I'm aware anthromorphic animals are rarely on topic. But what about the rats of NIMH series? Over here Kevin answers

Our final criterion, then, is this:

If the animal's non-human nature has substantial narrative focus, then the story is probably on-topic. Stories that pass this criterion tend to ask and answer questions such as the following (not an exhaustive list):

What would it be like to be an intelligent [animal]? How would a mixed society of humans and [animal]s work? How would a mixed society of [animal]s and [other animal]s work? What would an intelligent [animal] think of humans? What would a human think of an intelligent [animal]? Why are these [animal]s intelligent, anyway?

According to this the NIMH series is most certainly on topic, though displaying no other fantastical elements.

Is this universally agreed?

  • You might wish to note that Kevin's answer (although in broad agreement with mine) isn't the accepted consensus answer. This is.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 13:21
  • 3
    Please realise the "accepted answer" is meaningless on meta, it's the votes that count.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 13:29
  • 1
    Strange: I was sure this had been asked before on SFF meta, but apparently not.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 15:58
  • @Valorum Duh. Thats why I asked it.
    – TheAsh
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 21:56
  • @TheAsh - Your wording confused me. Is it universally agreed? No, it's not the highest voted answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 9:17
  • @Valorum perhaps your answer was merely written better. Or perhaps the answers are complementary. Thats why I asked for clarification
    – TheAsh
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:11
  • 1
    @Edlothiad, others: Please don't use my +4 answer in place of Valorum's +19. It's obvious which way the votes have gone and I did not win.
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


The usual test is to look at conceit and marketing. Both of those heavily indicate that this book series is (science) fantasy, and hence on-topic

Central Conceit.

A group of rats has been subjected to bio-medical experimentation and has become intellectually "uplifted" to human levels of intelligence. They then develop a civilisation. Humans interacting with these rats are the central plot of the book.

Mrs. Frisby discovers the rats have a literate and mechanized society. They have technology such as elevators, have tapped the electricity grid to provide lighting and heating, and have acquired other human skills, such as storing food for the winter. Their leader, Nicodemus, tells Mrs. Frisby of the rats' capture by scientists working for a laboratory located at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the subsequent experiments that the humans performed on the rats, which increased the rats' intelligence to the point of being able to read, write, and operate complicated machines, as well as enhancing their longevity and strength.

Our existing policy on talking animals is that they don't count unless...

They had been uplifted in some way (either by technology or magic)


Both the book series and the subsequent film were heavily marketed as children's fantasy.

"...thought-provoking fantasy"

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"Right before your eyes and beyond your wildest dream"

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I'd say yes.

Some of the major things in these stories is that the rats became intelligent through a laboratory experiment, became intelligent enough to escape, escaped, created their own society... And don't forget that they can communicate with humans, and do things like farm carrots.

It's definitely SFF. I'd say it's unquestionably on topic.

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