The Ursa Major Awards have been running since 2001, and one of the more difficult categories to vote in has been "Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction", due to the works being scattered across various fanzines, magazines, con books and web pages. So I'm very glad that Fred Patten has edited together The Ursa Major Awards anthology: a tenth anniversary celebration, published by FurPlanet (2012), allowing us to read eleven stories from across the fandom collected under one cover. (341 p., ISBN 9781614500520)
The original idea was to print the winning short story from each year of the Awards, but because Kyell Gold has won the popular vote consecutively from 2006 to 2011, this felt a little unbalanced towards the other contributors, so only three of his works appear here. (It skips In between from 2008 and Bridges from 2010.)
To pad out the book a little more, three Ursa-nominated stories were also included. Most of the works are about 20-30 pages in length, with occasional illustrations from artists such as Synnabar, John Cooner and Vicki Wyman. The gentle, moonlit cover art was done by Blotch.
Weber gets a co-author in this second of Baen Books’ series of Star Kingdom books for Young Adults, and the sequel to Weber’s A Beautiful Friendship, reviewed here last October. This new series is a prequel to Weber’s immensely popular Honor Harrington series of military science-fiction. This new series is set about 350 years earlier, when the planet Sphinx is just being settled by humans. In A Beautiful Friendship, Honor’s ancestor Stephanie Harrington, then an 11-year-old precocious tomboy, discovers Sphinx’s six-legged empathetic treecats, and bonds with the one she names Lionheart, but whose own name is Climbs Quickly.
The (almost) equal time given to the treecats, who are background characters in the Honor Harrington novels, is what makes this series anthropomorphic.
Despite their name, treecats were not all that feline. For one, no Terran cat had ever possessed six limbs or a fully prehensile tail. Their build was longer and – beneath their fluffy coats – leaner. They were also larger, averaging sixty to seventy centimeters through the body, with their tails doubling the length. And, of course, no Terran cat had three-fingered hands with fully opposable thumbs.
Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, October 2012, hardcover $18.99 (287 pages)
On Friday, the Jim Henson Company announced the development of an animated feature film based on the Frog and Toad children's books.
Published between 1970 and 1979, the four books in the Frog and Toad series are Frog and Toad are Friends, Frog and Toad Together, Frog and Toad All Year, and Days with Frog and Toad. Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1933-1987), they chronicle the exploits of the amiable Frog and his curmudgeonly friend Toad.
M.C.A. Hogarth is collecting funding to publish a "how-to" business book aimed at creative types (writers, artists, crafters, etc); the book features topics ranging from day jobs to time management to metrics (sample chapters) and is illustrated throughout by three cartoon jaguars, "Artist," "Business Manager" and "Marketer."
Four days into the campaign, the project is 43% funded; "perks" on offer include PDF and paper copies, cartoon sponsor page placements, and personal consultations.
Update (20 May): The project has been cancelled.
E-commerce service PayPal has started a campaign to stop independent e-book publishers from including certain kinds of erotic content in their catalogs, should they be using PayPal to conduct business.
On Saturday February 18, PayPal began threatening to deactivate the accounts of indie book publishers and distributors, if they did not remove books containing certain sexual material – including themes and implied scenarios of: incest, pseudo-incest (including "daddy" fantasies, step-family), fantasies about non-consensual sex or rape, bestiality (widened to include non-human fantasy creatures), and BDSM.
The ban on "non-human fantasy creatures" has prompted some internet commentators to wonder where this leaves publishers of furry erotica, with Bernard Doove's chakats given as an example of what is banned under the new rules.
If you’re not busy flinging feathered folk at pig castles, you might check out these new Angry Birds tie-in books (from rovio.com, of course). How best to describe Angry Birds: Bad Piggies’ Egg Recipes? Here, we’ll let them do it: “Be a pig for a day, no worries in the world, no Angry Birds trying to knock you down. The kitchen is your pigpen and life’s good! So go ‘head, crack an egg or two and fling your awesome self to new levels of egg-cellence with these easy and fuss-free (for the most part) recipes, addictively fun activities and impressive party moves. From the classics to off the wall, these top-secret egg recipes will fill your tummy and tickle your brain!” You heard ‘em. Also available are the Angry Birds Big Red Doodle Book and Angry Birds Big Green Doodle Book, filled with fun drawing activities for Angry Birds fans of all ages.
It all started with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in 1992. Or did it? It presumably took a few years for the popularity of the movie, the 1997 Buffy TV series, its spinoff Angel, and all of their authorized merchandising calendars, CD soundtracks, cell phones, clothing, comic books, etc., to reach pop culture critical mass.
In 2007, I was asked to review the first four paperback novels in a series about Kitty Norville, a midnight radio talk hostess who is also a werewolf; and the various handsome vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, and “normal” human assassins [!] who come into her life.
This was my introduction to the paranormal romance genre. It seemed like around 2005, every paperback publishing company had started an annual series by a female author about a mid- or late-twenties woman who gets involved with sexy male supernaturals, usually vampires. Undead and Unwed; Tall, Dark & Dead; Bitten & Smitten; Love Bites; Sex and the Single Vampire; Magic and the Modern Girl, and How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire are some typical titles.
A couple of years ago, the paranormal romance spread to novels for adolescent girls. The difference is that the protagonists are teenagers or young-twenties with raging hormones, who either are or get involved with shapeshifters who turn into superficially ferocious but really gentle (to them) fuzzy animals. Cases in point: the Kindle-published Serengeti Shifters series, by Vivi Andrews, featuring hot young lion shapeshifters (“Warning: This book contains sizzling heat, adult language, no-holds-barred cat fights, and hot shifter lovin’ with an alpha male who takes inspired leadership all the way to the bedroom.” -- four novels so far), and the Granite Lake Wolves, by Vivian Arend, starring lusty young werewolves (also four books).
Tiger’s Curse (January 2011, hardcover $17.95 (402 [+ 31] pages); audio CD $18.24)
Tiger’s Quest (June 2011, hardcover $17.95 (479 [+ 5] pages), audio CD $18.99)
Covers by Katrina Damkoehler; art by Cliff Nielsen. NYC, Sterling Publishing Co./Splinter.
I have been a fan of Bill Willingham as a writer (his art is good but not spectacular) ever since he wrote and drew the Elementals comic book in the 1980s. I still think that Elementals vol. 2 #15, July 1990, is one of the most perfect superhero comics ever written, and I have been reading his Fables for DC Comics/Vertigo since it started in 2002. (The second story arc of Fables, “Animal Farm”, was on the ALAA’s Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List in 2002.)
But I’ll admit that I totally missed his first novel, Down the Mysterly River (Austin, TX, Clockwork Storybook, April 2001, 230 pages, 100 copies), when it came out ten years ago. Now Willingham has heavily revised it and it is published as a major children’s fantasy under Tor Books’ juvenile Starscape imprint, with twenty-five chapter heading illustrations and an endpaper map by his Fables partner, Mark Buckingham.
Starscape describes it as a “children’s book”. It is, but of the sort that has reviewers comparing it to the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, the Oz books, The Wind in the Willows, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, and others with lots of talking animals and/or are dramatic fantasy adventures – books that most Furry fans will have read. While I wouldn’t rate it quite as high as a classic, this is an adventure that readers of all ages will enjoy.
This is a straightforward copy of Kafka’s text, with just the descriptions of Samsa-as-an-insect changed to make him a kitten and to do kittenish things. “He lay in bed on his soft, fuzzy back and saw, as he lifted his head a little, his brown arched abdomen divided into striped bowlike sections.”
Upon seeing the picture of a woman in a fur hat and fur boa, “Samsa felt a powerful urge to leap upon the sample clothes and scratch at them thoroughly, but as soon as it had come, it passed.”
Since it’s the month of Halloween, now is a good time to review Clive Barker’s dark fantasy/horror novel Sacrament. Barker is a well-known horror novelist; perhaps not to Stephen King’s level, but if anything more respected by fans of the genre.
Sacrament is, like most horror stories, unusual. It deals with endangered animals and extinction, and I suppose it could be called a bit “green,” but that’s not why it’s of interest to furries. Lord Fox lurks in the pages of Sacrament, and he’s a different kind of furry fox, but strangely familiar.
Back in 2000, Darrell Benvenuto's new publication company Vision Books announced that it had commissioned a series of Furry novels called Tales of the Mornmist.
The first four, written by authors Paul Kidd, Elaine Cunningham, Jeff Grubb, and Mary Herbert (with contributions by Lynn Abbey, Ed Greenwood, and Robert J. King), had been completed and would be published one at a time.
Paul Kidd's The Rats of Acomar, illustrated by Terrie Smith, was published in October 2000 to unanimously favorable reviews. But then Vision Books disappeared. In 2006 Benvenuto promised in a press release that Vision Books would return and resume its planned publication schedule, but there has been no news since then.
If the other three authors had all completed their novels, what has happened to their unpublished manuscripts? Furry fandom has seemed to forget about them. Today, eleven years after The Rats of Acomar, is anything more known about them?
The first entry in a new teen series and the origin saga for the incredibly popular, multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling Honor Harrington adult science fiction adventures. Young Stephanie Harrington is none other than the founder of a pioneering family dynasty that is destined to lead the fight for humanity's freedom in a dangerous galaxy. [publisher’s blurb]
Yes, but this story isn’t entirely new. In January 1998, Baen Books published More Than Honor (review; YARF! #58), an anthology of three original novellas by different authors set in Weber’s “Honor Harrington” universe.
The lead novella was Weber’s own “A Beautiful Friendship” (pages 3-132), the beginning of this same story. It appears with minor expansions, retitled as “Unexpected Meetings”, as chapters 1 through 12 (pp. 3-129) of this novel.
The second part, “With Friends Like These…” (chs. 13-29; pp. 133-352), is an original sequel. This rewritten novel version is the first in Baen’s new Star Kingdom series of Young Adult s-f books.
I wasn’t as proactive as I thought I would be, and I’m pretty sure I missed a couple posted during the first of September, so apologies there. Otherwise, here was last month’s Newsbytes.
After a long journey, up-and-coming artist and writer Amy "Ringshadow" Meister (FA) has entered the publishing market with her first e-book, Rainbow in the Dark (originally named "Like a Rainbow in the Dark", as a tribute to the Ronnie James Dio song of the same name).
The story, set in an anthropomorphic/furry universe, concerns a closet-gay wolf-raccoon hybrid named Marcus Midnight, a fictional rock star, and his power-metal band Guillotine. After a successful musical career spanning twelve years and six hit albums, Marcus feels burned-out and extremely lonely.
Fell is the sequel to David Clement-Davies earlier book, The Sight. The Sight was an excellent book following a wolf family, living in Middle Ages Transylvania, as they struggled through a prophecy and learned to deal with a legendary power and the crazed aspirations of an ex-pack-member.
Fell claims to deal with the mixed destinies of a wolf, Fell, and a human child, Alina. In reality, Fell is relegated to a minor character in his own story, only getting about a fifth of the chapters, and the aspects that might have interested fans of The Sight have been vastly minimised.
Flayrah contains reviews of Clement-Davies' previous books The Sight and Fire Bringer (which is similar to The Sight but deals with a herd of deer living in Britain slightly after the events of that book). Another review of Fell, feeling pretty much the same way, is written by Darfix.