quozl are a delightful creation. Foster extrapolates a great deal from rabbit physiology and presents an intricate and even realistic society, or at least, as realistic as possible for extraterrestrial colonizing rabbits. They are a species full of contradictions, and their initial exploration of Earth and theories about humanity are a joy to read. First contact is also presented with a fresh spin, avoiding the usual military and political path.
Nevertheless, for all its promise, Quozl is ultimately disappointing. It has the potential to be a surreal and insightful satirical masterpiece, and while it is often satirical, the climax is rushed. Foster covers decades in the novel, and the time jumps are not always handled as skillfully as possible. I enjoyed Quozl, and I’m glad I read it, but I had perhaps unreasonably high hopes.
Quozl can be found here on Amazon.
Received a Copy From NetGalley For Review
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