Dogs in Science Fiction

My previous post, about my new puppy, led me to think about dogs in science fiction. Two stories immediately came to mind: The first story is a post-apocalyptic tale where one of the two main characters is a telepathic dog. (The images/links below are for the relatively well-known film and the less well-known book it was based on.) I have seen the film, but haven’t read the book; perhaps I should make some time for it.

Boy and his Dog film Boy and his Dog book

Dean Koontz isn’t normally thought of as a science fiction author, but his story “Watchers” is definitely sci-fi. A super-intelligent dog escapes from a government laboratory, and is chased by a second, much less friendly, experiment. (If only the dog had been a Labrador Retriever, then I could say that a government lab escaped from a government lab.) I read the book far too long ago to comment on its writing, but I do remember enjoying the ending. I have not seen the movie or any of its sequels.

Watchers Watchers film

I spent a little while googling around the internet for dogs in science fiction, but in everything else I found, the dog was just a minor character or a piece of background imagery. Leave a message in the comments section if you know of any other major canine characters, or if you have some thoughts on the two I’ve mentioned.

UPDATE:  see the More Dogs in Science Fiction post.

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27 comments

  1. If you liked the novel Watchers, you should NOT see the movie. From everything I have either heard or read about it, it’s nothing at all like the novel aside from there being a super-smart dog in it.

    1. That’s too bad, I guess I’ll pass on the movie then, unless I’m looking for a B movie (B-?) experience.

  2. I loved that Watchers book. Only Koontz book I’ve enjoyed. Odd Thomas was alright, but I lost interest towards the end.

    1. Koontz is famous for writing so many novels, I think it will take me an entire afternoon just to browse through them…

  3. I recall an important dog character in Walter Wangerin Jr.’s “The Book Of The Dun Cow”.

    Also a friend of mine is developing a tabletop roll playing game with dogs as characters: http://theonyxpath.com/a-cautious-sniff-pugmire/

    1. Thanks, both are new to me.

  4. Alan Dean Foster wrote a trilogy with a talking dog & alien abduction. The main character is a guy and the dog ends up his side-kick/ground – a sounding board for homesickness and the reasons why we never go back home. In the end the dog part becomes somewhat minor part to the story. I loved the 1st story but found the next two not as good.
    1- Lost & Found 2- The Light-years Beneath my Feet 3- The Candle of Distant Earth

    1. Thanks for reminding me of these ones, I’ve never read them, but I do remember seeing them on Amazon.

  5. Philip K. Dick has a bunch of short stories that feature dogs. They’re often portrayed as keepers of humanity, or (in one memorable story) in league with the Almighty Himself!

    I’m trying to remember which story (of Dick’s?) includes a genetically enhanced guide dog for blind people, that can vocalize a few thoughts. Damn my memory…

    1. I read quite a bit of PKD when I was younger, I can’t believe I didn’t read / forgot about them!

  6. Clifford Simak’s City is the classic sf dog story.

    1. Wow, I can’t believe I missed that one!

  7. Evidently Murray Leinster did a genetically enhanced dog story too: “Skag With the Queer Head”.

    So smart that he’s arguably not a dog is the eponymous Sirius by Olaf Stapledon.

    1. Sirius looks like another great one, I’ll have to search some more for Skag.

  8. I loved Watchers! Truly, a wonderful book from start to finish. Only book by Dean Koontz I’ve read, sadly; been meaning to read some others for quite some time.

    1. Maybe I’ll have to try some more of his writing, preferably something else with a sci-fi angle.

  9. -ahem- This may be a bit off topic, but WELCOME BACK, amigo!!!

  10. […] my previous post, I was only able to come up with two science fiction works where dogs were important characters. […]

  11. Addition to the list: The Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov

    1. Interesting, I’ve just read a few brief paragraphs about it. I don’t think that particular book is for me, as it seems like it might be more about exploring aspects of Soviet society rather than the science fiction aspects, but anything anti-Soviet can’t be all bad!

      1. Fair comment; the SF aspects are not central to the story. Can’t think of any other SF stories with dogs at the moment.

  12. More fantasy and social commentary than true science fiction, but The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams features dogs as main characters. It was written after Watership Down, but I can’t recall whether it was before or after Shardik.

    1. Thanks, I either forgot about that one, or wasn’t aware of it…

    1. Glad to see dogs are still being written into science fiction!

  13. […] found Alien Pets on the shelf. Last year, I posted about Dogs in Science Fiction and More Dogs in Science Fiction, so it wouldn’t be fair to leave the alien pets […]

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