Journalist Maria Margaronis interviewed furry fans at a Cambridge Furs meet last month for next week's episode of The Why Factor, a programme exploring "the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions" through the voices of those involved.
In stories, cartoons, advertisements and our everyday lives, we project human thoughts and emotions onto animals—and claim their strength and style for ourselves in the brand names of cars and cosmetics. Why do we do that, and what do we get out of it? Can we ever know what animals really feel? And are we as different from other species as we like to imagine? Maria Margaronis meets the furry fandom, who put on “fursonas” and cartoonlike animal costumes to meet and socialise. Neuroscientist Bella Williams upends some assumptions about animal brains and explains how to read a mouse’s facial expression; children’s author Michael Rosen sportcasts an insect race. Farmer Helen Reeve reflects on how she feels about eating her own cows. And historian Harriet Ritvo poses a thornier question: what makes our species think we are secure in our dominance over the natural world?
The 18-minute show "Animals Are Us?", which received input from furry artists, fursuiters, fursuit-builders and other fans, is to be broadcast on the BBC World Service on Friday 24 at 18:32 and 23:32 GMT (EDT+4, BST-1), with re-broadcasts on Sunday (21:32) and Monday (04:32, 12:32).
Update (23 April): A four-minute clip featuring several furs is available (transcript below).
Update 2 (24 April): The full episode has been published. There is no additional content featuring furries, but you may find the rest interesting, as it's all about anthropomorphism.
This is book 4 of The Fall of Eldvar by Jim Galford. I reviewed book 1, In Wilder Lands, here in March 2012; book 2, Into the Desert Wilds, in November 2012, and book 3, Sunset of Lantonne, in February 2014.
The first two are a two-part subseries, “the wilding story arc”, within the larger saga of The Fall of Eldvar. Sunset of Lantonne is a standalone adventure. The Northern Approach, which debuts at Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2014 this month, continues roughly where both Sunset of Lantonne and Into the Desert Wilds end. The planned book 5, Bones of the Empire, will wrap up and complete the series.
What this means is that it is assumed the reader is familiar with the events in at least Sunset of Lantonne. The Northern Approach begins almost a year after the fall of Lantonne at its climax; but in terms of the action it follows immediately, without any synopsis.
Eldvar is a world of humans, elves, dwarfs, talking dragons and more, including wildings which are anthropomorphic animals. The story’s focus on the wildings is why the novels of The Fall of Eldvar qualify for review on Flayrah.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2014, trade paperback $13.99 (432 pages), Kindle $2.99.
This is Book 3 of The Fall of Eldvar. I reviewed Book 1, In Wilder Lands, here in March 2012, and Book 2, Into the Desert Wilds, in November 2012. Those were a two-part subseries, “the wildling story arc”, within the larger saga of The Fall of Eldvar. Galford said on his website that Book 3 would feature new characters, an elf and a human; and no wildlings (furries). Yet Darryl Taylor’s cover for Sunset of Lantonne clearly features Raeln, a seven-foot tall wolf wildling, with Ilarra, his elf “sister” by his side. Did Galford lie?
Not exactly. The main characters in Sunset of Lantonne are Ilarra, the young elf wizard-in-training, and Therec, the older human Turessian necromancer. Raeln is only a supporting character – but you woudn’t guess it from this cover. Or from the first chapter, which plays up Ilarra and Raeln. Galford debuted Sunset of Lantonne at Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2013. Featuring a furry on the cover was a good marketing move.
And a justified one, if it will get furry fans to read Sunset of Lantonne. It is an excellent novel; Raeln is a memorable character even if he is not the star; and there are plenty of wildling incidental characters. Read it; you will not be disappointed. Also read Jim Galford’s website, especially if you have not read In Wilder Lands and Into the Desert Wilds yet. It contains a tremendous amount of background information on this series.
On August 9, Planes hit the movie theaters, while Wings hit the Walmart video bins. Jerry Beck has the story and a trailer on his Animation Scoop website. YouTube has the complete Wings, but in the original Russian.
What is the similarity between them? They both feature anthropomorphized airplanes. What is the difference? Quality. This may seem like an ironic comment considering that most of the reviews of Planes criticize it for its lack of the quality of Pixar’s Cars (despite the Disney label, it was subcontracted to Prana Studios in Mumbai for production), but check out the Wings trailer for yourself. Wings is vastly inferior to Planes. Technically, anyhow. Plotwise? Ehhh…
- 78% of females and 96% of males report viewing furry porn. Both groups underestimated both figures by 8-12%.
- Increasing furriness indicated a tendency to use fantasy for various purposes, including escapism, but didn't indicate blurring of reality, or an inability to have fun, self-motivate, fulfil needs, socialize, or cope with problems without fantasy.
- Female furs had less sexual roleplay, owned less pornography, viewed it less frequently, and felt it had less influence on their joining the fandom. They also saw pornography as more openly discussed within the fandom.
- Furries overestimated the positivity of both male and female furs towards furry porn: males tended to be positive or mixed, while over 20% of females had a negative view. 51% of furs preferred porn over general furry artwork; 17% had the opposite view. ~55% saw non-furry pornography in a negative light; some males only view furry porn.
- Non-brony furs rated bronies less positively (50) than furries (79) or non-furs (61).
- Furries are very liberal on social matters, but more moderate on economic topics.
- Therians anthropomorphise animals more than non-therian furs; those strongly identifying as furries gave human characteristics to both regular and stuffed animals.
Around half of those participating chose to join the group's three-year longitudinal study.
Sorry to interrupt fun stories about comics and cartoons, but the Anthropomorphic Research Project story suggests some want to know what furryness means. Let me throw in a topic sharing an abstract concept with the fandom.
Anthropomorphism is often imagined from our human point of view (attaching human characteristics to something non-human). But the concept can exist apart from ourselves, when animals see themselves in objects. The way it works for them can reveal more about us.
Harry Harlow was a psychologist who experimented with monkeys. In the 1950's and 60's, he gave his subjects "surrogate" mothers built from different objects, to see how they would behave, and learn about care-giving and companionship in social and cognitive development. PBS says about his famous experiment:
He took infant monkeys away from their real mothers, giving them instead two artificial mothers, one model made of wire and the other made of cloth. The wire model was outfitted with a bottle to feed the baby monkey. But the babies rarely stayed with the wire model longer than it took to get the necessary food. They clearly preferred cuddling with the softer cloth model, especially if they were scared. (When the cloth model had the bottle, they didn't go to the wire model at all.)
The Cartoon Brew has a preview list of animated features due out in 2013; at least those announced so far – some with trailers.
Pixar story artist Jeff Pidgeon (Toy Story, etc.) is a toy fanatic. Not just a collector – he designs his own. After designing and manufacturing Happy Beaver and Trickster Fox, he has decided to open an online store to sell them and others that he will create. They will also be available at “select boutiques”.
Wired has an extensive interview with Pidgeon and twelve closeup illustrations of his characters from their clay models through their finished forms.
That Disney will follow up its/Pixar’s CGI anthropomorphized Cars with the forthcoming CGI anthropomorphized Planes, starring Dusty, the old-fashioned single-prop crop-duster plane who wants to compete with the fastest jets in an around-the-world air race, isn’t exactly news – it was announced in June 2011 as going direct to video in Spring 2013. But now, according to Cartoon Brew, in the wake of the announcement of DreamWorks’ June 2013 Turbo, about the snail who wants to be an auto race track speedster, Disney has decided to make Planes a theatrical release, on August 9, 2013. At least the plane looks cuter than the snail.
This is not Disney's first anthro airplane. Remember Pedro, the little mail plane trying to cross the Andes in Disney's 1942 Saludos Amigos? You don't? Oh, well ...
Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology (Kindle), compiled by Fred Patten, is a collection of 14 science-fiction and fantasy stories from outside our fandom, focussing on humanity's interactions with intelligent animals (or animal-like aliens).
Fred introduces each story to put them into context, and the book's font is large and easy to read. The layout, however, could have benefited from having the authors and story titles printed along the tops of the pages. Without them, it's much harder to pick up where you left off, without using a bookmark.
The stories can be divided into two distinct time periods. Six were written between 1942-1962 (the tail end of SF's golden age); the rest are from 1991-2006. I was surprised that there was nothing from SF's new wave/experimental period in the 60s and 70s.
Unlike many of the other anthologies produced primarily for the furry fandom, Already Among Us draws on works by authors in the larger arena of science fiction, from the 1940s through the 2000s. The only "furry" author represented is Michael Payne--and with a story of his that appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction. While Already Among Us may have a little trouble getting beyond the furry audience, this isn't a problem with the story selection.
Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology
Edited by Fred Patten. Cover art by Roz Gibson.
Legion Publishing, June 2012. Hardback $18.99+$5 s&h, trade paperback $9.99+$5 s&h (389 pages); Kindle $8.99.
Compare: dronon's review of Already Among Us.
Is 'anthropomorphism' too vague for you? Wired’s Matt Simon explains the real meaning of anthropomorphism, in the first 1:40 minutes of this August 15th “Footnotes” video.
Ted R. Blasingame, creator and primary writer of the long-running Blue Horizon series has finished a three-year endeavor to write a new human/furman transformation tale called Sunset of Furmankind.
Completed in September 2011, this 510 page paperback is available through the author's Lulu Press bookstore, for ebook purchase from Lulu, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Books and Amazon.com in ePub and Kindle formats, and on the author's website to read chapter-by-chapter for free.
Follow one man's journey through psychological demons, pain and revelation through an unwanted transformation into the life of a beast destined to explore other worlds.
Entitled Menagerie, the art show features the work of nineteen local artists, who explore "the idea of anthropomorphism as a form of self-extension".
The exhibition, featuring images of a number of different species, runs until February 26. Entry is free.
We've all heard of bull and bear markets, but did you know there are many other animals used to represent stock market behaviors and the players that bring them about? The use of animals to describe behavior on Wall Street dates at the least to the 18th century, according to this article on NPR, which includes a list of several other animal terms.