I enjoyed The Bees so much, I thought I might try another anthropomorphic novel and looking for recommendations, I came across Mort(e) by Robert Repino, the story of a house cat who achieved consciousness and became a military leader in a global war while on a years-long quest to find his best friend.
Sebastian was a typical house cat who lived with a fairly typical family. He was with them in their first home, for the birth of the children and things were uneventful but happy as he watched over his family. Things began to change when the mother began an affair with the man next door, who brought his dog along when he came over to the house. Sebastian soon became friends with Sheba and was blissful.
Then one day, out of the blue, he became aware of himself in a new way, with a past and a future, he had consciousness. Not only that, but he understood the world in new ways, he could speak, his paws and legs mutated so he could stand upright and use his paws to grasp objects. He did not understand what was happening to him but it must have something to do with the war on the television, the giant ants, the army of wolves.
And indeed it does. For a thousand thousand years, the Queen of the Ants has been plotting the conquest of the world and the annihilation of the human race which has fumigated, bombed and slaughtered ants without mercy. She hates humans with an adamantine determination forged over centuries. She credits their cruelty to their belief in an afterlife, reasoning since that is why they sacrifice their children and themselves, they can also sacrifice the earth.
His metamorphosis comes, not coincidentally, just as the town the family lives in is falling to the ants. The ants broadcast a hormone in advance of their onslaught, recruiting the animals to their cause. Sebastian, out of his pledge to protect the children, ensures their escape while he remains behind to look for his friend Sheba, who was last seen running the opposite direction.
He soon joins up with the Red Sphinx, the special forces of the animal army, but never forgets his quest to find his friend Sheba. He takes a new name, Mort(e) – inspired in part by Le Morte d’Arthur, but he was unsure whether it was spelled with an “e” or not. Also, he was not sold completely on calling himself Death, thinking Mort was a regular guy, a nice guy. So he chose to be Mort(e) so that he could go either way.
And really, isn’t that is what this is all about? What way will he go, the way of death or the way of Mort, the regular guy who has a best friend out there somewhere, he hopes. “I remember my time with my friend, I realize that these things don’t last. But I will fight for them.”
Will he make it through the war? What is the secret virus killing the animals? Is there a place for humans in this new world? A lot of questions that are answered well.
This is fast-paced adventure story about the future of humanity and the animals. How do we treat our fellow creatures? Would they join in a rebellion to eradicate us? Is religion a curse, a cure, a fraud or a salvation? These are weighty questions and Mort(e) is no Animal Farm insisting we understand every political allegory pounded onto the page. It is first a story about a powerful and enduring friendship between a cat and a dog. All the rest is history.