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A Web Original Shared Universe Furry setting (whose stories are available here) which grew out of a story called "A Kind of Paradise" (after a song from the ~Wolf's Rain~ soundtrack) by JonBuck and now includes stories by many other authors.
The premise of the setting is that, starting in 1987 in a world similar to our own, an unknown force began to cause people to change (or "Change") into Funny Animal versions of themselves, starting with 1 person the first year, 2 the next, doubling every year (meaning that, by 2020, the entire population of the world will be Changed). Some of the Changed also change gender at the same time.
Thanks to a "Reality Distortion Field" or "Veil", these changes are Invisible to Normals, to whom the Changed continue to look like their original human selves. For the first part of the series, Changed must carefully pretend everything is normal for fear of ending up in mental institutions or worse, revealing their condition only to a trusted few "normal" humans. Later in the series, the Weirdness Censor begins to break down and Changed are eventually revealed to the world.
JonBuck notes that, "This setting is intended as a mix of Wish Fulfillment and darker, more realistic consequences." As such, many characters are Author Avatars with their names and the names of friends and family changed. Some Transsexual characters are the result of Author Appeal, whereas others represent characters who genuinely do not want to be gender-changed having to come to terms and deal with it.
The series provides examples of: Edit
- Alternate Universe – A Present Day world like our own, except that people began Changing in 1987. Also, JonBuck has asked that no current real-world politicians be used in stories order to avoid political unpleasantness, so the President, members of Congress, and other governmental figures are all fictitious.
- Animorphism – The entire basis for the setting is the involuntary (and invisible) transformation characters go through into Funny Animals.
- Attractive Bent Gender – It is explicitly stated in some of the stories that the gender-Changed get a special "bonus" in the attractiveness department (especially as regards Breast Expansion), even beyond the ordinary such enhancements that Changed get in general.
- A Worldwide Punomenon - Things named by the Changed, much like things named by the furry fandom, tend to end up like this. Lampshaded in a recent story, Unforseen Gifts.
(Furgonomics? Was everything in the future going to become a bad pun?)
- Broken Masquerade – Even early on, before the "Reality Distortion Field" comes down, some unChanged characters start to notice odd things about Changed and either manage to see them, or convince them to explain what is going on. Characters who have been let into the "conspiracy" in this way are called "Known".
- ~But I Can't Be Pregnant!~ – In one of Eirik's stories, "Reverberations", a gender-bent character's unexpected pregnancy invokes the setting's Ret-Gone effect (see entry below), causing all extant pictures and identification of her to take on her new female identity instead of her old male one (and incidentally confusing the hell out of her family, since the Ret-Gone Effect does not include Fake Memories).
- Capital Letters Are Magic – Characters who have been through a change are called the Changed; non-Changed who know about them are called Known (although, technically, it should probably be Knowers, Knowing, or Knowledgeable, given that they know about rather than are known by Changed).
- Cassandra Truth – Frequently applies to characters who try to convince others that they are now actually Funny Animals but just don't look that way. There are ways to short-circuit the Weirdness Censor temporarily, however.
- Continuity Snarl – Since stories are written by different authors, some of these are bound to pop up.
- Most obviously, JonBuck's "Tall Tales" is strongly implied to take place in October (a character in Jetfire's "Clearing the Air" complains about its effects in a scene set on October 22nd), but Nikon's "Changing Perspectives" (which takes place concurrently with "Tall Tales") is set in November.
- Cursed with Awesome – For all that the Change is disturbing and life-changing, it brings with it some advantages, including heightened senses, athletic ability, and a bit of Wish Fulfillment body modification (most commonly Breast Expansion). In "Confession Building", it saved a character's life when he was abducted by robbers who shot him in the head—except that since he'd Changed into a shorter form, the bullet passed harmlessly over his real head.
- Discount Lesbians: Averted: Christopher Mattiaz from MatthiasRat's stories, unwilling to become a "lesbian", has not been intimate with his wife in the two years since he changed gender six days after they were married.
- Fiction as Cover Up – Inverted. In the years leading up to the dawning of The Unmasqued World, a greater-than-normal number of shows and stories featuring anthropomorphic animals were featured in popular entertainment—apparently to get the general public acclimated to seeing them around.
- Full-Body Disguise / Invisible to Normals – After they Change, characters have an illusory full body disguise of their old human selves, whether they like it or not, especially early on when the "Reality Distortion Field" is stronger. A man who turned into a female bear might look much like his old masculine self, just a little overweight—which means he will need to continue to dress like a man.
- Gender Bender – A small percentage of Changed also change their gender. Given the Wish Fulfillment nature of the setting, the number of gender-Changed who appear within stories is somewhat disproportional to the amount that exist setting-wide.
- ~Girl's Night Out Episode~ – Slightly subverted in that, in the story occasions in which this happens ("Election Fever", "Family Tree"), it is frequently in order to help someone involuntarily female get comfortable in her new femininity.
- Involuntary Transformation – The Change. It happens either one time or once per year, and there is no "cure" to allow reversion back to human form.
- Is This a Joke? – Frequently the reaction of people when they start to Change, or of unChanged when Changed try to reveal their new nature.
- Jumping the Gender Barrier – A number of stories feature gender-changed characters falling in love with someone of the gender they used to be, though they did not necessarily know them before the change. In one instance a woman who used to be a man falls in love with a man who used to be a woman.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks – Changed who have to maintain the Masquerade over the long term, keeping their true condition from friends and loved ones, often find it harder the longer they have to keep silent—especially if their change includes a Gender Bender, since some people can see their new gender while the masquerade makes them look like their old one.
- Christopher Mattiaz from MatthiasRat's stories has not been able to be intimate with his wife for two years because he changed gender six days after their wedding—and can't tell her why either.
- Joey from Jetfire's "Veil" series kept his Change from his parents over three years and two gender changes before breaking down and telling them the truth—which made for fairly awkward interfamily relationships for the following month or so.
- Law of Conservation of Normality – In stories set in 2009 and beyond, when the masquerade has been broken and the Change is known to the world. One of the later stories in the setting, "Family Tree", involves a family holiday get-together after the Change has become widely known. Most of the family has Changed, and the last holdout's impending Change (and the possibility of it involving gender bending) is treated as a perfectly ordinary matter. Then when said holdout does Change, and gender-change, the rest of the family takes it in such stride that the hapless Changee is actually less overwhelmed by the Change than by his family's reaction to it.
- Laws of Gender Bending:
- First Law of Gender Bending – Except for those who have secondary Changes after the first one (and hence a chance to change gender again), all gender changes are permanent.
- Second Law of Gender Bending – A number of stories follow the journey of gender-changed characters as they come to accept and then enjoy their new (usually female) gender.
- Third Law of Gender Bending – Some stories take this a notch further, with feminized characters receiving a Girliness Upgrade (because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body) and throwing themselves into it all the way.
- Lego Genetics – Averted. The Change is caused not by meddling with genetics, but by something working at a deeper level of reality. And when Changed of different animal types have children, the children will usually be of one or the other parent's type (or occasionally something entirely different), not a chimera.
- Man, I Feel Like a Woman – A common reaction to feminization in the setting, especially in later stories such as "Family Tree" where it is no longer entirely unexpected.
"But for God's sake! Stop playing with [your new breasts] in the family room!" Diane's mother hissed. "You don't even realize you're doing it!"
- Masquerade – Changed must pretend everything is normal, that they are still the human beings they used to be—because if they are not able to keep their new differences hidden they will be committed to mental institutions, or worse. Early on, a group of cautious Changed formed a conspiracy, the Changed Network, to help newly-Changed keep their secrets; said conspiracy largely fell by the wayside as too many people Changed for them to be able to control. Eventually, the masquerade broke entirely as the "Reality Distortion Field" began to fail.
- Menstrual Menace – Inverted in a couple of instances. Men who are Changed into forms that have mating seasons in the fall, such as moose, elk, etc., display extreme irritability and possessiveness during that time of the year, and are prone to losing their temper over the slightest provocation (especially regarding what appear to be advances toward their Significant Other).
- Not a Mask – In "Tall Tales", characters who began to see through the Veil assume that the Changed are wearing costumes. Of course, they are all attending a Furry Fandom convention at the time.
- Oddly Common Rarity – Even though only 1% of the Changed change gender, and even fewer change gender multiple times, a remarkable number of gender-changed (and a couple of multiple-gender-change) furries are represented in the stories, particularly as main characters.
- Also, two gender-changed characters falling in love happens more often than one might expect.
- Pinocchio Syndrome – Affects most characters after the Change, especially the ones who changed gender at the same time. One particularly poignant case affects Christopher Mattiaz , a character from MatthiasRat's stories, who changed genders six days after getting married and hasn't been able to be intimate with his wife for the past two years at the time the story begins.
- Reality Warper – The Virus responsible for the Change is not a biological virus, but rather a computer virus altering reality in a simulation running on a post-Singularity computronium computer.
- Ret-Gone – As the "Reality Distortion Field" begins to wind down, gender-bent Changed discover all extant documentation about themselves is retconned as reality itself is edited to reflect their new gender. Their driver's licenses and other identification have newly-feminine names, and all photos all the way back to when they were babies will show a girl instead of a boy (or vice versa). Hence, as far as the world is concerned, the character's original gender is "Ret-Gone"—records will show that the former "he" has always been a "she" (or vice versa). (Memories of those who knew them before are not affected, however. Also, while people who already know them will continue to see them as their original gender, strangers they meet will see them as the new one.)
- A Shared Suffering – Changed, especially from the early waves where they are few and far between, often fear they're alone or outright going crazy. After spending weeks, months, or even years alone, they are so relieved to find out there are others like them that they might break down and cry.
- The Singularity / The Virus / Charles Stross – Word of God is that the world of Paradise is actually a simulation running inside a Charles Strossian post-Singularity computer, and the Changes are caused by a couple of intelligent computer viruses that snuck in. Of course, since this will probably never be known within the setting itself (save for the brief author cameo who spouted off the "theory" in "Tall Tales"), it can be entirely ignored in terms of writing or reading the stories.
- Soap Opera Disease – Inverted. In order to prevent Changed from being injured by medical practitioners because of physiological differences the medics can't see, the Changed invented a fictitious real-world disease—"Sleeping Sickness (Ivory Coast Variant)"—and issued medical alert bracelets for it so that a Changed or Known physician could be alerted at need.
- Something Only They Would Say – Used several times by Changed to convince friends or loved ones that their new Funny Animal form is "really them".
- ~Something's Different About You Now~ – As part of the Ret-Gone effect for gender-Changed, family members may be surprised to discover that photos of their brother or son now show their sister or daughter, even though their memories of said person's original gender remain intact. Also, those going through the Change themselves will start to see friends' or loved ones' new animal forms (and genders) in person, or in photos they happen to have about.
- Tampon Run – Many newly male-to-female gender-Changed find themselves effectively doing Tampon Runs for themselves (before the masquerade breaks down, at least): still apparently male, they must shop for feminine accessories and hygiene products.
- There Are No Global Consequences – After the unmasquing, the world seems to go on largely the same as usual (with one or two notable exceptions), with Changed being generally accepted into society. This is probably due to lingering effects of the "Reality Distortion Field", which may still be influencing humanity even as it lets them see the Changed's true faces. (It may also be that stories in which more global consequences do happen simply haven't been written yet.)
- Transsexual – Some (not all) gender-bent characters are Wish Fulfillment Author Avatars for transgendered or would-be transgendered individuals in real life.
- The Unmasqued World – Post-2009 in the setting, Changed have become widely-known—and by and large commonly accepted thanks to the Law of Conservation of Normality.
- Viral Transformation – The Change is caused by a "reality virus" that transforms humans into Funny Animals at a rate that doubles every year.
- Weirdness Censor – A powerful "Reality Distortion Field", otherwise known as "the Veil", prevents normal people from noticing that friends or relatives have changed into Funny Animal (and possibly gender-bent) form. It is only able to cover their bodies, however—they will still leave animal footprints, and any fur, horns, claw trimmings, etc. they shed will be visible to others. It begins breaking down as the series goes on, and finally starts failing completely in certain areas in 2009.
- Wholesome Crossdresser – Any gender-Changed invariably ends up one of these, since he or she cannot dress as the gender he or she really is or it will look strange to those not in the know until the "Reality Distortion Field" comes down. Affects male-to-female changes more than female-to-male, of course, as far fewer people will find anything odd in a "woman" wearing jeans than in a "man" wearing a dress.
- The World Is Not Ready – The reason given by leaders of the Changed Network in early stories for trying to keep their Changed status secret for as long as they can.