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Literature / Quozl

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A standalone SF novel by Alan Dean Foster. The eponymous aliens are human-sized marsupial rabbits that slowly colonize the galaxy traveling in Generation Ships. Earth was going to be their sixth colony.

Their first shock was discovering another sentient species. The second was actually meeting one specimen and finding how good primitive human guns are and how hard it is to kill a rampaging human. The third was... the author tries to keep it secret until the end, but it’s rather predictable. Taking this into account, Quozl rulers decided the colony to stay a small underground "Burrow" deep in a national park somewhere in the wilderness of North America. Contacting humans was forbidden.

One important thing about Quozl society is being "open" in areas where humans are "repressed". They love graphic depictions of violence, like historical battles where warlords are gutting babies. They copulate for recreation 20-60 times a day (which isn't as much as you'd expect — Quozl can do it over a dozen times during a human "quickie"). This is stated to improve their mental health.

Shortly after the landing a couple of Quozl left the colony, desiring to live in the open air. They were never heard from and were considered dead from the elements.

Then a human boy accidentally met a Quozl boy. And then they grew up, met again and became friends. And then things got out of hand.

Quozl contains the following tropes (beware of unmarked spoilers):

  • Author Tract: Quozl society is "open" in many areas where human society is "repressed". There is no sex taboo (though it seems to be exclusively heterosexual and vaginal, but with ubiquitous birth control); all depictions of historical violence are very naturalistic and graphic. This serves to improve mental health. Such ideas overlap with some other Foster's stories.
  • Beast Man: Quozl are described as marsupials, with long ears that have 3 joints, short fluffy tails, manipulative arms, powerful legs, and some peculiarities in their body flexibility. On most illustrations they resemble anthropomorphic rabbits.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: The Quozl turned out to be quite beneficial to humans in the end. Possibly subverted in the last conversation. Since Quozl ability to offer violence is bound by very formal doctrine, they intend for humans to fight in their stead should the need appear. They believe they've enslaved us without us being aware of it.
    It is far better to be cute, cuddly, and lovable than to wield a bigger gun or sharper sword. We obey their laws and hew to their restrictions, we leave all major decisions to them — while we advise quietly and deferentially. We do exactly as they command, which is just what we want.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Quozl do not care about punishing wrongdoers, all they care about is preventing further damage. The council may try to kill all humans, who know of Quozl existence, but once the plan fails, they become sincerely friendly and cooperative.
  • Brick Joke: Early on High-red-Chanter (and later Thinks-of-Grim too) get a lot of screen time upholding their views. Then they leave Burrow never to be heard of and are presumed to have died from cold. Then they appear in the antepenultimate chapter to solve all Human-Quozl problems by telling how they lived with a human family on a remote farm.
  • Didn't Think This Through: High-red-Chanter and Thinks-of-Grim lived a carefree life through summer, but they poorly prepared for winter. Quozl in the Burrow believed they died from exposure. They were almost right.
  • Exotic Equipment: Averted. Quozl mate compulsively several dozen times a day, albeit sessions are much shorter than those of humans, and are sexually compatible with us. Hardly unexpected: they're bipedal alien rabbits.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: Mindy produces a kiddie cartoon show about rabbit-like aliens stranded on Earth. Chad confronts her about it, but she waves him off when she makes him realize that anyone claiming that cartoon characters actually live in a national park would never be taken seriously. As for the real Quozl, they discover the broadcasts and while they are insulted and feel used by her, they realize that trying to interfere with the broadcasts would do far more harm than good and instead insist on being secret creative consultants in order to make the situation more bearable and perhaps use it to their advantage when they come out of hiding.
  • First Contact: A press agent, who is the fiance of one of the main characters, meets the Quozl and maneuvers them to chase him to Los Angeles when it seems that he would reveal them for a quick buck. Once there, he reveals that he does want to do so, but for their benefit. It takes some persuading, and thwarting a Quozl suicidal assassination attempt on him along the way, but they agree to follow his plan. It turns out that his plan is brilliant with getting them eventually on a syndicated afternoon talk show to introduce them to the public, which seizing worldwide attention with the intended side-effect of drawing complaints from viewers that the extended broadcasting with this monumental event is preempting their Soap Opera shows, thus giving the Quozl acceptance in a backdoor fashion.
  • Generation Ships: The way Quozl colonize new planets.
  • Interspecies Romance: More of one-time-stands and "friends with benefits". As Quozl eventually integrate into human society, and since they believe in frequent sex anytime, anywhere with any compatible intelligent species as a legitimate means of blowing off steam. The book establishes that once Humanity understood that social more, the Quozl quickly become very popular company. On the other hand, humankind was the only other intelligent species they'd run into.
  • Male-to-Female Universal Adaptor: For some reason Quozl scientists are shocked to learn they are compatible with humans and decide to keep it a secret from the rest of the population. Preventing humans from going Out with a Bang probably wasn't the reason — and it didn't happen when the truth was revealed. More likely it was done to prevent Quozl from experimenting and to stay hidden.
  • Mars Needs Women: Quozl believe in frequent sex as a legitimate way of blowing off steam and find Humans quite attractive in an exotic way. Considering most Humans find the rabbit like aliens quite cute looking, the feeling is usually mutual.
  • Not a Mask: Quozl are wandering around Disneyland pretending to be people in suits, modelled after Quozltime kids' TV show. Hilarity Ensues when the security guards confront them for being dressed up like characters from a rival company.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Aboard a Generation Ship wood is considerably valuable. It's not rare on the planets Quozl have colonized, but space travel takes decades and growing trees in such an environment is impractical. They have elaborate public wooden sculptures, but the most wood an individual Quozl is likely to own is a small ring.
  • Recursive Canon: Mindy turns the story of meeting the Quozl into a cartoon show Quozltime. Chad and two Quozl confront her and she says she was paving the way for a future reveal. How much of that is true, is left up to the reader.
  • The Unmasqued World: The last chapter.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When Quozl decide to gradually reveal themselves to humanity, their human friends take them to Disneyland, where they can walk around and talk to people and be completely ignored. Eventually they are nabbed by security... but only because Quozl are not Disney characters.
  • Where's the Kaboom?: When Seams-with-Metal reveals a bomb and her orders from the ruling council to blow up everybody who can reveal the secret. With a maximum of drama, she hits the detonation button, but nothing happens. Runs-red-Talking then reveals he discovered the bomb and disarmed it some time ago.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Quozl are far more frightened of humans than humans have reason to be from them; the first encounter between a human and a Quozl resulted in the Quozl dying from a shotgun blast to the chest, while the aliens' own ray guns took multiple shots to put him down; they were designed for handling hostile fauna, and the Quozl never thought they'd face anything that could fire back. In fact, they were utterly shocked to discover that other sentient beings exist, considering the odds to be impossible. Despite being more primitive, humanity has frequently speculated about intelligent aliens; it never even occurred to Quozl, so they were less ready for us than we were for them.
    • First they decide to wait it out.
    • When the secret slips out and Mindy creates a TV show for children Quozltime, the council sets about getting the world ready by working with the show's crew to produce a children's television series about stranded (and harmless!) alien rabbit-people.