Bringing together writers and artists from both within and outside the furry fandom, Allasso aims to discover humanity by embodying it in the familiar as well as the foreign. Through exploring our emotions in the wordless world around us, we may discover what truly makes us human.
The first volume of the series, Shame, probes past comfortable feelings in search of hidden actions and taboo desires. While people may wear masks of complacency, everyone has something they wish could never be discovered. (publisher’s blurb)
Allasso appears to be a cross between a book and a magazine. “A bi-annual [they mean semiannual; twice a year in May and November, not once every two years] online publication dedicated to finding new experiences within anthropomorphic writing and art. Publications will be released as an online journal” in the form of a trade paperback book through CreateSpace.
The title is a Greek word meaning “to change, to exchange one thing for another, to transform”; it appears in the King James version of the New Testament. This first volume presents seven short stories mixed with seven poems. There are also six illustrations.
Woods Cross, UT, Pink Fox Publications/North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, November 2011, trade paperback $7.99 (110 pages). Illustrated.
Descent seems to be barely anthropomorphic: a novel with only one Furry main character, the narrator. Yet this is a novel that any fan of Furry fantasy should enjoy reading.
The setting is our world, yet a magical one. Gregory Lombard is first seen caught in a traffic jam.
I hate driving rental cars. […] Grinding my teeth in frustration, I carefully depressed the clutch (carefully, because the pedals had been designed for feet far smaller than mine) as traffic once more slowed and stopped. […] Then the inevitable happened. A child riding in the van I was trapped behind noticed me and pointed. Soon an entire pack of five and six year-olds had their faces jammed up against the rear windows. I waved back, my newly-altered hands still feeling odd to me. I always tried to make time for kids, even on bad days. […] Because I knew that the moment I let my mind wander, I’d start thinking about the fingers I’d lost forever earlier in the afternoon. (pgs. 4-7)
There is powerful magic in this world, and Greg Lombard has been cursed by it.
Where this morning I’d been the proud owner of two furry but otherwise human-looking hands, I now possessed a matching pair of rather pawlike mitten-thingies. (p. 7)
Solomon Wrightson, a wolf senior at Midland’s Richfield High, is in trouble. During his childhood and early adolescence, he was a bit of a loner but basically just one of the kids with his classmates. In high school, the wolves have tended to be the jock gang, going out together on the school baseball team. The coyotes also hang together, although they are looked on as second-class wolves.
But in their senior year, it all starts to fall apart for Sol. He had realized the year before that he is gay, and had joined a gay e-mail group where he formed a relationship with Carcy, an older ram living four hours away in Millenport. Sol thought that he had kept this a secret except from his study partner who is also his only friend, Meg Kinnick, a sardonic otter goth girl; they are two loners hanging out together. They have planned to go to Millenport together the next summer when Sol gets a car; Meg to get a job away from her parents, and Sol to move in with Carcy.
Maggie Hogarth’s Jokka s-f stories, featuring the tri-sexed scaly aliens of the planet Ke Bakil, made their debut in the short story “Money for Sorrow, Made Joy” in the Strange Horizons weekly online s-f magazine on November 26, 2001. Six further Jokka short stories followed to 2010; notably including “Unspeakable”, the third, also published on Strange Horizons on November 4, 2002.
“Unspeakable” was a finalist for the 2003 Spectrum Award1 in the Short Fiction category, and was included in the Strange Horizons: Best of Year Two anthology. There have been more Jokka short stories since 2010.
Are the Jokka sufficiently Furry for Flayrah? Ever since Furry fandom voted overwhelmingly for Avatar over Fantastic Mr. Fox for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture in the 2009 Ursa Major Awards, it looks like anything alien is Furry enough. The Jokka have scales, manes, tails, moveable ears, and fangs; they drool venom; they lay eggs as well as having live births (their biology is VERY bizarre), and they look enough like bipedal horses that at least one reviewer has described them as “horse-like” despite their illustrations by Hogarth (and the author should know). Yes, that seems Furry enough.
“The Worth of a Shell”: North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, October 2009, trade paperback $15.00 (394 [+ 1] pages, map), Kindle $3.99.
“Clays Beneath the Skies”: Tampa, FL, Stardancer Studios, June 2011, trade paperback $15.99 (xii + 183 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $3.99. Illustrated by the author. Foreword by Susan Marie Groppi.
This delightful booklet is a companion to the author’s The Aphorisms of Kherishdar, published in March 2008. To repeat what I said in my review of that booklet, “Kerishdar is the empire of the Ai-Naidar people; tall and slender tailed felinoid aliens of a society that spans five worlds and several thousand years, with laws and customs that have served us for as long as we have walked these earths. (pg. )” That booklet contains twenty-five short-short tales “designed to illuminate these customs and unwritten traditions”.
The Admonishments of Kherishdar are twenty-five more very succinct tales illustrating what Kherishdar society demands in the cases of transgressions against society. Fada (improper guilt) – dashalin (covetousness) – enil (non-conformity) – emeth (cutting; lack of empathy) – noshan ekain (vanity) – diqut (rape) – navel (child abuse) – mesiln (criminal negligence) -- and similar grievances. Not crimes, exactly, but violations of Kherishdar social mores.
Note: This book deals with homoerotic themes and desctiptions [sic.] of erotic acts. (publisher’s advisory)
Prince Natier of Llyra, heir to the throne, is a spoiled brat. As far as King Rasdill is concerned, Natier can do no wrong.
Every night, Natier sneaks out into the city; there, he takes on the persona of Rivard, a slightly more mild-mannered fox. As Rivard, Natier is able to do all the things that would not become a prince -- he goes to brothels, helps a local gang of thieves pull off robberies, and gets drunk off his tail on mead. (back-cover blurb)
The Prince of Knaves gets off to a good Furry start. There are a fox king and prince, a cougar catamite, an otter bath attendant, two bear guards, a raccoon exchequer, and a squirrel secretary, in just the first five pages.
But – EVERY NIGHT the prince sneaks into the city, disguises himself as a commoner, spends the night in drunken revelry, even helps a local gang of thieves to pull off robberies, and neither his royal father nor any of the palace servants suspect anything? (No wonder he sleeps all morning, every day.)
Even the Wingless is a science-fiction novel in the same 25th-century interstellar United Alliance setting as the author’s anthropomorphic Pelted stories, such as Alysha’s Fall (Cornwuff Press, September 2000; review). This novel features anthropomorphic “dragons”.
The multi-planet Alliance consists of numerous races/species; humans, the various bioengineered Pelted animal-peoples, and the human-looking but telepathic, pallid Eldritch among them. Outside the Alliance are other interstellar nations, including the Chatcaavan Empire of shape-shifting, mammalian humanoid aliens. Even the Wingless is set in the dragons’ empire, and its protagonist is an Eldritch.
Here is a “fairy tale” fantasy novel with a young anthropomorphic unicorn prince who must fight to regain his kingdom from the evil elk lord who has usurped the throne. Old-fashioned? Yes, but “once upon a time” never goes out of style.
Prince Tiran of Silverglen may be heir to the throne of all Asteria, but he's always felt more at home among the villagers, no matter how many lectures he gets from his father. But when the elk-lord Roden slaughters the royal family and claims the throne for himself, only Tiran is left to avenge their deaths and take his place as the rightful king. (publisher’s blurb)
Hamlet, anyone? Prince Tiran has always preferred to rub shoulders with the peasants and commoners of his kingdom than to take an interest in the affairs of state, as King Sevrin, his father, wishes. That is why Tiran is in a tavern, playing dice, when Duke Roden, a visiting elk-lord with his retinue, kills the king and the rest of his family at the castle banquet and takes over the kingdom.
Ted Blasingame writes long Furry novels. That’s okay, because they are well-written, very interesting novels. (“Has written”? He’s retired from writing? Yarst!)
Sunset of Furmankind tackles a tough premise. The main character hates bioengineered Furries, and on the first page he murders one. He is sentenced to be either executed or made into one against his will. The reader can guess that he will eventually change his mind about them, but can the author make him a sympathetic-enough character to keep a readership of Furry fans interested in what happens to him until this occurs?
While I recommend buying Sunset of Furmankind in its trade paperback or Kindle edition, Blasingame has also made it available for free on his website. Sunset is worth having a permanent copy for your library, though.
2011’s Planet of the Apes movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is unusual in that it has no novelized tie-in. Instead, the movie release’s tie-in book is Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, an almost-coffee-table hardcover novel featuring an original “offstage” story by Andrew Gaska (from a plot by Gaska, Rich Handley, Christian Berntsen, and Erik Matthews) set during the events of the 1968 movie, imaginatively depicted by “over 50 illustrations from various top talents in the industry, including full-color paintings by Jim Steranko, Joe Jusko, Dave Dorman, Barron Storey, Sanjulian and Mark Texeira, starship design by Andrew Probert, character portraits by Matt Busch and more!” (publisher’s catalogue).
In the 1968 movie, four astronauts are sent in frozen hibernation on a 2,006-year mission to explore an extrasolar planet. One dies en route; the other three, Taylor, Landon, and Dodge, find a planet inhabited by intelligent apes and feral humans. The astronauts are separated, and the story follows Col. George Taylor (Charlton Heston) as he interacts with the gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees; discovers Landon lobotomized and Dodge’s body stuffed and mounted in a museum; and ultimately learns that this is not an alien planet, but Earth in the far future.
Los Angeles, Archaia Entertainment, August 2011, hardcover $24.95 (268 [+ 4] pages).
My problem is that furries tend to start with furry, and add the science fiction later. The visual of a walking, talking fox/cat/rabbit/whatever is introduced in the mind of the furry author, and an explanation is cobbled together as an afterthought. To call this a disservice to science fiction is an understatement.
The comic strip Unity written by fluffy (the author is dedicated to the pseudonym, even putting it on the spine of this collection of the first major storyline), is a rare example where the science fiction does not suffer as a consequence of the furry aspects of the piece.
Eldvar seems like a stereotypical fantasy world, inhabited by humans, pointy-eared elves, dwarves, and orcs alike; some of whom are skilled magic-users. But they all persecute the animal peoples, the wildlings, like Estin.
While the town [the city-state of Altis] may have been run by an amalgam of races, his kind were not welcome. (p. 2)
It's not easy to admit feelings for a long-time friend; but for the classmates in Mitti's debut graphic novel, their first admission must be to themselves.
It is 1955 and best friends Clover and Logainne are looking forward to graduating from Lincoln High School and getting on with their lives. However when Clover fumbles for an excuse to avoid going to the senior prom with someone, she blurts out Logainne's name as her intended date. Now the whole school thinks there is more to their friendship than meets the eye, putting both their reputations and Logainne's honors student status at risk. As they scramble to contain the damage, at least one of them begins to wonder where her heart truly lies. (back cover)
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)
In an anthropomorphic mixed-species medieval world, Stannis, the eighteen-year-old rabbit narrator, sells himself into slavery at the Slavers’ Guildhall in Jazinsk’s capital for the 100 ducats it will bring to his impoverished mother, and to remove one mouth to feed among his large family. He immediately begins to learn his new status:
The [slave] lynx’s eyes widened, snapping away from mine to look over my shoulder. A moment later, a single clawtip touched the back of my neck, just above the collar that had already begun to itch. ‘That was your one free mistake,’ the [raccoon] slaver said, her voice suddenly full of ice. ‘I warned you before you crossed that threshold: your life is no longer your own. At this point, it no longer matters what happens to you. If I were a harsh master, I’d have beaten you the instant you spoke. If I were a cruel one, I’d have beat you before I collared you and made you thank me for being owned. You won’t always be told the rules. They may change without warning. They may not exist. Regardless, you must do your best to obey. Eventually, you’ll fail, and even if you don’t, you’ll still suffer for it. I’ll try to teach you the basics of your new life, but I will not hesitate to reprimand you, even for rules you do not yet know. Do you understand?’ (p. 8)
Bonds of Silver, Bonds of Gold is a novel of humiliation. Primarily sexual humiliation, described in graphic detail, but whatever kind his masters, their families, and his fellow slaves can put Stannis into.
It's like a 90s straight porn for VHS
Note: Like the work reviewed, this piece contains strong language.