Furry Book Review
Updated: 16 min 21 sec ago
Mary E. Lowd’s “When a Cat Loves a Dog” starts with a mixed-species wedding, something that has only just become legal in the setting. Lashonda, a black cat, and Topher, a pug, are getting married over the objections and disbelief of their families. Topher is a comedian who gets paid to make jokes about cats, while Lashonda is a grad student working with 3-D printing. But as the ceremony ends, a comment from Lashonda’s new mother-in-law gets stuck in her head: dogs and cats can’t interbreed. This sets her on a path leading to a scientist offering a quite radical solution to their problem: genetic engineering.“When a Cat Loves a Dog” seems to take place in the same universe as Lowd’s “Otters in Space” series and possibly the standalone novel “In a Dog’s World” as well. That is to say, a post-humanity Earth dominated by uplifted dogs, with cats as a significant minority and otters colonizing space. You might even consider it a bridge between the two works. There was a creative bit of foreshadowing when the priest at the wedding mentioned another couple who spent their honeymoon in jail, later meeting said couple at the lab. Though Topher’s job as a comedian making off-color jokes about cats raises some uncomfortable questions about privileged groups, especially when Lashonda says she’s fine with it because they need the money. There’s no real “antagonist” to this story, no specific character opposing the heroes, opposition is more diffused across society in general.It’s a bit unclear if the book is going for interspecies marriage as a parallel for gay marriage or interracial marriage in the all-too-recent past. The couple being two different phenotypes (one an oppressed minority) automatically draws thoughts of interracial couples, the central plot of a couple who can’t procreate attempting to have kids reminds one of gay couples, but it’s belied by their being straight. Lashonda and Topher getting turned away by adoption agency after agency will remind most people nowadays of gay couples, but the solution they settle on is very pie-in-the-sky for current gay couples while an increasing number of agencies are allowing gay couples to adopt. It’s like dog (and to a lesser extent cat) society is a case of “low culture high tech” regarding civil rights, which would make sense for what’s essentially a post-apocalyptic scavenged civilization, though the otters seem to have escaped that.**spoilers**This book also doesn’t pull punches about the failure rate for experimental genetic modification, Topher and Lashonda’s litter aren’t the first dog/cat hybrids to be conceived, but they are the first to be born alive.**spoiler end**If you’re familiar with Lowd’s other stories in this ‘verse this book provides a satisfying addition to the setting and presents a whole host of new possibilities for future installments. If you’re reading it on its own, it’s a nice story that may leave you feeling uncomfortable at times.
Give Yourself a Hand: A Furry Masturbation Anthology is a collection of eight stories focusing on, you guessed it, masturbation as a theme. It’s edited by Skunkbomb and is published by Panged Fiction. I admit, I was quite curious when going into this one. There’s always the potential with something like masturbation for stories to feel a bit the same. There’s only so many things you can do with solo play right? As you’ll see in my review however, there are plenty of curious scenarios to be explored. Let’s take a look at the stories!“The Christian Boy’s Guide To Sex With Demons” - PJ Wolf The first story of any anthology is so important. It’s what draws the reader in, shows off the theme, and sets the tone for the rest of what you are about to be. PJ Wolf’s story does just that. I absolutely adored this story, the idea of a succubus or incubus trying to explain masturbation to an 18-year-old who really has no knowledge of sex proper is wonderful. Masturbation is an act of self-love and not just in a joking sense. Embracing your own pleasure and knowing yourself is an important facet in enjoying masturbation, and this story shows that fantastically.“With One Hands Tied Behind His Back” - Royce DayWhat better way to get back to sleep than with a bit of release right? Well in this story when that doesn’t quite work for a vixen, her husband gets involved. Despite there being a couple in the story it is most certainly still focused on masturbation! I love how this story shows some BDSM elements and does so in the correct light, safewords (or songs, you’ll see if you read it) prominently mentioned. It shows how you can have sex with a partner all while you only are touching yourself, perfect for the anthology’s theme.“Jerking To The Finish” - Jaden DrackusOkay I have to be blunt, I don’t think this story really counts as masturbation. Despite it not quite tracking with the theme, the story itself is a classic forbidden love styled story where two gay racecar drivers have a good and sexy time together after a race. It shows off some serious love, has a solid comedic moment, and tells a good story along the way. Plus there’s enough fun little racing puns to make anyone crack a grin. An enjoyable read for sure!“Too Much Play” - TJ Minde First, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this seems to be a sequel to “All Work No Play” from Knotted II which I reviewed quite favorably. I know the average reader wouldn’t catch this, but I have to say I absolutely adored the story continuing like this, especially the small callbacks to the previous tale. It made it extra fun! The story discusses a fantastic fun device that makes so many interesting sexual situations possible: a small portal. Essentially, you could put whatever you want into it and have it appear on the other side for someone to play with. In this case, you might have an idea what part of the anatomy is sticking out.After a perfectly explained discussion of setting scenes within BDSM (as they are using a scene to help demo the product) things go awry as the portal is stolen! Our salesman must quite literally track his partner’s cock down all while hearing descriptions of what is happening to it in his ear. It explores several different kinds of play so you get a small taste of various kinks making this story not only informative, but fun!However, once again, this story didn’t feel like it hit the theme of the anthology. Masturbation normally means pleasuring yourself. This entire story basically focused on someone else doing things to another person. This isn’t knocking the story in any way: it was absolutely brilliant and I loved its conclusion getting to be a bit more about exploring kink and BDSM safely. “Power & Pleasure” - KC AlpinusThis story throws a lot at you at once: gods, demigods, mystical powers and hierarchies, and even still a bit more than that. The world built is quite curious, though truthfully the difficulty in deciphering all that is presented at each moment detracts from the sexual side of the tale a bit. That and there’s honestly more sex scenes not focusing on masturbation vs. other kinds of sexual acts (but once more, this is an issue with the anthology theme, not the quality of the author’s story). However, the ideas presented elevate this story a bit more over one purely about sex. The idea of a spiritual journey where our main character has to learn to submit, relinquish their control, give in to pleasure. This story might not be the one in this anthology that, pardon my being crass, you get your rocks off to. That doesn’t make it any less an enriching experience to read. Sex doesn’t always have to be about some primal urge to orgasm. Sometimes it can be the centerpiece to a well told story.“Oak Branch” - W.R. FrixmargenThe actual visceral experience of masturbation is expertly described here. How people call upon memories, sounds, smells, and experiences to their minds to get excited for the act. There was such a focus on sensations that really draw the reader into the moment so you can always experience from the squirrel’s point of view. One of the biggest things surrounding masturbation is that potential risk of getting caught. To some, that can cause quite a bit of excitement. If that’s the case for you? This story is probably one you should read.“Simplicity” - TelevassiSpace, a place where you can truly be isolated, be the farthest distance away from others or civilization in general. It’s a perfect backdrop for this kind of story. A story where some fun toys make taking things into your own paws quite fun sets a curious backdrop for a sci-fi adventure. Who knew that when you’re forced to fly alone, a “smart” sex toy could be worth so much right? “An Unconventional Marriage Bed” - RukisFirst, a little warning: this story does have mentions of sexual assault. I do wish these things got content warnings a bit more often in books, but alas this isn’t the case here.Still, the story presented is quite brilliant. This takes an unconventional pairing, a straight woman and a gay man, forced by propriety and society to be wed. This doesn’t seem like a great pairing for sexual times together, but that’s just what makes this perfect. The two do truly love one another and found ways to both enjoy sex, just not in the traditional sense. I honestly love how this presents a nontraditional relationship and what can arise from it. This is such a creative way to present masturbation and for those a bit voyeuristic really highlights how much fun it can be to enjoy a good show. My main criticism for the anthology comes from its theme. The anthology is quite literally called Give Yourself a Hand: A Furry Masturbation Anthology. Several of these stories had a strong focus on things that were not masturbatory activity. Even if you try to ignore that the theme is supposed to be about masturbation and focus purely on “giving yourself a hand” a good chunk of the stories didn’t focus on handjobs or partners purely using their paws to pleasure each other. Unfortunately, the anthology does fail to bring its theme cohesively to light. Does this make the anthology bad? Absolutely not! The stories in this anthology covered a wide variety of themes that were titillating, arousing, or just downright thought provoking. If you’re looking for an anthology only focused on masturbation, this one won’t be quite the right fit. If you like the idea of an anthology with masturbation as more an overarching flavor that goes with the rest of a sexy meal, this one will do wonders. I certainly enjoyed reading it, and I’m certain others will as well!
Foxers or Beariefs is an erotic anthology themed around underwear. Every story puts a generally hidden undergarment at the forefront in various forms with all the inherent fixings. Smells, textures, and most importantly personality are featured heavily in this collection. Each story uses underwear as a venue to build a story around its characters; some become quiet and embarrassed while others are emboldened, even thrilled with the possibilities that lay bare before them. The collection is organized by type of underwear and near flawlessly executed.TJ Minde starts off the lineup with "Missed Feelings." An otter and rabbit couple begin at the mall, eyeing passers-by and discussing their behaviors in the bedroom. A few hints are made, and later that night the female otter roleplays as a male horse using a strap-on to give her rabbit lover a ride. It’s a tale of loyalty and the drive to do what it takes to satisfy a partner. The writing isn’t particularly complex, but it is well done and easy to follow. This tale’s strengths are its vivid characters and satisfying descriptions."Bare-Assed Broadway" is Ashe Valisca’s sequential story of a chipmunk named Ryan that dreams of making it big. As the tale usually goes, his dreams take a while to become reality. He gets on the grind, realizing that it’s harder than he thought to make it. Along the way he gets involved with a tiger aptly named Richard who has as much of an affinity for jockstraps as Ryan does. Their relationship as well as Ryan’s success grow through the years. This story features strong musk and desire alongside a relationship that is enjoyable to read about. The interactions full of innuendos between the characters are relatable and interesting to read through.A sparsely populated 24-hour gym is an excellent venue for Sisco Polaris’s "Jocks in the Gym." Richard is a husky who is forced to work late on Wednesdays causing him to go to the gym late, which happens to be the time that a muscular Doberman named Carlton is there as well. Richard is gay and becomes infatuated with Carlton’s Adonis-like form. And his used jockstraps. Which lay abandoned when Carlton goes to shower. A tale of thrilling guilty pleasures follows these fortunate circumstances. The exhibition of admiration, greed, embarrassment, and liquid catharsis are all used to build a satisfying read. The entire thing is a riveting rollercoaster of action."Getchoo" by Cedric G! Bacon is about a fox named Jay who happens upon his skunk friend’s g-string and can’t get enough of it. What starts as a mishap turns into a slight obsession for the fox. One that the skunk takes advantage of. Luckily, she has a bit of a soft spot for the fox as well. But that doesn’t mean that she lets him off easy. Not at all. This story shows domination/submission in a way that is enjoyable for both parties as well as the reader. Just like the characters, I really, really loved it."Perfection of the Visionary Courier" by Al Song gets right to the heart of what I feel is the central theme of this anthology. Milton is a coyote who lacks confidence but is smart and much more capable than he realizes. And damn he looks good in a speedo. He meets Cliff, an adopted river otter who built himself from the ground up to be a swimwear and underwear designer. Cliff helps Milton build his confidence and get more comfortable with himself and the world around him. The relationship between the two and how Cliff was able to grow as a result is a great read. Sometimes, all it takes is a little confidence and exposure to get yourself to a better place.Jaden Drackus writes about a male underwear model in "A Hint o’ Lace." Jake is specifically a model for underwear designed with athletes in mind. He’s also gay and is asked to model panties designed for guys. He takes it as a perfect opportunity to explore his more feminine side and receive rather than take. A rat named Steve gives him his chance. Even though Jake has grown comfortable with putting his masculine side on very public display, all he wants is for someone to listen and tend to his more feminine needs. I found the juxtaposition interesting. A professional model who looks “uncomfortable with his appearance.” The story serves as a good example of the several forms that discovering oneself may take. The dialogue was refreshing without being overbearing. There was a familiarity to Jack and Steve that makes them relatable to many kinds of readers. The erotic payoff is also well worth it."Silken Threads" is a futuristic story by Gre7g Luterman. An exotic tale of Tish and Kanti who enjoy a night of silky lingerie and teasing. The pair know each other very well and use it to their advantage, always riding the edge between desire and satisfaction. This story doesn’t describe too much about the biology of the characters or the setting. Instead it gave bits and pieces that, while they made the setting exotic, didn’t contribute much to the story and felt irrelevant. I found it difficult to visualize the scene due to the lack of information and as a result, the action fell short for me. One thing that was conveyed well throughout was the building desire between the two and how they reacted to each other. While I would have preferred more context about the characters and their environment, the story is interesting and has good flow."Switching Sides" by Televassi tells a story about a zebra who hasn’t been satisfied in the bedroom for a while. It is filled with analogies related to sports and football. And wearing his snow leopard girlfriend’s panties. The story does great with challenging societally generated gender roles. It also stresses the importance of communication as it takes the zebra’s hyena friend to manufacture the catalyst to get the couple to talk to each other. The action in this story was easy to follow and even slightly humorous. I also found it funny how the main character is a zebra that plays football; people also call football referees zebras. Just a small detail that, if intentional, makes the story even more endearing.A fox in a queer punk band. He hasn’t quite found his identity in the music world, but that’s what "Bottoms Up" by Miles Reaver is all about. Kevin ends up joining a band with two well-established queer punk musicians that already have their things: Jessie paints his paws, arms, and tail different colors while Dav removes his shirt and tosses it into the crowd. Eventually, Kevin frees himself physically as well as mentally by getting his underwear cut out and thrown into the crowd. He gets less concerned with just the music and starts having much more fun, allowing himself to truly enjoy his life. Enough to take his lack of underwear a little bit further. The relationships between the band members are escalated in a realistic way and how they grow closer together makes for a good read.If you’re looking for a graphically erotic choose-your-own-adventure, "Fire of my Loins" by Thurston Howl definitely fits the bill. You take the role of the Chosen, a leader that will enact one of two rituals. Several outcomes are possible and the choices you make affect which ending you get. It is a challenging type of story to write. This one has a narrative that makes sense, and there are hints along the way that make it feel like the outcomes don’t come from out of nowhere. The small interjections at the end of each story path are humorously blunt. I think that the story structure is a bit simple, but for a choose-your-own-adventure of this length, it would be a mess to make it more complex. If you want to feel like the main character in a creepy erotic tale, give this one a try.A raccoon named Cole gets a bit more than he bargained for in "The Weekend" by Whiteclaw. It was supposed to be a chill time at his friend Tyler’s house but when a drink gets spilled all over Cole, he gets prescribed a shower and a thong courtesy of Ryan, Tyler’s brother. Cole discovers that he likes thongs and that Ryan might be more helpful than originally thought. This story mostly boils down to friends having a good time and the discovery of new preferences. A simple story, but still entertaining.Fundoshi is a simple Japanese undergarment much like a loincloth. "A Cultural Exchange" by Miriam “Camio” Curzon features it prominently as an American college student named Jason debates performing in front of his peers while wearing it. His Japanese friend Tatsuya does his best to convince Jason. Not just about wearing fundoshi but also about being comfortable with his body and throwing away constrictive societal norms. Jason’s growth in confidence is evident throughout, and by the end he is able to perform without any worries. The way Tatsuya was written as a character was very satisfying and realistic, allowing the reader to relate to Jason better. I also enjoyed how music and drumming played into the story, as if the rhythm of the drums moved the story along. This tale was one of my favorites in the whole collection."A Brief Distraction" is a deliciously devious story about technologically advanced briefs by Royce Day. Melanie gives her fox husband Rolas a pair of SmartTex: underwear is controlled by a smartphone app. Melanie uses it to tease Rolas during his business meeting and then in the bedroom where he is forced to submit to her for his release. The pair have a lot of love and trust for each other which is easily apparent to the reader. Their relationship is the driving factor for the action and the buildup is written well. A worthy finisher to a great collection.Overall, Foxers or Beariefs explores several different themes alongside all of the different kinds of underwear. The stories are edited well, and the reader is told about any potentially offensive content prior to the pertinent stories. The organization of the stories by type of underwear is humorous and practical, much like the way some of the undergarments are utilized in the stories themselves. This isn’t just an anthology themed around underwear; it’s about how beneficial it can be to bare oneself before the world. The characters’ journeys illustrate this and collectively serve as examples of how communication and exploration are important to self-realization. So don’t get put off by the question of Foxers or Beariefs. Do yourself a favor and give it a read. For me, it’s 9 proudly waving undergarments out of 10.
In a lonely corner of the lunar landscape, a classic, seat-of-the-pants detective sticks out his shingle and does what he does best, solving the hard crimes no one else wants to bother with. Jove Deadly is a bloodhound, literally born and bred for this work, and he’s an instantly lovable character with a nose for trouble, a constant craving for peanut butter, and a substantial addiction to rawhide chews. Together with his otter sidekick, Jove uses his skills and contacts to unravel a pair of mysteries with all the action you could want and a few familial ties that he would happily do without. In Jove Deadly’s Lunar Detective Agency, two authors each contribute a tale of intrigue, mystery and betrayal. In part one, Jove is enlisted to find a missing person, who also happens to be his estranged brother. The high-class poodle who hired him is keeping her own secrets, and the case takes more twists and turns than a snake’s tail. Part two introduces us to Jove’s sister, and follows the loose ends left dangling in part one as Jove and his crew race to find a missing professor with information about a legendary human artifact. Both stories were strong and engaging, and they tied in well together, giving the book a strong sense of continuity even though the individual authors’ styles are quite different. Where part one has the classic noir detective feel, with slightly heavier prose and a darker tone, part two embodies the light-hearted, whimsical tone of Mary E. Lowd’s style and echoes the rest of her stories set in this universe. I thoroughly enjoyed both halves of Jove Deadly’s Lunar Detective Agency, and it is a high recommend for me to any fan of detective stories, of furry scifi, or anyone already enamored with the Otters in Space stories. My only word of warning is this: make certain you have peanut butter in the house before reading part two. You will definitely want it.
Bill Siracusa’s Overnight Shift is a bear romance with werewolves. We’ve got Dale, the big grumpy park ranger; Adam, the hunky electrician spending the night rewiring the ranger station; and Kate, the other ranger who leaves them alone until the end of the story. You can probably guess what happens next. Dale feels territorial about the interloper on his turf, on top of feeling somewhat ill; they have some tense conversations where it slips out that they’re both into guys, then they have a couple beers and make out. And then it turns out Dale is a werewolf.Bit of an adult content warning, a couple illustrations in this book show exposed male genitalia, so be careful about reading this book in public!I did appreciate that they got over the “will they/won’t they” phase so quickly, and the thing holding them back was the perfectly reasonable question of whether the other guy was even interested. It would have been nice to have some clue to how Dale got infected with lycanthropy, but the foreshadowing is well written. Dale could have had some mundane illness before he changed, and for a couple pages after he flees Adam’s kiss it seems like Adam just came on too strong to him, until Adam finds the claw marks on his arm. When the transformation sequence does come up it’s suitably graphic, and seems rather painful, in Dale’s case at least. It’s a little strange that Adam not only has a much less painful transformation, compared to the tingling after your foot falls asleep, but retains most of his mind while Dale seems barely able to speak and partially amnesiac. I will, however, dock Siracusa points for using the tired “pack dominance” trope, even after Adam notes that that theory of wolf pack dynamics is outdated in real life. Once Adam has gotten Dale-Wolf in a sleeper hold and hogtied him with spare wiring he starts to act like the sub in a BDSM scene, though it’s possible that was Dale rather than the wolf.Overall I’d say this is a pretty decent gay werewolf erotic story, if you’re into big hairy men fucking and turning into wolfmen this can kill an afternoon (in a good way).
[FBR Note: We received this review from Leo Award nominated author Gre7g Luterman and are just posting it for your pleasure. This review is unedited.]Snakes aren’t the most intelligent creatures on the planet—domestic snakes especially. Anyone who has kept one as a pet can tell you; even eating—one of the most basic things a creature can do—can be challenging for them. It’s a miracle that they survive at all!But what if they weren’t quite that stupid? What if they were as smart as people? They’re so drastically different from us physically… how would that difference in perspective manifest in their personalities? Furthermore, what if mice—the most basic food source for just about every breed of snake—lived alongside them? Forget for a moment about how unlikely that might seem, but what if it happened?Frances Pauli spins a tale in Disbanded, putting just such a scenario into motion. The story stars Sookahr, a young and well-meaning snake who is born into a world that is fundamentally unfair. Their society is a caste system, for starters, and who you will be and what will be your place depends entirely on things you can’t control—be it the type of snake you are, your coloration, or even whether you were born a snake at all.Whether he picked it or not, Sookahr likes the role he landed into. He’s going to be an architect, and he’s pretty good at it. Fresh out of school, he’s been tapped by his favorite professor with an opportunity to prove himself to the Circlet—the ruling caste. But to do so, he’ll have to go on an adventure to prove himself. And, unsurprisingly enough, his adventure in the jungle doesn’t go well. In fact, it immediately brought the movie Apocalypse Now to mind. All we needed was for Sookahr’s buddy, Lohmeer, to have an uncontrollable shouting fit of “Never get out of the f’ing burrow! Never get out of the burrow!” and we’d be there.Disbanded does start a little slow. Sure, Sookahr seems like a decent enough sort of person, but it takes a while before the telling proves that we need to care about whether he succeeds. We’ll see that much more is on the line than just whether he will become a successful architect or not, so stick with it. The payoff will be worth the read.One thing that amused me about the story is that Pauli sets Sookahr up to realize something that we the reader realizes far faster than he does. Each time he wonders about this, the reader ends up shouting at the pages, “It’s obvious, stupid! How can you not realize this?” He is still a snake, after all. But we get so convinced that this is going to be the story’s “big reveal” that we find ourselves rolling our eyes at the melodrama. Well, don’t worry, this is not going to be the big reveal. Pauli pulls the ol’ switcheroo on us and the realization we think will be played up as earthshaking-when-it-really-isn’t is revealed almost incidentally. The big reveal actually happens about 2/3rds of the way through the novel and will make you wonder where this story could be going.Note that Disbanded is told in first person. I love first person narratives, but not everyone does, so your mileage may vary.Finally, it’s worth mentioning that when Sookahr hatches (not a spoiler, this is chapter one) a mysterious voice promises him that he will change the world. By the end of the book, the world really hasn’t changed all that much, but Pauli has already confirmed that book two is in the works, so we can assume that all this world-changing still lies ahead of Sookahr.Fortunately, Sookahr does get out of the f’ing burrow, and he will make the world a better place, even if he must do it one down-trodden creature at a time. Disbanded was a good story and I’ll certainly be reading the rest of the series when it comes out too.
The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper by Sir Julius Vogel Award-winning storyteller A. J. Fitzwater chronicles the adventures of, which may come as no surprise, Cinrak the Dapper! Cinrak doesn’t start out with this title however. The story begins with a young capybara orphan with aspirations to become a pirate. Throughout the seven stories within this collection, we get to see Cinrak come into herself by making friends, finding family, and going on many marvelous adventures. However, don’t come into this story with expectations of typical pirate adventures. While there is certainly the salt of the sea, these stories are no Pirates of the Caribbean styled affair. Often the story makes some fantastic twists on pirating tropes and the idea of the setting in general. It’s mentioned in the foreword, but these stories are designed with the concept of joy in mind. The stories are designed to have drama surrounded with mysteries, the payoffs with scenes of amazement and emotion.The stories do make some large leaps in time, and we do miss some major moments in Cinrak’s life. For example, we do miss how the love of Cinrak’s life and her meet minus some small details. Some might find this disorienting in ways, though others might also enjoy trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I wasn’t quite sure if this was a negative myself, though it was a bit disorienting at times.Despite this, the book does contain some marvelous strengths. I have rarely seen a world in a fantasy setting truly so fantastical! Everything comes to life, sometimes quite literally things you would not expect. There are countless species present, both animals and fantasy fare like fairies. Each story seems to unlock one of the many small mysteries of the world, all of which are fun to uncover. Several people would be sold on the four-word premise of the book alone: dapper lesbian capybara pirate. For those that aren’t, I want to look at the dedication for the book. “For the wary, weary traveller. Rest a while.” These stories have the power to uplift anyone needing a boost while sailing the stormy seas of life. I can recommend this book to those looking for well-written queer representation and those needing light reading to bring them some happiness. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly and am quite happy to have it on my shelf!
For those not in the know, the Cóyotl Awards is an annual award run by the Furry Writer's Guild since 2011 to recognize "excellence in anthropomorphic literature". These works can only be nominated and voted upon by members of the FWG (even if the authors are not part of the guild themselves) instead of the general public, kinda making them like the Oscars but for furry literature. This anthology, edited by the late Fred Pattern, collects both winners and nominees for the Best Short Story category from the first seven years of the Cóyotl Awards and represents pretty much the whole spectrum of furry literature. Do you want stories with feral characters? You have them. Do you prefer anthros? You have them. How about comedy, horror, sci-fi, or fantasy? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.The anthology starts with "The Canoe Race" by Daniel and Mary E. Lowd, winner of Best General Short Story for 2011 (only year when this and Best Mature Short Story were separate categories). First published in Stories of Camp Rainfurrest, this is a typical camping story with handicrafts, fire pits, and, yes, canoe races but with the twist being that the campers themselves are animals, and by that I don't mean anthropomorphic animals like in some television shows, but instead real, feral animals. So, you get to see birds doing macramé, bears singing, and even raccoons trying to bribe bobcats with shiny objects. The descriptions of the animals-imitating-humans are short and sweet, with the story as a whole having a lighthearted and wholesome tone--a rare sight in this collection.Next comes "Best of Breed" by Renee Carter Hall, winner of Best Mature Short Story for 2011. First published in Allaso volume 1: Shame, this is a coming-of-age story about the competitive world of Animal Shows but with the almost opposite twist of the previous story as Mina, the main character of this story, is an anthro cat and therefore a sentient creature. At first, everything goes fine for our protagonist, but her world starts crumbling apart once she starts getting into bigger and fancier shows, not in small part by the way Shawn, her human handler, treats her and her sister. The only story in this anthology with any sort of sexual content, though tame and non-explicit, Hall's way of handling Mia's journey into adulthood was gripping and did not let go until the final parts of it.Closing this section is "Dragonman and Lonesome Woman" by Vixxy Fox, nominee for Best General Short Story 2011. In this self-published story, Dan, a truck driver and veteran soldier, encounters three quirky characters in the middle of the desert and embarks with them in a spiritual journey to help their sister, the eponymous Lonesome Woman. A journey which is as much about healing her as it is to heal himself. Introspective at times and comedic at others, Dan's journey is an interesting one, though, all things considered, this could be considered one of the least "furry" of all stories in this anthology.Next we have "Chasing the Spotlight" by Tim Susman, winner of Best Short Story for 2012. First published in ROAR volume 4, this story stars Alex, a news feed podcaster who tries to score an interview with Lon, a mysterious man who underwent a cosmetic surgery to turn into an anthropomorphic animal. Controlled at first, this story slowly spirals into a more gritty one about regret and conspiracy theories as it goes along. Personally, one of my favorite stories in this collection, even if only because of all the possible setups it presents that I'd hope to see expanded upon eventually.Accompanying the previous story is "Rearview" by Sean Silva, nominee for Best Short Story 2012. First published in Allaso volume 2: Shame, this is also the first horror piece in the anthology. Ben, a troubled pig on the run, meets an aggressive wolf on the road after his car breaks down in this short story about the dangers of hitchhiking. From the onset, we can tell that something's not right in all of this, and Silva's handle of the suspense carries the story perfectly until its inevitable outcome. "Fox in the Hen House" by Mary E. Lowd is the winner of Best Short Story for 2013. First published in Dancing in the Moonlight: RainFurrest 2013 Charity Anthology, this nature vs nurture story focuses on Henry, a feral fox kit who gets adopted by several chickens, neither being aware of what the other’s species is. Just like "The Canoe Race", this is more of a sweet and lighthearted story that progressively gets darker as Henry grows older and it becomes more readily apparent to everyone that there might be something different about him.Closing this section is "Son of the Blood Moon" by Bill 'Hafoc' Rogers, nominee for Best Shot Story 2013. First published in Rabbit Valley's Trick or Treat, this story follows River, an aggressive, dominant, and charming alpha man who goes to a party in spite of his mother's warnings to never go out during a full moon. One of the "Trick" stories in that anthology, River will need to decide what to do after being invited to be part of a ritual by the mysterious Rhiannon, a ritual which involves a hefty price to pay. While a bit formulaic at times, the end was surely able to catch me by surprise."Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon, aka T. Kingfisher, is the winner of Best Short Story for 2014. First published in Apex Magazine issue 56, this is the story of a boy, his grandma, and a jackalope girl that was caught by the former, or did he? In the end, it's up to Grandma Harken to fix the boy's mistakes and free the jackalope from the pain brought upon by her own blood. Another story that does not feel as "furry" as it could be, but that also makes it up by its modern take on an age old myth.Next is "Pavlov's House" by Malcolm Cross, nominee for Best Short Story 2014. First published in the online magazine Strange Horizons, this story follows the narration of Sokolai, one of several bio-engineered anthropomorphic dog soldiers who, along with his brothers and a human family, is trapped with no food or water sources nearby. Unable to leave because of the revolutionaries patrolling the streets, Sokolai and his brothers must struggle with the programming they received even before they were born. Our unreliable protagonist’s account of the events that happened and their aftermaths can be hard to read at times, but it's this crudeness that makes the story what it is.Changing the formula a little is "The Analogue Cat" by Alice 'Huskyteer' Dryden, winner of Best Short Story for 2015. First published in The Furry Future, this story chronicles the whole life of Tozer, a second-generation Bengal Pet all the way from his birth as a Pet (the bio-engineered organisms created to replace another set of creatures known as Bots) to the drastic changes in his life once the newer generations succeed in getting Pets equal rights. However, what really makes this story stand out is that it uses a second person POV for its narration, making the journey of you, the reader, as The Analog Cat feel more personal.Accompanying the previous story is "Muskrat Blues" by Ianus Wolf, nominee for Best Short Story 2015. First published in Inhuman Acts, this noir story follows Mike Harrison, a pig and private investigator whose old friend Alex Richards was recently murdered. Set in a world where predation is a thing, even if not common; the police dismiss the case and it's up to Mike to sniff out the true culprit. A story that might be a little more familiar to those who are more in the known with the genre, but that kept me guessing with every twist as it unfolded.Next is "400 rabbits" by Alice 'Huskyteer' Dryden, winner of Best Short Story for 2016. First published in Gods With Fur, this is the story of Eighty-Six, one of four hundred Aztec rabbit gods in charge of drinking, drunken revelry, and its effects. However, as we all know, there's more to life than drinking as Eighty-Six, patron god of "attempting to chat up your best friend's betrothed", finds out when he's forced to go sober for the first time in his life, getting a new perspective on the human world and life as a whole. As can be easily glanced by our main character's title, this a comedy through and through, and one that gives an interesting insight of the role alcohol has on our lives, all from the perspective of what could be considered an under-represented culture in the fandom.Closing this section is "The Torch" by Chris 'Sparf' Williams, nominee for Best Short Story 2016. First published in ROAR volume 7, this is the story of Rob Cantor, former star of an old campy television show about a police-affiliated superhero which is soon to get rebooted, though in a darker and edgier fashion (any similarities with real life are purely coincidental). Rob, a dalmatian, is attending the same convention as his replacement and has to come to terms with his life and what all these new changes mean for him. With an air of nostalgia, and I don't mean just when our main character remembers his golden days, this story does a good job going through the nitty-gritty details of what is it that makes a fandom, and how it affects the lives of those involved in it.Finally, the last winner in the anthology is "Behesht" by Dwale, winner of Best Short Story for 2017. First published in ROAR volume 8, this is a post-apocalyptic story of the Dying Earth variety. Farad, a bio-engineered jerboa, chronicles the events and interviews that he experiences alongside a caravan that’s heading towards the eponymous hidden garden—Heaven itself. So, yes, this means that it's an anthology within an anthology! As expected of a story of this genre, the tone can be pretty bleak at times as we see our protagonists continue on their endless journey, which may or may not have the results they're looking for. Another story for which I wish to be expanded upon, whatever its outcome may be.The first 2017 nominee is "The Moon Fox" by Amy Fontaine. First published in the online magazine Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, this modern fairy tale follows the adventures of the titular Moon Fox after he crashes on Earth as he tries to find his place in our world. Somewhere where he can be himself. Be it at a farm, at a circus, or at an audition, Moon Fox’s always trying his best. One of the most light-hearted and wholesome stories in the whole anthology, with an ending that befits its genre.Last but not least is "The Ouroboros Plate" by Slip Wolf, also nominated for Best Short Story 2017. First published in Bleak Horizons, this story follows Imperial Agent Hallord, a weasel on a mission to check up on a project by the Emperor, but whose plans get a wrench thrown in the works when the scientist he was meant to encounter, Doctor Liskar, is found dead in her office. Complicating matters further is that the space station where they're located is set to destruct in a couple hours. A whydunit where all the pieces fit when you understand its true premise, but that keeps you on your toes until you do.As mentioned near the beginning of this review, pretty much everything you may want to see is here in one way or another with some very few exceptions, and the fact that these were curated by writers and editors themselves means that you can be sure of the overall quality of every story represented. If you're new to furry literature as a whole, this is definitely the book for you. If you're not, even if you've already read all of these, you should try getting a copy too. The quality is there, the variety is there, and you can see how the storytelling styles and the fandom evolved throughout the decade.
Solarpunk was never a genre I considered reading. I didn’t know what it was or why it was, much less why it was important to people. The name sounds cool, sure, but who’s ever heard of a best-selling solarpunk novel that isn’t under the bigger genre of science fiction? What even is the difference between the two? Where science fiction focuses on the broad idea of possibility with enough technological advancement, John R. Robey says that solarpunk is more about working with the Earth while simultaneously creating a better world for those who are victims of corrupt government. That’s what The Reclamation Project is about, except with furries. If you don’t know what furries are, they’re anthropomorphic animals, or “human-like” animals. And if I just confused you even more, sit down, take a breath, and keep reading. In The Reclamation Project, furries are the least of your problems.The Reclamation Project is about the conflict between humans and furries--also known as zoomorphs--in the world of Ambara Down. Long ago, zoomorphs were created by humans to do things that humans couldn’t do. Then, the flying city of Ambara fell to the ground, causing much destruction but also laying the foundation for many new zoomorph cultures to arise. At some point, the Pax Machina--a powerful AI looking to control everything--grew threatening, creating giant mechanical creatures and taking over the minds of humans and zoomorphs alike. As time went on, zoomorphs inhabited Ambara Down and made it their home, while humans took to their flying cities. Prejudice against zoomorphs slowly formed in flying cities like High Empyros, and soon the zoomorphs’ and the humans’ distrust grew to a dangerous level, causing the leaders of both societies to establish the Reclamation Project, a project aimed to quell the tension. Fourteen authors write about the world of Ambara Down and how the Reclamation Project has affected both human and zoomorph culture. With Pax Machina and other dangers hiding in the shadows, the road to peace is a difficult one.John R. Robey gives quite the exciting start to this anthology with his story titled "Piece of Mind." The time for compromise has begun as Haru, a high-tempered collie and Chief Stewardess of the Prefect’s Office, finds a hoverskiff pilot named Rory, a smart-mouthed calico, to transport the Prefect to High Empyros. Once there, Prefect Durgavati can negotiate plans to look past the furry/human differences and bring peace to Ambara Down--if they manage to get there at all. When a group of bandits ambush the hoverskiff and leave Rory and Haru out in the desert, the two need to rely on each other to save the Prefect, as well as themselves. With a mysterious third party sending shivers down their spines, the hope for peace dwindles in Ambara Down.It’s really the attention to detail that makes this story amazing. Robey is great with describing the world of Ambara Down and its intricacies--hoverskiffs and healing braces, cybernetic attachments and flying cities. You get a clear picture of what the world looks like through these depictions, but it's really the characters that make it all come together. Haru’s role as the Chief Steward contrasts nicely with Rory’s role as a hoverskiff captain because you get to see their vastly different ways of life, and their distinct personalities make for an entertaining story. Every detail builds on the one before it, so when the climax of the story hits, it hits hard. I’d really love to see more of this world.Set in the same world as the first story, "Ambara Blues" by Indigare expands upon the socio-political side of the furry/human conflict. Delmar Nova, a human living on High Empyros, is called by Director Kyla to use his experience in studying zoomorphic cultures to assess how the Reclamation Project in Ambara is proceeding. After realizing he wants more in his life than sterile walls and light pollution, Delmar accepts the job and is transported down to Ambara where he meets the Council liaison and rabbit zoomorph, Tavistad Ridgerunner. When Tav and Del start touring the city, Del is attacked. Tav comes in to save him, but Del realizes not everyone is happy to see a human here. The two must stick together if they want to figure out who’s behind this attack, and what this all means for the future of both civilizations.I really enjoyed Indigare’s take on this world. I wanted to see more of the conflict, and that’s what I got. The first-person perspective is really important because it hones in on Del’s thoughts and feelings about the situation as an outsider. He’s confused about the attack, but also in awe of this new world. That feeling captured me and made it easy for me to understand. However, the dialogue tended to pull me out of that space. It seemed a little...off, and as a result Del’s personality seemed to weaken. When I was in his head I felt what he felt, but that feeling didn’t quite match the words he said out loud. I think it would have flowed better if Del said what came to his mind more often--the descriptions of the cities, and the beautiful flowers he saw. This would produce a more genuine response from Tav and give the two of them room to play off each other and learn about each other, strengthening both their personalities and their relationship.So far, we’ve read about stories that take place on land, but "Insecurity" by L. Rowyn gives us a glimpse of what the solarpunk genre can look like underwater. When Ambara fell, a whole chunk of civilization was crushed beneath its weight. Aawee--a mermaid-type creature simply called a ‘mer’--finds the remains of a GloEx building during their team’s scuba diving mission. They explore a bit inside but become trapped when the front doors of the building slam shut. Kerick, a sedecpus and the team lead, comes to rescue them after their coms fail. With his octopus-like characteristics, Kerick finds a way inside and keeps Aawee company while the rest of his team prepare a drill so they can get out. But things don’t go as planned and the two sea creatures soon find out that the building itself might be more dangerous than they thought.L. Rowyn really went all out with the creativity in "Insecurity." The concepts of the mer and the sedecpus--sedecpi?--are a great addition to the world of Ambara, though I would have liked a little more detail as to how they looked. There was plenty of detail in there--a creature with sixteen arms is hard to forget--but I still found myself getting confused as to how ‘anthro’ they actually were. One thing I found really intriguing was how Rick fit into the story. I think most zoomorphs and humans alike wouldn’t find an AI implant to be a person, but the fact that Kerick does, so much so that he combines his name with his own name, really emphasizes the strength of humanity in such a genre. It’s cool and fun to see how they communicate with each other. It’s also neat to hear how Rick encourages Kerick to get closer to Aawee, using their common characteristic of being trans as a topic of conversation. I didn’t think an AI could be that helpful when it came to such a topic, but I was happily proven wrong. This is a fantastic story!"The Underground Star" by Nenekiri Bookwyrm gives another glimpse of what life looks like in Ambara--this time, underground. Life in the Warrens has been pretty boring for Eli the mouse, but his world changes when he discovers a huge tower of old Reclaimer junk in the tunnels of the Warrens. Entranced by a shiny object glistening on the top of the tower, he comes up with multiple plans on how to retrieve it. With each failure, more time passes and Eli starts to think he may never get the ‘star.’ Between his struggles to get the star and the mystery of his missing friend, Eli has to re-evaluate what he truly wants in life.I think this story was trying to do too many things at once. The plot was centered around Eli and his quest for the star, which I enjoyed until the end. I was left with more questions than answers, which might have been the point. But if that was the point, why didn’t the story emphasize the mystery more? Jack goes missing for a long time and all Eli says about it is, “Life in the Warrens is like that sometimes.” His response seems more like an easy fix to a plot-hole than an actual character telling us what they believe, which would be fine if the story was more about the mystery. There are mysterious things happening in the background, and given Eli’s age I felt like Bookwyrm should have given him something weird to notice if they wanted the story to be about the mystery. As it stands, the story is so focused on Eli getting the star that the mystery aspect falls short. Which, again, wouldn’t be a problem if the ending was more triumphant. The mystery conflicts with the adventure because so much of the story is about his drive to get the star, but when he finally gets it and realizes what it is he just drops it and goes to find Jack, seeming only now to care about his friend. That all being said, I did really enjoy this story. Eli is a bright and persistent character. He tries and fails and tries again, which is enjoyable to read about in the way Bookwyrm described. The mouse had to work out creative ways to get what he wanted, and those ways--working for Ms. Smit, swiping some scrap metal here and there--really added to the atmosphere of the story. Ms. Smit was also a really interesting character. I couldn’t really tell why she was doing what she was doing, but that added to the mystery, along with her apparent history with Eli’s mother. Overall, it was a decent story, and I would really like to know what eventually happens to Eli.Graveyard Greg continues the solarpunk genre through his story "Post-Mortem Telepathy." Immol, a lizardman, and Ventis, a jackal, are trying to find directions when they come across a Pax unit. After fighting it off, Ventis discovers he’s bulletproof and Immol chastises the jackal for being so reckless. As they leave the scene the chest of the broken Pax unit explodes, causing Ventis to protect his friend. Even though the two have been arguing this whole trip, they find that the incident leaves them closer than they’ve ever been.The way Graveyard Greg describes his characters and how they interact are my favorite thing about "Post-Mortem Telepathy." He makes them feel real, and as a result, the danger feels real. I haven’t said much about the Pax Machina in this review so far, and that’s because I don’t feel like I’ve had a great representation of them...until this story. Immol and Ventis’ fear of them say a lot about the Pax in the world of Ambara Down, and that fear is justified in this story by the destruction they cause. What I didn’t like about the story was how dialogue-heavy it was. By itself, dialogue isn’t something that will necessarily make or break a story. However, when it’s the dominating way of telling the story, with little use of setting descriptions or other world building mechanics especially in a story as short as this one, the writing is bound to feel like it’s lacking. I would have liked to know what the terrain was like around where Immol and Ventis were camping, or at least where they were going. It would have been nice to see more of how they got into the first fight so there’s more rising action, and the climax would be more noticeable too. I would have also liked to see more of how their telepathy affected the two characters. Seeing a change of mind, especially from Immol, was really satisfying. He has a soft side to him that I think could be better represented if the story was lengthened and the dialogue was spread out. I really hope that the two of them get to where they’re going."Skipping Stones," by Bryan “StarryAqua” Osborne, is about a wolf named Katalia who shares a keen interest in humans with her friend Richter, a maned wolf. Katalia’s degree in Anthropology of Human Studies leads her to Alurai, a district in Ambara Down where she comes face to face with a human student. His presence piques her interest, but the societal prejudice against humans stops her from interacting with him--that is, until the human returns her notebook to her after accidentally dropping it while walking home. The chance encounter leaves Katalia wanting to know more about him. After the human is attacked in an alleyway, Katalia saves him and soon realizes that there are a lot more secrets looming in the shadows of Ambara Down than she previously thought."Skipping Stones" plays on the conflict between furries and humans very well. That, mixed with the solarpunk technology, makes this a solid story. My favorite thing about this story is that Osborne includes background information about the manufacturing of the technology we’ve been reading about. Osborne essentially creates a new place--Astraven--in the world of Ambara Down and fills it with a dark history that is then told through the eyes of someone who escaped. Even though the characters end up safe in the end, it’s far from a happy ending. I was left feeling sad, and rather horrified at what Everett had to endure. The plot twist, by the way, was also very well done; I didn’t see it coming at all. The only thing that threw me off was Katalia being the main character. I greatly enjoyed her character, but the significance of the story as a whole really rested on Everett after he told her about his history. I would have liked to see more of a reason as to why she was involved. She knows a lot about humans but that knowledge is never really put to the test, so her character ends up being more like a supportive character rather than a protagonist. Regardless, "Skipping Stones" is a great story."Silence and Sword," by Royce Day, is an exciting adventure story about Joe, a tinkerer cheetah, and his unlikely mercenary companions. Hamia, a Wazagan, explains that he and his friend Ali, a vixen, are on a quest to try to remove the collar locked around her neck. After a miscommunication, Joe agrees to look into the collar problem. The next day he tells the mercenaries that he cannot unlock it, but that the source of their troubles may be linked back to where Hamia found Ali all those years ago. Joe convinces them to let him travel with them to the source, finding that the Pax Machina are still about their slaving ways. The group will have to put their talents, and their trust, to the test if they have any hope of freeing Ali from her silence. "Silence and Sword" is an amazing story! Royce Day perfectly combines the risk of danger with the thrill of adventure. The characters are dynamic, though flawed, and all of them have something to gain, something to lose, and something to learn. Day also does a great job with balancing the different parts of the story. The parts where Hamia mentions his culture don’t overshadow or distract from the emotion he feels. The scene where Joe takes off his shoes and climbs a tree using his claws shows that he has his own talents, and, at the same time, it doesn’t take away from the sense of urgency the group feels in the moment. Ali’s frustration is depicted beautifully alongside Hamia’s fatherly nature even though she can’t speak. The descriptions of the scenery and the pacing of the story were well done too. Nothing felt too fast or too slow, and the story held my attention all the way through. If I had to critique anything it’s the part at the end where Ali says, “Thank you, Father.” Her serious and thankful line contrasts with her more comical one in the next scene when she says, “Why not?...It’s been fun so far.” Maybe it’s the flippant attitude Joe gives when he asks her if she wants to stay with “this big lizard.” I just felt the difference in seeing Hamia as a friend rather than a father figure is a bit strange given how much time they’ve spent together already. I really do hope that they find out what happened to those other kits though...Written by Kayode Lycaon, "Dark Garden Lake" is about the life of the painted dog Moshi, a mercenary whose position on the political chessboard is all but safe. It’s not until he spends a night with Bajit, a hyena prostitute with a sharp tongue, that Moshi realizes how lonely he is. Pushing his desires to the back of his mind, Moshi attends an extravagant dinner with his handler, Joyce. After some political eavesdropping and some clever wordplay, Joyce lines up an assassination job for Moshi, telling him that he’ll be greatly rewarded. Moshi takes the job reluctantly. His mission to kill the leader of a group that’s been raiding an agricultural center is called into question as his friends’ words haunt his mind, and Moshi will have to decide if his loneliness is worth another’s life.I absolutely love this story, so much so that I was tearing up at the end. At first I thought that explaining the way Moshi’s and Joyce’s wordplay affected each other was a little redundant, but then I realized it actually emphasized Moshi’s disjunct thoughts and the inner conflict he feels. The characters were all complex and interesting to read about. The settings were clear and beautifully descriptive. But what I love most about this story is the third person limited perspective on Moshi and how it emphasized the conflict between what he wanted and what he had to do. It’s also impressive how Lycaon used Moshi’s cybernetic attachments to further enhance that conflict. The less exciting moments of the story were filled with wonderful descriptions of the world that used every sense to fill my imagination. The rising action was intense, layered with tension and emotion from every angle. Reading "Dark Garden Lake" was like eating a professionally cooked meal; mouth-watering from start to finish, and saddening because you wish you could eat the whole thing again. Dan Leiner Turthra Jensen writes about a particularly interesting friendship between a maned wolf and their corvid friend in "Sewer Tea." The story begins with Vyvian entering Treeklak’s tea shop, greeting the old avian and showing them their fancy new glow rings. Treeklak, the corvid, responds with a version of sass that has taken Vyvian years to understand, since corvids speak in a different dialect. The story flashes between past and present as Vyvian recounts their history. A normal escort job for some tech turns dangerous when the two break open a lock in an old sewer system. Although they just met, the two will have to trust each other if they want to make it out alive.I really enjoyed the switching between past and present perspective. It was well done and kept up the excitement throughout the story. The soft moments that focused on Vyvian’s feelings contrasted with the tense moments in the sewers, and I enjoyed seeing their vulnerable side in both instances. Treeklak was refreshing, if not a little confusing. Jensen’s dialogue for Treeklak was a bit confusing to understand--I had to frequently read over what he said to make sure I read it correctly--but writing in two different dialects is difficult. I was happy to read it over again because it emphasized a culture of the Ambaran world that I haven’t seen yet, and I felt it strengthened the story more than it took away from it. Their friendship is an odd one, but their quirks made "Sewer Tea" a fun read and a really nice addition to the world of Ambara Down.Pax Machina are a sure threat in the world of Ambara Down. As dangerous as they are, however, they’re not the only ones with mysterious agendas. Juan Carlos Moreno writes about a group of humans who plan on using a centuries-old teenage girl, named Persephone, to inflict a virus upon the entire race of zoomorphs in "Persephone’s Chance." It’s up to Tabitha, an experienced tiger, and her group to stop them. The news of the planned demise of the zoomorph race is brought to Tabitha’s attention via the Hyacinth twins, brother and sister humans who left the Reclamation Project. After escaping an RP drone and discovering that the twins’ badger assistant, Sara, was also human, the group flew towards a Special Expeditions camp where Persephone was being held. With their own plan in place, Tabitha leads her group on a dangerous quest to try to free Persephone. Even with all the help, Tabitha will learn that the same instincts that give her an advantage may also be her downfall.This entire story read like a cliche adventure story, and it missed many opportunities to implement some good meaning. I really enjoyed the struggle at the end when Tabitha had to fight her instincts, but that inner conflict only showed up at the end of the story. Until that point, the only conflict was figuring out how the group was going to free Persephone, which wasn’t really that much of a conflict given how many times they all got lucky. It would have been nice to see how Tabitha dealt with the knowledge that her whole race could be killed, rather than just chalking it up to “alright everyone, let’s all save the world.” Additionally, she didn’t have much presence in the story, even though it was told from her perspective. The story seemed to be happening around her, rather than her having an active voice in the story. Sure, she was the leader, but it felt more like Sara did most of the work. I liked the Brontides. They had the motive and the means for everything they were doing, even if it was downright evil. There’s that moment where the daughter realizes her dad is kind of crazy. I really, really enjoyed that because I knew he would stop at nothing to stop Tabitha, which made him all the more frightening. Overall, the lack of deeper thought and more telling than showing made this an okay story. The adventure is there and the action is there, but it’s very surface-level. I would have liked a little more depth in all the characters, especially Tabitha."A Journey to the Skies" is a tale of two bird siblings, Lisa and Tango, who begin their long journey to Flying Mountain on Lisa’s fifteenth birthday. As part of their culture’s tradition--told to them by their Matriarch--two capable siblings must venture forth together to Flying Mountain in order to learn how to fly. After the Matriarch’s speech, Lisa and Tango set off for the mountain, using their survival skills to make it through the dangerous forest. A few days in, they come to a break in the forest where they spot a farm in the valley below. A young human boy comes up to them and tells them a little about their culture. They ask him for a bit of direction and then continue on their way. When they get to the base of Flying Mountain, Lisa and Tango have to fight the machines that guard it. Such is the price to pay for the ability to fly.Ferric the Bird did a good job with this story. It has all the things that make up a hero’s story: good characters, a solid plot, some worldbuilding, and great action. I really liked the Matriarch’s telling of why they had to leave. More importantly, I liked that Lisa calls the whole thing into question at the end of the story. It shows growth and change which I feel fits with the theme of the anthology. The twist at the end was also really well done, and I felt the confusion Lisa felt. I didn’t quite understand the scene with the human boy but maybe that was just to put this story in perspective to the rest of the stories in the world of Ambara Down. Either way, "A Journey to the Skies" is a solid adventure story.Huskyteer writes about the relationship between a human child and a hyena explorer in her story "Star of the Savannah." Chuck values his alone time traveling from place to place in his hoverskiff called “Star of the Savannah,” but when he sees the town of New Haven up in flames, he discovers that he won’t be alone for much longer. His friend Mama Bill asks him for a favor--to transport a human child, named Dawn, back to her home in Ambara Down. Both Chuck and Dawn are unhappy with the arrangement, but they both learn that it’s better to be together than alone. When a group of pirates called the Watersnakes capture them, the pair will have to learn that sacrifices must be made if they want to protect each other.Great humor is hard to write, especially in serious stories, but Huskyteer does it perfectly. Chuck’s personality, along with his and Dawn’s hilarious interactions, are what made this story one of my favorites from this anthology. There are witty lines from both of them, and yet it doesn’t feel like the story it’s trying to be witty. It’s just the kind of thing that happens when you have two strong characters going up against each other--or in this case, traveling together. While reading I could feel the two of them growing together, and the situations they found themselves in tested their trust. By the end I really felt like they needed each other. That type of feeling is hard to make a reader feel, especially when you don’t have a whole novel to do it. Huskyteer wrote a fantastic story that is funny, tense, dangerous, and heartfelt all at the same time.Robey was right when he said that "The Flavors of Sunlight" was the most “solar” of the group of stories. Angle, a rabbit, doesn’t need to eat anymore. Instead, her body gets its nutrition from sunlight, kind of like plants do. Because of this, her days aboard a group of ships that float nonchalantly in the ocean are usually peaceful...at least she and the other Islanders get attacked by ‘Claimers. Ready to fight, Angle goes after a tegu--a species of lizard--and subdues her. As soon as they came, the ‘Claimers leave, abandoning Teal the tegu in the process. Teal wakes up in one of the ship labs. A couple scientists, including a man named Sokin, offer her life in exchange for experimentation. Teal refuses, but Angle manages to convince her that a life where you don’t have to eat or harm others is a life that can be worth living. The lizard agrees and their friendship begins. Angle teaches her how to live now that parts of her body are lined with algae, but the two will find out that a change of lifestyle isn’t just about biological change. The real danger lies deeper."The Flavors of Sunlight" by James L. Steele is one of those stories that you spend a lot of time thinking about after you read it. The concept is enough to warrant complex thought because it’s so distinct. Not only that, but to have a concept like this in a world that is already so complex and fantastical is amazing. It stands out among the other stories because it addresses the need to be able to change your mindset towards something. It’s the difference between a furry reading these stories and a non-furry reading these stories. Furries will automatically understand the characters these authors are writing about because they’ve been exposed to similar content, but when shown to a non-furry, these subjects may be difficult to understand. That difference, that ability to understand something that is so far-fetched is what makes this story amazing. Combining that with some great characters in a story that already has established villains--not just in the story but in the anthology too--makes "The Flavors of Sunlight" that much more incredible. It’s a wild concept, but it has depth because of Teal’s and Angle’s history. Well-written depth in a story with such a unique concept is what makes this story absolutely amazing."Chromium Maneuvers," by Matt Trepal, is a story about how Chrome and her friend Rust go head-to-head with some ‘Claimers. The story begins when Fiery Chrome Orchid, a fox-kin musicmancer, who is shocked to find out her performance for the Founder’s Festival has been cancelled. While setting up her stage on the balcony of the Damselfly, Chrome overhears the real reason the ‘Claimers have decided to cancel the festival. With help from Rust, and a couple other friends, Chrome concocts a devious plan. It’s dangerous, and if one thing is out of place it might not work. However, with how much faith she has in her friends, Chrome is sure the plan can’t fail.I found this story to be particularly entertaining. It was a fun read all the way through and was a fitting end to the anthology as a whole. It’s a story about friendship and having fun and remembering where you came from. Chrome is a magnetic character; her strong personality and daring attitude make her a great protagonist. Yet it’s clear she needs her friends to help her. Although she’s reluctant at first, her decision to take Tischa’s help is what made this plan all possible, and what better incriminating evidence than pillow talk at a brothel? "Chromium Maneuvers" is a fun, refreshing, and significant addition to the anthology because--assuming you’ve been reading the stories in order--it just doesn’t stand for any of the crap that the ‘Claimers have tried to change in favor of themselves in the past thirteen stories.Overall, The Reclamation Project was organized and framed very well. The characters who reappear in the story, like Prefect Durgavati and Director Kyla, along with specific places, like Ambara Down and the Damselfly, really solidify the world. No story seemed too different from the others, but each was unique. I didn’t know going into the anthology that all the stories took place in the same world, so I was pleasantly surprised to have my wish of getting more of this world written granted. I liked that the story started off with such a significant event--it established the important characters and just how tense the conflict was between humans and zoomorphs, setting the foundation for the stories to come. I was a little let down by the fact that there was no extravagant ending where the Pax Machina were defeated, and I say this because in the earlier stories it almost seemed that they were getting progressively more threatening, especially at the end of "The Underground Star." It almost felt as if they were going about some hidden plan of theirs that I thought was going to be revealed at some point. The anthology was never specifically about them though, so I’m not holding it against Robey or any of the other authors. Honestly, what could they really do about an AI race with that much power anyway? Editing-wise, there were a lot of typos, but maybe that’s just the e-book copy I was given. I also think that having the author of each story on a separate line and in a smaller font would help clarify the difference between title and author. The “About the Authors” section in the back is a must-have and I always like reading about them. Great job, Robey!The Reclamation Project would appeal to those who love adventure stories. With such a wide array of stories and heroes in all shapes, sizes, and species, there’s a good chance this anthology has a story you will like. Furry is niche as it is and putting another niche genre like solarpunk on top of that makes it even more niche, but I strongly urge fans of either genre to give this anthology a shot. Just keep an open mind and you’ll be fine.
Windfall: An Otter-Body Experience and Other Stories by Tempe O’Kun is a collection of stories based around two characters who starred in a TV show called Strangeville together. Kylie, an otter whose mother was the director on the show, and Max, a husky super-fan turned co-star go on several mildly supernatural adventures after the show wasn’t renewed for a sixth season. Kylie’s feelings had grown for Max through his run on the show and everyone knew it. It was only after he left to go back to Montana that she began acting on these feelings. And thus begins their several adventures shortly after Max joins Kylie in her childhood home in New England. With her mother. Which is just a hint at several of the satisfyingly awkward and wholesomely erotic exploits to come.This book is made up of several short stories showing the growth of Max and Kylie’s relationship while they attempt to prove that Kylie’s eccentric family isn’t crazy after all; they are widely known in the town for believing in supernatural things. There are stories for every part of the year. All of them lead up to the “otter body experience,” as mentioned in the title. It would be unfair to spoil the details of it so I’ll only say that it is an extremely satisfying pay-off after a fantastic lead-up.O’Kun’s utilization of animal traits is nothing short of masterful. The characters never get boring and their mannerisms are exquisitely detailed. From the amusing nickname of “Rudderbutt” for the otter to Max’s constant need to not appear intimidating with his 6-foot canine stature, it is easy to imagine a world where these characters not only exist but are relatable. That’s the aspect that makes this novel truly irresistible. The pacing is perfect and the erotic scenes, of which there are several, are a delicious display of realism. Every word left me voracious and eager for more.Unfortunately, this is where the novel falls a bit short. For whatever reason, sometimes the grammar and sentence constructions were dense and difficult to navigate. While the action flowed beautifully, at times the words did not. And with such a masterful narrative, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed. Here was a fantastic story of two adorable lovers vividly told only to be interrupted by an out of place word or a difficult sentence. I found myself trying to figure out if there was some meaning I was missing or if it was a simple mistake. These mistakes are not debilitating; but they do mar the overall experience.Luckily, that’s the only issue I have with this book. It’s a wonderfully crafted world, and it is hard not to be enthralled with the relationship between Max and Kylie which is helplessly adorable. I also admire the pain-staking difficulty with putting an otter body experience down on paper. You’ll see what I mean when you get there. And you absolutely should! If you enjoy a rollicking tale of slightly immature young interspecies love, give this book a read. Even if it does require a bit more of your attention at times. For me, I’ll give it 9 webbed otter paws out of 10.
Claw Volume 1 is an anthology focusing on F/F action published edited by KC Alpinus. I was excited to see something with a focus on the ladies to read for once with just how many anthologies are out there for guys. No offense guys, there’s some great stuff out there, but my more sapphic side needs reading material too! The forward states, “I truly hope these ladies within these stories take you for a ride and leave you wanting more.” Does the anthology succeed in this goal? Time to check out the stories and find out! “Contextual Intercourse” - Erin Quinn Ever gone with a friend to a dance party? How about one that is a little more queer leaning? A trans woman and their non-binary friend are off to do just that in this story. I have to say this story shows the kinds of struggles that gender non-conforming people can face in a realistic manner. How trying to react to an erotically charged environment can be with bottom dysphoria and a lack of confidence riding on your back. The cruel realities of how difficult a spontaneous sexual experience can be for a pre-op trans woman. Having experienced similar moments myself, I can say the anxiety and confusion is described to utter perfection. Yet even with this moment of sadness presented it also offers some hope, shows how the experience can go, how it should go. Those that enjoy reading erotica certainly want to feel excited, get their rocks off if you will. However the story presented is what separates erotica from simple smut. A story like this that validates the experiences of trans women existing in a space where so few like it exist? We need more just like it. I couldn’t think of a better way to start off this anthology.“The Beating Of Wild Hooves” - Dwale The Beating Of Wild Hooves focuses more on the story elements than on the erotic ones, but the story it tells is quite interesting. It focuses on Babs, a sheep living in a not quite dystopian but certainly not healthy society in the future. One might expect a sheep to be docile, a woman potentially more so. This is not how Babs is at all. The story shows off how family and life dynamics would work for a sheep in an anthropomorphic society in a cool way. It also shows a sport unique to this world, an MMA style fighting sport called Hoofbeats. Babs, unsurprisingly, is a Hoofbeats competitor. This story does contain discussions of sexual assault which aren’t given content warnings for before the story begins. This is nothing against the story itself, which I thought was well written and entertaining, I just find it needs to be mentioned. I would love to see content warnings become an anthropomorphic fiction standard for anthologies like this one. “The Church Mouse” - Madison KellerAt first I thought this story might be an older widow finding love, then I thought it would be a murder mystery. Finally, it turned out to be a curious case of time travel with more twists and turns than I had ever expected. It did allow for a scene where Anise, who had lost her life partner a year prior, was able to have a lewd experience with said partner which was a fun and curious time. Overall I’m not sure this had as strong an erotic punch as I was hoping for. However, the story itself was absolutely incredible, something I wish I could see expanded into something larger. There were so many threads of a time travel story I wish I could have followed further. “Tempered” - Crimson RuariThis story is a playful romp where recently divorced hyena Kahina finds herself with the opportunity to explore and try not just something new, but someone new. That someone is a painted dog named Retha. The two meet by random chance at a chocolate making class and when Retha invites Kahina over to her house to make some more together, the hyena realizes it might be for something more than just making chocolate. This story was cute, potentially adorable even. Retha being so encouraging and making sure that Kahina was comfortable while having her first time with another woman was such a nice touch. If anything, this story shows just how exciting trying something new can be.“A Simple Wager” - Holly A. MorrisonThis story gets to the heart of the action quickly, two adventurers in some sort of fantasy setting playing a game of chess after a successful quest. The loser must buy drinks for the winner. As you might expect, the winner may not have played all too fairly and the drink they desire? Would an eyebrow wiggle make it clear for you? A fun read!“Support” - Kristina “Orrery” TracerI cannot stress enough how fantastic the world building is in this story. "Support" allows readers to look into the experience of someone uncomfortable with their body in a whole new lens. For trans readers or even those that are Otherkin, this story is going to hit hard. For those that aren’t, it might inspire serious empathy for those that are.This isn’t to say that the story doesn’t have a spicy climax either as it certainly does! It’s just that this climax is both sexually and emotionally satisfying. I was not expecting to read a story like "Support" when I opened this book up, but I’m so happy to see it here.“She Who Wears The Mask” - TenzaWe all wear masks sometimes, hide our true selves from the world, live in a way that doesn’t truly make us happy. Annette is living a life just like that until she meets a lively raccoon named Madi who has a serious interest in cosplay. This story shows how through cosplay, Madi was able to break free from the life expected of her and find her true calling. She uses that experience to try and help Annette open up and find what makes her happy too. One of the things I found fantastic in the story were the seamless consent check ins and Madi making sure that Annette is comfortable with what looks to be her first lesbian relationship. This one left me not only excited, but smiling.“Trophy Hunting” - BlueSeiryuuPredator and prey, a dynamic that is most uniquely explored through the furry lens. It gets even more fascinating when the animal who is most usually the submissive prey decides to take control. The deer plays video games while the tiger pleasures her, the tiger trying her best to draw her mistress’s attentions away to the game to rest fully on herself. This story is a constant flow of the erotic from start to finish with small stops to revel in the dynamic along the way. “The True Villain” - Dark EndThis story took a fun twist right from the start that I absolutely adored. This world has real super villains and heroes, and one of the most famous villains of all seems to have the hots for a hero. Thankfully with the help of a psychic barkeep, she might be able to get some of the action she so deeply desires. I don’t want to spoil how the story goes as the twist and how the sex scene plays out is wonderfully creative. I just have to say make sure you read this one if you like your sex a little less ordinary. “Smokey And The Jaybird” - Slip WolfA lesbian bear trucking across the Appalachian mountains? Sign me right up! The story isn’t all perfume and roses, facing realities of not only being a lady trucker but a lesbian to boot. Unfortunately not everyone is quite so understanding. Still our trucker finds a bit of happiness in her travels at a waffle slinging joint thanks to the singing of a blue jay named April. Though it turns out her songbird has just as many problems as the bear herself. The story comes not only with some spice but also a heartwarming ending. I absolutely loved this one!“Frontier Living” - Jeeves BunnyOnce again I have to mention my displeasure at this story essentially starting with a scene that really should have had a content warning for assault. Again, this isn’t the author’s fault by any means and doesn’t make the story bad, it just made for a rough start. The concept of the story, two girls living on the frontier and panning for gold is a good one I might not have considered. The isolation from crowds during these times would have likely been so welcome to a lesbian couple. After Tabitha is saved by Maria, she does all she can to give her the reward she deserves. You know the kind! “Roses” - Searska GreyRaven Immediately this story invokes visions of Beauty and the Beast from its title to the magic castle with what seems to be a monster within. Rose, upon being forced to live the rest of her life in an enchanted castle after a deal from her father, finds herself incredibly happy to be free. She even convinces the beast to teach her how to fight with a sword. I’ll be real, sword lesbians may be a trope but it is for a reason: it’s absolutely fantastic. This story is also not just a retelling of the story as you would expect either. It was fantastic, marvelous, and emotionally gripping. Not to mention some human on beast action was certainly thrilling. “The Tutor Learns” - Skunkbomb A devout Christian finally admitted that she might not be straight “as the lord intended”. It’s a style of story I’ve certainly seen before and can understand reading. It’s an experience plenty in the GSM community have lived through. What sets this story apart is how honest it is in the sex scene. Ramona, the more experienced lesbian in the room, is the one doing the teaching instead of her usual squirrel math tutor. First times are clumsy and without knowledge things need to be explained and kept simple. Having read so many stories where first time lovers magically knew what to do, it was incredibly refreshing to see things done right. --- My biggest complaint about this anthology is a lack of content warnings. Consent is by far one of the sexiest things in the world to me. It’s hard to get into the headspace to really enjoy a story when in the back of my mind I feel tension from not knowing if I’m going to be suddenly thrust into a moment I’d object to. That sense of unease haunted me during this anthology after certain stories which was a real shame.The forward is true, these stories do leave you wanting more. There’s so many excellent and thought provoking, not to mention sexy stories in this anthology. I didn’t want anything getting in my way of enjoying them! I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for some excellent lesbian furry fiction with just a little concern for the more difficult content. Overall this was a wonderful anthology and I look forward to seeing what CLAW Volume 2 may have to offer!
Forlorn, by Aaron B. is yet another dragon/dragonslayer romance story. Though I must admit I haven’t seen too many male/male stories of that particular subgenre. We start with a prologue showing our protagonist’s father in battle with a nine-foot tall anthropomorphic dragon, thus establishing the sort of legacy Tyler Brant has to live up to before he’s even introduced. The next chapter picks up twenty years later when Tyler has just been knighted, and seeking to prove himself; he’s dispatched almost immediately to investigate rumors of a dragon. However, the dragon he finds, Orpheus, turns out to be utterly disinterested in ravaging the countryside. Instead, Tyler and Orpheus have a somewhat civil conversation, which leads to something further…Meanwhile, a corrupt knight back in the kingdom thinks he might make a better ruler than the current queen.The setting seems based on a standard Medieval European Fantasy world with some more fairy tale elements. It’s populated by a blend of humans and fantasy creatures ranging in anthropomorphism from talking wolves to bird-man griffins, not particularly consistent. Whether it’s intended to be the “real world” sometime in the past or an alternate universe is unclear. There are a couple references to real world places, such as “European dragon,” “Russian symphony,” and “Molotov cocktail,” but given those would be anachronistic to the time period I could assume they were translation conventions for similar things in their world. On the other hand the few references to religion mention “gods” instead of “God”. I will give Aaron B. props for writing no taboo about homosexuality; too many fantasy authors seem to assume that a setting without Abrahamic religion would also make sodomy a capital offense. In this book nobody makes a fuss when Tyler asks out another knight early on; he just gets let down lightly.I found the first half of the book rather slow; then at the halfway point it picks up speed and races to the climax, which is resolved by the 80% point. After that we just get a slow denouement and Orpheus’ journal, which reveals his previously hinted at backstory as a cursed human. Moving the part where Tyler finds Orpheus’ journal earlier into the story might have helped with the book’s pacing issues, instead tacking it onto the end just feels like padding. Or Tyler could have read a little bit more of the journal each time he went to visit Orpheus, stringing the reader along with gradual revelations.In all, Forlorn has potential, but I feel Aaron B. published it too quickly. I’d like to read it again after a few more passes with an editor.
From Sinister Stoat Press and edited by Weasel comes Dread Volume I, a collection of stories showing “the sinister side of furry fiction”. There’s no story quite like a horror story, and nothing quite so challenging to write as flash fiction. Weasel says, “I could tell you to tread with caution. Every other horror project carries the same warning. Instead, dive in. Head first. Explore each quick grenade carelessly; the ride is only as bumpy as you make it.” I loved this in the forward, so I put the lights on low and gave this a read late at night, right before bed. Let’s see which stories had the most explosive impacts!“My First Fursuit” - Nathanial “LeCount” EdwardsFursuits, absolutely adorable right? Of course there’s plenty of fursuits on the scarier side, but this story shows this on a whole new level. If you’re already a fox, what would a fursuit really be? Perhaps it would be fur stolen from another anthro living in your world like this tale. It left a lingering sense of creepiness after reading, a well written piece! “Cat Problems” - James StoneWe all know someone that has a lot of cats and loves them all. But what happens when those cats slowly pass away? It can be quite difficult to deal with the loss of a loved fuzzy companion. Roger is facing just such a situation and finds himself surprised by the sudden new company he ends up keeping. I fell into the twist of this story in the best of ways.“Carlyle” - T. Thomas AbernathyThis was such a satisfying read! It is amazing how colorful and fantastic a story was told with so few words to do so. The pieces to the puzzle that make this story were laid out so masterfully at the perfect pace, ending with an excellent crescendo. I don’t want to spoil it by accident, so just go and make sure to read it! “Dinner Guest” - Stacy BenderIf you’ve ever had to go knocking on a door, trying to see why you couldn’t seem to get a response from a close loved one, this story should leave you on edge once you’re done reading. An innocent moment can quickly turn into something you don’t expect and this story shows that quite well.“Truth or Dare” - Thurston Howl & K.C. Alpinus A story written in the second person? It’s not easy to get right, but I think this story manages it in a novel way. You’re forced to face the horror first hand and not in the way you expect. Through a simple game of Truth or Dare the story slowly evolves in front of you and I’m quite sure the ending will get you good.“Relax” - Ceildih NewburyIt’s almost unfair to take such words as “just relax” and make me have to think back to a horror story when I hear them the rest of my life! Between this and never being able to look at a yoga session the same way ever again, this story packs a punch! “Monster in the Basement” - Alice CrawfordWritten in the style of a forum post/creepypasta, this story follows a saber toothed tiger house sitting for a friend before they hear a loud noise coming from the basement. Noises when you should be alone get one of two reactions: no worry at all, or a spike of fear. This story shows the latter reaction may always be the best. “Insomnia” - Alison CybeWho hasn’t had a night when they couldn’t seem to get to sleep? Some folks might try a cup of warm milk, deep breathing exercises, or any number of things to try and fight off insomnia. Perhaps you could simply count sheep, or visualize something else in your head. This story explores the latter option and just how dangerous that might be.“My Roommate’s Locks” - HypetaphSometimes people can lose things, perhaps they’re just absent minded. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if that missing sock, misplaced toothbrush, or that book you just can’t remember where you put it was caused by something more? This story surprised me with its twist and I have to say I enjoyed the feeling a good bit. Some horror is meant to make you jump; this story leaves you with uneasiness that isn’t easy to explain away. “Red Velvet” - George SquaresGrowing pains, something everyone seems to go through. If you’re a deer however, it might be a bit tougher when you get the migraine of your first set of antlers coming in. "Red Velvet" follows a young deer at 4H Camp and how he grows his new huge antlers, comes to hate them, and ends up losing them in quite the unexpected way. It’s a classic horror story out in the dark woods while camping, a perfect way to finish the anthology.---Unsurprisingly after reading ten great examples of horror I couldn’t just turn off the lights and drift off to an easy sleep. These flash fiction tales make for quick spooky reading that can be picked up and read in an evening and you won’t want to put them down until you’re done! Unless a story scares you off of course... I have to recommend this book to anyone that wants to enjoy the thrill only good horror can bring.
Published by Red Ferret Press with editing by Weasel and Thurston Howl, Knotted Volume II features eight different authors all covering curious and kinky stories featuring furry characters. Here’s your big warning that this review discusses adult content only suitable for those 18 and older! With this in mind, let’s get a look at the stories.“An Object Lesson” - RechanWhen I picked up this book, I’m sure I had plenty of ideas on what might comprise a kinky anthology, but this story managed to subvert my expectation in a fantastic way. The focus of this story is not about having sex itself, but actively being unable to have sex but still wanting to emotionally fulfill a partner. "An Object Lesson" shows a side of kink that you don’t always get to see, and I absolutely admire it for doing so. It may not have gotten a fire burning like some of the other stories did, but I don't think it was meant to. It left a deeper emotional impact than expected from the average erotic story, and it should be highly praised for doing so. “Buzzed” - Thurston HowlThis story might be a bit shocking: pun seriously intended. How much excited tension can be built when you’re going to be surprised by some kinky sex? What happens when you’re tied up and suddenly realize your prostate is about to be zapped into orgasmic bliss? If the answer is you get incredibly excited, this story is likely for you! Though I’m not sure about such heavy inebriation when managing e-stim play like this, I can understand the fantasy fueling it easily. For sure a read for those that love a bit of zap in the bedroom! “All Work and No Play” - TJ MindeNothing like a bit of sci-fi technology to make for a sexy scenario to explore. We’ve all heard jokes about how to think with portals, but this story takes it to a whole new level. I’ve read plenty of stories with a remote-controlled vibrator, trying to take a phone call during sex, things like this. It’s ramped up to a spicier level when there’s a literal portal so you might have your dick touched, sucked, or more at any moment even if no one around you knows it’s happening. Definitely a hot read! “The Br’er Necessities” - BanWynn OakshadowI have to be honest, this story just wasn’t a hit with me. I couldn’t really focus on what might be a hot story while trying to sift through that language and the uncomfortable feelings surrounding the presentation of black stereotypes this style of writing seems to evoke. However, I must also be honest and say it was written quite impressively to look like what you might expect out of a classic Uncle Remus story but in a more adult content. While this story isn’t for me I still can admire it succeeding telling the story it wanted to tell in the style that was intended. “Gift of the Goddess” - Mog MoogleOn the surface, it might seem like someone who has a lot of responsibilities in life and is in control or large projects would seem like a likely dominant in the bedroom. However, as this story shows, usually those that bear the most weight need a bit of time where they must worry about nothing but pleasing a mistress.I loved seeing what looks to be a timid mouse putting a lion king through his paces like this. It was a strong story that certainly kept me both intrigued and excited throughout. “God’s Plan” - Tyson WestIn good erotica, there is not just a sexy scene but a strong plot surrounding it. This story does that in spades. There’s a lot of built-up shame and confused feelings for those whose lives are firmly embedded into religious lifestyles. I wasn’t sure something like this could turn into a good sexy tale, and I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. It’s not often a piece of erotica is going to also provide a lot emotionally to ponder over after reading. This story manages to do just that! “Centerpiece” - Madison “Makyo” Scott-ClaryThis may have been my favorite story in the anthology. It not only thoroughly describes setting a scene, consent checks, and everything else that makes for a great kinky experience but also is tantalizing. It gives a wonderful look into subspace and helps draw you into it as you read. After all of the build-up, you’re left with nothing but a sexy tease. Even the story itself leaves on a naughty dominant note! I’ll likely be reading this one again. For purposes that you might suspect. “Short Staffed” - TelevassiFor some, a scene or a moment with a dom is when they can truly feel free, feel like themselves, and feel so shame. (Unless humiliation is your kink, but that’s not quite the same.) For this stallion, recently free from living in the Soviet Union and in a state that recently has made sodomy legal, there’s a lot of things that they want to express and explore. Thankfully a wonderful dancer at the club they work at named Yvetta decides to give him a personal dancing lesson. One that involves a little less dancing and a bit more hot action. This story is quite poetic to end on, as you finish the book the last characters you read in it are just about to begin a grand adventure. Such a good read!---Knotted Volume II has a wide variety of stories in enough settings that there should be something for anyone to enjoy that wants to feed their kinky side. The stories on these pages brought me some personal pleasure from reading, if you catch my drift. I have to recommend this one to anyone wanting something a bit spicy to read either by themself or with a partner. Who knows what naughty ideas you might want to try after giving it a read?
Long Way Home is Gre7g Luterman’s 5th adventure written in the Hayven Celestia Universe. It’s also his first Hayven Celestia book with an erotic focus. Here’s your big warning that this review discusses adult content only suitable for those 18 and older!With that out of the way, this story follows Jungo, a geroo on the cusp of adulthood still battling with raging hormones who has decided to leave his family farm to take a tour out in space. What looks to be only a two-year adventure quickly turns out to be a 10-year stint. After some shenanigans involving a pirate crew, the trip keeps becoming longer and longer. Despite this book being erotica, Gre7g has once again created a story clearly worth following. All ‘reading it for the plot’ jokes aside, this is truly a great piece of fiction all on its own which expands the Hayven Celestia universe in an interesting way. I wasn’t quite sure if it contained spoilers from Rick Griffin’s stories after Traitors, Thieves and Liars (Finals Days of the White Flower II) as Gre7g does have a mention at the beginning of the book that some canon things may be different between them as they write but just in case the far off ending for that series might have been alluded to in these pages.So does the book keep things hot and spicy despite the well written story? The answer still remains a yes! There’s M/F scenes, M/M scenes, and certainly a big moment with group sex! Did I mention there were zero gravity scenes? Because there’s some really creative zero gravity scenes. All of these are accompanied by gorgeous pieces of art by H. Kyoht Luterman which bring these scenes to life in a wonderful way. Geroo anatomy being different from humans, it was interesting to explore something foreign yet still written in a way to make even a human like me understand why a geroo would be excited over these different parts they might be dealing with. The other species included, the ringel, are a bit more like humans and easier to follow while also having an insatiable appetite for sex. This book captured my imagination so much I read it in a single day while being very happy I could do so in the privacy of my own bedroom for what might be obvious reasons. Gre7g has once again written a phenomenal work of sci-fi, and I hope to see him continue trying his hand at more adult works in the future. I would recommend this to any fan of sci-fi, especially fans of the Hayven Celestia universe, that would enjoy something to fire up their naughtier side.
Sometimes, Furry Book Review tackles what I often call "furry-adjacent literature." The book may not be directed specifically at the furry fandom as a market, but it might still appeal to furries. That is the case with Gregory Kimbrell's short book, The Ceremonial Armor of the Impostor. As the back-cover blurb states, this book is a combination of two sequences of long narrative poems, set respectively in the 16th century, focusing on the mercenary Sous-Terrain, and the 19th century, focusing on an aristocrat hunting down a lion furry.Largely, the work is Gothic surrealist, and its slow yet evocative style proves that. Sous-Terrain's narrative is a lot slower than the aristocrat's, and it felt a lot more cosmological. I found myself struggling to keep up with his plight, and I found myself struggling to care, too. Not much work is put into setting the scene, and the character stays an enigma throughout the book.The aristocrat's narrative however was a lot more involved and had a greater awareness of plot. Not just because of the sexy lion furry but also because of the first-person perspective of the piece and the attention to setting details. I really enjoyed that narrative all on its own. I had a much clearer goal in mind, and I found myself consistently more invested in his story than Sous-Terrain's.I probably would not recommend this book to the average furry. But if you love Gothic lit, this book is definitely up your alley. I ain't lion.
Boldly Going Forward is a charity anthology benefiting the ALS Association. Recently released by Goal Publications, it features stories from eight authors all surrounding space and exploring the great unknown. Full Disclosure: I am one of the authors featured in this book. However, I will not be letting any bias get in the way of my reviews, nor will I be offering much more than a synopsis for the story I wrote in order to be fair.Now without further ado, let’s talk about the stories and then get into what kind of reader this book would be a good fit for.Somewhere Over The Ocean - Mary E. LowdOnce again Mary shows off her prowess when exploring a sci-fi universe. This story shows a world where all life lives underwater getting its first visitors from space. It is brief but powerful prose; a perfect story to start the anthology.For The Greater Good - TJ Minde A classic case of a holodeck, in this case called the Sim, is what sparks this story to life. It’s fun to see a sci-fi story still get to take place in somewhat of a medieval setting through use of the Sim. It also was an interesting examination of what the world might be like with that kind of technology.This was definitely a good read, watch out for a twist ending!Shooting For The Star - SofoxCan you imagine searching for a new planet to call your home? What if you had volunteered for the task without any real choice in the matter? If you lived on a comfortable starship your entire life, would you actually want to leave? Sofox’s story takes a look at all of these questions as a generation ship is finally to the most important part of its mission. Being able to tackle so many themes in such a strong manner, all of it in a short story no less, is quite impressive! It’s always wonderful to see a story packing so many emotions and deep thoughts to consider within its pages. A New Star - Linnea CappsWe’ve all seen stories of aliens invading Earth, but what happens when the humans are the invaders? This story looks at what happens to the tribes of cats inhabiting a planet and the different ways they adjust to these new invaders.It wouldn’t be fair for me to rate my own story as I obviously quite enjoy it, but I hope anyone that picks up the anthology enjoys reading it as much as I did writing it!The First Stand - Jaden DrakusCould you potentially wage literal war against the one you love? This story looks at Colt, one of the last pilots possibly available after a massive surprise attack against their space station. There’s a serious possibility the only reason he was among the surviving crew was a strange mission they were sent on before the attack, potentially arranged by his boyfriend who’s fighting for the other side.This story does a fantastic job of putting you into the cockpit for a thrilling space battle all while Colt has to tackle some very tough emotional decisions. Overall a strong story that was a joy to read!The Dunes of Henereth - Thomas “Faux” SteeleWhat happens when a war hero lives so long no one even remembers to pay their pension? Ilex, an immortal, still needs to eat even if he’s lived more years than most can count as he finds himself in a desert to make enough credits so he can return to the colder home he desires. Getting to learn bits and pieces about the sentient life living on this planet and seeing how Ilex is able to discover more than the corporate backed soldiers before him have is an interesting ride with a satisfying, but slightly abrupt ending. Distress Signal - Nenekiri BookwyrmA clockwork dragon sent on a mission through the stars? It’s not as unlikely as you think. This story follows Rimor as he tries to save the doctor that saved his life after a major accident years ago. While we don’t really learn details about the accident itself, we do see how it affects his current life through isolation and an inability to do things he was once able in the past.I can say for certain the end surprised me in a very pleasant way. This was a fun read, and I would love to see more adventures like Rimor’s across the written cosmos. Fastest Route - Sonriah ThaiseImagine racing through space on a ship so fast the g-forces could literally knock you out. Now imagine piloting that ship with a noisy politician as your cargo, trying to get him to an important meeting. This is what Amaka is set to do in this story.The story, while short, manages to cover a lot of what must be a complicated political battle going on in the universe while delivering a great story. An excellent way to finish off the anthology.---Of course this book already gets my recommendation for its profits being for a cause worthy enough to support all on its own. However, the stories more than make for a good purchase either way. This anthology is good for any fans of sci-fi that like the idea of exploring several different cultures and what exploration means to them. This anthology will leave your imagination drifting through the cosmos in the best of ways.
Tri-Galactic Trek features ten short stories that are re-imaginings of a certain episodic science fiction television franchise. The diverse furry crew of the Initiative travels though space on scientific and diplomatic missions, seeking out first contact with new species and opportunities to explore and advance their own knowledge of their universe. Now all their adventures are collected into a single volume for the reader’s enjoyment. Lowd’s Tri-Galactic Trek is equal parts love story to the original material and wildly original interpretation through a fully furry lens. It is an homage, both faithfully recognizable and delightfully original, and should appeal to any furry scifi reader, but most especially to those who are fans of the original material. Somehow each character is clearly identifiable and yet brilliantly translated into a furry counterpart. The plots are familiar and yet creatively shifted so as to be new and exciting, and the whole world has a unified, fully developed feeling that makes it a solid, independent entity in its own right. Though all the stories/episodes are well written and beautifully translated, a few that really stood out as spectacular to me were: "Fact and Myth," "Rapscallions," and "Encounter at Hoppalong." All the stories are expertly threaded together, referencing one another just enough to give continuity and a sense of a longer timeline. The only quibble I had with the whole collection was the story "Mewly" which felt incomplete and more like an opening scene than a full episode. Though the story’s resolution is mentioned in a later installment, the abrupt ending was jarring enough that I would have liked it to be its own complete episode. I highly recommend Tri-Galactic Trek to any furry reader, any fan of science fiction or of Lowd’s other works, but most especially to all the furry trekkies out there, for whom I believe this book is an absolute must read.
Restless Town is a collection of stories written by Madison Scott-Clary. Published in various anthologies and places, they all cover different themes, ideas, and lives of different people. A quick warning before we get onto the full review: many of the stories contain moments of sexuality among other themes that may be difficult for certain readers. All of these are mentioned in the book itself before you start reading which is a wonderful touch. For this review, I’ll give a short content warning before the mini-review of each story for the readers here. With this in mind, let’s get started!"The Fool" There are a lot of ways to potentially learn some deep truths around oneself. One of the more mystical options could be through tarot cards. The protagonist of this story walks in to get a reading, or, to be more accurate, is led through reading the cards and what they might mean. A lot of meaning can be drawn from the art on the cards, and the protagonist walks out not only with a better understanding of themselves but also a person who can listen and help them on their way."Disappearance" - CW: Sex, Body ModificationWhat would life be like if you left everything you knew behind? Your name, your clothes, your car, everyone you ever knew, gone where you could never return? This story takes a look at what that might be like and the motivations someone might have to want to do so. Sometimes after you read a full book you need time before starting the next to take in the enormity of what you just read. This short story packs in more of a punch than some novels I've read prior. If you bought this collection for this story alone, you'd have your money's worth. Absolutely phenomenal to read!"Fisher"This story is short and to the point so we'll do the same for this part of the review. A walk a day keeps anxiety at bay, or so this fisher thinks. A good examination of emotions surrounding grieving and anxiety."Centerpiece" - CW: Sex, BondageFrom a purely analytical standpoint, this story is a marvelous examination of kink communities. It describes setting a scene, includes lots of consent checks, and is an excellent look at what sub-space is like.From the standpoint of wanting a saucy story to read? By the end, you'll be left shivering, wanting to see the whole scene play out only to be left with a tease. This is a perfect example of what adult writing should look like."You're Gone" - CW: Death, Abuse, MedicalThis examination of grief and letting someone go who has passed away is powerful. It puts the reader into this position powerfully by being written as if it's through text messages. It makes it feel so real and immersed to the point where empathy becomes easier. Be prepared to cry when reading this one. I know I did."Overclassification" - CW: SexAn otter learns what life is like for those that don’t color inside the neat tidy lines they often covet. Sometimes all it takes is one person, one meaningful interaction, to change the way you view life. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and won’t say anymore to keep the surprises fresh. Make sure to read it!"Acts of Intent"I’m unsure if it was the unique writing style that cut the story up into flashbacks and current time in almost every other paragraph, but I had a harder time following this story. It seemed interesting, about an artist trying to bring a pyro art piece to life, but I couldn’t entirely figure out what was being drawn or the exact reason why. This was the weakest story for me in the anthology, but to be fair all of the other stories were quite incredible, so it had tough competition."Every Angel Is Terrifying" - CW: Sex This story follows a collie struggling to understand life and himself all the while battling against bipolar disorder. Like most of the stories in this anthology, the writing draws you in, giving glasses to witness what that life must be like through a lens of empathy. A powerful and emotional read with a hopeful ending."What Defines Us"This story is told through a series of emails as a son talks to his mother about issues facing his relationship with his wife. They both don't want a repeat of the past, how divorce ended up being with him as a young boy. As a Mom myself, reading this struck a cord, especially when they talked about how children react during divorces. A worthwhile read for sure!"A Theory Of Attachment" - CW: SexThis story looks at navigating a complicated relationship structure like polyamory while dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder. The intersectionality of mental health and polyamory isn’t something I’ve seen properly explored in a story before. Not to mention seeing such a frank and honest look at what the beginnings of a poly relationship can look like. It was refreshing reading something so different and approached so well. ---I expect that I will be carrying these stories in my heart and mind for quite some time. While not as heavy on anthropomorphic themes as some books I’ve read, the characters that drive these stories forward are all vibrant and fantastic. Restless Town gets a recommendation from me for anyone that wants to deeply examine emotions and understand the world from a different perspective. These stories have so much to offer, I look forward to reading more works from Madison Scott-Clary in the future!
Jeremy Newton’s A Wolf Asunder is roughly the size of a Lord of the Rings novel, but it moves so quickly I barely noticed the length. The first of the author’s Shadow Wolves series, it takes place in a high-tech kingdom of lupine anthros called “wolfen” divided between four tribes. We open with the protagonist, a “Fenrir” super soldier of the Feron tribe named Kaltos, as he receives an order from Warlord Fennis to slaughter a patrol from another tribe. If you’re having trouble keeping all the “fe” names straight, you’re not alone. Realizing that carrying out that order would start a war between the tribes, Kaltos defies orders and deserts, crossing the border and turning himself in to the neighboring tribe. From there he gets embroiled in inter-tribal politics that take him to the capital and a meeting with the young queen. Then they work out a plan to head off a war embroiling all four tribes by letting Kaltos take the fall for the incident, though the queen’s attempt to shield him from real punishment is partly derailed. And that’s just halfway into the volume; afterwards there’s a two-year timeskip where Kaltos has taken up work as an anonymous caravan guard, until he accidentally draws the crown’s attention again.Spoilers ahead:While on a job, Kaltos comes across across an older male wolfen beating a younger female and decides to put a stop to it. Unfortunately the male turns out to be a politician Kaltos met after his defection and he files a complaint that threatens to expose the queen’s ruse. Said politician is soon found dead in his apartment, but his daughter Jezelaire becomes obsessed with the rogue Feron who saved her. When Jez and the royal guard track him down Kaltos decides he’s done hiding and enlists their aid in building his own private army, the Shadow Wolves referenced in the series title.Spoilers end.While this book bills itself as the start of a series, it could have easily been split into two, if not three novels by itself. The size of the volume aside, Kaltos’ trial seemed a natural stopping point even before the timeskip, after the timeskip it feels like an entirely separate episode in the series with all the new characters and events. I will admit it was an entertaining read with more action than many Schwarzenegger movies, and I will be looking out for the next installment. Kaltos seems to have a few “cliche action hero” traits, such as being practically unbeatable in a fight, oblivious to every female character crushing on him, and an unusual eye color (green), though some of it is justifiable by his being essentially a lupine version of Master Chief. Taken from his family at a young age and subjected to surgical and genetic modifications that made him very strong, but killed half his class, and given elite training that left him no time for a social life. At one point he claims that the Fenrir project made him unable to develop feelings for anyone, but next chapter he runs halfway across town into battle with another Fenrir to save Jezelaire. Newton seemed to be building the world as he wrote; I thought the four tribes were separate political entities until the royal guard showed up. I’m still unclear whether the world is post-apocalypse or somehow developed gas engines and genetic engineering with a quasi-feudal government that considers ranged weapons “dishonorable.” I will say that the Feron tribe seems to be an effective deconstruction of the “proud warrior race” trope, everybody else hates them and the only place they seem to be advanced is in unethical biomedical experiments, while their leader wants to start a war he’s unlikely to win.In all, A Wolf Asunder is an entertaining read, despite whatever flaws the story and characters might have. Kaltos’ arc is clearly not complete, and I’ll be keeping watch for the next installment.