Animals of all kinds — mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, arthropods, parasites, or worms — have featured in fiction forever. Globally, in ancient fairy tales, folk tales, and mythology, they’ve been shown as sentient, anthropomorphic beings. The earliest fiction read or watched by children has always had plenty of animals or animal-like characters. In Western literary classics, animals have typically been depicted as predators or trophy-hunting targets. In genre fiction — whether science fiction, speculative fiction, or fantasy — animals show up often as entire species or extra-terrestrial beings too.

This month’s five stories feature animals who are integral to the story. These are of the straight realism genre so there will be a follow-up with stories featuring more surrealism. Here are Sarah Orne Jewett, P G Wodehouse, R L Maizes, Parashar Kulkarni, and R O Kwon with stories about cats, dogs, herons, and cows.

Read the entire Short Stories: Animals column at PopMatters.

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