Review: 'Furry! The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction Ever!', edited by Fred Patten
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.
- Living Together: Furries and Humans
- Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
- Living Within: Transformation
Section One - Living Together: Furries and Humans
"To The Magic Born" by Brian W. Antoine: a short story in the not shared universe of a wedded Human Mage and a Velan (fox like alien). I think I’ve read a few stories in that setting and, if I’m correct, they kinda stunk. This does not. Part of the stinkiness was everything was first person present tense and seemed droning because of that. Perhaps this has been rewritten to repair that. Or, of course, I could be mistaken.
"Foxy Lady" by Lawrence Watts-Evans: another short, but I’m not sure it’s a universe setting. It’s just a generic few years in the future setting. With only changing the name(s) of the evil corporation, this is the same setting a 1000 or so other Furry stories are set in.
Almost all Furry writers write this story eventually, but this is a good version for showcasing what Furry means beyond the fur. We are born into a world not of our own making, and there are Expectations and Agendas out there and everything does run smoother when those Expectations and Agendas are not disturbed. But being different is not a crime, and while disturbing the agendas and expectations of those other than yourself (or even including yourself) is upsetting… most of it will eventually die down. Understanding and patience shall or should win the day. The Furry community is all about Tolerance (although sometimes we resort to Tolerance in Moderation or Moderated Tolerance). Our Hero wins the girl by letting her go and come back to him.
It is also no coincidence that many Furries can be passive-aggressive
"The Colour of Rain" by Gene Breshears: Takes place, sorta, in the Tai-Pan Universe. This is a good Hard Science story, with an evil corporation/local government. The only problem I have is the supervisor who must, understandably, be shown as a jerk… but does he have to know about the denial of colonization request? It makes me question how secure the email system is, which actually an important aspect to how that story ends.
"Crucible" by Kim Liu: Slightly less hard-science than the previous story, and less a generic universe than Foxy Lady’s, but still needing the evil corporation/local government. I liked it very much. Another writer might have tried to punch things up with a little sex or romance, but I’m glad the author avoided this cheap pitfall.
"How George Miles Almost Saved The World" by Watts Martin: ah, more discreet sex with Furries. Very low key, nothing vulgar. A nice change because the Corp isn't the bad guy, but the world is in much more danger than Senator Miles can suspect.
"Canis Major" by Michael H. Payne: A good mystery story, SF style. Sorta a cross between the Dread Pirate Rodgers and a Comedy of Errors.
"Wings" by Todd G. Sutherland: Cute, emotional, but a little predictable.
"The Boar Goes North" by Matt Posner: Was possibly the best of the Furs as "Other", living side by side with Humans section. Almost all the other sections had the Furs as victims, even as a "prey" animal that this horse is; I can't tell you how fast that gets old. The Boar is nobody's victim, even when betrayed.
"Respect The Sea" by Jeff Eddy: A decent hard SF story. There should be more of those.
Section Two - Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
These tales presented more variety than the first section and, as a collection, did not drag each other down. They are stronger allegories, too, since one level they might as well be humans with strange (or not so strange) social quirks, mores, and/or restrictions, while on another level, the remove to Not-Human allows us to look past things "as we know them."
"Rat's Reputation" by Michael H. Payne: the closest to a children's allegorical world... constructed buildings and tree stump town halls co-mingle without apology in a world where a bobcat is invited to a young mouse's birthday party without a second thought. Rat is wonderful, although I, too, would chafe at such an unfair burden. [Published in expanded form last year.]
"Whimper's Law" by Craig Hilton: A no-tech version of a crime scene investigation. But when you're tiny and have a great nose, as well as a law degree, who needs tech? My only complaint is that, not being familiar with this world, I have no idea how big an Anthro mouse is supposed to be.
"Mercy To The Cubs" by Chas. P. A. Melville: The kind of story I might have written, only I might have had a bit of deviant sex in it. It's a dark tale that ends in light, a story of temptation and self-justification.
There are others, but writing all these titles and giving story descriptions without spoilers is surprisingly hard work.
Section Three - Living Within: Transformation (ah... my favorite Furry/Horror mix)
It's been too long ago for me to attempt to recall the stories in that last section. But I loved them all; and a tip of the hat to Phil Geusz, whom I used to co-mingle with on two or three mailing lists.
And here my entry ends. I went to Shore Leave 2006 the next week after that last entry. I left it on the "free table." It was the same weekend as Anthrocon, so it's unlikely it ended up in Furry hands. Maybe I'll get another copy someday.