At first, the book cover resembles the Kokopelli rock-drawing designs from the American Southwest. But if you look closely, you'll note that there are hooves and horns and, by gosh, that's furry enough for me!
Luke loves two things: his land and Sally. He pours a lot of magic and effort into one of them. The other he pretends to just like as a friend. Nobody is fooled except Luke.
Cats and More Cats; Feline Fantasy Fiction, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Further Confusion 2016 in San Jose, California over the January 14-18 five-day weekend. The book can be pre-ordered online from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.
Cats and More Cats is a reprint anthology of 14 short stories and novelettes of feline fantasy fiction (“the best of the best”) from 1989 to the present, most of them out-of-print today, plus a new essay and an extensive bibliography of cat fantasy books. This is designed to appeal to both science fiction and fantasy fans, and all cat-lovers.
FurPlanet Publications, $19.95 (261 pages). Wraparound cover by Donryu. ISBN 978-1-61450-297-5
Here is another new animated feature that we aren’t getting in America, at least right now. The Cartoon Brew website has just posted this article about Savva: Heart of the Warrior, a new Russian animated feature that opened in second place in that country, and has since been released in Poland and is coming to other countries in 2016. An American voice dub has been prepared, but no American release has been scheduled yet.
The CB article includes the trailer and a half-dozen stills. Savva and many characters are human, but there are plenty of talking animals including Angee, a white wolf or werewolf.
While I could say that Song of the Summer King by Jess E. Owen is a very satisfying action adventure young adult book played straight (which is true; it follows a coming of age story formula and it knows it), there's a lot of subtle choices made by the writer which makes this book stand out: how inaction is in itself implicit action; how listening can appear to be a prophetic power to those who have never attempted empathy; how refusing to choose between two bad options can be a valid choice.
From the beginning of the novel, Shard lives passively: he's enthralled by a patriarchal society of fascist conqueror griffins who believe only the strongest survive. He lives in constant (well-founded) fear of never being trusted and eventual exile, which are his driving influences to seek strength and social accolades. But when Shard's own heritage gets foisted upon him, he has to choose between being comfortable or being ethically consistent with what he finds to be the truth, all the while reconciling his racial differences from the dominant griffin tribe.
Shard has to question everything when he discovers that the world is more complicated than he once thought, and that it is incredibly frustrating when those closest to him continue to live trapped in their oversimplifications about what it means to live a good life.
Spoiler warning: This review does discuss plot elements some may consider spoilers below the break.
Five Elements Press, 2012, $4.99 Kindle, $25 hardcover, $12.99 paperback (264 pages). Illustrated by Jennifer Miller.
Chinese animation is still getting erratic publicity in America. Despite the recent news about the forthcoming release of the Little Door Gods CGI movie on January 1, 2016, America has just learned of the theatrical release in Beijing on this October 14 of the family (children’s) CGI-animated feature Where’s the Dragon?, with a nationwide (in China) release on October 23.
The only news so far is from Animation World Network; it’s not even on IMDb yet. AWN’s announcement on October 12 says that Where’s the Dragon? is directed by Sing Choong Foo, co-produced by the DeTao Group and Treasure Tree Studios, Inc., plus Hong Kong's Where's the Dragon? Co., Ltd. and Colour Engineering Ltd., and distributed by a Hong Kong company, SMI Movie Distribution Company, Ltd.
Here is another anthropomorphic animated movie trailer! Little Door Gods may not seem anthro at first glance, but look at the frogs in the background. Then take a closer look at the main characters, especially Shen Tu (the fat guy).
These aren’t humans, they’re Chinese door gods (ménschén); the little anti-evil charms that the Chinese have traditionally posted at their front doors. Modern Chinese no longer believe in them and have stopped using them. Light Chaser Animation in Beijing has used this as its plot for this movie: what happens to the door gods in the spirit world when humans no longer believe in them? Brother door gods Yu Lei and Shen Tu are worried about being thrown out of work. The comic-relief Shen Tu is fatalistic about it, but Yu Lei determines to journey into the human world and cause enough commotion to prove to mortals that they still need the door gods.
Here is a “stealth” anthropomorphic animated feature that has just appeared. Psiconautas (Psychonauts), directed by Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero, and produced by ZircoZine in Santiago de Compostela & Basque Films in Bilbao, has just premiered at the 63rd (2015) San Sebastián Film Festival (September 18 to 26) on the 24th. No word yet on when or where it will be generally released.
Psiconautas is based upon the graphic novel by Alberto Vázquez. The synopsis is “Teenagers Birdboy and Dinky have decided to escape from an island devastated by ecological catastrophe: Birdboy by shutting himself off from the world, Dinky by setting out on a dangerous voyage in the hope that Birdboy will accompany her.” This may be an animated cartoon, but it is clearly not a “cute” film for children.
NSFW warning: The trailer does contain some violent imagery.
The Hollywood Reporter announced on May 13 that Wizart Animation in Moscow (business office) and Voronezh (animation studio) is producing The Snow Queen 3 for release in late 2016. Presumably this is in Russia, and it’ll come to the U.S. in 2017. Also presumably the cast will include Orm the troll and Gerda’s pet ermine Luta, since they were so popular in The Snow Queen and The Snow Queen 2: The Snow King.
The same Hollywood Reporter article announces that Wizart is pre-selling its own Sheep and Wolves featuring anthro wolves and sheep – it’s titled Volkii I Ovtsi (wolves and sheep), in Russian. Here’s the the English language for Sheep and Wolves.
The article continues, "Wizart will also be […] offering pre-sales for Urfin and His Wooden Soldiers (by Melnitsa Animation)."
The cover bears the line, The Fire Bearers: Book One, letting you know it ends on a cliffhanger. It is, in fact, the first volume of a trilogy.
In the prehistoric past, when men shared the world with anthropomorphized animal-gods, there were two very different brothers in a tribe. Clay, the older brother, respects and worships the old gods who control all men’s lives, while irreverent Laughing Dog mocks the unseen gods, and swears that he controls his own destiny. The brothers love each other, in their own ways, but their differences lead both to disaster.
Doto crouched in the forest, his clawed fingers pressing down beneath the grasses and bed of fallen leaves to touch the earth below. He went out, out, into the soil, into the trunks of the trees, the branches and leaves, the grasses and ferns. He felt the air swaying branches, the sunlight on the leaves. He felt the rodents skittering across the forest floor. […] He leapt from branch to branch and winged over the canopy. He spread himself out, farther and farther. Through the keen eyes of the birds and the considering gaze of a monkey clinging to a branch above, he could see himself, crouched on the ground far below, so still that he was nearly undetectable. […] All the surrounding life lived through him. But all was not right. There was an uneasiness in the forest, somewhere around the edges. Could great Atekye have risen herself up in the south of the forest, swelling her swamps to flood the forest floor once again? (p. 1)
Tooth & Claw is a new severely-anthropomorphic full-color comic book series from Image Comics, coming our way this November. Check out the preview pages over at Image’s web site. “Tooth & Claw, the exciting new series from bestselling writer Kurt Busiek (Marvels, Astro City), artist Benjamin Dewey (I Was the Cat, Tragedy Series), Eisner-winning colorist Jordie Bellaire (The Manhattan Projects, Pretty Deadly), and letterer John Roshell of Comicraft that was announced at Image Expo in July, will launch on November 5. The highly anticipated fantasy epic can best be described as Conan meets Kamandi with a Game of Thrones-style storytelling experience. In Tooth & Claw, a secret conclave of wizards brings a legendary champion forward through time from the forgotten past to save the world—with disastrous consequences. Featuring swords, sorcery, beast-wizards, gods, sprawling animal empires, golems of radioactive decay, crystalline badlands, con women, ancient armories, young love, mystery, blood and death and treachery and destiny… Tooth & Claw is the sprawling, world-building fantasy series readers have been waiting for.” It should be noted that this new comic is being marketed as aiming for mature readers — meaning it will not scrimp on the violence or the nudity. And this is from Image!
Another notable-for-furry-fans young adult fantasy adventure series from author Kevin Gerard: Conor and the Crossworlds. “A Boy, a Mystical Creature, and the Journey of a Lifetime . . . Conor: An innocent ten year-old boy, not unlike other boys anywhere . . . Purugama: Immense, powerful, magical, a towering champion of the crossworlds . . . A young boy subconsciously calls forth the power of the crossworlds creators. They send the mystical beast, Purugama, to accompany him on a fantastic journey. After revealing a number of possible futures to his young companion, Purugama prepares to return him to his home. His plans are interrupted when Drazian, Purugama’s mortal enemy, faces the immense cougar in a ferocious battle. The prize? Conor’s life, or death, depending on the ultimate outcome . . .” As with his other series Diego’s Dragon, the author has created a Conor home page that features video previews and lots of other bits of information. The series is published by Author House.
He Walks With Dragons is the first book in a new fantasy series of the same name by author and poet Stanley S. Thornton. As he points out, unlike your average fantasy series this does not take place in a fantasy land — it imagines dragons in our actual world, influencing human history and human evolution. “Draig, a boy on the verge of his manhood, is summoned to the majestic mountain by the Great Ones. There he finds out he is about to transcend the ages and risk his life to prevent the destruction of mankind. Born into the naïve innocence of ancient man, Draig lives a simple pastoral existence in a quiet, small village. But one day he is flung on a magical journey into a forbidden new world. There Draconos, a dragon, befriends the boy, training him in the art of warfare. From this day forward, the young boy finds himself in awe at the wonders the world holds for him. Not only has Draig become a man, but he is living like a dragon and learning their mystical powers… And when the time comes, will Draig be willing to lay down his life for the sake of saving the dragons? And when the dragons are gone, where will he go?” He Walks With Dragons and The Staff And The Orb, the 2nd book in the planned 4-book series, are available now. Visit the author’s web site to find out more about the series and when the next books are coming.
These are the first two collections of the wacky fantasy Slightly Damned full-page, full-color internet weekly comic strip by Sarah “Chu” Wilson. She has won the Ursa Major Award for both the Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work (these book collections) and for the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, for both 2012 and 2013. If you haven’t read “Slightly Damned” yet, these are a lot more fun than reading through the strip’s online archives a page at a time.
The back-cover blurb, which establishes the mood as well as the plot, says:
Rhea has a big problem: SHE’S DEAD. Too burdened with sin for Heaven or Purgatory, yet not quite bad enough for Hell, Rhea is sentenced by the grim reaper to the obscure Ring of the Slightly Damned. There she finds that death is only the beginning of her worries as she contends with dysfunctional Demons and their perplexing pets, a socially awkward Angel with a cute ‘n cuddly curse, a goofy god, and even… herself. The afterlife just ain’t what it used to be!
Slightly Damned, Book One, by Sarah “Chu” Wilson, Phoenix, AZ, Slightly Damned Comics/Orlando, FL, Ka-Blam Digital Printing, June 2012, trade paperback $39.95 (unpaged [276 pages]), digital download $4.99.
Slightly Damned, Book Two, by Sarah “Chu” Wilson, Phoenix, AZ, Slightly Damned Comics/Orlando, FL, Ka-Blam Digital Printing, May 2013, trade paperback $39.95 (unpaged [318 pages]), digital download $4.99.
Taboo is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)
It is rated NC-17.
Every society has taboos, from sacred vows which must never be broken to the limitations of sexual expression. These [fourteen stories answer] the question, "Which line would you cross?" (blurb)
This is a longer book review than usual, since it covers 14 individual short stories. If you don’t want to read a review this long, my critiques are all at the end.
Since this is a furry NC-17 anthology, you can guess that all fourteen stories feature explicit sex. Whether it fits the story or not.
"That Red Panda Girl" by Tarl "Voice" Hoch"
Raven, the almost-40 panther, is a high school teacher happily married to the beautiful nympho Holly the jaguar, who sets up some kinky sex activity for him almost every night. But that doesn’t keep him from lusting after one of his students, the red panda Leah. She’s gorgeous, she’s over 18, and she’s already unmarried-but-pregnant. Raven knows that a sexual liaison between a teacher and his student is taboo, and jeopardizing his relationship with his wife is really foolish. But Leah is also a nympho lolita, and she desperately wants him …
Illustrated by Kadath’s cover.
"Every now and again I sit back and wonder what it would be like if other animals could really fight back against the egregious violence to which we subject them in a wide variety of venues ranging from research laboratories and classrooms to zoos, circuses, rodeos, factory farms, and in their own homes in ours and in the wild. This thought experiment takes life in The Awareness and reflects their points of view, and it's clear they do not like what routinely and thoughtlessly happens to themselves, their families and their friends. By changing the playing field Gene Stone and Jon Doyle force us to reflect how we wantonly and selfishly abuse other animals and the price we would pay if they could truly fight back. This challenging book also asks us to reflect on the well-supported fact that we need other animals as much as they need us. It should help us rewild our hearts, expand our compassion footprint, and stop the reprehensible treatment that we mindlessly dole out." - Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado (quoted blurb)
Suspense/terror/horror stories in which all animals, or all of certain species, turn against mankind go back at least to Arthur Machen’s unreadable “The Terror” (1917). Probably the best-known is Daphne du Maurier’s “The Birds” (1952). I recently reviewed Steven Hammond's Rise of the Penguins (2012). In movies, the terror-animals have ranged from rats to all of the giant mutations like Them and Night of the Lepus.
How successful any of these are usually depends on two factors. The skill of the author (or the director) in building a mood of terror, and the plausibility of the reason given for the animals to turn against humanity. In The Awareness, both of these fail.
NYC, The Stone Press, March 2014, paperback $14.95 (ix + 221 [+3] pages), Kindle free.