Light on Shattered Water
Light on Shattered Water is an online furry novel written by Greg Howell. It is considered by many to be one of the best furry novels available, either online or in print. It is a little over 300,000 words long and would fill about 800 pages if typeset as a mass-market paperback. The story has graphic violence and a few semi-explicit sex scenes. The story has a sequel titled Storms Over Open Fields.
The story is very similar in many respects to his earlier novel The Human Memoirs. Greg explains that that novel had "a few loose seams", and that Light on Shattered Water was his second attempt to produce a story using the same premise, learning from the mistakes he made the first time.
While out backpacking for a few days to get away from his job, Michael Riley is involved in a freak accident and awakens to discover he has somehow been transported to an alternate reality, along with a few possessions, including a laptop computer with an encyclopedia with a great deal of information about science, engineering and technology. He soon discovers the world he is now in is inhabited by Rris, a race of bipedal felines who are at a technology level comparable to the early 1800s. Michael knows nothing of their language or culture, and he gets a hostile reaction on his initial encounters with the Rris.
- Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Michael discovers that one building in the town is being used as a schoolhouse, and decides to spy upon the lessons as the teacher, Chihirae, teaches a room full of young Rris. He is soon found out, however, and is injured when he attempts to escape. He befriends Chihirae, but having never seen humans, the Rris regard him as a strange beast, and to make matters worse, he is suspected of a recent murder in the town. In the ensuing investigation, he meets Shyia, a Mediator (a highly respected profession that could loosely be described as a combination of a detective and a judge).
After spending some time around Michael and discovering what knowledge Michael has both in his mind and on the laptop computer, the Mediator decides to bring him to Shattered Water, the capital of the country Land-of-Water in which they are located. Once there, he meets Hirht, the king of Land-of-Water, and he soon finds himself the subject of a barrage of scholars who want to know more about him, who and what he is, and especially about the technological knowledge available from his computer. One of the few close friends he makes is Chaeitch, a brilliant engineer with whom he works to develop some of the technology into usable inventions.
But Michael is finding life very difficult. He is having trouble adapting to the ways of the Rris, while coming to grips with the fact that he will probably never be able to return to the people and the life he knew before any of this happened. Some of the Rris he encounters distrust or dislike him. The living arrangements he has been provided, while comfortable, are effectively a "golden cage". The knowledge and inventions from him and his computer have placed him at the center of political games with neighboring lands. And some of the Rris are unhappy with his reluctance to share information for producing weapons. All of this culminates in a suicide attempt.
By the time Michael has recovered, he has a new friend, a female physician named Maithris. She acts as his advocate and is able to gain for him some significant improvements. But some problems won't go away, and Michael still has many struggles ahead as he tries to get along in an alien culture where he must continue to deal with politics, betrayal, and intrigues, the likes of which he could never have imagined before arriving in this unusual land.