Freak's Amour, by Tom De Haven, is simply a masterpiece. This is some of the best weird literature that few seem to have heard of or remember. It's been out of print for 27 years. I started it once, long ago when I was just getting into science fiction and weird genre stuff. It was a bit arty and demanding for a teenage reader, and my interest wasn't up to the challenge at the time. Now, I have to give it very high recommendation after finding it again.
I suggest that anyone into classy lit as well as furries and pulp/pop culture go get it now, even if it takes your last two bucks. It's one of those obscurities that could be worth quite a lot if it was less available – and I say that as a professional book dealer – but it earned enough acclaim to get several printings, so it's cheap and easy to get secondhand. (In fact, I've just noticed a comic/graphic novel forthcoming: info below.)
‘Hotdish’ is another term for casserole – a collection of seemingly disparate ingredients held together by a hot, gooey sauce. It creates a hearty portion of food for those on a relatively modest budget.
Hot Dish is a collection of stories about the romantic and erotic relationships between characters of disparate species and sexual orientations. It is a hearty portion of quality fiction which was too long to fit into our yearly adult anthology, Heat.
Hot, gooey sauce not included. (back cover blurb)
Hot Dish is an anthology intended for an adult audience only and contains some explicit sexual scenes of various sexual orientations. It is not for sale to persons under the age of 18. (publisher’s advisory)
Hot Dish, which includes a number “1” on the spine so more volumes are planned, consists of nine romantic Furry novelettes, about forty pages each, by pseudonymous authors.
(Really, I respect Furry pseudonyms, but when an entire book is filled with stories by Huskyteer, Lady Chastity Chatterley, Dark End, and the like, it makes it look like everyone concerned has something to hide.)
‘I tell you,’ the ankylosauromorphic cyborg said in its fluid, polished, robotic voice, ‘he’s got to be some sort of wolf. Just on two legs, is all.’
Summerhill kept his ears perked and his mouth shut. He lifted his own glass of golden, bubbling something-or-other to his lips and took a sip, his eyes meeting the little girl’s for a moment of grateful acknowledgment.
‘Oh, please. Have you ever SEEN a wolf?’ asked the Crown Prince of the Akashic Realm, lines of disapproval appearing on his otherwise smooth, pale blue face. He and Summerhill had met earlier in the evening; the two shared a taste for fizzy beverages. ‘He’s far too small, and the colors are all wrong.’
The girl quietly begged pardon and broke away from the group. As she left, she offered Summerhill a tiny wave with her slender fingers, along with one final smile of sympathy and encouragement.
A being that looked like a pinkish cloud of gas with a self-contained thunderstorm rumbling all through itself chimed in. ‘No, I saw a wolf here aboard the ship just this morning.’ Blue tendrils of electricity crackled over its wispy form as it somehow created the sounds of speech. ‘He didn’t look anything like this.’ (p. 2)
The titular Delura is the name of the galaxy in which the series takes place. The story includes many alien races resembling anthropomorphic animals, including vulpine and lupine beings. It centres on a felinoid mineship operator who finds himself with damaged memories in a strange medical ward, and reluctantly begins his new life whilst knowing nothing of who he was, is, or will be.
Ryan and Taben have started a Kickstarter campaign to fund Delura's 2013 season. A $6,500 goal has been set, to go towards providing more animations and webcomic content, and to upgrade hardware and software so as to improve the quality of the graphics.
Here are some brief reviews and ratings of a number of Kindle E-books I’ve read in the past year. These range from man vs. animal (like Jaws) to talking animal (Watership Down-type) to outright furry to werewolves to fantasy with talking dragons.
This is by no means a complete list—simply what I personally read and can comment on. While some of these are only available in Kindle format, others can be ordered in hardcopy, so if you’re interested in a particular title and don’t have an e-reader, check the listing.
Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology (Kindle), compiled by Fred Patten, is a collection of 14 science-fiction and fantasy stories from outside our fandom, focussing on humanity's interactions with intelligent animals (or animal-like aliens).
Fred introduces each story to put them into context, and the book's font is large and easy to read. The layout, however, could have benefited from having the authors and story titles printed along the tops of the pages. Without them, it's much harder to pick up where you left off, without using a bookmark.
The stories can be divided into two distinct time periods. Six were written between 1942-1962 (the tail end of SF's golden age); the rest are from 1991-2006. I was surprised that there was nothing from SF's new wave/experimental period in the 60s and 70s.
Humorous science fiction is all too rare. One of the most successful humorous series is/are the Hoka stories of Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson. They began in the short-lived Other Worlds Science Stories in May 1951, moved to Universe Science Fiction after Other Worlds ceased publication, then to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction when Universe bit the dust.
By 1957 there were almost enough Hoka stories to fill a book. Anderson & Dickson added one original story and a short “Interlude” after each to tie them together into a novel, and Earthman’s Burden was the result.
The 1950s were the postwar era with the Marshall Plan and the sparklingly new United Nations, when idealistic America was trying to pull the whole world up to Western levels of prosperity and democracy. The Hoka stories carried these ideals into space.
Six of Bernard Doove’s last seven books have been set in his 24th century “Chakat Universe”. So is Flight of the Star Phoenix, but with a difference. These are the adventures of the starship Phoenix, captained by a coyote morph and crewed by just about every species in Doove’s universe. Chakats are included in the mix, although this is not really a chakat story.
This novel is really an assembly of the thirteen Phoenix stories that have appeared on Doove’s “Chakat’s Den” website. They are called chapters, but they read more like a collection of separate short stories. Although the book has an overall theme – in 2332-2337, the interstellar freighter Phoenix must prove itself financially profitable by its fifth anniversary or go out of business – it reads more like thirteen separate adventures during those five years, with individual beginnings, plots, climaxes, and conclusions. Fans of short, episodic starship adventures will enjoy this more than the fans of long novels. And the fans of Doove’s regular chakat tales will be very satisfied with it.
CreateSpace, November 2012, trade paperback $21.95 (388 pages). Illustrated.
This is labeled “The Third Book of Kherishdar”, following The Aphorisms of Kherishdar (reviewed in Anthro #18, July-August 2008) and The Admonishments of Kherishdar (Flayrah, April 4, 2012). Those two were slender “chapbooks” of less than 60 pages each, establishing the society and culture of the alien, ancient civilization of the Ai-Naidar of Kherishdar, in a series of parables of less than two pages each. Black Blossom is a full novel, telling of the culture shock that comes to the Ai-Naidar when a human comes to live among them.
Alan Loewen was the Author Guest of Honor at Morphicon 2012. To commemorate the occasion, he published this slim collection of thirteen of his anthropomorphic short stories. Eight of them were first published between 1998 and 2011, and five appear in this volume for the first time.
Three of these stories first appeared in Pawprints Fanzine, one of the leading Furry fanzines between 1994 and 2001; one in the Anthrocon 2003 convention book; and three in Ethereal Tales, a quarterly of “cute ‘n’ creepy” stories for gothic and fantasy fans since 2008. In other words, Loewen’s credentials as a Furry author are solid. Most of these stories are very short, only four or five pages; the longest is barely over thirty.
Most of these are stories in the well-established Furry tradition, offering little or no explanation for their anthropomorphic characters; they just are.
The Saga of Rex is a surrealistic whimsical science fiction tale that is really just an excuse for Gagné’s incredible imaginative graphics. The plot, if you want to call it that, is that the Guardian-Shepherd of the planet Edernia (a godlike being) summons a fleet of Gathering Ships to fly throughout the galaxy and harvest (kidnap) “specimens” to transport into Dream Globes (alternate worlds) where they will serve as hero-champions for Edernia’s metamorphic sentient Blossoms. (Readers who want to find meaning in this are told, “Those secrets have been lost in the catacombs of time.”) Rex, “the adorable little fox” from Earth, becomes the specimen of Aven, a Blossom who comes to love Rex and transforms herself into a sometimes-winged blue foxlike mate for him. I think.
As I said, just forget about plot and lose yourself in Gagné’s scintillating artwork. Rex’s Dream Globe is a wondrous, mysterious world that encompasses whole galaxies. It is full of strange, flowing, usually amorphous life forms, both benign and hostile. Rex rescues and is rescued by alien beings; he passes through trials of water and fire; he dies and is transmogrified into a savior. Basically, The Saga of Rex is 200 pages of mind-blowingly gorgeous semi-abstract s-f artistry. It is not to be missed.
Now, Gagné has launched a Kickstarter project to raise $15,000 to start an animation studio and turn his book into a classically animated film. He has already gotten $12,152 in pledges, with 26 days to go. See his four-minute video explaining the project.
Weber gets a co-author in this second of Baen Books’ series of Star Kingdom books for Young Adults, and the sequel to Weber’s A Beautiful Friendship, reviewed here last October. This new series is a prequel to Weber’s immensely popular Honor Harrington series of military science-fiction. This new series is 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.
The (almost) equal time given to the treecats, who are background characters in the Honor Harrington novels, is what makes this series anthropomorphic.
Despite their name, treecats were not all that feline. For one, no Terran cat had ever possessed six limbs or a fully prehensile tail. Their build was longer and – beneath their fluffy coats – leaner. They were also larger, averaging sixty to seventy centimeters through the body, with their tails doubling the length. And, of course, no Terran cat had three-fingered hands with fully opposable thumbs.
Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, October 2012, hardcover $18.99 (287 pages)
Lagrange is one of Phil Geusz’s slighter pieces. The novella appeared in the Sofawolf Press magazine Anthrolations #8, November 2006, and was reprinted in the online Furry magazine Anthro #25, September-October 2009. Now here it is as a separate booklet from Legion Publishing in hardcover, trade paperback, or Kindle editions, your choice.
It may also be the only high-tech astronautical erotic comedy-drama that you ever encounter. Don’t miss it.
Unlike many of the other anthologies produced primarily for the furry fandom, Already Among Us draws on works by authors in the larger arena of science fiction, from the 1940s through the 2000s. The only "furry" author represented is Michael Payne--and with a story of his that appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction. While Already Among Us may have a little trouble getting beyond the furry audience, this isn't a problem with the story selection.
Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology
Edited by Fred Patten. Cover art by Roz Gibson.
Legion Publishing, June 2012. Hardback $18.99+$5 s&h, trade paperback $9.99+$5 s&h (389 pages); Kindle $8.99.
Compare: dronon's review of Already Among Us.
Bound to Play is set in Bernard Doove’s Chakat Universe. It features those hermaphroditic centauroid felines, along with their national game of Chakker. Chakker is explained in Doove’s “The Great Game of Chakker”, in his Tales from the Chakat Universe or on his website.
Chakats Grill and Midsun are cubhood friends living in Melbourne on Earth in the 24th century, where there is a large Chakat community. They are also Chakker enthusiasts who are now in their late adolescence and on the same junior league team, the Blind Bight Cubs. Although they are hermaphrodites, Grill is more masculine and Sun is more feminine; something that they have always been aware of intellectually but now feel emotionally since they are going into heat. Being Chakats, they are less embarrassed about mating in public than being caught mating together since they are known to their families as just Best Pals.