The Paradox/Pelted universe is a SpaceOpera setting written by [[Creator/MCAHogarth M.C.A. Hogarth]] that primarily focuses on the Alliance between humanity and the Pelted, a variety of genetically engineered human-animal hybrids who left earth centuries ago. It has been in development since the 1980s and covers a variety of areas, from military to anthropologics of the dozen Pelted races and a few completely alien species as well.

The best introduction to the series would probably be the anthology ''Claws and Starships'', in particular the short story ''A Distant Sun'' about a history and bioethics teacher with a multi-species class, as it gives an overview of the Alliance's history.
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!! This setting contains examples of:

* AcquiredPoisonImmunity: After a Chatcaava noble tries to poison him Lisinthir starts smoking small amounts of the poison in question to build up an immunity. It has problems though, such as addiction, and coughing up blood.
* TheAlliance: The Alliance, obviously, consisting of humans, Pelted, and a few alien races, the Eldritch are aligned with them but not full members.
* {{Ambadassador}}: Lisinthir was chosen to be ambassador to the Chatcaava because he was one of the hardest Eldritch nobles and an avid duelist, and the Alliance wanted an esper. Even so he does spend a lot of ''Even the Wingless'' getting raped by the Emperor, though he does [[spoiler: manage to inflict some serious wounds on the Emperor on one occasion, and slays Third and his hand.]]
* ArrangedMarriage: ''Family'' features a marriage to secure an alliance between two Eldritch houses using a little girl and a boy who still thinks girls are icky.
* {{Asexual}}: Glaseah are engineered to have no sex drives, they have two genders but tend to reproduce artificially.
* AsskickingEqualsAuthority: The Chatcaava Empire operates on this principle, determining rank via duels to the death or dominance fights that simply end in the loser having a few horns ripped off and getting raped.
* BizarreSexualDimorphism: Male Chatcaava have two arms and a [[WingedHumanoid pair of wings]], as well as the ability to shapeshift, females have an [[MultiArmedAndDangerous extra pair of arms]] instead of wings. The Slave Queen is unusual as she is a female with wings and shapeshifting ability, though the Emperor had her wings maimed.
* BondageIsBad: ''Even the Wingless'' and ''Alysha's Fall'' portray violent torture and pseudo-rape, though at least four of the females in the Emperor's harem apparently enjoyed it (three after Third killed one of them).
* BrotherSisterIncest: Sascha and Irine in Earthrise, apparently tolerable among their species.
* CainAndAbel: Baniel and Hirianthial.
* CommonTongue: Universal, designed by the Seersa for the Alliance. Most races have their own languages as well.
* DataPad: Data tablets are ubiquitous in the Alliance.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: The Chatcaava's.
* DeathByChildbirth: Hirianthial's wife died this way, taking their child with her. It's said to be a disturbingly common cause of death for Eldritch women given their literally medieval medical technology. One of the Chatcaavan Emperor's concubines almost dies in childbirth as well, as they consider females not worth medical attention, but Lisinthir convinces the royal Surgeon to help her and the Emperor is somewhat grateful that his newest son survives.
* DepravedBisexual: High-ranking Chatcaavan males are expected to rape their subordinates into submission.
* DistressedDude: Hirianthial seems to have a habit of getting kidnapped. Though he is skilled at fighting, it's just his empathy, physical weakness, and high value to slavers.
* DraconicHumanoid: The [[http://mcah.wikia.com/wiki/Chatcaava Chatcaava]] look like humanoid drakes in their [[ShapeShifting natural forms]], though most females have a second pair of arms instead of wings.
* DreamWeaver: Jahir and Vasiht'h use it for psychotherapy.
* DuelToTheDeath: A number of cultures have them, Aera, Eldritch, Chatcaava...
* DyingRace: [[spoiler: The Eldritch]] due to low fertility, inbreeding, and [[spoiler: refusal to ask the Alliance, many of whose races had similar problems and developed work-arounds, for help.]]
* TheEmpire: The Chatcaava Empire.
* ExoticExtendedMarriage: Harat-Shar practice polygyny. The Chatcaavan emperor keeps a slave-harem.
* FantasticDrug: One of the few drugs the Alliance bans is [[http://haikujaguar.livejournal.com/1226517.html "wet"]], so called because it liquifies the brain after a few months of use. And one of the cheaper ways of producing it is apparently [[spoiler: to crack open sentient crystals]].
* FantasticSlur: "Furry" for Pelted, "Skinny" and "Devvy" (from "devolved") for humans.
* FasterThanLightTravel: Well Drive, which was invented by the Tam-illee after the exodus.
* FeudalFuture: The Chatcaava Empire is feudal, with the Emperor being the one who can overpower the other kings. The Hinichi and Eldritch are feudal on a planetary scale, and the Eldritch noble houses are comprising an increasingly large proportion of the dwindling population.
* FishOutOfWater: A common theme in Micah's books is the outsider thrust into a strange culture they do not fully understand.
* ForceFieldDoor: The prison at the beginning of ''Earthrise'' has Halo fields, and conventional bars as well.
* GenerationShips: Used in the Pelted exodus from earth to what is now the Alliance core worlds.
* HappinessInSlavery: Harat-Shar have a form of slavery where people voluntarily indenture themselves for a limited time for assorted reasons. Averted by the Chatcaava's slaves and those taken by slavers.
* HeavyWorlder: Glaseah were engineered for a planet with slightly heavier gravity than Alliance standard, as such they tend to be about five feet tall and stocky, the four legs probably help too. In contrast Eldritch are adapted to a low gravity world and often grow over six and a half feet tall, though they sometimes experience difficulty on other Alliance planets until they've acclimated to the gravity, as Jahir's fainting spell early in ''Mindtouch'' demonstrates.
** The rarely seen alien Faulfenza are also heavyworlders, but they're nearly as tall as the Eldritch.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Jahir and Vasiht'h are near inseparable, they even have a dedicated [[MindlinkMates mindline]], but no kind of sexual attraction to one another. The author has referred to the upcoming story about how they first met in college as an "asexual romance".
* HotForTeacher: Margeaux for Kellen in ''A Distant Sun'', he tries not to reciprocate, not only because he's her teacher but also because [[spoiler: he has a genetic disorder that makes his bodily fluids toxic, and it turns out she has an even worse disease that does not interact well with what she gets from a bit of his blood from a split lip.]]
* HumanSubspecies: Despite their varied appearances humans and Pelted share 99% of their genome and are capable of interbreeding, one pre-Exodus scandal involved a billionaire woman who got impregnated by her "pet" Seersa. [[spoiler: The Eldritch]] are similar.
* IndenturedServitude: In ''Earthrise'' Harat-sharin slaves sign themselves into temporary contracts. During their terms as slaves they have a lot of protections under the law and their savings accrue much higher interest than normal. Indentured servants on the other hand are convicts who have practically no rights.
* InterspeciesRomance
* LaserBlade: Holoswords, which project a HardLight blade of variable length, width, and sharpness. They're primarily used for fencing, with an entire fighting style based around changing the blade settings in the middle of combat, but in ''Laisrathera'' Hirianthial uses one to great effectiveness in a series of [[DuelToTheDeath duels]].
* LostColony: Many of the Pelted worlds forgot their origins. And then there's [[spoiler: the Eldritch, who concealed their origins from the Alliance.]]
* LovableSexManiac: Sascha and Irine epitomize the "Harat-Shariin hedonist" stereotype.
* {{Matriarchy}}: the Eldritch are ruled by a queen and matrilineal, though the queen is traditionally succeeded by her niece. When asked about one character says that it's "the only way to be sure of lineage without reproductive technology."
* MatterReplicator: "Genies", though the energy expense is significant enough that most foods are still bought.
* MayflyDecemberRomance: Many between Eldritch and "mortals".
** Reese and Hirianthial seem to be growing on one another over the course of the (uncompleted) ''Her Instruments'' trilogy.
** Not quite romance, but they are [[HeterosexualLifePartners similarly close]], Jahir and Vasiht'h.
** Jahir's cousin Sediryl had a relationship with a human man, and [[BiTheWay later a woman]], though partially to piss off the more conservative houses.
** The short story ''Precious Things'' seemed to imply the start of something between Lesandurel and Sydnie Unfound. Though it's presumed that Sydnie eventually found a Tam-illee mate given that the Queen's Tams are all descended from her. Granted they're still loyal after nine generations.
** Even [[spoiler: Queen Liolesa]] confessed to loving a human geneticist, who died of old age long ago. She tells Hirianthial that she doesn't regret having that relationship, she was only sad that it ended so quickly.
* MildlyMilitary: In the military stories the Alliance Fleet acts a bit more like Starfleet than any actual military. Somewhat justified as the Pelted based it on vague cultural memories from before the Exodus of human militaries, many officers on loan from the Earth Navy are dismayed by the lack of discipline.
* MindOverManners: Eldritch customs strongly discourage the use of their telepathy. But in a subversion most of their race aren't any more ethical than other people.
* MixAndMatchCritters: Many Pelted species have more than two species in their ancestry:
** Naysha combined the sturdiness of wolves with the delicacy of foxes, the strength of orcas and the agility and intelligence of dolphins. As well as a number of other deep-sea denizens and coral fishes for color.
** Seersa look mostly like anthropomorphic foxes with feline coat patterns (jaguar rosettes for instance).
** Aera have the DNA of foxes, mongooses, big cats, humans, deer, and sparrows, they mostly look feline except for the tiny wings on their ankles.
** [[OurCentaursAreDifferent Ciracaana]] have cat-like lower bodies and canine upper bodies.
** Glaseah look mostly like skunk-taurs with a pair of bat wings and outer ears composed of feathers.
* NoBiochemicalBarriers: Averted with the Eldritch [[spoiler: their homeworld's native flora is inedible to them and their Terran livestock, and with their medieval tech they can't grow enough Terran crops to support their population. They've been dependent on imported food since re-contact with the Alliance, unfortunately Liolesa never told the rebellious xenophobic Houses that.]]
* NonMammalMammaries: The majority of Pelted are mammals with human-like breasts. Chatcaavan females look reptilian but are actually mammals with mammary glands, the Slave Queen is an exception though.
* OfCorsetHurts: Reese wonders if Eldritch have fewer ribs than humans when dressing for an appearance at the Winter court.
* {{Omniglot}}: Seersa have enhanced linguistic centers of the brain. There's a proverb that "there hasn't been a Seersa born who didn't have twenty tongues".
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: Chatcaava look like anthropomorphic dragons in their natural form.
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: Averted, despite knowing that they were genetically engineered each of the Pelted races has at least one religion. For instance the Hinichi mostly follow a variation of Christianity while the Glaseah believe that the goddess Aksivah't inspired the scientists who created them. The card game "Pantheon" has players choosing which gods they think matches a certain condition each round.
* PlanetOfHats: Many of the races come across as this. With the Pelted [[spoiler: and Eldritch]] it may be justified in that their homeworlds were established less than a thousand years ago. And there are exceptions to the stereotypes.
** Seersa are {{Cunning Linguist}}s.
** Glaseah are best known as scientists, and espers.
** Harat-shar frequently come across as polygamous sex fiends (though those from the newer colonies are noticeably different in attitudes).
** Ciracaana = barbarians. According to a city-dwelling specimen of the race with a sense of humor.
** Eldritch = SpaceElves.
* PowerIncontinence: Eldritch seem to have little to no control over their telepathy, sensing other's thoughts and emotions are often even painful for them.
* PsychicPowers: Eldritch have touch telepathy, which is why they have a taboo against touching. Glaseah are usually telepathic as well.
** The Eldritch also have stories of "mind mages" with greater powers. The main story of ''Rose Point'' is set off by Hirianthial discovering that he can [[spoiler: quite literally kill with his mind.]]
* TheQuisling: [[spoiler: Baniel sold out his entire homeworld to the Chatcaava.]]
* RapeOfTheLock: [[spoiler: Baniel cuts off Hirianthial's long hair.]]
* SexSlave: What all Chatcaavan slaves appear to be. In ''Earthrise'' Irine states that heavy labor is done by machines so slaves are either used as personal servants or used for pleasure, and that she wouldn't mind being MadeASlave too much. Reese suggests that the pirates after them might prefer to make her into a rug instead to motivate her to fight.
* SlidingScaleOfAnthropomorphism: Pelted vary from PettingZooPeople to borderline LittleBitBeastly.
* SpaceAmish: A large proportion of the Ciracaana population live in stone age villages, despite being genetically engineered by an engineered race who originated on a distant planet. Still there are several "civilized" city-dwellers who have some degree of interaction with off-worlders.
** In ''Rose Point'' the Earthrise crew stop at Kerayle, a planet where the colonists intended to live as herding nomads, with the colony divided in half and the two halves alternating between the settlement and the plains, at least until they'd cloned enough horses for everyone. But when Reece and her crew arrive they're having some "labor troubles" and many of the colonists have rebelled and turned to banditry.
* SpaceElves: The Eldritch, fair skinned and haired, psychic, [[LongLived live for many centuries]], [[HiddenElfVillage extremely isolationist]], and [[spoiler: slowly [[DyingRace going extinct]]]]
* SpacePirates: Most of the antagonists in the ''Her Instruments'' trilogy, though they might be more accurately described as slavers working for the Chatcaava.
* TeleportersAndTransporters: "Pads", though one way, a Pad can send someone to a distant location without any sort of receiver but they can't take them back.
* TouchTelepathy: Eldritch have this ability, but they can't control it, and reading other people's thoughts can be traumatic for them. Hence their strong taboos against making skin contact and penchant for heavy clothing.
* TranshumanAliens: The Pelted, though at the time of most of the stories their ancestry is common knowledge. Also [[spoiler: The Eldritch]] whose ancestry is a close guarded secret.
* TrustBuildingBlunder: ''Second'' features a Fleet wilderness retreat, Alysha and Taylitha end up hospitalized because their tyrannical team leader made them take the "advanced difficulty" river route.
* VertebrateWithExtraLimbs: Chatcaava have six limbs, a pair of wings in males and an extra pair of arms on most females. Ciracaana have four legs and two arms. And Glaseah have eight limbs in total (four legs, two arms, two wings.)
* VisionQuest: Carevei [=EarthHunger=] in ''The Elements of Freedom'' undergoes one, including drugs, to convince a Ciracaana tribe of the truth behind her warning of an earthquake. [[spoiler: Her totem inflicts physical injuries which persuades them, and she decides to stay with them, changing her found name to [=HawkFreed=].]]
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: Chatcaava males (and winged females like the Slave Queen) can shapeshift into other species by obtaining their "Pattern" through touch.
* WeAreAsMayflies: All of the Pelted races with life spans listed on [[http://mcah.wikia.com/wiki/Pelted the author's wiki]] commonly live over a century. With the Naysha (150), Glaseah (150 or 260, depending on source), and Phoenixes (620?) being the longest lived. Eldritch of course can live over a thousand years barring the violence or diseases that are all too common on their world. And the completely alien Faulfenza live about seven hundred [[note]]possible UnitConfusion in the example[[/note]]
* WingedHumanoid: Chatcaava. Malarai, Phoenixes, and Glaseah have wings but can't use them to fly in standard gravity, while the Aera's ankle-wings seem little more than decoration.
* WolverineClaws: claw-knives, which are gloves with retractable blades meant to mimic the claws of feline Pelted, are illegal in the Alliance, but Lisinthir is given a pair when he becomes ambassador to the Chatcaava as they have very long claws which they use in duels.
** Alysha Forrest lost her natural claws and replaced them with prosthetics made of a molecular alloy called breathnache.