In a fantasy world which is firmly out of “The Dung Ages” and most counties have at least a 75% to 99% literacy rate, it’s a given that there would be at least one or two famous book series. For adult readers, The Mrs. Baker Mysteries and Sky vs. Sea series are the biggest draws at the book store. The most famous and beloved children’s book franchise on Earth, the Harry Potter of Wolfsbane’s world, is the Fibbas and Furbas series.
Fibbas and Furbas is a series of children’s books belonging to the “Respun Tales” genre of literature—a genre composed of ancient fables and legends which have been revamped and rewritten to better appeal to the sensibilities of the modern reader. Respun Tales usually are rife with adaptation clichés such as making female characters more spunky and progressive and changing the race or species of certain characters. In the case of Fibbas and Furbas, the two main characters are changed from a pair of norgels (one from the Mouse Tribe and one from the Squirrel Tribe) to a pair of Civilized Animals and the continent of Dalrue becomes Larkwood Forest. Aside from a few cosmetic changes, however, the author has stayed amazingly true to the original legends.
These stories concern Fibbas Birchbark (a mouse) and Furbas Bluetail (a squirrel), and the adventures they have after learning that they are the chosen wielders of the legendary blades Daybringer and Shadowstealer. Together, level-headed and heroic Fibbas and energetic and hot-headed Furbas battle the likes of Skeven the Rat King, Nigel the Defiler, and The Blackest Witch Heather in defense of their homeland. Through every adventure, the two become stronger fighters and tighter friends and make new friends and allies along the way. The biggest fan-favorite of these supporting characters are Juman Silentclaw (a cat), a mysterious on-again-off-again member of the team who supposedly only helps them because he doesn’t want anyone killing Fibbas before he can. As one would expect, several fangirls have, indeed, written much slash concerning Fibbas and Juman over the years.
As for the author, these books are written by a mysterious and reclusive person known only by his pen name: The Bard Finnegan. He never has any pictures of himself or any form of an “About the Author” section in his books, he never does tours or signings…even his literary agent has never seen him, always dealing with him through a third-party representative instead. Many people take this as a sign that The Bard Finnegan is not even a real person, but pen name made up by the publisher under which novels by a large and interchangeable staff of writers are printed. Others do believe that The Bard Finnegan exists but has good reason to keep out of the public eye—such as being a fugitive from the law, being incredibly hideous, or bearing some kind of horrible curse.
Though The Bard Finnegan also writes several other series (most of which are based on ancient legends concerning norgels), Fibbas and Furbas is his most famous work. The books have been translated into eighteen different languages, are sold in just about every nation across the globe, and have been adapted numerous times in the thirty years since they were first published—including stage plays, pulp magazines (what we in this world call “comic books”), and radio dramas. With all of this success—especially for a series of novels aimed mostly at late-grade school through middle school kids—there is also quite a bit of backlash.
Because of the success of Fibbas and Furbas, the Respun Tales genre has blossomed over the past three decades. Many authors who are not as dedicated as Finnegan to preserving the integrity of the old legends as much as possible have been churning out watered-down, sanitized, castrated, and just plain warped beyond recognition versions of these stories left and right just to make a quick buck. This, of course, has led serious literary scholars, historians, and several social activist groups (everything from civil rights groups to parent advocacy groups) to condemn the entire genre as “the rape and murder of the bardic tradition.”
Still, the books and the genre both have their defenders, mostly within the ranks of the Fibbas and Furbas fandom, but also in the authors of other “presevativist” Respun Tales and their fans. Their argument is that the Respun Tales genre, when written properly, provides a way to keep the old legends alive and well in the hearts and minds of the public. They believe that rewriting this genre is the best way to preserve stories which otherwise would have been lost to the ages because of literary censorship laws which prohibit certain races of beings (werewolves, succubi/incubi, and velvends among them) from being portrayed as heroes and others (such as seraphs, nagas, and leprechauns) from being portrayed as villains. In fact, for them the real “rape and murder of the bardic tradition” is the censorship laws themselves.
As the debate over the Respun Tales genre continues and Fibbas and Furbas continues to be beloved by millions, only time will tell whether some of the original legends that these and other books and series in the genre are based on will ever see publication in many places. The nations which have these censorship laws on the books show little sign of budging on the issue, and it is rumored that none other than the International Werewolf Hunters’ Association—IWHA—is somehow deeply connected to the laws’ existence. But, why would an international organization whose mission is to protect humanity from being obliterated by werewolves care about media censorship…?
That does it for this week’s post. Come back next week as we take a special look into the illustrious history of the Bendis family. Until then you know where to find the book, Amazon.com and Createspace.com. Later, readers! ;D