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Literature / Children of Steel

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The first four novels in the series.

Children of Steel is a series of sci-fi furry novels written by John Van Stry. In the twenty-second century labor shortages in humanity's exosolar colonies have been mitigated by the use of genetically engineered "animorphs" created by major corporations and indentured for up to fifty years to their creators, or until they die or manage to pay for their creation and education.

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ace Pilot: Dialene. Raj is also very good, but hasn't technically qualified for ace yet.
  • Action Girl: Dialene once she's out of prison. Cassandra and Herza.
  • Artificial Animal People: The premise of the series involves a group of genetically-engineered "animorphs" created by major corporations as indentured servants for humanity's exosolar colonies.
  • Babies Ever After
    • The last of line of Dialene: "I wonder what he'll say tonight when I tell him I'm pregnant with his cub?"
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    • In Lead, Follow, or Suffer the Consequences at least four of Koen's "harem" give birth to his cubs, and he's made buy-out for all of them.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Raj is fiercely protective of his creche-sisters, even before he received the growth hormones that made him bigger than them. In fact that was why re got those hormones, he broke several bones trying to protect Cassandra from a caretaker that was attempting to molest her.
  • Corporate Warfare: Commonplace, most corporate freighters can be converted to troop transports easily and the bigger corps have dedicated warships. Though conflict is mostly limited to piracy, assassinations, and the occasional battle over mines on distant planets. The closest thing to a full war is a multi-system conflict between an alliance of corporations and an anti-morph extremist group.
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  • Death World: In the first book Raj surveys two planets with massive native predators, the first one is an Ice Planet but the second seems innocous at first. Then a herd of giant carnivorous saurioids trample their base and eat most of the expedition team.
  • Disaster Democracy: In Lead, Follow, or Suffer the Consequences Koen states that guerrilla movements don't work well with democractic leadership.
  • Fantastic Racism: On earth animorphs have to be careful where they go, on the colonies it varies, Hobson's Choice allows them most rights short of voting but there are still some isolated bigots, while New Johannesburg doesn't allow them on the planet at all save for company sites.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Hyperspace jumps that usually take a month or two, no FTL Radio though just couriers.
  • Free-Love Future: Among animorphs at least, though official matings/marriages are still monogamous (if a bit open). The exception being Koen's unsusual circumstances where he ends up the only free male available to several hundred females, two of whom claim to be his "wives".
  • Happiness in Slavery: Animorphs in the better corps like Astra tend to raise no objections to their indenture. Some slaves on Pharoah (mostly cats) thoroughly enjoy their lot in life.
  • Human Popsicle:
    • Jotun ends up on ice for nearly three years after his escape attempt from earth.
    • In Interregnum Balizar aka Jotun shoves a teenage leopard with severe PTSD from a base where they resorted to using people as algae feedstock into a stasis pod after he snaps and attacks some of the crew.
  • Indentured Servitude: Animen are indentured to their parent company for 50 years or until they've paid off the cost of their gestation and upbringing. Few survive that long.
  • Interspecies Romance: Raj prefers other leopards but has some relations with other species, most notably off-and-on sex with a human girl on Hobson's Choice, one of whose friends has a wolf stepfather and marries a fox. Jotun has a short relationship with a vixen barmaid (and pays her med school tuition). Dialene is a vixen with a thing for felines, but ends up with another fox and her human boss marries one of her siberian tiger bodyguards.
  • Last Girl Wins:
    • Raj is pledged to Cassandra from the start of the original novel, but she's not seen until the end, and he has a number of flings with other girls, in one case fathering her cubs.
    • Of all the females Jotun has fun with, or develops attachments to, he mates with [[spoiler: Jocel, the other agent sent to retrieve or kill him at the 3/4 mark, under the aliases of Balizar and Sharizad.
    • Of all the males Dialene sleeps with and the few she has a meaningful relationship with, she ends up with Ron, introduced almost 3/4 into her novella.
  • Mega-Corp: Several, Tri-Star is the focus of many of the novels.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Raj is pledged to mate his sister Cassandra, and often has to explain that they're creche siblings not genetically related.
  • The Oldest Profession: At the start of her novella Dialene is a "physical sex therapist" as part of her sentence for piracy.
  • Past Experience Nightmare:
    • Dialene has trauma-induced nightmares from when she was stranded in a crippled shuttle with no atmosphere and no one but what was left of her dead weapons officer and lover.
    • In Interregnum both Raj and Cassandra suffer traumatic dreams from the events of the first book.
  • Penal Colony: Tri-Star maintains an asteroid mine where problematic morphs are sent. It's got a bar and a brothel that are staffed by those who can't take the mines.
  • Professional Killer: Jotun.
  • The Reveal: Balizar and Sharizad, the head of the Astra's leopard clan and his mate in "Children of Steel" are actually ex-assassins Jotun and Jocel from "Danger Money".
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Raj is informed that Cassandra was killed in an attack by Anti-Anns he goes berserk and is only convinced to get under control when he's reminded that he can't get revenge for her if security executes him. Naturally, once he signs on with special forces he recklessly tears a bloody swath across multiple extremist bases.
  • Space Pirates: Dialene's original employers attempted piracy and got themselves killed for it.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Corporate fleets consist primarily of cargo transports and shuttles that can be easily converted to troop carriers and Drop Ships or fighters. Though they do have some dedicated fighters, destroyers, frigates, and cruisers.
  • Strictly Formula: The four books follow a similar plot line: The point of view character is introduced, they meander around space working off their contract to Tri-Star, they enlist in the war between the corporations and an extremist group that hates morphs, then they find a mate and settle down, relative to their previous life. Danger Money differs slightly in that it takes place before the war.
    • Interregnum also differs by dealing with the aftermath of the war, in particular its effects on the protagonist of the first book and his mate.
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: Terease, an anthropomorphic leopard raised by vegetarian humans. She took vitamin supplements at home but couldn't find them on the Astra, by the time Raj practically forced her to eat meat she was severely emaciated.
  • Unwanted Harem: Koen gets one after helping liberate a prison camp composed entirely of female morphs, not that he doesn't like having sex with almost 30 leopardesses it's just when they start going into heat he starts considering freeing a camp with other males.
  • Uterine Replicator: used in animorph creation, the rent is included in their indenture bill.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Non-"freeborn" animorphs are indentured servants to their corp until they make buy-out, Pharoah actually has slavery, though at least they use trucks to move the giant stone blocks.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: See Fantastic Racism above, and even the nicer corps tend to look at their animorphs in terms of investment.