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Furry Network's commission system - bringing the dealer's den home

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

FurryNetwork.jpgBack in November 2015, Fur Affinity lost control of its forums. The dramatic departure of forum moderators caused an exodus of users to the up-and-coming Furry Network. This furry art site is owned by Varka, an entrepreneur better-known for his business of adult toy manufacture, Bad Dragon, then for online endeavors.

But coming into the furry art site operation with real world business experience, the toy maker and the staff of Furry Network have the potential to make a marketplace unlike anything currently offered by the slew of social art sites. In December 2015, they put forth their idea: a site that would help alleviate the fraud and hassle that furry artists run into when taking commissions from strangers on the Internet, by acting as the intermediary between artist and consumer.

This March, Furry Network made its big first step in the direction toward this goal. Their site’s commission system opened, to a handful of pre-selected artists, to test out the features. Users could request commissions directly on the page, and all status and interaction would then take place on the site. This story reviews my experience with the new system, and how it could change everything about the furry economy as we know it.

Update (Apr 10): The site will now be identified as "Furry Network" rather than "Bad Dragon" on billing statements.

Review: 'Five Fortunes'

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Five Fortunes Five Fortunes, edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet), is a collection of five novellas from some of the best writers who write for general audiences in the Furry Fandom. The five stories provided in this anthology are as follows:

  • Chosen People by Phil Geusz
  • Huntress by Renee Carter Hall
  • Going Concerns by Watts Martin
  • When a Cat Loves a Dog by Mary E. Lowd
  • Piece of Mind by Bernard Doove

I am not sure how well the the term "fortune" applies to the five works, so on that level the collection doesn't feel as if it is all that well tied together as a theme. However, with five long works here it's not too problematic to have them each be their own thing. It's not like there's a lot of "destiny" fans out there. Each story approaches the nugget of self-determination from a different angle: from being mindful of doing the right thing (Geusz), to the finding one's self (Hall), to finding a way to survive the week (Martin) or the condition of one's life overall(Doove).

It's a furry sampler of novel sized works. This size is perfect for people who don't always like short stories because the story's over just as they get to know a character, but also don't wish to invest in story cover to cover. If, somehow, you don't know these writers or their universes, then this is a good place to start learning.

Review: 'A Left-Handed Sword', by Phil Geusz

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

A Left-Handed Sword is a novella by Phil Geusz in which the characters used to be human beings. All of them have contracted a singular disease called the Lokiskur virus (Lokie for short), which has transformed them into animals. Lokie not only leaves its victims dehumanized and physically handicapped in their new forms, but often brain-damaged and depressed. They are also highly contagious; Lokie is an affliction that never lets go.

Legion Printing, September 2011, 80 pages. Available in eBook and printed versions from Legion, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Review: 'Furry Fandom Conventions, 1989-2015', by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Cover to Fred Patten's 'Furry Fandom Conventions'. Cover art by Yamavu.

First off, let me engage in an act of self-disclosure: I recently finished writing Furry Nation, a personal history of the birth and growth of our community and its treatment at the hands of entertainment and news media that will be published in the fall by Cleis Press. I interviewed numerous furs for the book, unknown and well-known, Fred included.

I found myself concerned it would be a conflict of interest for me to opine on Fred’s work, with the temptation to belittle it in comparison to my own. However I was happy to find Fred’s book unique in its own right. It is a work of scholarship I could never hope to duplicate. In fact, I wish it had been published a year or two earlier; it would have been an immense help to me in writing about furry conventions worldwide, a topic not covered in great detail in my own non-fiction work.

Furry conventions from A to Z

Furry Fandom Conventions begins with a brief overview of the various kinds of furry gatherings and a succinct timeline of the fandom’s origin and spread. Even though the timespan covered is in the book’s title, the conventions themselves are described not chronologically but alphabetically, from the first “Abando” convention in Brazil in 2008 (with 15 attendees), to the last “ZonieCon”, held in in Tucson, Arizona in 2001 (57). The decision to alphabetize makes perfect sense: if you’re curious about say, Further Confusion, it makes it a lot easier to trace its history in one place rather than flip through the entire book looking for each year’s summary.

Review: 'Capricious: A Texan Tale of Love and Magic', by Julie Cox

Your rating: None Average: 2.7 (3 votes)

Book cover with a satyr-like silhouetteHere's a book that you might not immediately think of as furry. Capricious: A Texan Tale of Love and Magic, by Julie Cox.

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.

Circlet Press, June 2014, 305 pages, ebook $6.99, paperback $14.95 (US). An audio version can be heard on the Nobilis Erotica podcast.

Editorial: Furry - Our deliverance or our destruction?

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (9 votes)

When perusing written news articles about furries written outside the fandom you’ll usually run into the typical faire. Some articles will talk about furries and try and introduce their unknowing audience to what the fandom is. Others will talk about the local convention in town and why the denizens will be seeing all these costumes about. Heck, some will not even be about the fandom at all and will just be using the term to talk about pets or the band Super Furry Animals.

However, 2017 has started off on a very interesting foot as two articles showed up on the feed which don’t take the tired and treaded routes. Both looked at pieces of the fandom and their relationship to the recently inaugurated president, Donald Trump and what he stands for in society in general.

One article from Slate covered a Kyell Gold book and discussed how the virtues with in could counter Trump. The other, from Motherboard, describes another piece of fandom and their alt-right tendencies and pondering if crass anonymity can lead to crass actors acquiring power.

So let’s go over these two articles and what they have to say about furry fandom.

Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets', Cute and colourful fluff

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (4 votes)

A dog sits in front of a door, waiting for its owner to come home.The Secret Life of Pets [trailer] is the first of two animated movies released in 2016 from Illumination Studios, most known for its films Despicable Me and Minions.

Compared with their competition at Disney and Pixar, Illumination relies less on strong storytelling and instead leans more heavily towards pure charm to make their movies successful. In the past, they've accomplished this with cute and colourful characters, and a child-friendly sense of humour.

With that history in mind, The Secret Life of Pets continues its studio's charm offensive, compensating well for a bland and forgettable story.

Review: 'Furries: A Documentary', by Eric Risher

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (9 votes)

Two fursuiters stand side by side, contemplating the city at night. Furries: A Documentary [trailer] is a 33-minute video about furry fandom directed by Eric Risher. The project started as a short student film he made for university in 2009 called Through Fox's Eyes [trailer], after which he began gathering footage to turn it into a full documentary.

In 2015, Eric used Kickstarter to fund the final stages of the production, and doubled the modest $2,500 he'd hoped to receive. The completed work appeared in May 2016 – as did the online release of another fandom documentary, Fursonas (81 min.) by Dominic Rodriguez, who'd secured more attention and better distribution.

I think Furries is definitely the stronger of the two; it projects a much more positive vibe!

Review: 'The Secret Life of Pets', animated film

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

A group of pets stare at a cityscape. The Secret Life of Pets [trailer] is Illumination Entertainment's latest CG animated film offering, released on July 8, 2016. It's an entertaining comedy that's been doing quite well at the box office. I went to a weekday early evening screening, and the theater was packed with about an equal mix of adults and kids. Everyone seemed to enjoy it!

The story starts in an apartment building in Manhattan. Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is a terrier who adores his owner, a young woman named Katie. One day she brings home a second dog, a huge, shaggy brown Newfoundland named Duke. Max and Duke don't get along at all. Their conflict results in them getting lost in the city, avoiding animal control officers and a gang of abandoned pets led by an insane white rabbit named Snowball. Meanwhile, the other pets from the apartment building embark on a quest to find them, led by Gidget, a white pomeranian.

Review: 'ROAR 7', edited by Mary E. Lowd

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

ROAR7.jpg(Full Disclosure: I have a story in this book: Unbalanced Scales, the 6th story in the book. It takes place in the same universe as last year's Brooklyn Blackie and the Unappetizing Menu, just 40 years later. I will "review" that story last. I mean, I could skip it entirely, but I do so like talking about myself and my stories.)

Mary Lowd returns to the helm of ROAR for another collection of "all audience" Furry stories. This time the theme is Legends. There are all sorts of Legends and there was only one story out of the following seventeen whose legend worthiness I questioned.

FurPlanet, July 2016, trade paperback $19.95 (378 pages), ebook $7.95.

Review: 'April and the Extraordinary World', animated film

Your rating: None Average: 3.6 (5 votes)

A woman and a cat leap across rooftops, with twin Eiffel Towers in the background. April and the Extraordinary World [trailer] is the English dub of a 2015 French animated film, originally titled Avril et le monde truqué. There was a limited North American theatrical release in April 2016.

Furry-wise, it's borderline: a likeable talking cat sidekick, plus a little extra anthropomorphism that I can't discuss without spoiling. Its main appeal is for steampunk fans. If that's your thing, it's definitely worth a look!

Review: 'An Anthropomorphic Century', edited by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)
AnAnthropomorphicCenturyFront420.jpg
Cover art by Mark Brill

Edited by Furry Fandom's most beloved Eagle, Fred Patten, An Anthropomorphic Century reprints stories ranging from 1909 to 2008, including the talents of Peter S. Beagle, Philip K. Dick, Michael H. Payne, Phil Geusz, Renee Carter Hall, and more… including myself.

Starting with "Tobermory" by Saki in 1909, Fred does an excellent job putting these stories in a historical and social context. Around the midpoint, however, the historical context begins to soften just a little. The stories are excellent, but not all are milestones, so I would have enjoyed a bit more perspective in what was going on in the real world when they saw print.

Fred may have decided to let the newer stories stand on their own rather than distracting readers from the work themselves. Perhaps this was a good decision; the collection puts on no airs that of a textbook, after all – but Fred Patten is an expert historian of two fandoms (the other being anime). I couldn't imagine a person better suited to bringing external context to these stories.

Disclaimer: I have a story in this anthology. I'll address that story last.

Brainless, but fun: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

Your rating: None Average: 3.2 (5 votes)

teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles_out_of_the_shadows_ver10_xlg.jpg I didn't see the last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from 2014, but can you blame me? The film came out to terrible reviews, the new "Shrek" Turtle designs looked ugly, and it was produced by Michael Bay. Though I have childhood nostalgia for the Turtles (although I was born too late for the late 80s TMNT phenomenon), I had no interest in seeing it.

Then the first trailer for the sequel, Out of the Shadows, appeared late last year and it looked like it could be good fun. After the first film got criticised for not being faithful to the original cartoon or comics, the fan-service was clearly jacked up in this new movie by giving us Bebop and Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman and Krang to look forward to. Then there was that fantastic final shot of the tank on the rapids; the kind of over-the-top moment that we need more of in action films. So does this movie live up to the promise of cartoon characters and brainless fun? For the most part, yes.

Review: 'Furry! The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction Ever!', edited by Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Furry! The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction Ever! I read this back in 2006; it was a present from a friend who I swapped books with. I had forgotten that I had a detailed review of the stories on Bookcrossing.com.

I'm sharing old news, sure, but the book's still available in many formats and you'll enjoy it.

It makes me smile thinking how in 2006, I didn't know any of these Furries, and thanks to the Furry Writers' Guild I know many of them. At least virtually so.

This collection [available on Amazon] was divided into three sections:

  • Living Together: Furries and Humans
  • Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
  • Living Within: Transformation

Review: 'Angry Birds' - a 2016 attempt at a 2010 property

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (9 votes)

There's nothing unique about being a Disney fan. It's very easy to say you like something that was obviously meant to have mass appeal. So in my everlasting attempt to stand out, I decided that rather than become the billionth sale for Disney's big furry flick of the year, I'd try and vouch for the underdogs – those dark-horse films such as Rock Dog, Sly Cooper, and what we're discussing here: Angry Birds.

It's a lot harder to make a case for a movie when no-one has any expectations for it. It was like fighting a losing battle, but I was happy to at least give these some attention.

And now, the first of these films which I championed has been released! I was fortunate enough to see it on release weekend and I can say that the theater was definitely packed. Was this film the embodiment of perfection or did it leave something to be desired? Let's see.