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reviews

Review: 'Lagrange' by Phil Guesz

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

The book cover, showing the fragmentary remains of something floating in space.They called Marvin a chicken. And he was. (But only 5%.) He also plays the piano.

In the far-flung, space-traveling future, genetic manipulation has created a small subculture of modified humans that aren't exactly well-respected, but people will at least have sex with them and pay for the privilege. Marvin is pilot of the Pussy Pod, a small ship that safely transports people to and from the Henhouse, a brothel that sits just outside the limits of a space station's jurisdiction.

Legion Printing, May 2012, 78 pages. Available in eBook from Amazon.

Marvin's not a sex worker, but he respects them and cares about them. If he's a trifle ambivalent about his cattle car full of Johns, who can blame him? He's an excellent pilot and deserves more in his life. He shouldn't need to be covered in feathers, but his boss insisted because of the Henhouse's name. For Marvin, every day is a struggle to do his job well and not be bitter. He simply doesn't have the connections to find better work. But a man's got to make a living, even if it's just chicken feed.

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2': I am the fox you've been waiting for

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (4 votes)

guardiansofthegalaxyvol2.jpgSeeing as how the the last time I reviewed a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about biases, it's only fair that I cope with the fact that I might have had a bit of a bias against this movie.

I don't know if people are aware of this fact, but I really like foxes. Like, a lot. Just letting you know.

Now, the thing is, Guardians of the Galaxy features the character of Rocket, who is a raccoon, and not a fox. So, you see where I might have a problem. It's not a big deal; raccoons are cool and all, but they're not, well, foxes. This is a personal hangup, I try not to let it affect things too much, but full disclosure here. I mean, science has proven foxes are magic. Just saying. I watched a YouTube video and everything, so you can take that to the bank.

But the thing is, this movie features a running gag in which the character Nebula (Karen Gillan) keeps mistakenly referring to Rocket as a fox, which is funny, I guess, if you're not a vulpephiliac who is constantly being reminded how much more awesome this movie would be if featured Rocket the fox instead of Rocket the raccoon. I mean, this is a deep ditch the movie has to dig itself out of for this reviewer.

After that revelation, if you feel you can't take this reviewer's opinions on this movie seriously, well, I understand. But, if you're willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, by all means, please enjoy the following review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II.

Rock Dog- Not Norm Of The North 2017, but not Zootopia 2017

Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (10 votes)

This has been a long time coming.

The movie? No, not the movie itself, but my review of it. To people who are only reading this review to get to my thoughts on the movie, I suggest skipping my little prologue. For those that would like some context, then read on.

Rock Dog has been on my radar for well over a year, potentially two years, though it's kind of hard to pin down the exact date. I saw the original trailer when it leaked at around the end of 2015 and was immediately interested.

The film was directed by Ash Brannon, a co-director of Toy Story 2 and the underrated masterpiece that is Surf's Up. I grew up with the latter film and was curious of this new project since Ash hasn't done a ton in the animation field since 2007.

I was so hyped for the film that I felt that it would surpass Zootopia. This belief had caused debates with many of the avid fans the film had garnered in the fandom. While my stance has softened on the Disney film, I still stand by some of the grievances I had with it. That being said I have decided that despite my desire to compare the two films, I decided to purely look at Rock Dog as it's own film and judge it on its own merits.

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.

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

Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (5 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: 3.9 (8 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: 3.8 (6 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.