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Review: 'Mindline', by M. C. A. Hogarth

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (3 votes)

Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth This is the conclusion of M.C.A. Hogarth’s The Dreamhealers Duology. I reviewed the first book, Mindtouch, here on September 1, 2013.

In that novel Jahir Seni Galare, the colorless elflike Eldritch esper, has just entered interstellar Seersana University. His roommate is Vasiht’h, a short, skunk-furred centauroid winged Glaseah. They are both espers, but Jahir is an involuntary telepath to whom the impact of other minds is painful. In the course of Mindtouch, the two aliens develop a strong friendship, Jahir learns to control his talent – somewhat – and the two graduate.

Jahir intends to use his telepathic talent to become the galaxy’s first xenotherapist, reading his patients’ minds to help heal them. The question is whether there is any danger of the esper medic’s becoming overwhelmed by his patient’s mind.

It would be just his luck to begin his residency by reporting to the hospital as a patient. Jahir Seni Galare, nascent xenotherapist, Eldritch noble and apparently complete lightweight, sat on a bench just outside the Pad nexus that had delivered him to the surface of the planet Selnor. He had his carry-on in his lap and was trying to be unobtrusive about using it as a bolster until the dizziness stopped. (p. 1)

Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, January 2014, trade paperback $15.99 ([1 +] 341 [+ 7] pgs.), Kindle $5.99.

Review: 'Claws and Starships', by M. C. A. Hogarth

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Claws and Starships by M.C.A. Hogarth When the results of Earth's genetic experiments fled their makers, they took their own name as they left humanity behind; centuries later, the Pelted have spread into a multi-world alliance of cultures and languages, cribbed from Terra or created whole-cloth. Claws and Starships collects six stories of the Pelted, ranging from the humor of a xenoanthropologist on the wrong side of mythology to more serious works considering the implications of genetic engineering in a far-future classroom seeded with the children of those laboratories. Come stamp your passport and visit the worlds of the Pelted Alliance in all their variety! (back-cover blurb)

If you want to say that I have a conflict of interest reviewing this collection as I wrote the afterword to it, go ahead. I have been a fan of M.C.A. Hogarth’s “Pelted Alliance” furry science fiction stories since I discovered them in YARF! and other furry fanzines in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I included one, “Rosettes and Ribbons” from Yarf! #58, January 2000, in Best in Show, the first anthology of furry fiction. I was glad to see this first collection of Pelted short fiction, along with six illustrations by the author, in an e-book in December 2011, and I felt honored to be asked to write this afterword, for this new trade paperback edition in June 2013.

Claws and Starships consists of the novella “A Distant Sun” and the five short stories “Rosettes and Ribbons”, “The Elements of Freedom”, “Tears”, “Pantheon” and “Butterfly”. These are the Pelted stories that do not feature Alysha Forrest, Hogarth’s feline-based Karaka’An woman, the main character in the series. The first Alysha Forrest stories were rewritten into Hogarth’s novel Alysha’s Fall (Cornwuff Press, September 2000), and she has starred in most of the Pelted short fiction since then.

But there have been these six other stories that show the Pelted universe is more than just Alysha’s adventures. Claws and Starships packages them together neatly for the fans of the Pelted universe, and of really good furry interstellar science fiction.

Illustrated by M.C.A. Hogarth, afterword by Fred Patten, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, June 2013, trade paperback $12.99 ([2 +] 203 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Sell it to the Cephalopods

Recently comic book writer and artist Simon Roy has made quite a name for himself with his science fiction series Prophet. Before that though, he was known for his shorter works — seven of which have now been collected in Jan’s Atomic Heart and Other Stories, coming late this March in trade paperback from Image Comics. In stories like “Jan’s Atomic Heart” and “Shipwrecked with Dan the Gorilla,”, Roy often shows humans interacting with aliens and other species in a very slice-of-life and social way. Check it out at Digital Spy.

image c. 2014 Image Comics

image c. 2014 Image Comics

Review: 'All Alone in the Night', by M. Andrew Rudder

Your rating: None Average: 3.4 (5 votes)

All Alone in the Night This is generally well-written, if poorly proofread. But the science/technology seems wonky. And the main character, Dr. Cooper Barnes, M.D., the civilian Chief Medical Officer of the International Space Program’s ISP Frontier in 2065, is surprisingly negatively introduced. Most novels with a medical protagonist state their long-range goal of eliminating disease and putting themselves out of business. Cooper complains on the first page that the last serious disease, ebola, has just been eliminated, and he is out of a job. When he is asked to become the head doctor on an exploration spaceship that will land on new planets with unknown diseases, he asks for medical supplies and trained assistants that are presented as arrogant demands rather than requests.

No one had come to see him in the last few weeks, except for those particularly stupid people convinced that they were sick, and just needed a doctor to tell them that they weren’t. (p. 1)

You can guess that Cooper does not have a good bedside manner.

Novels that feature unpleasant main characters that gradually become likeable are hard but not impossible to bring off successfully. Think of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately, M. Andrew Rudder is no Charles Dickens. You have to take it on faith, and the reviewer’s promise, that Cooper Barnes will become a better man.

Argyll Productions, July 2013, hardcover $24.95, trade paperback $17.95 (215 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $7.99.

Animation: The 'Clangers' are returning

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

From 1969 to 1972, BBC-TV presented a series of 26 10-minute stop-motion animated children’s episodes about the Clangers, tiny pink mouse-like denizens of another planet, and their cook, the Soup Dragon. The series was popular with British children and parents alike.

The Cartoon Brew has announced, in an article by Neil Emmett, that Clangers (or The Clangers) will make a comeback in 2015, with 52 new episodes for CBeebies in Britain and the preschool channel Sprout in the U.S. The new series will be produced in stop-motion animation of knitted puppets by Peter Firmin, the original puppet maker and puppeteer (now 84), with writing supervision by Daniel Postgate, the son of the creator and original writer, Oliver Postgate. The article contains one of the original 10-minute episodes.

Anime: 'Space Dandy' to blast onto Japanese TV in 2014

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

Space Dandy poster Space Dandy is cuming (pun deliberate) in January 2014 – but not to America.

The news is spreading that it was announced at guest Shinichir? Watanabe’s panel at Otakon 2013, August 9-11 in Baltimore, that he is directing Studio Bones’ new TV anime space comedy, Space Dandy, scheduled for broadcast next January in Japan.

This is exciting news because Watanabe is the brilliant director of Cowboy Bebop, and two of the sequences in The Animatrix, among others. Though Dandy may be human, there are plenty of anthropomorphic aliens in it, starting with Meow, his partner.

Watanabe said that this will be "not an anime to be taken seriously." Oh, you think!?

Review: 'Mindtouch', by M. C. A. Hogarth

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Mindtouch It is unfair to compare Hogarth’s novel set at a university in her Paradox universe with Pixar’s recently-released Monsters University, but the superficial parallels are obvious. Instead of the no-two-are-the-same monsters, there are the seeming-dozens of different species of the Pelted, and some humans, wandering about prestigious Seersana University. Instead of a big green eyeball and a blue-lavender furry monster as main characters, there are a pale, tall humanoid Eldritch and a short, furry centauroid winged Glaseah.

The big difference is that in Monsters University, the cast all look different but are all from the same culture. In Mindtouch, the different species are from different societies. The students may know intellectually that they are in for some “different” experiences at S.U., but it is still a shock when they happen.

Orientation began, as he had half expected, with a speech by the associate dean of the College of Medicine, of which the xenopsychology school was a part. He was one of the Seersa, the foxine Pelted who’d given the world its name, a lean and grizzled elder with salt-and-pepper fur and the intensity of a medic. Jahir listened to his monologue while marveling that he was actually here … sitting in a chair in an auditorium filled with aliens. The woman in front of him had silk-furred ears that were trembling from the effort of catching every word. The ends of the rows had spaces for centauroids to recline, or the more avian aliens to perch. He was, very definitely, no longer home, and if the stress of his danger at being so crowded was giving him a headache, well … it was worth it, for the newness of it. (pgs. 28-29)

Studio MCAH, July 2013, trade paperback $16.99 ([3 +] 408 [+ 7] pages), Kindle $5.99.

Welcome to Area Fifty-Something

After the box-office success of Monsters vs. Aliens in 2009, Dreamworks Animation green-lit a spin-off TV series to be developed for Nickelodeon. Well, now it’s here! Monsters vs. Aliens premiered on cable TV March 23rd with a special pilot episode, “Welcome to Area Fifty-Something”. Regular episodes begin on Saturday mornings starting this weekend.  B.O.B. the blob, Link the fish-man, Dr. Cockroach the bug-man, and Susan (aka Ginormica) the giant-lady just want to live a quiet life on their secret government base, but that’s hard to do when hostile aliens keep showing up — and doing things like kidnapping the President! Nickelodeon has an official web site for the show as well.


image c. 2013 Dreamworks Animation

Review: 'Alien Spidy' (PC)

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Alien SpideyMost game reviewers are looking into games like BioShock Infinite, but I’m not even going to try and stretch the question as to whether Big Daddy is anthropomorphic, cause I’m sure I’d get drilled. Maybe StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm? Well, zerglings get kinda close, but xenomorphy… are there any aliens out there that have more animalistic qualities?

Ah, here we go, a game about an alien spidy named… well, Alien Spidy. Who'd have guessed? Let's see if the game is out of this world, or just a space case.

Coming from the 24th-and-a-Half CEN-tury…!

The Duck Dodgers TV series — based, as if you didn’t know, on the Chuck Jones-directed cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century — ran on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005. [My, was it really that long ago?  Sheesh... Ye ed-otter] Besides the obvious cast of Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig as The Eager Young Space Cadet, and Marvin the Martian as the terrible Commander X-2, the show featured a host of Warner Brothers characters in bit roles — not to mention new characters like the dreaded Martian Queen. The regular voice cast included well-known voice actors like Joe Alaskey, Bob Bergen, Richard McGonagle, and John O’Hurley, as well as Michael Dorn (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Tia Carrere (as the Martian Queen). Now Warner Brothers Home Video have (finally!) released the first 13 episodes on DVD in a collection entitled Duck Dodgers – Season 1: Dark Side of the Duck. It’s available now in stores and on-line everywhere.


image c. 2013 Warner Brothers Animation

Motion picture: 'Escape from Planet Earth'

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Escape from Planet EarthIf Avatar could win the Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture in 2009, then Furry fandom should LOVE Escape from Planet Earth. More blue aliens! Furry aliens! A plot that will remind you of Planet 51! Lots of 7-11! Originally scheduled for a 2010 release but now due out from the Weinstein Company and Rainmaker Entertainment in Vancouver on February 14, 2013.

Maybe. The Weinstein Company is being sued for $50,000,000 over this movie, and a judge has ordered an advance private screening of it. Watch the trailer while it’s available.

M.C.A. Hogarth's 'Black Blossom' tops $4600 on Kickstarter

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (5 votes)

Nesthae, the Exception of the Ai-NaidarM.C.A. Hogarth is raising money on Kickstarter for print, e-book and audiobook editions of her fantasy of manners serial Black Blossom, sequel to The Aphorisms of Kherishdar and The Admonishments of Kherishdar (review), featuring the Ai-Naidar – a race of feline aliens.

Money raised is to go towards "cover art, layout; all the things that make a physical book great." Backer rewards include the book, e-book or audiobooks, calligraphy bookmarks, and related short fiction.

A week from conclusion, the fundraiser has passed several stretch goals, and stands at $4646 of its initial $1500 goal (with 95 backers).

Update (30 Aug): There are now 100 backers, for a total of $4770.

Short film: Loscon XIV's 'Clearance Papers'

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Did I ever tell you that I once wrote a movie script? It was Furry, too.

This was twenty-five years ago, in 1987. Clearance Papers was only a 9-minute amateur film – an embarrassingly amateurish amateur film – but for a two-man effort, it wasn’t too bad.

Dinosaurs vs. Aliens

Here’s a power-house of a collaboration! Barry Sonnenfeld, director of all three Men in Black movies (the third is coming up) has announced a new project: A graphic novel and movie to be called Dominion: Dinosaurs versus Aliens. Both the graphic novel and the movie script will be written by comic book writing superstar Grant Morrison, known for utterly re-inventing numerous comic book lines, including DC’s Animal Man. This is from Previews magalog: “When an alien invasion attacks Earth in the age of the dinosaurs, the planet’s only hope is the giants that roam the planet with, it turns out, a lot more intelligence than previously realized.” The graphic novel will be illustrated by Mukesh Singh (who previously teamed with Grant Morrison on 18 Days) and published by Liquid Comics later this year. A special preview of the graphic novel will be available for free (of course) on Free Comic Book Day, May 5th. No word yet on a release date for the movie, but Deadline.com has an extensive story on the project and an interview with Barry Sonnenfeld.

New book: 'Clays Beneath the Skies'

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Clays Beneath the SkiesM.C.A. Hogarth has released Clays Beneath the Skies, a short story collection featuring her furry aliens, the Jokka (who can be male, female or neuter and have a chance to change between sexes twice in their lives).

The collection includes Strange Horizons' 2002 Reader's Choice "Unspeakable," as well as four other previously published shorts and three new stories. Each is accompanied by a commissioned B&W painting. The volume also collects a glossary and chronology.

Hugo Award-winning editor Susan Marie Groppi, one of first editors to publish the Jokka stories, provides the foreword.