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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
For those looking for more of an intellectual take on some of these anthropomorphic concepts, check out this new book: Carl Barks’ Donald Duck: Your Average American, by Peter Schilling, Jr. From Amazon: “From 1942 to his retirement in 1966, Carl Barks drew Donald Duck comic books (the seventh greatest comic of the twentieth century according to The Comics Journal) for Walt Disney. He took what should have been a bland franchise and turned it into a classic of comics. Drawing on his own experiences (most notably a brief stint as a chicken farmer), Barks went to create a character who was remarkable . . . for not being remarkable. In his pursuit of a good job, his boredom with suburban life, his temper, his squabbles with neighbors, and his resolve in the face of his many failures, Barks’s Donald Duck was truly your average American.”
Does anyone besides me care about this bureaucratic trivia? This is a good read, in a handy trade paperback edition for those who don’t want to read it on their computer. Get it in one format or the other.
But this is a direct sequel to Lowd’s Ursa-Major-nominated Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana. If there is any flaw with Otters in Space II, it is that you need to have read the first book to really understand it. Or at least read the review of it, in Flayrah on February 6, 2012.
To jump ahead to the bottom line; Lab Rat is mysterious and full of action, and you will like it if you turn off your brain.
The narrator, Zack, is a lab rat, grown artificially in a vat. The first few pages of this novel are stream-of-consciousness; his first disjointed thoughts. Two beings look into his tank; Father and Golem.
Father was complaining recently about the limitations of Golem’s tactile sensors, which makes no sense at all to me. But I could tell that he was talking about the flat-voiced speaker.
Golem is mostly black and silver in color.
He checks on me regularly for Father, but doesn’t talk to me like Father does. (page 14)
Zack knows that he is a rat:
My fur is white and does not have any glowing symbols, just a pattern of jagged stripes of a very dark blue. [See E. T. Willoughby's cover.]
I’m not sure, but I do not think Golem has a hairless tail like I do either. Golem is definitely not a rat like me. (page 15)
Treecat Wars is the third novel in the Star Kingdom series of annual Young Adult s-f novels by David Weber and Jane Lindskold, following A Beautiful Friendship (reviewed here on October 10, 2011) and Fire Season (review October 26, 2012). These are the prequels to Weber’s immensely popular Honor Harrington series of military science-fiction, 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. In Fire Season, Stephanie and Climbs Quickly are hard-pressed to keep the secret of the treecats’ intelligence during Sphinx’s dry season, when raging forest fires threaten to wipe out whole treecat clans.
As before, Treecat Wars is primarily Sphinx’s human settlers’ story, centered around now 15½-year-old Stephanie Harrington and her family and teenage friends. But there are enough scenes with Climbs Quickly and the treecats to satisfy Flayrah’s readers.