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Raccoon Steals the Galaxy! News at Eleven.

As we get closer to the summertime release of Marvel Comics’ Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we’re likely to see more and more of Rocket Raccoon — and his buddy Groot, the anthropomorphic tree. Next up: Marvel’s “first in-house original prose novel”, Rocket Raccoon and Groot Steal the Galaxy by Dan Abnett — one of the original creators of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2008. “Rocket Raccoon and the faithful Groot are the baddest heroes in the cosmos, and they’re on the run across the Marvel Universe! During a spaceport brawl, the infamous pair rescues an android Recorder from a pack of alien Badoons, Everyone in the galaxy, however, including the ruthless Kree Empire and the stalwart Nova Corps, seems to want that Recorder, who’s about as sane as a sandwich with no mustard.” Check out the interview with Mr. Abnett at Comic Book Resources, and check out Steal the Galaxy when it arrives in hardcover this July.

image c. 2014 Marvel Comics

image c. 2014 Marvel Comics

Reviews: Furry, anthro, and animal-related books of 2013

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

Roz Gibson reviews fiction of furry interest she read in 2013; her favorites included:

You Remind Me of the Babe

Next month Archaia Press is re-releasing the novelization of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, the 1986 fantasy feature (with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly) which was later adapted as a novel by A.C.H. Smith — and illustrated by well-known fantasy artist Brian Froud, who of course also designed the movie and many of its characters. This new hardcover edition features a brand new collection of Froud’s goblin artwork and sketches for the film, recently uncovered, as well as notes and sketches by Jim Henson himself. USA Today has the story on this and other Jim Henson-inspired projects currently in the works at Archaia.

image c. The Jim Henson Company and Archaia Press

image c. The Jim Henson Company and Archaia Press

Voting begins as 2013 Ursa Major Awards ballot released

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Ursa Major Awards banner by EosFoxx Here is the final ballot for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards. The voting is among the five titles in each category getting the most nominations. In several categories, there are six finalists because of ties for fifth place. In the Best Short Fiction category, only four finalists are listed because of too many ties for fifth place.

Voting is now open. Due to a technical issue, nominators will need to acquire a new key. The deadline is April 30.

As is not unusual, there were so many nominations for the fourth, fifth, and sixth place nominees in most categories that one more nomination could have made the difference between a title’s getting on the final ballot or not. Please nominate next year.

The 2013 Ursa Major Awards will be announced and presented at a ceremony at the CaliFur X convention, May 30-June 1, 2014, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, 18000 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92612.

2013 Ursa Major Awards nominations about to close

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Ursa Major Awards Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic movies, novels, comic strips, games, etc., will close on February 28. Voting for the winner will begin on March 15th and will close on April 30. The awards will be presented at CaliFur X on May 30 to June 1, at the Irvine Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California.

If you have not nominated yet, you have only a few more days to do so. All titles first published or released during the 2013 calendar year are eligible. The awards are given in eleven categories: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game. The final ballot includes the top five titles nominated in each category.

To nominate (by February 28), and to vote (March 15–April 30), go to ursamajorawards.org. The 2014 Recommended Anthropomorphics List will be posted after March 1.

Review: 'Sunset of Lantonne', by Jim Galford

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Sunset of Lantonne 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.

Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2013, trade paperback $14.99 (545 pages), Kindle $3.99. Edited by Tricia Kristufek.

Review: 'The Cat's Eye Pub', by James Robert Jordan

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)
The Cat's Eye Pub (front cover)

3 years after the events of Bound to Play, chakats Midsnow, Blacktail, and their family have made the move and immigration to Chakona the self proclaimed home world for the chakat species.

With intentions of opening their own business they are unaware of the many obstacles and challenges they will face. All while Midsnow's troubled past atempts [sic.] to catch up to hir." (back-cover blurb)

CreateSpace, June 2013, trade paperback $19.95 (308 pages), Kindle $7.99. Illustrated.

The Cat's Eye Pub, like Bound to Play and the forthcoming A Chakat in the Alley, is set (with permission) in Bernard Doove's Chakat Universe. It features those hermaphroditic centauroid felines, along with the humans, Caitians (bipedal felines), Rakshani (bipedal like Caitians but taller and more tigerlike), skunktaurs, and other species of Doove's 24th-century interstellar civilization.

The Ladies and Their Cats

Somehow we missed these! Back in 2011, author Rael Bayellis released not one but two erotic fantasy novels (or as the author calls them, paranormal romances) on line. Both are set in a modern world that also features magick, fey folk, wizards… and shadow cats, winged feline spirits. In Helen and the Shadow Cat, a bored housewife fantasizes about an affair with a shadow cat she passes one day — unaware that he has his eyes on her as well! And in Allison & Tiberius, a young college student from a backwater town observes a shadow cat hovering outside her dorm room window one day — and thus begins her adventures. More books in the Shadow Cat series have followed since then. Remember, these books are decidedly for adults only! The author’s works can be found in electronic form at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


image c. 2014 Rael Bayellis

Arraborough releases free online comic book

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Eddie Drueding's Arraborough series (books one and two published by Melange Books in 2012 and 2013; book three due in spring/summer 2014) began as a comic book hobby when the author was an adolescent.

From ages 12 to 24, he created hundreds of issues and thousands of pages of story that thirty years later became the basis for the novels.

The author recently scanned a representative sampling of those comics and they are available for free online viewing (70Mb PDF).

2013 Ursa Major Awards nominations open

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Ursa Major Awards Nominations for the 2013 Ursa Major Awards are now open. The awards, voted upon in 2014, celebrate the best anthropomorphic literature and art first published during the previous calendar year.

The awards are selected by a two-stage process of nominating and voting. Members of the public send in up to five nominations in each of the eleven categories. The top five nominees in each category (more in case of a tie) are then presented on a final ballot for a public vote.

The eleven categories are: Motion Picture, Dramatic Short Work or Series, Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work, Graphic Novel, Comic Strip, Magazine, Published Illustration, Website, and Game.

Many nominations are likely to come from the 2013 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List, which has been built up through prior recommendations. However, inclusion on the List is not necessary for nomination if a work is otherwise eligible.

Review: 'Wereworld: War of the Werelords', by Curtis Jobling

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Wereworld: War of the Werelords It’s over! This is Book 6 and the conclusion of Jobling’s Wereworld series, which began with Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, and continued through Rage of Lions, Shadow of the Hawk, Nest of Serpents, and Storm of Sharks.

The Wereworld Young Adult series is set on the island-continent of Lyssia on a fantasy world, in which each of the kingdoms and their dutchies, counties, and baronies are ruled by a Werelord who can transform into an animal, including birds and fish. School Library Journal has called the series “Game of Thrones for the tween set”.

It could also be called the Lyssian civil war saga. The island-continent of Lyssia is divided into seven kingdoms (see Jobling’s map), often called the Seven Realms, dominated by Westland which was ruled by the wolflords.

A generation before the series began, King Wergar of Westland was murdered and the dynasty of the wolves was overthrown by the lionlords, whose leader, Lionel, became the new King of Westland and began exterminating the wolflords. The other six realms of Lyssia, each ruled by a different werelord dynasty – bears, boars, and others – grumbled but accepted the new order.

The Penguin Group/Viking, October 2013, hardcover $16.99 (xvii + 503 pages; map by the author), Kindle $9.78.

Anthropomorphics Reading List: November 17 update

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Ursa Major AwardsThe Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association, which administers the annual Ursa Major Awards, has updated the 2013 Anthropomorphic Reading List to include the titles recommended by furry fans through November 17. This list is often used by fans to nominate in the next year's Awards.

There are two months left to add your favorites of the year to the List. All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, short fiction, other literary works, graphic stories, comic strips, magazines, published illustrations, websites, and games) first published during 2013, if they are not already on the list.

Send in your recommendations. Read the List to see what other fans have recommended. Have you seen all nine published illustrations, for example? What have you been missing?

Review: 'Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana', by Mary E. Lowd

Your rating: None Average: 4 (4 votes)

Otters In Space: The Search for Cat Havana Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana by Mary E. Lowd is a short novel that received a 2010 Ursa Major Award nomination. It's a work of light science-fiction that I think might appeal to young adult readers. It's available from FurPlanet and Amazon, and in electronic format - see the author's website for details and links. I read the FurPlanet 2012 edition, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-61450-043-8.

See also: Fred Patten's earlier summary and review. (Contains spoilers.)

Mary Lowd's name really first stood out to me in the 2012 Ursa Recommended Anthropomorphics List, which included six of her short stories. It's not unusual to see authors with multiple recommendations on the list, although when they all appear at the same time, it feels like overkill. Anyway, of those six, I definitely enjoyed St. Kalwain and the Lady Uta, appearing in ROAR volume 4, so I was curious what she would do in a longer format.

Review: 'RedSilver: Nature's Evolutions' by Steve Alford, illustrated by Silent Ravyn

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

RedSilver: Nature's Evolutions Sometimes you just want to read a sweet, fluffy fantasy in which the goodies are good, the baddies are bad, and nothing truly scary happens. Welcome to the idyllic Heart Forest, ruled by Gaia and protected by animal elementals – the Animentals – from the dark forces which want nothing more than to destroy it.

RedSilver follows vixen Red Sunset as she is snatched from certain death to take up her role as Animental. She meets the other animal guardians - Braenaigh the badger, Chancer the cacomistle and she-wolf Silver, their leader, who becomes Red's closest friend - and awaits the awakening of her powers to find out what kind of Animental she herself will be. Shy at first, she blossoms under the guidance of her new peers, her personal growth matched by corresponding increases in her newfound physical abilities.

Meanwhile, the invisible barrier which shields the forest from harm is shrinking every day under the attacks of a horde of shadow demons. Red and the other Animentals must discover their plans and their hideout, then destroy them.

Review: 'Striking the Root', by Kris Schnee

Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (5 votes)

Striking The Root You cannot always judge whether a novel will be good or bad by its first line, but I’ve found that a story with a good first line rarely turns out to be bad. The first line of Striking the Root is, “Rowan hung upside-down from a branch and drew emerald knots in the air, hoping to please the Lord.” Yep, that’s a grabber. And Striking the Root just keeps getting better.

In an apparent dungeons-&-dragonish magical world, young Rowan Janiceson is an “awakened” gray squirrel in a joint civilization of humans and squirrelfolk. The world was originally inhabited by just humans; but several centuries ago, the human wizard Lord Veles, Great Lord of the Forest, planted the seed that grew into the massive Great Oak and awakened the first squirrels in size and intelligence. Since then, Veles has mostly withdrawn to let the squirrelfolk run their own civilization under their own Council in what has become the squirrel nation of Great Oak. Many squirrels have left Great Oak to settle among the human city-states.

Rowan is one of the squirrelfolk who worship Veles as the god of the squirrelfolk, and he is unhappy that more and more squirrels are drifting away from the True Faith, calling Veles by the disrespectful name of “Greenie” and considering him as just a human wizard, not a god. When the Council of Great Oak intends to send a representative into human lands on a trade mission, Veles arranges for Rowan to become that messenger. Rowan is both scared to venture from the squirrel nation into the human world, and proud to be the ambassador of the squirrel’s True Faith.

CreateSpace, Dec. 2012, trade paperback $7.49 ([2 +] 199 pages), Kindle $2.99. Map by Virmir.

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