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Slave Trade, by comidacomida – book review by Fred Patten

Fri 24 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51sViU4EeIL._SX260_Slave Trade,, by comidacomida. Illustrated by SpottyJaguar.
Birmingham, AL, Two-Lips Press, January 2017, hardcover $29.99 (466 pages), Kindle $9.99.

The first sight of the telephone-sized hardcover edition of this book is stunning. It’s a huge 8½ x 11 x 1-inch tome that’s almost impossible to hold open without using both hands, and so heavy (over 3 pounds) that it’s tiresome to hold it without resting it on a table or your lap. Slave Trade seems designed mostly for Kindle sales, although each 8½ x 11” page takes two pages to fit onto a Kindle reader. Amazon says that the Kindle edition is 912 pages.

Slave Trade is a furry erotic adventure-fantasy (although there is no rating) set in a Medieval/Renaissance-like world that is not quite funny-animal. There are six main mammal kingdoms; three for anthro animals with plantigrade (flat) legs like bears, rodents, and primates – Tenvier, Larana, and Pross — and three for those with digitigrade (walking on toes) legs; canines, felines, ungulates — Diermyna, Meisenyl, and Vensii. Some practice slavery; others don’t. Usually the characters act so human that they might as well be funny animals; then someone does something that could only be done with an animal’s nature.

“The porcupine [Gaius, a tanner] reached back behind himself to snap a quill free; he then used it to pin up a loose section of leather on the harness.” (p. 84)

Most of this takes place on the vast estates of Lord Hector Desanti, a white Stag nobleman from Vensii now residing in Pross. The main character is Sidney, a young slave (Fox) on Lord Hector’s estates. Sidney hero-worships Lord Hector from afar; he’s like a god to Sidney. So he’s stunned when Lord Hector not only notices him, but gives him personal attention.

At first this personal attention is all homosexual. Sidney is used to being a sex toy; he used to be owned by Lord Bulhue (hippopotamus), who was so brutal he almost killed Sidney. In fact, Lord Bulhue only sold him when he was so “used up” that he was barely still alive. So Sidney doesn’t expect anything better. He is dumbfounded when Lord Hector is actually gentle with him.

“When Lord Hector spoke he did so quietly, his firm voice carrying a sweet, melodious tone to Sidney’s ears. ‘You’ve done well with the dressing.’

Though it was barely above a whisper, the Fox had no trouble hearing it and clung to every word; his master had praised him. The Fox glowed at the compliment. ‘Thank you, Master. I wish only to please.’

The words came out of his muzzle, a veiled admission of just how much he wanted to serve. He heard the sound of his master returning to him from across the room. Sidney wished longingly that his loincloth was within reach. When the sound of the hooves on the floorboards stopped right in front of him, Lord Hector made his request known. ‘Stand for me, Sidney.’

Whimpering inaudibly, Sidney complied. He tried standing at a half-angle, avoiding meeting the Stag’s eyes as a suitable excuse. The Fox folded his paws across his abdomen in what he hoped looked like a casual stance, hoping beyond hope that he’d be able to hide his excitement at having his master so close to him. He felt as if his body betrayed him as the proximity of his paws and their warmth made his member emerge just a little further; he cursed his body under his breath.

Without saying a word Lord Hector approached him. The Stag came from the side and stopped uncomfortably close; Sidney imagined that he could feel his master’s breath against his fur and fought back the urge to shiver at how near the perfect, silvery body was from him. He kept his eyes down, biting down on his tongue until he could taste blood in an attempt to get his body under control. The Stag walked around him to his backside.” (pgs. 23-24)

No need to get more explicit; the text and the full-page illustrations by SpottyJaguar do that. (Chapter heading sketches that don’t reveal as much are by CBH.) The first fifty pages are a mixture of background exposition and eroticism, with throbbing members, sticky bodily fluids, and a frightening electronic sex machine, the Sardassi. After about page 50, the plot gets moving.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 4.00.42 PM

But what is the plot? Sidney is unbelievably naïve and timid. All he knows is that Pross is ruled by numerous Lords, most of them much more brutal then the gentle, adorable Lord Hector. They have absolute power over their vassals. When he is told that Pross is a kingdom, with a King above the Lords, he has to have what a King is explained to him. He is content to follow orders and never think for himself. So why does Lord Hector give him increasing responsibility in areas that he knows nothing about? He doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he likes it.

“Ever since he first became a slave he’d either shared a bed with a trainer or master, or, when he was given time to himself he was still surrounded by dozens of other slaves. The thought of having the work shed was unheard of; it not only provided him with privacy, but an actual door! His eyes slowly swiveled to look at the blessed portal that he never expected to provide the privacy that slaves weren’t supposed to have.” (p. 53)

Sidney is a house slave. He is dimly aware of the field slaves who tend and harvest Lord Hector’s crops. He knows nothing about the gladiator slaves. Each Lord is required by Lord Levid, the King, to train several gladiators; for the public’s entertainment in the arena, and for the King to take the best of them for the army in Pross’ war with reptilian Sarvis. Lord Hector has three brawny gladiators-in-training; Dorias (Yak), Choel (Tiger), and Uraou (Brown Bear), and a new slave that Lord Hector wants trained as a gladiator, Maern, a Stallion from Vensii who does not speak Prossian. And Tharis (Bull), but he’s old and no longer a gladiator, reassigned to stud service. Sidney is dumbfounded again to be promoted to a gladiator slave master, in charge of training Dorias, Choel, Uraou, and Maern. The first three are contemptuous of Sidney at first, but they do appreciate his going easy on them instead of savagely beating them just to show off his authority. In desperation, he gets the idea of asking Tharis to help out.

“Choel and Uraou spoke their disbelief in unison. ‘Tharis?’

The Fox shrugged. ‘Well … he has some experience as a gladiator. I guess it’d make sense that he could help everybody learn a little.’

Several of the slaves looked as though they might have wanted to say something but Sidney decided that he had to be more decisive and so he raised his voice and called out. ‘Tharis! Come here, please!’” (p. 147)

Tharis does help, and Lord Hector is pleased that the gladiators are making progress. Since Sidney is doing so well with Tharis, he is also put in charge of the Bull’s official duty; of milking his erection to collect semen.

The gladiatorial bout in the arena at Pross’ Equinox Festival is supposed to only demonstrate the gladiators-in-training’s skills, but the king suddenly orders it intensified.

“Sidney stood up when the sound of metal-on-metal indicated that their storage room door was indeed opening. Although the Fox was overjoyed to see his master the grave expression on the Stag’s muzzle was not very reassuring and Lord Hector wasted no time mincing words. ‘Only one of you is fighting tonight.’

Uraou snorted, glancing at Sidney. ‘Just one? How’re we supposed to show what we –‘

The Stag continued, speaking over the slave. ‘It’s a fight to the death.’

The Bear fell silent immediately.” (p. 187)

To give away what’s going on (sorry; it’s supposed to be a revelation), Lord Hector and King/Lord Levid hate each other’s guts. The Stag is from Vensii, where slavery is illegal. The customs of Pross require him to own slaves. The Prossian nobility is extremely brutal towards its slaves. Lord Hector, by showing kindness to his, is subtly showing contempt to the Prossian royal court and King Levid (who is always hidden behind a rich purple curtain). The Prossian nobility believe that one must torture one’s slaves to train them to be worth anything. Lord Hector, by making his least competent slave his slave master, is showing them all up – if he can really guide Sidney into holding his own with the best Prossian slave masters.

“Even as Lord Hector took his seat a wave of servants emerged from all sides of the room with silver pitchers and Lord Levid continued his conversation as if they didn’t exist. ‘Hector … we have been hearing that you aren’t your slave master’s first owner.’

The Stag nodded again, appearing to pay more attention to his empty plate than the figure behind the purple cloth. ‘That is correct, your Majesty.’

Lord Levid’s musings were spoken rather than thought. ‘How strange that must be … we could imagine that such an arrangement would be awkward at times.’

Lord Hector finally looked up, smiling pleasantly. ‘Oh, it most assuredly started that way, your Highness. There were certain aspects of his training that were required to be relearned when he became responsible for my fighting stables.’

Lord Levid’s voice was full of patronizing mirth. ‘We mean with regard to using another Lord’s cast-offs, Hector … though, we suppose we might also appreciate the difficulty of having to teach a pleasure slave how to deal with fighting slaves.’

Sidney admired his master for how efficiently he controlled his displeasure; the banter didn’t appear to affect the Stag at all. Lord Hector held his goblet up as the Panther servant poured wine into it. ‘Indeed. As I said, there were certain aspects of his training that were required to be relearned when he became responsible for my stable.’

A well dressed ferret woman almost directly across the table from Lord Hector placed her elbows on the table and rested her muzzle on her laced-together fingers. ‘I’m surprised such a little spit of a Fox could expect to command the obedience of a stable of gladiators.’” (pgs. 200-201)

After Sidney realizes what this is all about, he, Lord Hector, and Lord Hector’s gladiators (especially Maern) become more of a partnership in planning to show up the Prossian nobility. But King Levid, as an absolute monarch, doesn’t play fair.

Slave Trade (cover by MoltenGoldArt) mixes well-written refined, deadly Renaissance court politics, including attempted assassinations and ambushes, with continued scenes of graphic m/m sex. The sadistic King Levid uses everything to humiliate Sidney and Lord Hector, and to try and kill Lord Hector’s gladiators. The slow bedroom beginning at Lord Hector’s estates turns about halfway through the novel into intrigue and action at the gladiatorial arena, the Prossian royal court, and wherever King Levid may strike next.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1. Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Kismet, by Watts Martin – book review by Fred Patten

Thu 23 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Kismet_lgKismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99.

Kismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99*.

This is a first for furry publishing, as far as I know. The only differences between these two editions are the publisher’s name and illustrated logo on the title page, the ISBN number, and the cover by Teagan Gavet. Both are dark blue and feature the protagonist in a spacesuit in deep space, but the Argyll cover displays her at a distance without showing what she looks like, and the FurPlanet cover is a closeup showing that she is a rat-woman. The FurPlanet edition is marketed as furry science fiction; the Argyll edition is marketed as just science fiction, for those outside furry fandom who may buy s-f but not a furry book.

Whichever it’s read as, hard s-f or furry fiction, Kismet is a winner. Several hundred years in the future, mankind has settled the Asteroid Belt. Mankind has also developed advanced bioengineering that enables people to have themselves bioengineered into anthropomorphic animals. There has been the mix of social acceptance and rejection that this results in for over a century. At this present, most of Earth is human and most of the anthropomorphs have migrated to the Asteroid Belt. In the Belt, the humans are called cisforms and the anthropomorphs are totemics.

Gail Simmons is a rat-woman totemic in the Ceres Ring, with her AI spaceship Kismet. She’s a salvage operator, a salvor, doing odd jobs of space hauling and space junk reclamation. She’s basically a hermit, living inside Kismet; the ship smart-AI brain is her only friend. Gail is contacted by an old childhood acquaintance who she hasn’t seen in two decades; he’s a yacht charter pilot now, and he’s just seen what looks like a derelict spaceship while making a chartered flight. His customer won’t give him the time to check it out, so he’s notifying Gail. Gail and Kismet find what appears to be an abandoned or sabotaged spaceship and two dead bodies. When Gail reports this, it leads to her being accused of theft and murder, and the missing cargo to be a handheld databox – a Macguffin – that holds information that at least one party will kill to get, that can mean “the end of the human race”.

Kismet-388x600The adventure involves action, suspense, betrayal, and murder. Gail and two allies (it would be a spoiler who say who they are) travel to different parts of the Ceres Ring and discuss a lot of totemic history. Other totemics met include Ansel Santara, a red fox-man; Bright Sky, a wolf-woman; Karen Dupree, a rabbit-woman; Robert Bunten, a raccoon-man, Officer Jon Wolfe, a leopard-man (there’s a joke about a leopard named Wolfe); Travis Duarte, a stag-man; Nevada Argent, a gray fox vixen; and an implied thousands of other background totemics as bank officers, mechanics, police and judiciary, waitresses, and more in the Belt. And plenty of cisforms (humans), because totemics may be the majority in the Belt, but there are lots of humans, too.

Jack Thomas, an FBI agent from the U.S. assigned to Interpol and sent to the Ceres Ring on a case that turns out to be mixed up with Gail’s, is a handy character to explain the totemics to:

“Ansel sniffs. ‘We don’t need shoes.’

‘Says the fox bitching about walking on gravel,’ Gail chuckles. ‘I think some of it’s kind of aesthetic, but some of it’s practical. Shoes and fur aren’t a comfortable combination.’

‘I’m still trying to get a sense of what animal characteristics totemics have adopted and why [Jack says]. I can read our emotions through your ears. And tails. But I’m presuming that while Ansel has better hearing and smell than I do, he has full color vision, isn’t allergic to chocolate, and doesn’t have any other drawbacks from canine/vulpine genetics mixed in.’

Ansel grins. ‘That’s an advantage to being able to mix and match genes. On the flip side, cisform humans can wear clothes that fur makes impractical. And they don’t get fleas, mange, or other furry problems that can’t be addressed by flipping a genetic switch.’” (p. 128)

The civilization of the Asteroid Belt – Cerelia River, Ceres Ring, the Panorica Federation, the Rothbard Republic, and several independent arcologies like New Coyoacán; plus organizations like PFS (Panorica Federation Security), RJC (Ring Judicial Cooperative), and RTEA (River Totemic Equality Ass’n) – may be confusing all at once, but Martin develops them gradually, one or two new locations or terms at a time. It’s like being a tourist in an exotic foreign country; if you don’t stay in your hotel room, you pick up on things fast. New Coyoacán is very tourist-friendly.

But Kismet also takes you places that a tourist wouldn’t see:

“She’d seen pictures of Alexandria before the accident, but it’s shocking how grand the entrance plaza still remains. Copper walls – from the scent, it’s not paint, but a true high-copper alloy – soar behind her up into darkness overhead. High, long windows provide multi-story panoramas of space and the ships docked outside. The plaza itself forms a wide, tiled avenue running between buildings and the buildings, full of unnecessary steps and too-high rooflines supported by grand columns, drip with the opulence of wasted resources. The closest ones, she’s sure, had been museums, the tourist destinations the platform’s owners had expected to be the primary draw. If she remembers right it never came close to breaking even. One conspiracy theory suggests the owners sabotaged it themselves for insurance money.” (p. 285)

thefurryfuture

Kismet is grand in scope and close in depiction of both its cisform and totemic characters. This novel is also a sequel to Martin’s 20-page “Tow” in The Furry Future – Gail is on the cover of both books. She’s someone that you’ll remember.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1. Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Furry literature: Advertising it outside of furry fandom – with Fred Patten and Phil Geusz.

Wed 22 Mar 2017 - 10:43

WPbanner1(Patch:) The Furry Writers’ Guild Coyotl Awards have just opened for voting by members.  This is a good occasion to talk about furry publishing.  Committed operations are putting out a regular stream of content by fans, for fans – but is it healthy enough to support professionals? Can any of them smoothly transition between this niche and the mainstream, to be as well-rounded as they can be? Here’s a look that builds on past stories like:

Let some of the most experienced voices in furry tell you more.  Here’s Fred Patten, with comments by Phil Geusz.

(Fred:) Watts Martin’s January 2017 novel, Kismet, is being published under two imprints: at FurPlanet Productions, as furry fiction for the furry market, and Argyll Productions, as science fiction for the larger s-f market or mainstream sales; with two different covers, both by Teagan Gavet, tailored for those markets.

This sounds ambitious and imaginative. But how well will it work in practice? The record isn’t encouraging.

FurPlanet Productions, in Dallas, Texas, says that the two imprints on Kismet is mosKismet-388x600tly due to Watts Martin’s own initiative. Tiny FurPlanet is primarily a furry specialty press, and while it has added Argyll Productions as a second imprint for sales beyond the furry market – and with some exclusive Argyll non-furry titles – it hasn’t had the resources to really promote them. If Martin can do his own promotion of the Argyll imprint of Kismet (the name of the protagonist’s spaceship) to a wider market, more power to him.

Phil Geusz and Legion Publishing have had some experience with this. In 2012, they advertised Geusz’s seven David Birkenhead novels, about a bioengineered rabbit-man caught in a human interstellar war, on Amazon as military science fiction, not as furry fiction. Geusz said at the time:

“For twenty years I couldn’t get much published. Then the gates opened. Now I’m making hay while the sun shines and have dumped my entire two-decade backlog on the market as rapidly as possible before the gate shuts again.”

And

“I thought you might like to know in passing that the Birkenhead series is selling well in excess of all my expectations on Amazon just now — “Midshipman”, as I write this, has an Amazon sales ranking of #6896, where nothing else I’ve ever written (except other books in the same series) have ever broken the #250,000 level to my knowledge. Sadly, I’m not surprised to discover that few if any of the buyers are furries (judging the “Customers who bought this book also bought” section, it’s mostly military SF readers) The ranking fluctuates every hour or so — I have no idea what it’ll look like if you choose to look it up at any given moment, and “Lieutenant” is running currently in the 15,000 range. “Captain” peaked at #147 in all of Amazon (not just SF). Total sales were well over $100k, mostly concentrated during a three to five month period. “Ship’s Boy” was written specifically to be given away as a free teaser download, and because it was free Amazon uses a separate rating system for it.

“While I have no idea of what this means in terms of actual sales figures, it’s got to beat books ranked at 250,000 plus!”

And, still in 2012:

ShipsBoyFrontOnly-197x300“As I write this, the five “Birkenhead” books released to date are — all simultaneously — in the Amazon Kindle SF Top 100 list. It varies hour to hour, but no less than four have been there at any given moment (that I’m aware of) for over a week. Sales are in the hundreds per week, and I suspect (but cannot know for certain) that cumulatively they’re over 500/week. Furry is making its mark.”

Today Geusz says:

“All I can say about the Birkenheads is that we never at any point at all understood why it was a success and other projects failed. Legion turned several varieties of on-line advertising off and on repeatedly with no noticeable effect whatsoever, and when sales eventually tanked — they’re very low these days — more advertising of the same kind did nothing to help. The next series of books I wrote — the Byrd series — is IMO better-written and more appealing to most readers, yet its sales are downright pathetic and always have been. We’ve spoken repeatedly about this, the publishers and I, and though we retrace the same old circles over and over again the bottom line is…

“…We don’t understand anything at all about what happened or why.”

So will FurPlanet, or Martin alone, have any more success promoting Kismet as a science fiction novel, not mentioning that the main character is a bioengineered rat-woman? As the old saying goes, only time will tell —

Especially if self-promotion by authors rather than advertising by publishers is the trend of the future. Bookstores are becoming obsolete, due to the rise of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and individual publishers’ catalogues, on the Internet. (There will probably always be a few independent bookstores remaining, like Dark Delicacies, a horror specialty bookstore in the Los Angeles area, for browsing and as social gathering places for their communities.) More and more authors have their own online blogs, or are members of an online writers’ group with a website where they can promote their own works, particularly if those are published by specialty presses, print-your-own-book companies like CreateSpace and Lulu Press that don’t advertise their own titles, or the authors themselves.

fbm-logo-800

Ambitious promotion

Here are some furry or fantasy examples:

So, furry authors, you’ve sold your own short stories or novels. Now stop waiting for your publishers to advertise them, and start promoting them yourselves.

– Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada – book review by Fred Patten

Tue 21 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51yC2DEIBlL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada. Translated by Susan Bernofsky.
NYC, New Directions Books, November 2016, trade paperback $16.95 (252 pages), Kindle $9.58.

This was originally published as Etüden im Schnee, konkursbuch Verlag, March 2014. It isn’t published as furry fiction but as mainstream literature, so it is probably classed as fabulism or literary fantasy.

“I’d taken part in a congress that day [in Kiev], and afterward all the participants were invited to a sumptuous feast. When I returned to my hotel room at night, I had a bear’s thirst and greedily drank water straight from the tap. But the taste of oily anchovies refused to leave me. In the mirror I saw my red-smeared lips, a masterpiece of the beets. I’d never eaten root vegetables voluntarily, but when a beet came swimming in my bowl of borsht, I immediately wanted to kiss it. Bobbing amid the lovely dots of fat floating on top – which at once awoke my appetite for meat – the beet was irresistible.

The springs creak beneath my bearish weight as I sit on the hotel sofa thinking how uninteresting the conference had been yet again, but that it had unexpectedly led me back to my childhood. The topic of today’s discussion was The Significance of Bicycles in the National Economy.” (pgs. 4-5)

a Polar Bear” is actually three polar bears over three generations; a grandmother, mother, and son. The first, never named, is captured and brought as a cub to Moscow, where she is trained to perform in a circus, apparently around the 1960s. Her part is “The Grandmother: An Evolutionary Theory”.

“For a long time, I didn’t know anything: I sat in my cage, always onstage, never an audience member. If I’d gone out now and then, I would’ve seen the stove that had been installed under the cage. I’d have seen Ivan putting firewood in the stove and lighting it. I might have even seen the gramophone with its giant black tulip on a stand behind the cage. When the floor of the cage got hot, Ivan would drop the needle on the record. As a fanfare split the air like a fist shattering a pane of glass, the palms of my paw-hands felt a searing pain. I stood up, and the pain disappeared.” (p. 11)

“After hours and days spent vigorously shaking my hips, my knees were in such bad shape that I was incapable of performing acrobatics of any sort. I was unfit for circus work. Ordinarily they would have just shot me, but I got lucky and was assigned a desk job in the circus’s administrative offices.

I never dreamed I had a gift for office work. But the personnel office left no talents of their workers unexplored if they could be employed and exploited to the circus’s advantage. I would even go so far as to say I was a born office manager. My nose could sniff out the difference between important and unimportant bills.” (p. 14)

After learning record-keeping, she begins to write her autobiography in her spare time as a hobby, until she learns that a human supervisor has been taking it and getting it published – without telling her or sharing the money. She discovers how to manage her own sales, and finds that her autobiography is a best-seller. She’s become an intellectual, and is invited to literary conferences. But a famous intellectual polar bear as a member of the intelligentsia becomes an embarrassment to the Soviet establishment. She is encouraged to move to Siberia (the climate will be so much more comfortable to polar bears), and finally to emigrate to West Germany; then to Canada where she finds too much freedom. She marries a polar bear from Denmark, has a daughter, and they re-emigrate to East Germany.

Part II, “The Kiss of Death”, is about the first bear’s daughter Tosca; but the narrator is a human in the East German national circus (later identified as Barbara). When the Soviet Union gives the circus nine polar bears – nine bears arrogant with Soviet labor demands, who go on strike – she incidentally learns about Tosca.

“Though she’d graduated from ballet school with top honors, Tosca hadn’t been able to land a role in a single production, not even in Swan Lake, as everyone had expected. And so she was regularly performing for children. Her mother was a celebrity who’d emigrated from Canada to Socialist East Germany and had written an autobiography. The book was long out of print, and no one had ever read it, so it was really more of a legend.” (p. 84)

She brings in Tosca hoping that she will be an encouraging role model for the Soviet bears. When she isn’t – “When her [Tosca’s] vehicle passed the quarters of the nine polar bears, they immediately began to heckle her: “Strike-breaker! Scab!” (p. 88) – she works with Tosca to develop a solo act. Eventually she writes

Tosca’s biography, rather than Tosca writing an autobiography.

“‘I’ve started writing your biography,’ I said to Tosca, who sneezed in surprise.

‘Are you cold?’

‘Very funny. I have a pollen allergy. Here at the North Pole, no flowers bloom, but there’s still pollen in the air, and I can’t stop sneezing. It’s uncanny, having pollen without flowers.’

‘I’ve written up to the period just after your birth. Your eyes weren’t open yet. Your mother and you weren’t alone, there was a third shadow.’

‘My father wanted to live with us, but my mother couldn’t stand him. She used to snarl whenever he came within sight of us.’

‘Isn’t that normal for a mother bear?’” (p. 124)

Eventually Barbara and Tosca become so close that Tosca takes over writing the narrative. After the reunification of Germany, they travel around the world as a duo.

“During the performance, I took great pleasure in watching the children in the audience. They stared at us open-mouthed and wide-eyed. In Japan we received a letter that said: ‘it must be exhausting to put on a bear costume in this heat and perform onstage. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for your wonderful performance! Our children were ecstatic.’ Apparently there were audience members who were incapable of believing I was really a bear. How fortunate that no one came into the dressing room and asked me to take off my bearskin.” (p. 160)

When they retire, Tosca is sold to the Berlin Zoo where Knut is born.   Part III, “Memories of the North Pole”, is Knut’s story.

Knut’s story is a blend of fiction and fact. Knut was born in the Berlin Zoo, and is probably the most famous polar bear in history. There were Knut T-shirts and plush dolls. Knut’s keeper Matthias became almost as popular, and when he unexpectedly died, Knut was distraught by his disappearance.

“And this news too reached me in the form of a newspaper article: Matthias is dead. He died of a heart attack. At first I didn’t understand what that meant. I read the through several times. Suddenly a thought struck me like a stone: I can never see him again.” (p. 229)

Although the protagonists are individual polar bears in a human world, there are others in supporting roles: the nine Soviet circus bears, the first bear’s Danish husband Christian, and others. The first bear is briefly confused by human anthropomorphic fiction.

“The protagonist was a mouse. Her form of gainful employment: singing. Her audience: the people. On the vocabulary list I found the word Volk, which corresponded to the Russian narod.

[…]

As long as the mouse went on singing, the Volk gave her its full attention. No one aped her, no one giggled, no one disrupted her concerts by making mouse noises. This is just how my own audience behaved, too, and my heart leaped as I remembered the circus.” (p. 49)

The bear is disappointed when she learns the story of the mouse singer is only fiction; a literary conceit.

Memoirs of a Polar Bear (cover by Alyssa Cartwright) has a melancholy, ethereal ending that fits the book nicely. The real Knut died. The book’s Knut goes on. In fiction, he can live forever.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1. Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

2 Uncool – a furry celebrity’s disgrace is a test of fandom tolerance.

Mon 20 Mar 2017 - 07:00
TT-largeRantingGryphonDVD

Wikifur

Remember when Seinfeld was one of the biggest TV shows, and co-star Michael Richards derailed his career with a racist meltdown on stage? It happened at a comedy show, but it wasn’t part of the act. He apologized, and news said “It is actually one of the most honest apologies that a celebrity has ever given for bad behavior.”

It’s rare to see a career implode like that. Now let’s look at a furry happening that’s not so drastic, but more of a slow burn. A prominent performer in the fandom is being examined for poorly representing it, and found unworthy of support by its premiere convention. Bad behavior has been in plain view for years with no apologies. It took this long to accumulate wider attention. Many members say it’s long overdue, and some find it discouraging that it took so long.

“2 The Ranting Gryphon” has a problem.

His George Carlin-styled comedy has earned 24,000 follows on Youtube and audiences of 1000+ at Anthrocon. I’ve seen and laughed at his show there. But they declined to host him this year. His fans are very upset (almost as if he’s a tenured “house comedian of fandom”?)  2 himself appears to be the info source, claiming to be a victim of invalid attacks by over-offended “SJW’s”. There’s only a vague official statement citing declining attendance, so pointing blame is untrustworthy. A con can pick whoever they want, and they just chose not to pick him; friends and fame aren’t supposed to overrule quality or board decisions for approval. (Free speech doesn’t apply because it’s not between citizen and government – the host is a private organization. He isn’t “banned” and can attend the con. )

Whoever made this, I love you. pic.twitter.com/fyjQh49pM8

— Buck Est. 1999 (@MintzBuck) March 15, 2017

His issue with the con may not be clear enough for honest discussion.  But the deeper problem is.  Let’s look at what ‘2’ is defending. Is it just comedy?

In the San Francisco Bay Area, I have enjoyed a bit of fun, casual activity in scenes for comedy and more, from music videos to avant-cabaret variety shows. (Read more: It was so much fun to be in an outrageous Rap CD and a live comedy show!)  I went on stage in fursuit at the Tourette’s Without Regrets show (run by the great-grandson of L. Ron Hubbard.)  That is to say, I favor broad-minded appreciation for all kinds of weird shit and offensive humor.  I like it enough to suppress stage fright and try it as a complete amateur.  I’m not in any way professional (and I often speak loudly about loosening boundaries for expression) – but I think I can tell the difference between shock humor or satire, and words that are just indefensible.

Many furries are judging some words from 2 The Ranting Gryphon as indefensible. Read for yourself.

2 on suicide, jews and slavery, and child molesting (wackity schmackity doo!) – in his own words with links for context:

If you feel so much pain that you need to end your life because some other douche bag is calling you bad names then you DESERVE to be dead. No other species on the planet ends their own life because of minor harassment and the fact that we do just means that there’s too damn many of us and nature is trying to find a way to get rid of us. If you’re thrown into agony over little bullshit like this then you are better off killing yourself. Get off the planet and make room for others.”

(Screenshotoriginal vid.  Yet another source. 2 denies telling anyone to kill themself: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6])

I do not care that “your people” have been enslaved for the last 3000 years. How often have YOU been a slave? If the answer is “never”, you have no right to bitch… especially at someone who has never OWNED a slave in their life. The fact, if you care to research it, is that everyone… and I mean *everyone* has at some point, stemmed from people who have both been slaves and slave owners. There is no exception to this.

(“Open letter to Jews”)

What is sexual molestation? The physical nature of it is obvious, but what what does it represent emotionally to the victim? A loss of control. Helplessness. Perhaps some pain. Being forced to do something you don’t want to. Shame and embarrassment. These are all unpleasant things. But they’re also unpleasant things that most people experience nearly every day from their bosses or co-workers at their jobs or from teachers and other students at school.

(“Molesting the molesters.“)

monkeysWhat the…?  None of that accurately portrays people… and where’s the funny?  What’s the purpose for spreading this?  I could contact 2 and go through the trouble of diplomatically seeking his side… Nah, I’m busy and I don’t get paid to abate ignorance of the stubborn “see no evil” mindset with his fans.  I don’t think there should be benefit of the doubt for saying “you DESERVE to be dead,” or comparing a mean boss at work in the same breath with being molested, or describing molested victims as “grown men turned into blubbering, sobbing children” who should just grow up, or “…child molesters are, in fact, the saviors of their own victims”. If you have to explain this away, you already messed up.

@esperhusky my jaw dropped, where's the comedy? A rant act isnt an excuse for unmitigated shitting on people like a backed up sewer pipe

— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) March 16, 2017

Besides, 2 already stepped up to make a statement.  Let him speak for himself:

Here's my official word on this whole thing, which I'm sure will somehow be twisted to hell and back...https://t.co/8WD7b337DM

— 2 Gryphon (@2_gryphon) March 15, 2017

Unaccountable 2 the max.

Did you hear him say sorry, or take grown up responsibility for being anything less than innocent?  Or use talent to season it with self deprecating humor?

In July, this drama will be over. And I'll still have 25,000 people enjoying my videos. How's that feel, beeatch? https://t.co/a7xpzc1o2U

— 2 Gryphon (@2_gryphon) March 15, 2017

All I see is excuses with expectation to get unlimited passes, and deflection at supposed “SJW’s”.  A convenient enemy! Hmm, is there anyone besides them who might not support this?

A few years back, when 2 was explaining suicide, a furry friend of mine had her 19 year old brother jump off a building.  (There’s a real person I’m not linking for privacy, who might or might not comment.) There was no hint of trouble until she got the news.  Nobody had a chance to intervene, and it couldn’t possibly have been more of a surprise.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to have someone you love deleted from life like that.  I’ll bet it’s super raw and long-lasting.  More importantly, reasons don’t change things for people left behind to deal with the loss.

It's not their fault. In order to understand comedy, you have to experience tragedy. Many of them have never had a problem in their life. https://t.co/ENWQOQHwAm

— 2 Gryphon (@2_gryphon) March 16, 2017

My friend’s experience showed how devastatingly unexpected suicide can be. As easy as a bad tweet. So when 2 mocks supposed trivial reasons for it, she gets to see him being utterly oblivious. Not just about people who do it, but to her and about all the effects that spread to others. 2’s “logic” hurts and does nothing to help.  When people have internal pressure brewing with no outward sign, and depressed people deal with a disease they don’t just get over – that’s not a “choice”. So you don’t go sorting good reasons and bad ones. None are good or simple.

Andreus Wolf has a summary about what 2 said. It is simple and excellent. Click through for the entire thread – it’s the best one:

"Isn't the furry fandom supposed to be tolerant and accepting?"

It literally took a guy telling people to kill themselves to upset us.

— Vex, Night Creature (@andreuswolf) March 15, 2017

Some furries didn’t feel like 2 did anything wrong.  And even “Nazifurs” from Colorado tweeted their support, grabbing a sleazy opportunity to troll or ride 2’s coattails.  That sounds familiar.  Remember when Trump was endorsed by David Duke (the KKK guy)?  There was also JonTron’s recent racist drama and the Rabid Puppies in Sci Fi fandom.  As small-scale as this furry thing is, it shows we can deal with the same stuff as grown up scenes do. We’re having a Moment.

Reasonable complaints

After my friend’s loss, she moved to Colorado where 2 is in the fur community (awkward!) This is about more than just internet words.  Community is a good word here.  It involves role models, peers, and support (and other words from after-school specials. A furry one would be extra special.)

 Support is important with suicide. Particularly for young guys (and LGBT guys).  This is very important, because those groups have way higher risk than others.  Maybe they’re more stupid and easily upset over little bullshit?  Are boys more stupid? Of course not – I’d say they deal with conditions particular to their gender, and deserve self-respect in groups. We do that.

This article isn’t coming from what 2 might call an SJW.  Some might even (falsely) use the label anti-SJW. It has to do with gender. Check this out: Why are “nerdy” groups male-populated?  Revisiting a debate full of dogma.  That’s where I see a group of disproportionately male (and LGBT) members as a good thing brought together by positive motivation like male bonding, not a bad thing made by exclusion and sexism.  In that way you can say I’m pro-Men’s Rights.  The type where gender roles are just apples-and-oranges and other gender politics can have constructive criticism like this rather than be enemies. The type who thinks society could do more for men who get broken by conditions they don’t ask for, like inner cities emptied of fathers in prison, to war and homelessness. One who finds 2’s words about suicide to be indefensible.

It’s dishonest to deflect blame onto “SJW’s”. That word is silly and the real problem is in the stuff 2 said.  The longevity of his act shows how much tolerance there is – now, I think he’s not so much being told what to joke about, as expected to be honest.  Furries who choose not to support him are giving reasonable complaints and earning their reputation as a group that cares. They might not understand what it takes for 2 to put his stuff out (they also aren’t unfamiliar with it – it’s hardly secret), but there isn’t a mob wanting persecution without limits.  There is room for mistakes and learning. Imagine seeing a gesture of something besides denial and blame for self-benefit.

Until then, I have a feeling that 2’s number is up and this could be a third strike. Even if this goes in one ear and out the other and he keeps looking out for number one, there’s no two ways about it – fans won’t forget and go back to square one.

Kage supports me. He wanted me there this year. And he wanted me to be able to entertain you. But he was outvoted. https://t.co/YtZTvm7JW9

— 2 Gryphon (@2_gryphon) March 15, 2017

Public Image

Anthrocon CEO Uncle Kage defers to the board’s decision, to his credit.  He’s also friends with 2 and apparently argued to keep 2’s show.  Kage’s feelings about media are famous – and when he’s so strict about letting the press in the con, it makes me puzzled about why he supports his friend who says outrageous, unaccountable stuff?  Isn’t that horrible for PR?  Why discourage the type of dishonest media from MTV, CSI or Vanity Fair, but let this go?

I guess it’s different because a friend is under control unlike a media company.  I can appreciate the sentiment at least.  It’s a furry kind of paradox in a group where the line of what’s too much is often up to the individual. Kage and 2 have done nice things together to support charities.  Now, support could mean telling a friend when to back away from the mike.

Categories: News

Franko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier – review by Fred Patten.

Fri 17 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Franco_front-cover_SC-lgFranko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2016, hardcover $39.95 (v + 128 pages), trade paperback $19.95.

Franko: Fables of the Last Earth is a collection of six cartoon-art fables written by Ángel Bernier and illustrated by Cristóbal Jofré, printed in full color on glossy paper. The word “fables” is carefully chosen; these are gentle, mystical adventures in the tradition of “magic realism” favored by many Latin American authors.

Franko is a young anthropomorphic lion adolescent living in the Atacama Desert of Chile at the “end of civilization on Earth”, with his slightly older lion friend Shin. The Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth, but as backpackers and other travelers will tell you, the deserts have their own special beauty. These six short fables display it with a quiet wonder.

Franko and Shin are lion farmers at the opposite ends of adolescence – Franko appears to be a thirteen-year-old, while the more irresponsible Shin appears about nineteen (and is addicted to gambling). Both embody the exuberance of youth. They and Mana, the ghost of Shin’s grandmother, are the only recurring characters. Mana is the voice of wisdom who tempers the rashness and naïvete of the two youngsters.

The six fables are:

The Fable of Mana and the Treasure
The Fable of Cobrafrog, the Merchant
The Fable of Megaboss
The Fable of the Host of Midnight
The Fable of the Slave Master
The Fable of Behemo, the Hermit

Despite having only three recurring characters, these six fables hint at a richness of Franko’s and Shin’s desert society. Cobrafrog, the Traveling Merchant, brings a wealth of exotic devices such as a mighty tornado in a small box. The currency hinted at in this fable would tempt any numismatist: platinum squares, golden circles, silver triangles, and copper rhombuses. Megaboss, the water buffalo foreman of the saltpeter factory, and Alister, his jackal assistant, run a huge foundry that seems to consist only of simple animal labor (a llama shoveller), but which makes marvelous mechanical horses. There is an invading horde “that once every thousand years instills fear and desperation” – or are they just ghosts from civization’s past? There is Behemo, the Hermit, searching for his ancestors – a look at Behemo is worth the price of the book by itself.

Franko-p.107

Franko: Fábulas de la Última Tierra was originally published in Chile in 2013. Sofawolf Press felt that it deserved a high-quality English-language edition, and in early 2016 they ran a Kickstarter campaign for $6,000 for this purpose. They got $14,268 from 269 backers. Sofawolf has added three earlier black-&-white stories with the additional money. The hardcover is a beautiful little book. The trade paperback, with french flaps, is as close to the hardcover as possible.

The back-cover blurb says, “Recommended for readers 7 to 700 years old.” An excellent recommendation.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1. Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

What’s Yiffin’? – March 2017 edition of syndicated furry news.

Thu 16 Mar 2017 - 10:12

Good afternoon, Dogpatch Press readers. Last month was pretty big for us – it had our news satire show What’s Yiffin’? debut on this website. Nobody tried to kill us or call us mean names or whatever, so I guess that means it was well received. If that’s the case, then today ought to be a great day for some of you, because we’ve got the March edition of the series ready to go. Thank you for making What’s Yiffin’? a part of your entertainment routine.

AND NOW THE NEWS

More details and some additional insight from the show’s writers:

BACK IN BLACK

SqueakLatexSqueak Latex, a niche company serving a very peculiar sect of the furry fandom, announced last month that they were back in business and fulfilling orders once again. (Or “pumping up” orders as they so eloquently put it.) This news marks a substantial change in tone for Squeak Latex, who last year had formerly announced that they were up for sale, following issues with time management and material supply. Prospective buyers of the company would inherit Squeak Latex’s name, product designs, customer registry, manufacturing team, and all additional assets required to run the company. Either no offers were made, or none could be finalized, resulting in the company falling into radio silence on social media until just recently.

Personally, neither of us here at What’s Yiffin’? fancy ourselves as purveyors of inflation fiction or rubber art. However we do like to show support for the brave souls who hedge their livelihoods on setting up businesses to serve this insane fandom.  For that, we can only offer our sincerest encouragement that the people behind Squeak Latex are able to get back on the [inflatable rubber] horse and ride off into the sunset.  And by “sunset” we mean “bank”.

Best of luck, Squeak!

BronyConGREENER PASTURES

We missed this last time around, but here at What’s Yiffin’? we like to make it a point to try and check in on our “friends” in the brony fandom at least once a month. Nobody involved with this show really follows My Little Pony or its corresponding fandom.  But we feel like there’s enough crossover between us and them, that our viewers would at least find it amusing to hear a CliffsNotes version of the goings-on in Equestria.

The biggest story among the cloppers last month involved BronyCon, their flagship convention. In a scoop originally shared by Horse News, a website that can best be described as the brony equivalent of this show, it was revealed that the convention was considering expanding its focus to include fandoms other than My Little Pony to help bolster attendance. These rumors were later confirmed in an official BronyCon blog post titled “Better Together” where the organizers discuss their considerations to include fandoms such as Steven Universe and Undertale under the convention’s umbrella.

These two fandoms were mentioned by name, because over the past several years the brony fandom has been bleeding membership into them. BronyCon saw their highest convention attendance in 2015 (approximately 10,000 attendees) followed by their biggest drop in attendance — 30% — the following year. 30% is closer to half than it is to zero – so this is a mathematically significant figure; say what you will about bronies, but the con organizers clearly have the foresight to notice this dangerous trend, and they’re attempting to make appropriate corrections right now before it potentially gets worse. There’s no word yet on whether or not BronyCon will be adopting a new name but we’ll keep you posted on any major changes that may come about.

ZootopiaOscarIT’S CALLED A HUSTLE

The Academy Awards (a.k.a. “The Oscars”) are the biggest deal in the movie industry. Last month, Jimmy Kimmel hosted this shitshow of an awards ceremony. It was rife with cringeworthy moments – ranging from inviting a bunch of random people off the street into the show under the guise that it was a museum tour – to “Moonlight actually won the award”. Anyways, the Academy Awards are all about rewarding Hollywood professionals whose work was significantly less bad than everyone else’s.  In the arena of Best Animated Film, top marks went to Disney’s Zootopia.

Honestly, who didn’t see this coming? Zootopia was a huge deal when it came out.  So much that it is considered to be “this generation’s Robin Hood” by the fandom. This is a sentiment that we’ve previously gone on record to say we disagree with. But the fact of the matter is for once in this fandom’s miserable existence, it was really special to have something that we could gather around as a community and enjoy for what it was.  There’s a million movies out there with anthropomorphic animals, but by and large, none of them can hold a candle to the sheer amount of fan art and celebration received by this film.

Sadly, however, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Also up for an Academy Award was Pixar’s Moana, a musical that focused on the titular character and her journey to save her island tribe from the evil powers consuming the land. You see, with today’s current political climate Moana was hailed as a progressive victory because “it’s about time Disney had a woman of color as a lead”… negating the fact that Mulan, Aladdin, and Pocahontas have been out for literally at least two decades.  The fact that Moana lost in the category of Best Animated Film was seen by some as an affront to minorities, again negating the fact that the entire point of Zootopia dealt with understanding and overcoming hurdles created by race and stereotypes in society. The fact that people looked at these two films and saw them superficially as nothing more than “talking animals” and “brown people” is terrifying.

But anyways, if you’re one of the people still upset that Zootopia took home the gold then we’ve got only one thing to say: “It’s called a hustle, sweetheart.”

RainFurrestEXTINCTION

For a good many of you out there in furry fan land this news has been somewhat of a silent assumption. Rainfurrest, Seattle’s premiere furry convention, has recently announced that they’re shutting down the con indefinitely. If this news comes as a shock to you, or if you’re not familiar with the controversy surrounding this convention, allow us to get you up to speed.

The most recent convention held by Rainfurrest happened in 2015. It is considered by many to be among the biggest disasters in the history of the fandom, if not #1 on the list to begin with. In recent years Rainfurrest had earned a reputation as a “fetish con” or “diaper con” as a tongue-in-cheek joke among furries – because while most conventions had been taking steps to curtail fetish representation at their events, Rainfurrest seemed to be indifferent toward it.

This reputation reached a critical mass of sorts as social media exploded with photos and stories of people wearing diapers and fetish gear in public, authorities being called, vandalism being done to the SeaTac Hilton hotel, a Denny’s closing down, and countless other instances of just really horrifying events taking place. By the end of the convention the hotel staff had begun leaving very sternly worded notices under the doors of hotel guests informing them of curfews.

Ultimately, the venue was so displeased with the behavior of Rainfurrest’s guests, that they literally broke contract and told the con not to return in 2016. Rainfurrest’s reputation began to precede them. They were unable to secure a venue in time for 2016’s convention, and it was ultimately cancelled.

At the start of this article, we mentioned how tickled we were to see people “making it” in the fandom. Here we have the total opposite of that. However, Rainfurrest’s reputation is something that can do (and probably has done) active harm to the public’s perception of the fandom. Honestly, good riddance; while other conventions were stepping up to the plate and cleaning up their image, Rainfurrest ended up sacrificing the long-term viability of their convention in return for more cash upfront, by means of not turning away the types of people that were no longer allowed elsewhere. Let this be a cautionary tale that no matter how long or how big a convention is, nobody is immune from the repercussions of the actions of those whom they represent.

And that’s the news!

Thank you once again for checking out what we have to offers, and as always big ups to Dogpatch Press for syndicating us and helping us reach even more people in this fabulous fandom. If you dig What’s Yiffin’? you can catch it live as part of the first Gatorbox broadcast of every month; we’re live every Friday night at 9PM (Central) on Twitch, with our variety show that includes this and other original/improvisational humor. We’re also on YouTube and Vidme, and if you’d like to support the show financially we’re on Patreon now as well (and so is Dogpatch Press!!). See you next month, and we hope to see you at our next stream.

André “Dracokon” Kon & Rob “Roastmaster” Maestro

(More reading:)

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1.  Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link.  Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Dazzle Resplendent: Adventures of a Misanthropic Dog, by Scott Bradfield – a book review by Fred Patten.

Wed 15 Mar 2017 - 10:42

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

41vJbrcNeyLDazzle Resplendent: Adventures of a Misanthropic Dog, by Scott Bradfield.
London, Red Rabbit Books, January 2017, trade paperback $9.99 (174 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Scott Bradfield has been a professor at universities in California, Connecticut, and London. He is also a literary reviewer, and an author of short stories. This is a collection of his eight Dazzle stories, originally published in literary magazines and Fantasy & Science Fiction between 1988 and 2011. Many of them have been also collected in earlier Bradfield collections, but this is the first collection of all eight of them.

Dazzle has been described as a wise-cracking talking dog, but he is more accurately a sardonic motor-mouth who talks incessantly whether anyone is listening or not. Here is how I described “Dazzle Redux” in my review of Bradfield’s Hot Animal Love: Tales of Modern Romance, for Anthro #10, March/April 2007:

“Dazzle, now living as a feral dog in the mountains around Los Angeles with a complacent bitch and her pups, is happy; but could be happier if he would learn to just shut up!

“Maybe I’m not all I should be in the family skills department,” Dazzle confessed that night to his erstwhile mate, Edwina. “But getting through to those kids of yours is like having a conversation with a block of wood, I swear. If I try to instruct them in the most basic math and science skills, they’re not interested. If I try to teach them which way to look when crossing the street, they’re still not interested. If I try to point out the most obvious cultural contradictions of multinational capitalism, why, just forget about it. They’re really not interested. If you can’t eat it or fuck it, it’s not important; that’s their attitude.”(Etc., etc.; Edwina is sleeping through all this. pg. 31)

Finally despairing of trying to get his foster pups interested in geometry or Nietzsche or even not running with the local coyotes, Dazzle sets out to find his own father in the alleys and dumpsters of L.A.

“Dazzle”, the first story, introduces him as “a dog with bushy red hair, fleas and an extraordinary attention span – especially for a dog. He was particularly fond of pastry, philosophies of language and Third World political theory.” (p. 3) Dazzle is the pet of the Davenport family: Father, Mother, and children Billy, Brad, and Jennifer. Billy is the one who takes Dazzle for walkies.   Dazzle is quiet around the humans – he doesn’t care much for them — but he regales “Homer, a resolute and well-groomed Dalmatian who often roamed the park during Dazzle’s afternoon walks, and Dingus, the hideous Lhasa Apso who snorted at Dazzle through the slatted pine fence of Dazzle’s backyard.” (p. 4) The two dogs give little signs of understanding Dazzle’s monologues, but he doesn’t let that bother him.

Dazzle becomes so lethargic that the Davenports grow worried. They call the veterinarian and a dog psychiatrist. They don’t know that it’s all being undercut by Dazzle’s listening with them to the TV evening news. “The entire world was rapidly being transformed into a gigantic petrochemical dump, Dazzle thought. We are all being steadily infiltrated by carcinogens, toxins, radiation and some sort of irrepressible sadness that is probably the only underlying meaning anyway.” (p. 10) This lasts until somebody leaves the Davenports’ backyard gate open, and Dazzle escapes. He wanders about what becomes identifiable as Los Angeles’ outlying suburbs, meets Edwina, tries to educate her pups, and develops a respect for antibiotic medicines.

In “Dazzle Redux”, Dazzle decides to stop trying to educate Edwina’s pups, who aren’t listening to him anyhow, and he leaves on a personal quest to find his father. He does immediately, and the reader gets Pop’s excuses and philosophy of life. “Pop invited Dazzle to spend the night in his home – the basement of a condemned Pizza Hut – and even offered to share some of his moldier blankets and food stuffs. But he refused to acknowledge any moral responsibility for Dazzle’s life, or manifest the slightest degree of remorse.” (p. 29)   After a near brush with a dogcatcher in Encino, Dazzle brings his Pop home to Edwina and the pups. “‘For crying out loud! Dazzle’s dad was often heard exclaiming through the warm, fir-scented air. ‘It’s a rhomboid, for Christ’s sake! Don’t you idiots know what a rhomboid is?’” (pgs. 38-39)

Dazzle finally talks to people in “Dazzle’s Inferno”. He’s caught by the SPCA and selected by UCLA’s new Department of Animal Linguistics for experimentation on how to teach dogs human language. “When Dazzle awoke, he found himself drifting in a huge, gelatin-filled tank in a wide, omniscient laboratory buzzing with video cameras and metabolic gauges. His eyes were sewn open; his paws were bound by see-through plastic tape. And an array of multicolored, follicular implants sprouted from his forehead like a cybernetic toupee.” (p. 51) “Dazzle wished he were the sort of dog who could resist such an invitation. But of course he wasn’t.” (p. 52) Dazzle tells the scientists what he thinks of them. Which leads to …

There are five more stories: “Dazzle Gets Political”, “Dazzle the Pundit”, “Dazzle Joins the Screenwriter’s Guild”, “Dazzle Speaks with the Dead”, and “Starship Dazzle”. The last begins, “At an age when most dogs are contemplating retirement by a shaggy fireside, or the looming possibility of euthanasia in the rubber-gloved embrace of some smirking vet, Dazzle convinced the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to send him into space on a rocket.” (p. 153)

Dazzle Resplendent (cover by Bradfield) is a sarcastic criticism of humanity and modern civilization through the device of a talking dog; but the dogs aren’t spared, either. It’s for readers who enjoy intellectual parodies as well as dramatic fiction. It can either be read all at once, or in installments.

– Fred Patten

 

Categories: News

Vote now for the 2016 Ursa Major Awards!

Tue 14 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

419893_189786951121868_189782644455632_235270_39724323_n-e1331832247101Voting for the 2016 Ursa Major Awards, for the Best Anthropomorphic Literature and Art of the 2016 calendar year in 12 categories, is now open.  The voting is open from March 13 to April 30.  The awards will be announced at a presentation ceremony at Anthrocon 2017, in Pittsburgh, PA on June 29 – July 2.

The twelve categories are:  Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture; Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series; Best Anthropomorphic Novel; Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction; Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work; Best Anthropomorphic Non-Fiction Work; Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story; Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip; Best Anthropomorphic Magazine; Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration; Best Anthropomorphic Game; and Best Anthropomorphic Website.

Voting is open to all!  To vote, go to the Ursa Major Awards website at  http://www.ursamajorawards.org/ and click on “Voting for 2016” at the left.

You will receive instructions on how to register to vote.  You do not have to vote in every category.  Please vote in only those categories in which you feel knowledgeable.

This final ballot has been compiled from those works receiving the most nominations that were eligible.  The top five nominees in each category are the finalists.  Please make sure that your nominations are only for works published during the calendar year (January through December) in question.

2016 FINAL BALLOT

Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture

Finding Dory (Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane; June 17)

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni; January 29)

The Secret Life of Pets (Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney; July 8)

Sing (Directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet; December 21)

Zootopia (Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush; February 11)

Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series

Bunnicula (Directed by Jessica Borutski, Maxwell Atoms, Robert F. Hughes, Matthew Whitlock, and Ian Wasseluk; Season 1 episodes 1 to 8 [TV])

The Lion Guard (Directed by Howy Parkins; Season 1 episodes 1 to 22 [TV])

Littlest Pet Shop (Directed by Joel Dickie, Steven Garcia, and Mike Myhre; Season 4 episode 10 to Season 4 episode 26 [TV])

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (Directed by James Thiessen, Jim Miller, Tim Stuby, and Denny Lu; Season 6 episodes 1 to 143 [TV])

Petals (Directed by Andrea Gallo and Alvaro Dominguez; November 29 [student film])

Best Anthropomorphic Novel

Dog Country, by Malcolm F. Cross (Amazon Digital Services; March 28)

Fracture, by Hugo Jackson (Inspired Quill; September 1)

My Diary, by Fredrick Usiku Kruger, Lieutenant of the Rackenroon Hyena Brigade, by Kathy Garrison Kellog (The Cross Time Cafe; April 2)

The Origin Chronicles: Mineau, by Justin Swatsworth (Dolphyn Visions; June 14)

Sixes Wild: Echoes, by Tempe O’Kun (FurPlanet Productions; June 30)

Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction

400 Rabbits, by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden, in Gods With Fur (FurPlanet Productions; June 30)

A Gentleman of Strength, by Dwale, in Claw the Way to Victory (Jaffa Books; January 24)

Marge the Barge, by Mary E. Lowd, in Claw the Way to Victory (Jaffa Books; January 24)

Questor’s Gambit, by Mary E. Lowd, in Gods With Fur (FurPlanet Productions; June 30)

Sheeperfly’s Lullaby, by Mary E. Lowd, in GoAL #2 (Goal Publications; March 27)

Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work

Claw the Way to Victory, ed. by AnthroAquatic (Jaffa Books; January 24 [anthology])

Gods With Fur, ed. by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Productions; June 30 [anthology])

Hot Dish #2, ed. by Dark End (Sofawolf Press; December 1 [anthology])

The Muse, by Alex Cockburn (Rabbit Valley Publishing; March [background booklet for Lucid’s Dream])

ROAR volume 7, ed. by Mary E. Lowd (Bad Dog Books; June 30 [anthology])

Best Anthropomorphic Non-Fiction Work

The Art of Zootopia, by Jessica Julius (Chronicle Books; March 8 [book; making of feature film])

Burned Furs and How You Perceive Porn (Culturally F’d: After Dark; October 6 [podcast])

CSI: Fur Fest; The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention, by Jennifer Swann (VICE Media; February 10 [Internet])

Fursonas  (Directed by Dominic Rodriguez; May 10 [documentary film])

17 Misconceptions About Furries and the Furry Fandom (Culturally F’d #23; February 11 [podcast])

Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story

Endtown, by Aaron Neathery (Internet; January 1 to December 30)

Lackadaisy, by Tracy J. Butler (Internet; Lackadaisy Sabbatical to Lackadaisy Headlong)

Lucid’s Drean, by Alex Cockburn (Rabbit Valley Publishing; March)

Swords and Sausages, by Jan (Internet; January 10 to December 25)

TwoKinds, by Tom Fischbach (Internet; January 6 to December 25)

Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip

Carry On, by Kathy Garrison (Internet; January 1 to December 30)

Doc Rat, by Jenner (Internet; January 1 to  December 29)

Housepets!, by Rick Griffin (Internet; January 1 to December 30)

Kevin & Kell, by Bill Holbrook (Internet; January 1 to December 31)

SaveState, by Tim Weeks (Internet; January 6 to December 28)

Best Anthropomorphic Magazine

Dogpatch Press, ed. by Patch Packrat (Internet; January 4 to December 20)

Fangs and Fonts (Podcast; episodes #57 to #72)

Flayrah, ed. by crossaffliction and GreenReaper (Internet; January 1 to December 29)

Fur What It’s Worth (Podcast; Season 5 episode #8 to Season 6 episode #8)

InFurNation, ed. by Rod O’Riley (Internet; January 1 to December 31)

Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration

Tracy J. Butler, cover of Anthrocon 2016 Souvenir Book

Dolphyn, “Hey Baby, You’re the Cat’s Meow!” in Anthrocon 2016 Souvenir Book

Teagan Gavet, cover of Gods With Fur, ed. by Fred Patten  (FurPlanet Productions, June 30)

Iskra, “Autumn”, FurAffinity, October 22

Jenn ‘Pac’ Rodriguez, cover of Claw the Way to Victory, ed. by AnthroAquatic (Jaffa Books, January 24)

Best Anthropomorphic Game

Bear Simulator (Developer and Publisher: Farjay Studios; February 26)

Major \ Minor (Developer: Klace; Publisher: Steam; October 11)

Overwatch (Deveoper and Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment; May 24)

Pokémon Sun & Moon (Developer: Game Freak; Publishers: Nintendo and the Pokémon Company; November 18)

Stories: The Path of Destinies (Developer and Publisher: Spearhead Games; April 12)

Best Anthropomorphic Website

Culturally F’d, ed. by Arrkay and Underbite (YouTube [furry history & sociology])

E621 (Internet [furry art & discussion])

Fur Affinity (Internet [furry art & discussion])

The Furry Writers’ Guild (Internet [FWG news & discussion])

WikiFur (Internet [furry wiki])

Fred Patten

Again, here’s the link to vote for your favorite 2016 anthropomorphic works for the Ursa Major Award.

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1.  Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link.  Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions, by Rick Griffin – book review by Fred Patten

Mon 13 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

housepets_book7_cover-preview-237x300Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions (Book 7), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2016, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Here, right on schedule, is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Book 7 contains the strips from June 16, 2014 to June 1, 2015; story arcs #78, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 2”, to #90, “All’s Fair, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! presents the adventures of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff.

Book 7 is complete, but it begins in the middle of a story sequence. In “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 1” at the end of Book 6, Pete the demigod griffin appears to both King (corgi) and his wife Bailey (husky), turns King from a corgi back into Joel, a human, Bailey agrees to become Pete’s avatar in Heavenly battle to save King, and Cerberus the giant three-headed dog (another demigod) sends everyone to Heaven to see how things work out. Book 7 begins with part 2; Cerberus waving King-as-human and Fox (husky) up the staircase into Heaven, and King turning back into a corgi – he’s grown used to it. Heaven, or this avatar of Heaven, is tailored to Fox and Joel/King, and to Bailey, Tarot, and Sabrina as the mortals (sort of), and to Pete, Dragon, and Kitsune as the demigods (and Bahamut as god). In part 3, they all go to Western Australia to get home. Peanut Butter presents two more Adventures of Spot (Superdog). The Babylon Gardens housepets and the nearby forest ferals celebrate Hallowe’en, Christmas, and Easter. The wild wolves join a human baby shower group (human mothers usually have only one pup per litter?), and Bino (that’s pronounced BYE-no) tries to officially become a wolf. Fox joins the K-9 Academy. Karishad (fox) is as crazy as ever. Jessica the opossum, who was introduced in Book 6, has a larger role here, and Cilantro the skunk is introduced. Keene Milton (rich ferret) hosts the State Fair, and Book 7 ends with another cliffhanger as Bailey tells King that she’s pregnant.

2014-06-16-keeping-up-appearances

Book 7 presents four rows of strips to a page in full color, with some brand-new illustrations to make story sequences come out evenly. Like all long-running comic strips, this assumes that the reader is familiar with the characters and their backstories. Fans of Housepets! should certainly get Book 7; reading it is much easier than reading the cartoon strip-by-strip on its website’s archive. For those who are not already fans, it’s recommended that you start with one of the earlier volumes to get familiar with the cast: Book 1, Housepets! Are Naked All The Time; Book 2, Housepets! Hope They Don’t Get Eaten; Book 3, Housepets! Can Be Real Ladykillers; Book 4, Housepets! Are Gonna Sniff Everybody; Book 5, Housepets! Don’t Criticize Your Lovelife; and Book 6, Housepets! Will Do It For Free. They’re all great, and they’re all still available on Amazon.com.

Fred Patten

Like the article? Yay! It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please make it easier and Support Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share that link. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Sythyry’s Journal: A World Tree Chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom, by Bard Bloom – review by Fred Patten.

Fri 10 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

9781451562934_p0_v1_s192x300Sythyry’s Journal: A World Tree Chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom, by Bard Bloom
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2010, trade paperback $25.00 (626 pages).

The opening paragraph of this dense, 626 pages of small type is:

“My exceedingly old and exceedingly famous grandparent just gave me this notebook as a going-to-school present. Zie says that zie wishes zie had had one when zie was growing up, but of course nobody knew how to do enchantments then, and there probably wasn’t time to do a lot of writing, what with all the fighting cyarr and nendrai and everything.” (p. 5)

Sythyry is a small, pale blue dragonet (actually a Zi Ri) “of impeccable lineage, considerable wit, and overwhelming inexperience, off alone at college for the first time. Zie must face terrible dangers: roommates, friends, courses in enchantment and flirtatious dance, deadly monsters, minor nobility, war, and, most dreadful of all, romance.” (blurb). The Zi Ri are hermaphrodites with pronouns to match, avoiding the “him” or “her” of the single-sex genders. The cover by Tod Wills shows zir at an Academy Buttery party surrounded by zir roommates Dustweed the Herethroy (the green grasshopper-like being at lower right) and Havune the Cani (the overdressed dog-like being at upper left), and friends Oostmarine the Orren (the otter-like being at upper right) and Anoof, another Cani (at lower left).

When Bard Bloom and his wife Victoria Borah Bloom created the World Tree role-playing game in 2001 (its cover by Mike Raabe was a finalist for the first Ursa Major Award in 2001 for Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration), LiveJournal was just getting started. Bloom explains in his “Author’s Forward” [sic.] that his own life made uninteresting reading. “So I decided to write from the point of view of a World Tree character.” – Sythyry the young Zi Ri. This book consists of Bloom’s LiveJournal entries from 2002 to 2007, as edited into novel format by Victoria Borah Bloom. Further LiveJournal entries to 2016 have been novelized in four Kindle books; Dragon Student, Ambassador to a Monster, Wizard’s Vacation, and City of Advanced Magic.

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 3.39.00 PMSythyry’s Journal covers zir notebook entries from 1 Chirreb 4260 when zie gets zir notebook, to 15 Thory 4262. Two years in a college co-ed’s rambling diary are what you might expect. Except that this co-ed happens to be a small blue, flying, fire-breathing dragonet, at a college of magic in Vheshrame, a city-state (of one branch of the World Tree):

“Classes begin tomorrow, and Havune and Thery assure me that I won’t have the seventh part of a second to spare to myself once they begin. I have chosen Ancient Ketherian History, the Study of Differences, Elementary Theory of Tempador Magic, and Current Politics of Aradrueia, and, for the gymnastic requirement, Flirtatious Dancing.

I was going to take Choinxeian Politics, but Thery warned me – and more seriously than that warning about spare time – that Professor Thistro of Choinxeian Politics was a pompous monstrosity who reveled in reciting a hundred kings a minute, and Professor Urastra of Aradrueian was actually worth listening to. Therefore I shall wait for another three months on the Choinxeian Politics.)

In the afternoon, I went flying, then hunting. In Vheshrame, pigeons are plentiful, and, fortunately, not fireproof. I brought a brace of them home, flapping slowly after me from a Ruloc Corpador improvisation. It’s dignified for hunters to carry their catch that way, but not for shoppers to carry theirs. Etiquette is a twisty subject, of which I shall complain further on future days and centuries.” (p. 7)

Classes can be rather exotic:

“Flirtatious Dance is proving to be a good bit of exercise. Not the kind I was hoping for; not yet. The teachers – there are four of them, for it is a rather popular class among the unmarried students – started with a dance to try to scare students out of the class. A traditional Thanish triafrella is a bit of an energetic dance. For a modern flourish, or perhaps for extra humiliation, they made us dance it with apples in our muzzles.

It is hard to flirt properly with an apple in your mouth. It is hard to even pant properly with an apple in your muzzle; the Cani especially were looking rather miserable by the end of the class. I daresay I was looking rather miserable too: not hot of course, it takes a goodly fire to do that, but I’m far and away the smallest person in the class, and they didn’t shrink the set that I have to run around. Yes, run, my hind legs on the floor, my forelegs carrying two glasses of wine, and my wings trying desperately not to tangle anyone’s tail. A proper fool I looked – just like everyone else in the room.” (p. 9)

51BcQJo7P1LSythyry is rather wordy, as readers will have noticed. This is good in terms of bringing the college to vivid life. And zie’s social life can get especially complex:

“Now for some worrisome questions. Shall I be a mysterious cryptic lizard sage, or shall I date other students? Shall I date full-mammals, or, perhaps, Herethroy? How much physical affection is proper, since there is no-one else of my own species in the city except for my half-sibling? How much is dignified? Or consonant with a potent degree of decorum and mystery?” (p. 10)

Yes, there is sex. Eventually. With a mammal:

“It was warm and awkward. And surprisingly sticky at the end.

And that, O monsters who are reading for prurient interest, is all I have to say about the details.” (pgs. 237-238)

Oh, no, it isn’t. Although zie still leaves out the details. This is a comedy of manners, after all.

There are the nagging letters from parents:

“~Mother~ reminds me to take at least half my classes in magic. To my lips this brings a vast and smoky sigh. I have plenty of time to learn and practice magic – I have neither desire nor impulse nor wish to become a great wizard before mid-Surprise, nor yet by Midwinter’s day next year. I can do it by degrees (and not the kind that Vheshrame Academy grants!) over a century or so! I can work as, I don’t care so much, a banker or a book-seller or some such, and bind spells on the side, or cast them for friends, or whatnot. There ae no lack of fearsomely mighty people in the family as it is. I imagine it would take me ten thousand years to get to where Glikkonen is after only four – even if I studied constantly, he invented some of the basic magical techniques, he bickered with gods – those things don’t happen in the modern world!

~Mother~ has the very best of intentions, I do not doubt that for half a moment, but zie’s half the World Tree’s lifetime old, and I doubt zie’s been out of her amber tower two months since I hatched. Zie can’t really understand modern life, can zie?” (p. 14)

A note on Sythyry’s size:

“Now we have a cat. She is named Pazi-Pazi; her fur is very bright blue; she weighs a bit more than I do. She enjoys stalking me. Fortunately she is not fireproof, so if I stoke my bed well enough she does not molest me there – she lurks on mantelpiece, leering at me hungrily or playfully.

I am not the one that she is supposed to hunt.” (p. 23)

Sythyry’s Journal will immerse you in the exotic world of the World Tree in general, and of Vheshrame Academy and environs, and Sythyry’s experiences there, in particular. Familiarity with the World Tree role-playing game is helpful but not necessary. Readers who want a smaller World Tree novel are recommended to try Bard Bloom’s A Marriage of Insects; it’s only 193 pages.

Fred Patten

Like the article? Yay! It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please make it easier and Support Dogpatch Press on Patreon. Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share that link.  Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Interlude: A Series of Shorts, by M. R. Anglin – Book Review by Fred Patten

Mon 6 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51rarobPhyLInterlude: A Series of Shorts, by M. R. Anglin.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2016, trade paperback $5.99 (79 [+ 1] pages, Kindle $1.99.

This fifth book in Anglin’s Silver Foxes series is only eight connected short stories of about ten pages each. It is an interlude, taking place between the action of the third and fourth novels and, presumably, the next to come.

The first five stories are set at the Isle de Lossierres, the Kingdom of Drymairad’s most exclusive resort. Xenatha (Xena), the adolescent Silver Fox (it’s a secret) who was the protagonist of Into Expermia, and her family are the “guests” of her foster father J.R.’s unwilling sister Chloe, the wolf businessman sister who owns the island.

The Isle is a rich, luxurious vacation spot, but they are there to hide out, not to enjoy themselves. It’s J.R.’s old family home. Xena wears an illegal image generator to pass as an ordinary gray-furred fox.

Although they are hiding out, they also have their first chance since they all came together to relax a bit as a family. J.R., a notorious criminal to the world, is their wolf Daddy. Xena and her younger sister Katheraine (Kathra), a white fox 11 years old, are his foster kits. Xena has an extremely rare genetic disorder that makes her build up metals in her fur, giving her the Silver Fox appearance and an attraction/control of electricity. Karalaina, a vixen with salmon-colored fur, is the girls’ mother who has just rediscovered them after ten years and came to claim them. They persuaded her to stay and join their family. Chloe Dunsworth is a rich wolf businesswoman, J.R.’s sister who is outraged when he shows up after so long with the others, asking to stay quietly on the family’s island resort.

In these first five stories, they begin to relax and bond as a family. The reader of the first four novels learns more about J. R. Dunsworth’s background, as well. The girls go to the beach, where Xena is introduced to other teen girls (chameleon, raccoon, and tigress) by Mira (wolf), her foster cousin. Her boyfriend Hunter conversates with a ghostly German Shepherd who may be a guardian angel (see Anglin’s Silver Foxes short story in the anthology Gods with Fur). When a flying squirrel swimmer almost drowns, Hunter and Kathra save him.

In the next two stories, the focus shifts to those whom they are hiding from: Maximilian (red fox), the former Minister of Defense of Drymairad who has engineered his becoming its king; Celeste, his wife, now Drymairad’s queen; and Jordan (leopard), Max’s henchman who has been rewarded by being made Captain of the Royal Guard. Celeste makes no secret of not trusting Jordan or Jané, his black panther assistant, and when nobody listens to her, she stomps off to do something about it.

The final story, only three pages, shows what is happening to an Expermian fox fanatic who is in an Outsider (Drymairadian?) prison. He is broken out. We’ll presumably see him again …

The cover of Interlude is by Tazia Hall, who did the covers of all four previous Silver Foxes books.

Fred Patten

Categories: News

The Art and Evolution of TwoKinds, Volume 1, by Thomas Fischbach – review by Fred Patten.

Thu 2 Mar 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

STL025954The Art and Evolution of TwoKinds, Volume 1, by Thomas Fischbach
Apple Valley, CA, Keenspot Entertainment, December 2016, hardcover $29.99 (89 [+ 1] pages)

This is a large (8.5 x 10 inches) deluxe color artbook featuring Fischbach’s TwoKinds online comic strip cast. Every page is printed in full color on slick, glossy paper.   It is a visual feast for fans of TwoKinds, and of all fans of mild cheesecake featuring anthropomorphic characters.

Despite the title, there is nothing here from the comic strip itself. You will not see how TwoKinds has evolved artistically over the dozen years that it has been running (since October 22, 2003). Instead this is a collection of Fischbach’s recent paintings of his main characters. Most of them have appeared on his DeviantArt gallery with the dates painted, and they are all from late 2014 to 2016. This is disappointing in terms of not really seeing how TwoKinds has evolved artistically over twelve years. But, frankly, Fischbach’s art was pretty crude when he began. Every painting in this artbook is in his current, much higher-quality style. It’s what most purchasers will prefer.

The format is to present a finished painting with from one to seven preliminary sketches to show how that painting evolved. Fischbach’s very brief text descriptions of how the plot of TwoKinds has evolved are scattered throughout the book. “Throughout the comic series, Natani is intentionally drawn slightly differently, either more masculine or feminine, depending on the situation.” (p. 43) “Very early on, Trace and Keith were planned to be rivals for Flora’s affection. However, as the story and characters developed, this potential love triangle was quickly abandoned.” (p. 87)

mihari_and_flora_chill_by_twokinds-d9bc6qy.png

Mihari and Flora Chill by Twokinds

The main characters focused upon are Trace Legacy, the human protagonist; Flora, the tiger Keidran who is his love; Keith Keiser, his wolflike Basitin best friend; Kathrin Vaughn, a mixed-breed Keidran who looks like a clouded leopard; and Natani, a wolf Keidran assassin who has become their friend. Minor characters like Maddie, Raine, Mike and Evals, and Lady Nora the white dragon, are only shown a couple times each.

bar_buddies_by_twokinds-daet5gp.png

Bar Buddies by Twokinds

The title aside, this artbook is a collection of full-color high-quality closeup portraits of the main characters, most of whom are anthropomorphic animals. If you’re not familiar with TwoKinds and Fischbach’s art (he draws excellent fluffy fur), check it out for free online at http://twokinds.keenspot.com/

Fred Patten

Categories: News

HERO DAD finds sexy art in furry kid’s room, hangs it on wall to appreciate it.

Wed 1 Mar 2017 - 05:00

There’s a frequent topic in furry discussions. Advice-giving furries tell each other: You Don’t Have To Come Out As Furry.  It’s cringeworthy to do that, right?  You don’t come out as a Star Trek fan, do you? Why would anyone act like appreciating cartoon animals is an identity that’s somehow comparable to being gay? Isn’t that insulting to people who face REAL struggles? What’s the worst that could happen?

Here’s a cautionary tale for you. A story of struggle, acceptance, and Wolf Bulge. A reason for a “Best Dad In Fandom” award.

SO I JUST GOT HOME FROM FURSQUARED AND MY PARENTS DECIDED TO CLEAN MY ROOM AND THEY FOUND ALL OF MY LEWD FURRY SHIT

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) February 27, 2017

my parents are cool about this but jesus christ i'm fucking dying and my boyfriend can't stop laughing

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) February 27, 2017

Dad: "I found some art in your room and decided to hang it up on your wall while you were gone. What do you think?"
Me: "uhh it looks great" pic.twitter.com/eZJZEhWA42

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) February 27, 2017

my mom just told me how excited my dad was to hang up all the artwork they found in my room

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) February 28, 2017

Just realized I never posted a new pic of my room layout now. Includes more art my dad hung up :P pic.twitter.com/yKfGGj2O36

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) February 28, 2017

@CazCoyote Your dad has achieved peak dad-trolling by embarrassing you supportively. :D

— Chiaroscuro (@ChefMongoose) February 28, 2017

What could be more perfect than this?  OK, just one thing – if they hung it on the refrigerator.

Sadly not everyone has the Hero Dad they deserve. Let’s be serious for a minute. Some dads kick their kids out for being gay.  And there are actual verified survey numbers showing that, more likely than not, being in this fandom does overlap with being LGBT. So it’s a half-truth to mock people for “coming out” as furry. Think of being into disco and show tunes, pink fluffy sweaters, or things considered stereotypical for queer expression even if they aren’t your “identity”. Wouldn’t you worry about people assuming? People shouldn’t have to hide their hobby, but if they do, it may involve vulnerability about other private things being attached. That’s no more easy to deal with than the deeper issue. So don’t be mean and mock people for “coming out” as furry, because you don’t know what else is at stake.

@CazCoyote if my parents saw anything remotely lewd/furry, I'd get the "sodomy is unacceptable" speech and then sent to see my pastor!

— Waffle Wolf (@thehumblewolf) February 28, 2017

@CazCoyote I'd be thrilled if me dad would approve haha. My room is so full of smut I just lock the door when family visits or cover it up

— Dasos the Folfsky (@dasos) February 28, 2017

me to my parents: im gay
them: wtf
me: wait till u hear this; i pretend to be a dog online and i plan to spend thousands on a dog costume

— TestJeremyBig (@tsmbandit) February 26, 2017

If you have to consider it, then take Kyell Gold’s advice:

if you act like it’s something to be ashamed of, people will pick up on that. If you act like it’s a cool thing, fun, and a positive part of your life, which I think for most of us it is, then that’s how your friends and family will view it.

Hey Caz – show this to your dad, and tell him thanks for helping to make a cool story about his cute, fluffy son.

UPDATE:

Here's a picture of my parents reading the @DogpatchPress article about them. They both were laughing a ton during the reading x3 pic.twitter.com/ondds9fOwG

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) March 2, 2017

Artist ID’d – it’s Tsaiwolf.

16998922_1726171634063392_8015439230602364011_n

@Tsaiwolf now you can say your prints are parent approved! :p

— slurp dog (@CazCoyote) March 1, 2017

Categories: News

La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, t.4, by Pau – French comic review by Fred Patten.

Tue 28 Feb 2017 - 10:27

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

album-cover-large-31145La Saga d’Atlas & Axis, t.4, by Pau.
Roubaix, France, Ankama Éditions, September 2016, hardcover €12.90 (60 + [3] pages).

Lex Nakashima & I again present our conspiracy to get you to read French animalière bandes dessinées; in volume 4 ET DERNIER of the Saga of Atlas & Axis!

If you’ve been following Jean-Marc Pau’s adventures of the two talking dogs since t.1 was published in August 2011, here is the conclusion.

Frankly, this isn’t at all what I was expecting – so much so that I’m tempted to ignore this ending and leave the series hanging. For two reasons. Firstly, it’s much more somber and melancholy than I’d expected. I don’t demand a happy ending, but this is depressing. Secondly, the whole purpose of Nakashima’s and my conspiracy is to present French-language anthro-animal comics that aren’t likely to be published in English; and the publication of this whole series in English has just been announced! More on this below.

For three albums now, Atlas (Afghan hound) and Axis (terrier mutt) have wandered the world of Pangea, searching for the Magic Bone of Khimera (whatever that is) that would prove whether wolves and dogs were created independently, or whether dogs evolved from wolves. It was easy to see Pangea as a funny-animal 10th-century Europe, with Viking raiders and the “where did dogs come from” controversy standing for the religious debates within Christianity of that time. The only thing that didn’t fit were the exploding sheep, and that could be dismissed as Pau being humorous.

In this final volume, the world of Pangea turns out to be A LOT earlier! Atlas & Axis have anticlimactic adventures with the Mutton Sect (sheep aren’t goats!), and a sentient Tyrannosaur. They finally find that Khimera is a place. Its entrance takes them far underground.

comics-atlas-01There they meet Doctor Fuz, an unknown animal (a cat), whose advanced civilization on the other side of Pangea, unknown to the dogs, is about to destroy the world. The two rival nations of the cats have each launched a giant moon, Luna and Ragnarok. Ragnarok’s orbit is unstable, and it’s just about to crash to Pangea. The crash, which is analogous to the meteor strike that caused the dinosaurs’ extinction around 65 million years ago, kills all life on Pangea! Only Atlas & Axis (and Doctor Fuz, and a few mice), far below the earth, escape it.

So life as we know it today, dominated by humans and with unintelligent dogs & cats (and nonexploding sheep, and without Tyrannosaurs), has evolved all over again. Will we be any smarter than the cats, and not destroy our Earth? Incidentally, Atlas & Axis died eons ago of old age.

Well. Finally, don’t miss the interview (in English) with Pau on FurryFandom.es, where he says that the whole series will be published in English by Titan Books in London in May 2017. He doesn’t say whether this translation will be four separate albums or a single 240-page novel. And despite his hints, I sure don’t see how there can be a sequel to this.

– Fred Patten

Categories: News

Get freaky at Dante’s InFURno – the Burning Man theme camp for sex-positive furries.

Mon 27 Feb 2017 - 09:00
Burning Man in photos (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Burning Man in photos. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Burning Man is the annual, radical art festival in Nevada. It draws creative people of all stripes to a temporary city in the desert for anything-goes social experimenting.  It’s been there since 1990 (the year of ConFurence 1 – maybe we can call them subcultures of a shared zeitgeist.)  It fertilizes the roots of some of Furry’s most exciting activity.  It’s one of those Furry Illuminati connections that casual members may not know. (There’s no Wikifur page for Burning Man).

Furries at Burning Man 16: Dante's Infurno, Relay hawks Camp Fur snowcones, awesome Furryburner art created in camp. pic.twitter.com/YeZeYjuCvx

— Vox Fox (@minstrelbill) September 7, 2016

Find the Burner/Furry connection in my interview with Neonbunny. He founded the festival’s Camp Fur. Those carroty roots grew into his series of dance parties in the San Francisco Bay Area, which led him to found Frolic party in 2010. That spawned a mini-movement of furry dances across North America.

See Camp Fur and what it’s for at Furryburners.com:DSC02200FUR-Events-2

If you thought I was joking about conspiracy – this goes all the way up to the president.  Burner luminary Lindz was invited to the White House to show his anthropomorphic robot, Russell the Electric Giraffe. The national news didn’t tell it, but that was a furry shaking hands with President Obama.Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 1.24.53 AM

Asunyra

Asunyra

I’m happy to introduce their fellow rock star, a dragon from Vancouver.  Thanks to Asunyra for talking with Dogpatch Press!

For Asunyra, the roots grew in a slightly different shape. He’s a tech entrepreneur by occupation.  For passion, he leads his own Burning Man camp, and promotes sex-positivity in furry.  Get a taste of it when he throws “Trippy Cuddle Parties” at cons.

Cons bring furries together, but things can only go so far at hotels.  Watch how far things go when furries have unlimited freedom in the desert.  (Have you ever seen a vibrating dragon-dildo chandelier?)  – Patch

Asunyra talks about his ambitious theme camp, “Dante’s Infurno.”

(Asunyra:) Here’s a bunch of photos of the camp from various events and the whole build process. These two are probably the best photos of the structure. (Photos by Luke.Me.Up).  I’ll tell you the general story of how it came to be.
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Our background

My partner Lummox and I have been each active with Burning Man for 10 or 15 years, and in the furry community about as long. We’ve done a lot of big builds for Burning Man in the form of art cars (like venusravertrap.com), local fundraiser parties, theme camps etc – and on the furry side, we’ve hosted our trippy cuddle parties at maybe a dozen or more cons over the years.

Halfway home from #fc2016. Thanks to everyone that came by or helped with the Trippy Furry Cuddle Party room! pic.twitter.com/ATXcBufhB8

— Asunyra (@asunyra) January 20, 2016

For the past few years, we’ve also hosted sex-positive house parties for the local furry and burner communities, with anywhere from 70 to 200 people in attendance. We’ve carefully maintained a good safe environment, emphasizing enthusiastic consent, proper communication of boundaries and have put a lot of effort into making sure the guests are all people that we can trust and vouch for.

Here’s what one of the spaces looks like:

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(Read more – The Furry House – a base for creativity and community. – Patch) 

For work, Lummox is an industrial millwright and public sculpture artist, and I’m a tech entrepreneur in the telecommunications industry.

Why Dante’s was created

In 2015, Lummox was taking the year off from Burning Man and I wanted to bring our furry party experience there, so we spent a month or so building a custom insulated 280 sq ft air-conditioned structure (the “cuddle yurt”) that inside was all cushions and trippy decorations. This would serve just like our room parties as a sex positive space for fursuiters, furries and fur-curious folks of playa to cuddle and play.

As I was going solo, my intention was to join an existing camp rather than start a new one. But after a lot of discussion online, I discovered that established furry theme camps were very against sex being publicly associated with furries, out of concern for the image of the fandom. Uncle Kage’s principles were referenced as an excuse to hide and shame the sexual side of the fandom, and it was made clear that my space was not welcome. At the last minute, I found a small furry camp out in the suburbs that would accommodate me and decided to go for it anyways.

It took two days of driving from Vancouver, and four days of work onsite to put the structure together by myself, but I had a great time doing it and met a lot of very supportive folks in the process (like Amenophis, Duke, Zarafa, and Ashke). I also brought our Venus Raver Trap remote controlled armchair drone, and controlled it from inside the cuddle yurt. (Photo):

Back home safely from Burning Man. Hardest working year yet for me but super rewarding. Met so many awesome people! pic.twitter.com/08ucZt7nGI

— Asunyra (@asunyra) September 9, 2015

Being out in the suburbs meant that few people could find it, but all in, it was one of my best years at Burning Man and it gave me a ton of enthusiasm to come back bigger and better.

The build process

In February 2016, Lummox and I decided that Burning Man could really use a standalone sex-positive furry camp, and we were up for the challenge of doing it. Lummox always wanted to build an homage to the strip club from Beetlejuice and we figured why not use this as an excuse, so Dante’s InFURno was born. A raunchy over-the-top strip club would be a fun way to showcase the sexual side of furry to the folks of Burning Man.

We started by digging out some fibreglass I-beams that he had, built the floor layout, support posts, upper and lower walls, and giant signs. The whole thing had to come apart to fit on a 16′ tandem axle trailer (ikea flat pack style), so we made all the major structure bolt together and the non structural panels click in with door hinges and hitch pins. Lummox did all the structural layout and design, the two of us spent almost all of our spring and summer weekends on construction, and some of our local friends helped with painting. One of our local furry artist friends generously designed the big dragon head for us and helped us find a way to get it printed and cut from plywood.

I think this photo kinda captures our build style best – we just kept holding up a screenshot from the movie and kinda winging it.

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There’s horror themed bars, and clown themed bars, but no Furry bars in the world that I know of yet – thanks to Asunyra for dreaming one. – Patch

Last year’s events

Our very first public build of Dante’s was at the Seattle regional burn, Critical Northwest in 2016. Rummy and Yotice joined us with their Coyote Garden art piece, and the four of us put everything together over two 12 hour build days. The space was a huge hit, busy all night every night. Rummy donated an old CRT television with built-in VCR that we hung from the ceiling of the dome and used to play 8-hour tapes of furry porn, and Lummox would stand on the top floor balcony and remote control the Raver Trap armchair in front of camp for hours every night. Despite getting rained out the night before teardown, we had no major snags and everyone had a great time.

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Two weeks later we brought Dante’s to our local Vancouver BC Burning Man regional, Burn in the Forest. We were placed in the “red light district” in the spot that had previously been the main orgy space, so the vibe there was definitely a lot more open sex. We also had a bigger sound system and great DJ performances, so it was kept very busy. At one point one of our campmates – exhausted from set up – had fallen asleep in the middle of the cuddle pit, only to get woken up and bolt upright to find several couples enthusiastically having sex all around him.

At both of these events, Dante’s was really appreciated – but it wasn’t really that furry, as the few of us running the camp were pretty much the only furs there. It was at Burning Man that the place really came into its own as a furry theme camp. There, we teamed up with Varka (co-founder of Bad Dragon)- who made a vibrating dragon dick chandelier, and Dave the Dinosaur, a dirty insult-spewing dinosaur-shaped vending machine that dispensed free tiny dicks all week.

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Thanks to help from FUR, we were placed right near their camp, on a prominent busy street corner right near the centre of Black Rock City. Lots of people would come back and bring their friends to show them the space, the dick chandelier, or to get accosted by Dave.

We had the cuddle yurt in full operation all week, and it worked great. Daytime it was used mostly by the general public to hide in the air conditioning from the heat, and at night it was usually full of cuddly furries and curious non-furries. At one point some of us were interviewed in Dante’s for a podcast. (In this one I’m Saffron, the name of the fursuit I was in.)

“I have been waiting for this moment for years. I finally sat down with the wonderful people from the Fur community and got to learn all about their wonderful intricate and complex world that is like a Russian doll when you start to peel back the fur.

Dante’s Inferno is a camp for Furries (which was one of 5 Fur camps) built by two super MacGyvers from Vancouver that featured a giant chandelier in the center of the room lit up by 10 fantasy dildos representing every kind of dragon, unicorn, and tentacle dick a furry heart could desire. (Dragon dicks have SCALES!)” (-Zoe Nightingale)

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 2.36.05 AM

I’ll take the cutie on the right. – Patch

This year

We’ve already started planning this year’s events, and our telegram group is busy with tons of exciting project ideas. We’ll be bringing Dante’s to Burn in the Forest again, and also to Burning Man. Because of how popular it was last year, we’ll be going from 4-6 campmates to almost 20 at each event – which means more volunteer hands for setup, teardown and shifts running the space, so it should be a much bigger and smoother operation.

Lummox and I have bought an old 30’ city bus, and are converting it to be our new towing rig for the Dante’s trailer. We’re covering it in almost 3000 watts of solar panels so that we can run most of our camp without generator power this year. We’re also building a “ghetto” streetscape to extend off the Dante’s frontage with a boarded up pet shop, cash for gold pawn shop, maybe a passed out furry hobo mannequin. Plans are to have a new bar, new sound equipment, and bigger DJ lineup.

I’m pretty passionate about this project (and about promoting sex-positivity in furry in general), so I’m really excited to share!

– Asunyra

Categories: News

A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature, ed. AnthroAquatic – book review by Fred Patten.

Fri 24 Feb 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

51mzqy7hULL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature, AnthroAquatic, ed.
Plainfield, CT, Goal Publications, November 2016, trade paperback $10.00 (153 pages).

A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature was originally a three-issue online magazine of 45 to 50 pages each, published in January, March, and August 2016. This small (5 x 0.3 x 8 inches), slim volume collects all three issues into one handy paper edition, minus the advertisements.

The contents are published as they appeared in the magazine issues; mostly a mixture of short stories and reviews. The book’s most serious lack is a combined table of contents. There are 14 short stories and 11 reviews (also an interview with S. Andrew Swann, and an analysis of Felix Salten’s 1923 novel Bambi: A Life in the Woods as an example for the furry writer; both by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt). The reader is forced to hunt through the whole book to find anything.

The short stories are all under ten pages each. Most are whimsical fantasies. Two, “The Mouse Who Was Born a Bear” and “Sheeperfly’s Lullaby”, both by Mary E. Lowd, are on the ALAA’s 2016 Recommended List of furry short fiction of the year worth reading. Notable others include “Catching the Thief” by Amy Fontaine, “Sheets and Covers” by Ocean Tigrox, “The Charitable Pact of a Soft-hearted Fool” by Slip-Wolf, “Beast” by Frances Pauli, and “Promises to Keep” by Renee Carter Hall.

The brevity and whimsicality of the fiction, plus its interruption by so many book reviews, makes A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Fiction (cover by Aisha Robinson) an intellectual trifle, the literary equivalent of a box of chocolates. Is it worth reading? Very much so, but you will want to read it in short bursts, two or three stories and a review or two at a time, rather than all at once.

This has been a short review of a short book of short stories.

Full disclosure: I am the writer of three of the reviews in it.

-Fred Patten

Categories: News

Last Dance of the Phoenix, by James R. Lane – book review by Fred Patten.

Thu 23 Feb 2017 - 10:24

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

product_thumbnailLast Dance of the Phoenix, by James R. Lane
Raleigh, NC, Lulu Press, August 2016, trade paperback $14.99 (254 pages), Kindle $2.51.

This s-f novel is set in the near future. Thomas Barnes has an Artificial Intelligence in his home, but he also wears a dark blue NRA ball cap, eats at a McDonald’s, drives on Florida’s Highway I-95, drinks Gatorade, and is familiar with the TV program Final Jeopardy.

Two years previously, Earth was discovered by aliens (in flying saucers) and welcomed into the galactic community. The four spacegoing species of aliens that humans meet just happen to look like anthropomorphic foxes, cheetahs, otters, and rabbits.

Convenient? Maybe too convenient? Barnes thinks so.

“No bug-eyed monsters, no giant slugs, spiders, dragons, demons, birds – nothing else. Aliens that didn’t seem so alien after all, apparently guaranteed not to terribly upset ape-based humanity’s rabid xenophobia. To me and a lot of others it just seemed too damned pat. Somebody – or something – had to have engineered all this. Cute.” (p. 10)

Barnes has just returned to Jacksonville, Florida from traveling to the Yularian (fox) home world after having been rejuvenated. This was an experiment. The (expensive) Yularian rejuvenation process is well-known to them, but nobody was sure whether it would work on humans, so they selected Barnes to be their guinea pig. They chose him because he was famous (a very popular science-fiction author whose stories included friendly aliens) and now about to die of old age. He went to their planet in one of their FTL ships, and was returned to Jacksonville’s new spaceport when it seems to be a success.

Barnes is supposed to have the Yularian elderly doctor who supervised his rejuvenation come to Earth with him, to spend three months making sure his rejuvenation remains successful. Instead he is met by L’raan, a pretty (if you like foxes) young vixen who is one of Dr. N’looma’s graduate students. A last-minute family emergency has prevented Dr. N’looma from coming to Earth, and L’raan has been chosen to replace her. Barnes quickly figures out that all the other Yularians on the project refused to come to Earth, and L’raan, the juniormost, was stuck with it. She also seems to be horribly sick. The two are assured by the Yularian embassy that it’s the affects of FTL travel and that she’ll recover in a couple of days. Barnes suspects that she’s been poisoned – and that whoever is trying to kill her will also kill him to make it look like the rejuvenation process went wrong.

What follows is a James Bond scenario with Barnes as the invincible agent and L’raan as the beautiful (but furry) girl whom he protects.

“‘The first thing is, what information you know about me isn’t all that wrong,’ I stated, ‘but there are a few key elements missing.’

‘Like me,’ Art said, smiling. ‘Tom’s novels are quite popular with a lot of scientists and government officials, and over the years he made a number of, shall we say, ‘influential’ friends and contacts in some fairly important agencies, including those agencies that don’t have publicly-known names. After your people contacted humanity and eventually made us the rejuvenation offer, some of us in a few of those agencies feared that something unpleasant might be in the plans before all of this was over.’” (pgs. 71-72)

Barnes has been a secret agent for the U.S. government all along. It’s also how he could recognize that L’raan had been poisoned instead of just being sick. He deduces that her poisoners are other foxes in the nearby Yularian embassy, so he’s prepared when his home is attacked at night by alien assassin drones. L’raan, who feels betrayed by her own people, confirms that they are Yularian military technology. Barnes calls in Art Goldman and his military research team; they report what’s happening to the U.S. government; and Barnes and L’raan are invited to help the government investigate what’s going on.

A comic inconvenience is that the Yularian scientists enhanced and altered Barnes’ sense of smell when they rejuvenated him. L’raan happens to be going through one of her periods of heat. Normally this wouldn’t be noticed by humans except as a slightly increased vulpine muskiness. But to Barnes, L’raan may look sexy (if you’re into foxes) but she stinks to high heaven!

Are the assassins who are after Barnes and L’raan from the Yularian government, or from a faction within it that their government is innocent of? Or have some of the local Yularians sold out to either the Dralorians (otters), the Eelon (cheetahs), or the Ar’kaa (rabbits)? Is it an anti-human secret society that is against just Barnes and the Yularians who work with him, or do the villains have a larger and more ominous goal?

“‘Ambassador D’naad,’ I began, ‘my friends here and I, along with certain high-ranking governmental and military officials here on Earth, are convinced that this…campaign…against us is not the work of one person, or even a small group of people. What we first thought to be a possible political ploy or power struggle is now, we feel, something more akin to a move toward genocide, of who and by whom we don’t yet know. […] But I can tell you with certainty that we need your help. Hopefully we still have time to defuse the situation, but that time is no doubt growing short, and we’re certain it will eventually run out.’” (p. 133)

As matters grow more dramatic, Tom and representatives of all four aliens are invited as guests to the Paws’N’Claws furry convention, and are publicly attacked there by the mysterious enemy who doesn’t care how many fursuiters are collateral victims.

Who is the enemy of the humans? The foxes? The cheetahs? The otters? The rabbits? Or – something else?

Last Dance of the Phoenix (cover by Eugene Arenhaus) is a blend of current military technology (Art calls an Army AH-64A Apache battle helicopter to land on Tom’s lawn) and futuristic alien science (the spaceships, the FTL drive, the rejuvenation process, the Yularian interstellar videophone). It feels like there’s a bit of Mary Sue here – “James R. Lane is a retired Florida photojournalist” and obviously a s-f writer, who is probably ripe for rejuvenation – but on the whole, this is a (slightly wordy) clever near-future espionage-action thriller featuring a young-again hero that furry fans will really identify with, and villains whose identities you are almost guaranteed to not guess in advance.

– Fred Patten

Categories: News

A Decade of Gold: A retrospective of the works of Kyell Gold, by Thurston Howl.

Tue 21 Feb 2017 - 10:23

Thanks to Howl, of Thurston Howl Publications, for his guest post. I’m told it was approved by Kyell.  Enjoy.

Few authors have captivated the mainstream furry audience as famously as Kyell Gold. From his 2004 short story publication, “The Prisoner’s Release” to his upcoming novella, The Time He Desires (Dec 2016), Gold’s works have been award-winning pieces of fiction that have even attracted the attention of non-furry readers. Throughout the past twelve years, Gold has gone through a multitude of genres and such unique characters. Below, I hope to detail many of his milestones over the past almost-decade as well as provide a primer on Gold’s work.

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Gold’s debut to fiction was his Renaissance-era novel series set in the fictional universe of Argaea. While it technically started with his “The Prisoner’s Release,” which was published in Heat #1, it later became a novel series, starting with Volle (2005). The series follows a red fox, titularly named Volle, as he undergoes a spy mission, pretending to be a lord of a small area participating in negotiations in the kingdom’s political mecca. The catch is that Volle is a hypersexual fox who struggles to keep his sex life separate from his political life, neither of which allow him to use his true identity. This series is a prime example of how Gold can meld genres. In this case, historical fiction meets homosexual furry erotic romance in a way that is both believable and evocative. The Argaea series has received stellar reviews and widespread reception. So far, the Argaea series includes the following titles: Volle, Pendant of Fortune (2006), The Prisoner’s Release and Other Stories (2007), Shadows of the Father (2010), and Weasel Presents (2011). While not all of these stories follow Volle, they are all set in the same universe. All except for Weasel Presents (which was published by Furplanet Productions) were published by Sofawolf Press, with Sara Palmer being the primary illustrator for most of these.

The next milestone in Gold’s career has been his young adult furry novel Waterways (2008). Based on a previous short story he had written, the novel follows a young otter who has grown up in a conservative, religious household, only to find out in his teens that he is attracted to a male fox from a different school. Although this is a coming-out tale, it’s anything but unoriginal. Gold breaks the story down into three parts: coming out to oneself, coming out to family, and coming out to the general public. The otter Kory deals with tremendous intersectionalities throughout his journey: homelessness, poverty, religious differences, physical abuse, and, of course, relationship trouble. Quite different from that Argaea series, Waterways is set in an entirely modern context, and it deals with current social issues. In this book, Gold makes very strong political and social claims, setting him apart as a very polemical writer, and not just an entertaining one. This sets him apart from other LGBT fiction writers, as he demonstrates he is able to be completely serious with his fiction, using a gay couple to reflect on current issues through their connections with others who are suffering, rather than making the gay couple a symbol for all current issues. This novel was his debut to modern fiction in the fandom, and I know I have taught this book twice: once in a college composition class, and once as a guest lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University for an LGBT literature course—and yes, the book was required for purchase at the university bookstore.

oop_coverHowever, Gold’s biggest claim to fame was his next novel series, set in the Forester Universe. The first book, Out of Position (2009), follows football athlete Devlin Miski and his unintentional romance with English major Lee Farrel. While Dev struggles to fight his homosexual feelings toward Lee, the fox Lee tries to advocate for equal rights, often at a risk to Dev’s career. Yet, the two complement each other and help each other to grow, both in their professions and in their personal lives. This series concluded early in 2016 with the book Over Time, the fifth installment. This time, Gold’s secondary genre is sports fiction. And many furries, myself included, despite our aversion to sports, have found ourselves enraptured by the species-based intricacies of Gold’s football. We stand in the crowd, cheering with Lee. We root for our own athletes. Still on sale sporadically, but I have seen athletic jerseys for sale based on Gold’s fictional teams. If Waterways showed Gold’s political side, this series shows his activist side. Personally, I have read most of the major award-winning mainstream LGBT fiction, and none of it has captured the political situation of LGBT people and potential solutions as thoughtfully and as evocatively as Gold has in this series.

His last major milestone has been his Dangerous Spirits series, which started with the 2012 book Green Fairy. This series is much more experimental, emulating the shifting voices and perspectives in postmodernist novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This series starts with the 1901 Moulin Rouge, as well as modern times. The books progress into the late 1800s Russia and the early 20th century in New Orleans. This series is not as erotic or as adult as his earlier works, yet it still deals heavily with LGBT contemporary issues and ways to deal with them. Like his other works, it creates a very believable world that is a safe space for LGBT readers, letting them know they are not alone and that it’s important to keep fighting.

Furries among usOver the past twelve years, Gold has written numerous other pieces as well, including In the Doghouse of Justice (2011) and The Silver Circle (2012). Gold also edited a 2009 anthology based on the Ten Commandments, aptly called X. Along with multiple short stories in Heat and Fang, he also had an essay published in the 2015 nonfiction study on furries, Furries Among Us. In this, he wrote about his views on furry erotica: where it has been, where it is, and how it will likely continue. His other nonfiction includes a comic, drawn by Keovi, in Erika Moen’s Oh Joy Sex Toy; and a piece on the furry fandom in Uncanny Magazine in 2016.

I have had the opportunity to work with Gold on numerous occasions: from an interview I conducted for my class lecture to editing his essay for Furries Among Us. And I have always been delighted with his attention to the craft of writing and his dedication to the furry fandom. He has been an influential figure in the furry writing community as a driving force for slice-of-life fiction and using furry fiction to make social commentary. Now that we are in the start of a second decade since his first major publication, I am confident that I speak for the furry community in general when I say that we look forward to the next ten years of Gold’s fiction. He has inspired both readers and writers.

Ever onward, fellow furs.

– Howl

Categories: News

Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015 by Fred Patten – Review by Thurston Howl.

Mon 20 Feb 2017 - 10:59

Thanks to Howl, of Thurston Howl Publications, for his review.

51561577Fred Patten asked me to review this book, and I was genuinely excited for the volume. It is incredibly rare to receive a strong nonfiction book relating to the furry fandom, and this is no exception.

In a nutshell, the book is an encyclopedia of all the furry fandom conventions, their details, their histories, and the people that have made the conventions happen. For a researcher, this is invaluable in measuring statistical data on convention attendance, themes, charity donations, etc. For the random furry, this could be a great primer (or travel guide) on which cons to attend (or avoid). The style of the book is mostly informative with some humor thrown in as well. I am quite glad to have this book on my shelf, and the “furword” by Dr. Gerbasi is delightful authentication for the book as well.

My greatest qualms with the book are more along the lines of production. For such a small reference book (marketed toward furries, no less), the cost is absurdly high at $40.00 US dollars. I understand there are a few color pages in the middle of the book, but those illustrations hardly make the book worth that cost. The cover itself looks shoddy as well, as if it were designed as a MS word page with public domain furry art. In fact, the way the text blurs on the front, I had thought Dr. Gerbasi was the author of the book, as that font stood out from the title more than the author font did.

I know these complaints are trivial. After all, they are hardly complaints against Patten. But as a whole, I must review the book as a finished product, not just the text itself.

However, my review on Amazon gave the book four stars out of five, and I truly recommend this to anyone who wants to research furry cons or is interested in a good primer on the subject.

The publisher has requested the following information be included with this review:

Publisher: McFarland – www.mcfarlandpub.com – 800-253-2187

– Howl

Categories: News