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Updated: 40 sec ago

Symbol of a Nation, edited by Fred Patten, to launch at Anthrocon 2017.

5 hours 20 min ago

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. 

Here’s the first original short story anthology from Goal PublicationsSymbol of a Nation, edited by Fred Patten.  It will be released at Anthrocon 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over the June 29-July 3 five-day weekend.  Find Goal Publications there at F19 in the dealer’s room!

Symbol of a Nation is an all-original anthology of 11 short stories and novelettes featuring the anthropomorphized official animal (or bird) symbols of nations. (The call for submissions said what counts.) This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of political science.

Some of them include: Belgium – lion. Namibia – oryx. Chile – Andean condor. Romania – lynx. Denmark – mute swan. Singapore – lion. Italy – wolf. Spain – bull. Malaysia – tiger. U.S.A. – bald eagle. Mauritius – dodo (extinct). Vietnam – water buffalo.

From a famous extinct animal bioengineered to new life, to animal/bird astronauts, to animals adapted to their nation’s environments, to a 19-century heraldic animal struggling to remain relevant in today’s world, these are stories that will make you think about the national animal symbols that we and some of our neighbors have adopted.

Contents

  • Didus ineptus Linnaeus, by Roz Gibson
  • A Poor Uncle’s Apprentice, by BanWynn Oakshadow
  • Remembering the Forgotten, by H. J. Pang
  • The Moon Like an Unhatched Egg, by Mary E. Lowd
  • Crossroads the Namib, by Jako Malan
  • Sdani White Wings, by Jennifer Sowle
  • The Scent of Lantana, by Frances Pauli
  • Huitaca, by Televassi
  • To the Kingdom They Come, by H. J. Pang
  • Bread and Butter, by Allison Thai
  • The Lion of the Low Countries, by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden

The book can be pre-ordered now from Goal Publications. It will be for sale at the Goal booth at Anthrocon, and on the Goal online catalogue after the convention. Price:  $17.50.  vii + 241 pages.  Print ISBN 978-0-99791-253-1, Digital ISBN 978-0-99791-254-8.   Wraparound cover by Jenn ‘Pac’ Rodriguez.

The digital copy will be available sometime after the convention.

– Fred Patten

Categories: News

Bay Area Furries, here’s the info you need to attend San Francisco Pride.

Sat 24 Jun 2017 - 00:52

In front of millions at San Francisco Pride 2015! (Thanks: Chrisastro.com)

Bay Area Furries are marching in the 2017 San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25.  It’s one of the largest and most colorful events in San Francisco and will be on TV.  There have been better and better responses each time, and 70 or more are signed up.  Get ready for the best parade ever!  (See previous announcement about how to join, and the Meetup page for RSVP and discussion.)

Here’s what you need to know:

Pic by Vincent.

Marchers: Arrive at 100-150 Main Street. Be no earlier than 9:30am and no later than 11:40.

Volunteers: Arrive at 100-150 Main Street. Be no earlier than 9:30am and no later than 11.

To arrive from BART, exit at Embarcadero Station. Go up on the Main St. / Beale St. side.

Watchers: Be anywhere along the Market Street parade route, and the parade starts at 10:30.

Parade start: 12:30pm-1pm. (Last time we were in the parade, starting was delayed by hours due to being way more busy than they planned.  Do be patient, but don’t be late. The parade doesn’t wait for latecomers.)

FURSUITING: No bins!  Please bring soft foldable bags only.  Due to space, hard fursuit bins are NOT ALLOWED on the parade float. A backpack is OK for small personal items.  There’s no “lounge” so be ready to change on the street (many do for SF events.)

Groggy’s van will be parked for changing and limited storage at the Moscone Center garage, 255 3rd Street. This can help those who want to drive in, use hard bins, change off-street and start with a group.  Parking is $29.  That’s mid-way between both ends of the parade, a 15 minute walk in suit each way.  Groggy will be there until 10:30am.

To coordinate with Groggy: @GroggyFox on Telegram, or @Grogginator.

Be prepared to walk in the parade. Those who start on the float, stay on the float.  Space on the float will be limited so don’t depend on riding.  Priority goes to those with mobility, vision, hearing or other issues.  Consider outdoor footpaws or partialling.  This is not a casual hang-out, it’s a show that requires exertion.  Be ready to work it for the crowd!

Refreshments: Bottled Water and Sports Drinks.  Please bring your own snacks or extra water.

Parade length: around 45 minutes – 1 hour.  Dispersal is planned for around 2pm.  (It’s been unpredictable in the past so allow lots of time.) At the drop-off on 8th Street, bags and personal items on the float will be handed back to you.  Groggy may retrieve his van and meet you, but be prepared to possibly walk back.

If you want to attend the Celebration in Civic Center after the parade until 6PM, please check the website for map and details. (No bins inside the gates.)

Pic by Vincent

Route map:  Check this handy map for all the places discussed above.

Crash space is available at Relay’s Den Saturday night and Sunday morning. You can leave stuff there. It’s near 17th and Dolores, a 10 minute walk from 16th BART.  Take BART or Uber to the assembly area around 11am. Members will meet back there about 90 minutes after the parade ends. Dinner is at Picaro on 16th afterwards (bring payment, it’s a reasonably priced Tapas place), probably around 5 or 6pm.  RSVP to @RelayRaccoon (Telegram).

See previous announcement to join, and the Meetup Event page for RSVP and discussion.

Paypal donations are still being collected by Zoren: Zorenm@gmail.com.

Conduct: San Francisco gets furries. Pride was born out of protest and some will let their freak flag fly. In rare cases we may discuss being on the side away from cameras, but we’re tame compared to others.  Organizers reserve the right to deny participation to anyone for any reason (it’s never happened, don’t test it).  Contact to ask about preparing your costume or more. The only rule is: Be nice.

Also be safe. Weird people from in AND out of the community are at large urban events and there have been incidents like fursuit thefts out of cars. Play it smart and buddy up. Riding BART in fursuit can be intense with crowds, but they love it just like crowds on the street love fursuit photos.

Contacts: (Check info before using, everyone is super busy!) Roman’s Twitter is @RomanOtter (same on Telegram and most things), Zoren has Twitter or Gmail or @ZorenManray on Telegram, or try Patch on Twitter or Gmail.

Now you’re ready to go. Tell your friends! This will be the best event ever, and be sure to bring those outdoor walking paws!

UPDATE: DJ Neonbunny sent a tip. You can coordinate for this in person at the parade: “After the parade, i’m djing a pride after party at the new parish in oakland and can get any fursuiters on the guest list, also a private room for any fursuiters. It’s a pretty fun indoor/outdoor dance party.”

Categories: News

The Art of Cars 3, Foreword by John Lasseter – Book Review by Fred Patten

Fri 23 Jun 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Art of Cars 3. Foreword by John Lasseter. Preface by Brian Fee.
Introduction by Bill Cone and Jay Shuster.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, May 2017, hardcover $40.00 (167 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $16.19.

This is the official de luxe coffee-table art book of the Disney•Pixar animated film Cars 3, released on June 16, 2017. It presents sample storyboards, pastels, digital paintings, preliminary character designs, computer models, and more, usually in full color; plus research photographs of the actual racing cars and the Daytona Speedway that were a main inspiration for the 99-minute feature film.

It has been acknowledged that these “art of” books featuring animated films are money-losers, subsidized by the advertising budgets for those films, made for the promotion of those films and for the morale of the artists and technical crews that produced them. The Art of Cars 3 is full of the art of the animators, layout artists, production designers, story artists, digital renderers, graphic designers, modelers, and others who created Cars 3. As usual for these “art of” books, each piece of art is identified by its artist: Paul Abadilla, Grant Alexander, Bert Berry, Bill Cone, Craig Foster, Louis Gonzales, John Hoffman, Josh Holtsclaw, Katherine Kelly, Noah Klocek, Ivo Kos, Kyle MacNaughton, Scott Morse, George Nguyen, Bob Pauley, Laura Phillips, Jerome Ranft, Xavier Riffault, Tony Rosenast, Andrew Schmidt, Jay Shuster, Garret Taylor, J. P. Vine, and others.

In addition, there are quotes from these artists. “The film opens with an exuberant burst of racing, reintroducing McQueen at the top of his game. The goal was to immerse the audience in the excitement of racing and show the camaraderie between racers. It can be bewildering to know how to begin, but having a temporary piece of music helps set the tempo. Then I’ll thumbnail, usually discarding tons of shots until it starts to flow and build in the right way.” –JP Vine, story artist. (p. 25)

The movie Cars 3 could not have existed without Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011). Those (and the two Planes animated movies) established the world of anthropomorphic vehicles, especially the champion racing car Lightning McQueen.

“Planned obsolescence. I grew up hearing those words frequently. Uttered by folks irate because their car was falling apart – the phrase was a catchall to express and shake a fist at the mythic (or is it?) conspiracy manufacturers employed to sell a new model annually. Centric to the story of Cars 3 is a theme of unplanned obsolescence. That is to say McQueen didn’t see it coming – until the day a sleek new breed of Piston Cup racer arrived at the track and ate McQueen’s lunch.” –Jay Shuster, Production Designer (p. 13)

The Art of Cars 3 does not give a real plot synopsis of the movie. Instead it presents the protagonist Lightning McQueen, the only major character returning from the two previous movies, a champion racing car but now ten years old. The other characters are the new cast: Natalie Certain, the female auto and romantic interest; Storm Front, McQueen’s newer and more improved rival; all the other Next-Gen racers; Sterling Dunn, sports car and McQueen’s fan and trainer; Cruz, the impish young “kid sister” racer who helps McQueen train (this book’s cover shows McQueen and Cruz training together on the beach); Miss Fritter, the comedy-relief souped-up school bus; the elderly 1950s cars who were Doc Hudson’s contemporaries. Also shown are the locales: the (real) Daytona Speedway; the (fictional) Rust-Eze Racing Center; the abandoned (fictional) town that Doc Hudson, McQueen’s mentor, grew up and trained in. For the real fans of Cars 3, there are a couple of pages of visual outtakes; reference art and conceptual drawings that didn’t get used for the movie.

The three Cars animated movies present anthropomorphic automobiles. Maybe this isn’t what most “furry fans” want, but it is anthro art & fiction. If you like the Cars movies – if living racing cars turn you on – go for it!

Fred Patten

Categories: News

Harassment in fandom needs to be taken seriously – guest post by Lamar.

Thu 22 Jun 2017 - 07:10

Thanks to Lamar for submitting. His articles on Flayrah include this recommended one: “Furry, not an obscure little fandom any more” – it’s as relevant today as in 2011.

A couple of weeks ago I put out a call via Twitter, helpfully reposted by some high profile people, to see if I could get any first hand reports of how Convention and Security staff handled issues at Conventions.

I had exactly three replies in total. One saying that they had once reported someone vaping inside the convention space. One security staffer who was unable to discuss any details but expressed that incidents of harassment do happen, and have to be handled correctly and with care. And finally, another con staffer who accused me of being on a “fishing expedition” and using rumours to ascribe bad faith.

And outside of twitter I talked to a young member of the fandom, who continues to receive targeted convention related harassment. I’m going to call him Adrian, but that’s not his real name. Adrian shared copies of the messages. They include slurs and rants, including for instance “You ATTENTION seeking c***”. Adrian received this harassment, for speaking out about what happened to him at a convention some years ago. I ask him to talk about it.

It started when he complimented someone on their fursuit at a convention.
Then some drinks.
And an invite to a hotel room to party.
And then being pressured into non-consenting sex.
Or to use the correct word, rape.

The next morning, Adrian had to leave the convention. Maybe if he’d stayed, he’d have gathered the courage to report it. But instead Adrian tried to put it behind him, after all surely it was just a mistake.

“I didn’t tell the staff because I thought the guy cared about me,” Adrian tells me, “Then after the con ended he told me that I needed to get [psychiatric] help because being trans is wrong.”

It wasn’t till later, when Adrian felt able to talk about what had happened. And that’s when Adrian started getting defensive messages, recounting a different version of events from those Adrian remembered.

Which quickly escalated to harassment from multiple people, all aimed at trying to keep Adrian quiet. “One of their friends contacted me and harassed me, I blocked their account and they went onto a fake one to continue harassing me.”

Adrian is a victim of the circle of silence that I fear has set in to the fandom. There seems to be a great amount of social pressure on not ‘creating drama’.  What little is seen is in rumours passed around social media, and the occasional flare up when administrative action is taken against someone who made an accusation on a furry site.  It would be incredibly naive to think that there’s such a small amount of harassment to warrant not having anyone willing to go on the record with me about it. Even if I hadn’t known of Adrian’s story, or multiples like it. I am deeply concerned that the Furry Fandom has developed a toxic culture where we don’t talk about harassment, because it might make the fandom look bad.

– Lamar

Notes from Patch: 

Speaking of inaction, Lamar let me see a concept that has some attention in fandoms, the Missing Stair.

Here’s a story about BLFC 2017. It started when the below complaint got traffic on Furry Twitter and Telegram:

This is not the track record you want your convention to have, I hope. pic.twitter.com/8hVhkrRSxd

— Junius ???????? @ AC2017 (@JUNIUS_64) June 2, 2017

There was no ID but the talk led me to notice that guy in the hall, so I got the badge name that was being sought. A little while later he was wandering a public area and going slightly over the line of physical respect by smacking stranger’s butts with a ball, so security kicked him out of the room and I got video. A tip connected all that to the original complaint.

I have no idea how they handled it from there. That’s something they keep private for good reasons, I think. The guy seemed chastened by being kicked out and I would rather not do shaming by sharing video without a compelling reason (which would likely only come from people directly involved).  I’m not the police or con security, and I saw evidence of someone lacking friends or social skills. Basically, a lonely guy who wasn’t much of a threat, making its own punishment in a small way. (Same for Furry Raiders who were hiding like losers with a little gaggle of “bodyguards” to go anywhere.)

The original discussion on Twitter caused action to connect the ID and a record in case complaints repeat. I would take that as a pretty good result and a little positive sign about the goodness of the community. Be like that.

Here’s the alt-furries other side: “don’t just do something, sit there!” For the real fandom: if you see anyone acting like Adrian’s harassers, don’t let it go.

Experiences or opinions? Please comment.

Categories: News

Léonid T. 2, La Horde, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi – Book Review by Fred Patten

Wed 21 Jun 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Léonid. T. 2, La Horde, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi.
Toulon, France, Soleil, May 2016, hardcover 10,95 (48 pages).

My thanks to Lex Nakashima, as usual for this French bande dessinée album.

Brrémaud is the author-artist of those French wordless “Love” animal albums that many fans collect, but in this case he is only the author. Turconi is the artist.

To repeat what I said about the first album, “The locale is the farming district of Deux-Sèvres, in central-west France. ‘Léonid is a cat, not yet an adult, but not a kitten, either. Just a young cat. He lives in a house in the district, in the midst of trees, pretty far from any city and close to a farm.’ Léonid is a young housecat, living with two other housecats (Hoa Mai, a Siamese, and Rosso, an elderly orange Pekinese) and a dog (Mirza, a toy terrier). His household is also the home of Atchi, a mouse constantly sneezing because he’s allergic to cat hairs. Léonid is allowed outside during the daytime to associate and play with the local feral cats; the female black-&-white Ba’on, and the males Bouboule (the fat one), Arsène (the nervous one), and an anonymous one (because he’s almost immediately killed). […] The Two Albinos is mostly the story of how Ba’on is kidnapped by the two albinos to be their slave, and how Léonid and Atchi, the sneezing mouse, venture outside to her rescue. They’re successful, but not really because Ba’on reveals that while she was in the albino cats’ power, they boasted that they are just the vanguard of ‘the horde’, ‘the avant-garde of the terror of Great Attila, our guide’ who will kill or enslave all the animals of the district.   Léonid, Ba’on, Aichi, Hoa Mai, Rosso, and Mirza are left wondering what to do when Attila and his horde arrive?”

In t.2, the Horde arrives. The animals in Léonid’s house – three housecats, Mirza the toy terrier, and Atchi the mouse are enjoying their daily life. Old Rosso, who is suffering erratic memory loss, sleeps most of the time. Young Léonid goes out each day to associate with the local feral cats, Bouboule, Arsène, and especially the female Ba’on. They are under the dubious protection of Zeus and Apollo, the farmer’s two large, fierce guard dogs who watch over his small flock of sheep. Before the coming of the Horde’s bloody outliers, Zeus and Apollo would tear apart any cat they could catch; but after the animals’ adventures together against the Horde’s scouts led by the two sadistic albino cats, the neighborhood pets and the guard dogs have made common cause against Attila’s coming Horde.

The action begins when a family of cats – two parents and two young kittens – comes tearing into their neighborhood, barely ahead of the Horde. Zeus and Apollo are barely dissuaded from attacking them, and Léonid and the neighborhood cats put them up in the farmer’s barn when the Horde arrives, led by the two albino cats. They will kill any other cats, but they are especially looking for Ba’on and Léonid who escaped them earlier.

Léonid has to get back and forth from the barn to his house to organize a defense. It’s too risky to go above ground, so Atchi shows them some tunnels that friendly moles have dug. It helps, but it’s not enough. The solution is provided by the cat who seems to be the weakest.

T.2 has such a happy ending that I am not sure whether this has been only a two-album series or not. The subtitle is “The Adventures of a Cat”, so if it is to continue, Brrémaud & Turconi will have to move on to a new adventure. That should be easy; Léonid is an adventurous young cat.

Léonid is an enjoyable light adventure series, in easy French for the fan who isn’t fluent in it.

Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Youtube’s popular Reptile Channel has a history of banned animal abuse by JonahVore.

Mon 19 Jun 2017 - 06:40

Reptile Channel is not the same as The Reptile Channel (11,000+ subscribers and joined in 2014).

Love your pets.  Eat a hamburger if your diet allows.  But don’t eat your pets.  And definitely don’t stomp them to death for sadistic sexual pleasure. (That’s crush fetish, a thankfully illegal practice that qualified for the Internet Hall Of Shame because of kitten murder.)

We can talk about weird stuff here. This is internet city. If you have gone down some of its shady alleys after dark, you might have seen vore fetish. (That’s the erotic fantasy for consuming others or being consumed, which might involve dragons.) It’s usually harmless and imaginary.

A tip came in about a story that blurs the lines between those things.  It’s about videos of small animals being fed to larger ones, using a reasonable-sounding cover story about science, education and necessary feeding. But there’s a taint of less tasteful secrets behind it.

Pets have to eat.  Forcing it for pleasure or profit begs the question of whose appetite is really being served. Calling it animal abuse may involve careful attention or reading between the lines – but that has been the reason for account bans and efforts to hide this story.

The tipster, Tanookicatoon, poked the underbelly and made it cough up some ugly truth. Links, images and info in italics are added by editor. (- Patch)

Current Patreon page.

(Youtube:) “Reptile Channel is for people who enjoy reptiles, learning about them, and plain ol’ just enjoy watching them. The channel focuses on the science of reptile feeding behavior.

Back in the day when we were working on our thesis of reptile feeding behavior we created videos weekly or twice weekly to support a master’s dissertation. The focus has always been on creating high quality reptile videos to support the thesis, and more diverse the better. Reptile Channel is distinct from the vast majority of reptile content today in that we focus specificaly on the science of feeding behavior and reptile (and avian) anatomy and physiology.

Reptile Channel was created to freely share original content with everyone. Our goal from the beginning is to create a comprehensive scientific portfolio of reptiles hunting and feeding. This is such a quixotic goal that in the last decade the unique project has grown far beyond any of my expectations in becoming a valuable educational resource.”

Reptile Channel’s most popular video, with 1,200,000+ views from 5/19/17 – 6/19/17.  That shows a fast growing audience. “This video focuses on the science of snake behavior to support a master’s thesis. Video is for citation for junior high school, high school science reports… Filmed with the University of Guadalajara for Biological and Agricultural Sciences”

(Tanookicatoon:) I couldn’t help but notice a new channel breaking out on Youtube, and by noticing, I couldn’t help but feel that the videos I was watching were all too familiar. Sure enough, the more I looked into it, the more the signs began to point to the owner of the channel being JonahVore.  If you don’t remember who that is, he is a notorious animal abuser, using reptiles nature of swallowing animals whole to indulge in his vore fantasies. This person was exposed years ago, when he was originally posting content to YouTube in 2007 and was banned.

I began to look at his old website and in the old Big Gulp Message Boards, and noticed that a lot of his posts and videos from his original site were now missing. On top of it, I actually found the Reptile Channel being advertised on the Big Gulp Message Boards. Of course, when this was mentioned, the links on the message board quickly disappeared.

I didn’t get a screen shot of what was in the Advertisements, but the first read something among the lines of, “new RL vore channel, HD video, some of them a lot you might remember.” Which prompted me to start using the Wayback website.  Sure enough, you can see that, while you can no longer read the advertisements, you can still see that they, indeed, were made, and dated.

Going to Reptile Channel on Patreon, you can see that the dates which certain posts were made match up very closely. This gave me the big idea to simply go to the original JonahsVore website through the Wayback to see if I could find anything. Sure enough, I found one matching video. A video of his raven being forcefed a mouse, which is on his Youtube channel as well.  I recognized it right off the bat.

  • Reptile Channel raven video, and Patreon post about it (and screen) dated close to the Big Gulp ad.
  • Archived Jonahvore site with same raven movie, and current site with video removed. 
  • The old archived raven video is lo-res. Reptile Channel’s new post of this video is in HD, so it isn’t just sourced from the web, it’s directly from the original. 

He’s doing the same thing that he did last time.  Hiding under that vague “educational” disguise. His original account lasted for a couple years before his original videos got him banned. There are users that take account of his old videos as well.  This was the one that got him in the most trouble – he clearly does things to force his animals to do this. (Repost:) “Snake / Python Eats Chick / Bird Alive”. (- Tanookicatoon)

(Patch:) I see the Youtube channel claims to be part of study for a zoology degree.  Tanooki comments on a FurAffinity journal post about this: “A lot of their videos claim to be college studies in labs, but they’re obviously in their bedroom, or kitchen.”  There are more comments worth reading there.

Tanooki showed me a FurAffinity note that confronted the owner of the Big Gulp message board about the JonahVore/Reptile Channel connection, who then refuses to confirm or deny it. There’s an excuse about owner safety but no mention of evading bans. Tanooki also documented Vore furries supporting the Patreon. Besides furries, thousands of regular viewers may have no idea about hidden motives. Here’s transparency about a channel that appears to be aiming for professional goals and legit science. Remember, even testing on lab animals is supposed to have rigorous standards.

The farthest fringes of fetish can be harmless fantasy.  But there’s a boundary that may call for awareness expressed by Tanooki’s FA journal:

I do not, in any way, condone animal abuse whatsoever. Vore is a fetish that should remain a fantasy, and should not be brought into reality by human hands. Abusing the true nature of animals for your sexual needs is disgusting.

UPDATE 6/20/17:

1) This 2009 Livejournal post describes in detail what JonahVore did to be banned from Youtube in the past:

Amidst the horrors of his videos, I’ve seen a monitor lizard savagely bitten around the face and eyes by a rat over 20 times while it attempted to kill the rat, with no attempt made by the owner to prevent such harm to his animal.

I have seen video of a python that has obviously been pre-fed a rat have a live chick fed to it, the objective being that the snake will not be able to swallow the chick right away and he can closeup of the poor bird struggling and peeping desperately as it lunges half out of the mouth and the python grasps it, over and over. And then, when the chick is finally swallowed, focus in on the snake’s throat to see the still struggling chick’s outline and hear it still crying.

This is all done with the implication through his name and certain of his actions that he is doing this for sexual gratification.

I have seen him callously toss animals together that were not providing the response he wanted. This man does not care about or for the reptiles he is keeping. He does not care about humane feeding methods.

2) This 2014 Livejournal post has a screencap of JonahVore’s face and other personal details.

3) From Reddit’s r/reptiles:

I’m a huge fan of The Reptile Channel – HerpersTV. They make quality, educational videos and I’m happy to share them everywhere I can. I know that in talking with Dāv Kaufman who owns The Reptile Channel, that he’s taking steps to protect his copyright and trademarks, but aside from this, every reptile person should condemn channels like this open and publicly… I’m going to forward it on to Dāv, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Categories: News

The Bay Area Furries return to San Francisco Pride with an amazing spectacle.

Fri 16 Jun 2017 - 10:08

A Burning Man art car will carry furries in the SF Pride parade… If a few furs step up to volunteer as safety monitors.

Just a few more are needed to qualify. Time is short to make it happen on 6/25/17.  See info below and ACT NOW!  

Here’s some cool art cars at Burning Man, and even more here. (Those are NOT FOR THE PARADE, the car will be a surprise.)

Furries are ready for a better parade than ever before.  They got involved around 2002-2004, and returned with a float in 2014-2015, but relaxed with just a booth in 2016.  The time is right for a big comeback. Before now they used plain rental trucks, but even modest effort got amazing feedback for putting 50+ members in front of crowds and media.  (Take a look back at fursuiting in 2012, a float in 2015, and much more on the Pride tag.)

Capri, a fabulous transgender dragon, sent this memory:

In the last year we did the parade, I met a great friend who helped me to start transition.  I managed to walk the entire way in fursuit, a feat I am quite proud of. I still use that video to show off my suit.  I also really enjoyed passing by the judges and having one of them say awesome words of kindness to me.  We went to a Korean barbeque place afterwords and mistakenly thought it was all you can eat. (Patch): sorry, I confused it with a different place I was at once before… (Capri): It was fine, I should be the sorry one, you took care of it and the bill was pretty staggering.

That’s the positive vibe that furries bring to Pride.  But there’s an important ingredient they need to make it happen.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – THE FLOAT CAN’T ENTER WITHOUT YOU. PLEASE GET INVOLVED!

Organizer Roman Otter says: The SF Pride Parade and March is one of the largest and most colorful events in San Francisco, and we have a reserved place in it.  However, there are training and registration tasks we must complete to be eligible.  If we don’t get enough people there won’t be a float!  Here’s how to join:

1) See complete participant instructions (PDF).

2) Here is a video that needs to be watched by all:

3) Take this quiz to validate yourself  (our group title is “Bay Area Furries”) – and then you’re in! Confirm to organizer contacts below.

Wheel Monitors and Contingent Monitors are mandatory to help with our growing attendance. WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS TO BE ELIGIBLE YET – PLEASE JOIN.

$$$ DONATIONS HELP. $$$  We’ll pay for water for suiters and marchers, sound system, the art car we’ll dance and wave from, and fees associated with the parade. Paypal donations are being collected by organizer Zoren: Zorenm@gmail.com – please throw money at him!

Updates are coming, like our location in the parade route that’s still waiting to be chosen by Pride. The place and time will be updated once we know. How do fursuiters prepare? During the event, the float will have a fursuit lounge on it.  There will be after meets (dinner etc.) to announce as well.

The Meetup page is one place for updates. Go leave an RSVP if you’re a member.  The event is also being discussed on Bay Area Furries groups.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION!  Now you have the info.  Follow the steps, watch for updates, and tell your friends that this will be the best event ever!  If you have questions, ping @RomanOtter (on Telegram and most things), Zoren on Twitter or email or @ZorenManray on Telegram, or Patch from links on the About page.

Categories: News

Monkey Wars, by Richard Kurti – book review by Fred Patten.

Fri 16 Jun 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Monkey Wars, by Richard Kurti
NYC, Delacorte Press, January 2015, hardcover $17.00 (409 [+1] pages), Kindle $10.99.

Monkey Wars has been described as “a dark fable in the tradition of” – different reviewers have compared it to several other adult talking-animal novels; but almost always including Animal Farm and Watership Down. The British edition was nominated for two literary awards. It has been translated into French, German, and Japanese.

The novel, set in India, is based on the proliferation of wild street monkeys, usually rhesus macaques, in Delhi and Kolkata. They travel in troops and attack people if they are disturbed – sometimes when not provoked. The specific event that inspired Monkey Wars was from The New Delhi Times for 21 October 2007: “In a sinister development, the deputy mayor of Delhi, S. S. Bajwa, died this morning after being attacked by a gang of rhesus macaques.” But whenever the authorities try to curb the monkey problem, they are attacked by devout Hindus because all monkeys are believed to be sacred to Hanuman, the monkey god. Authorities have tried importing langur monkeys, a larger species, to scare the rhesus monkeys away, but with mixed success.

(This is still a problem. The New Indian Express reported on April 6, 2017 the discovery of a wild naked girl about 8 to 10 years old living with a troop of monkeys in the forests in northern India. When local police tried to remove her, they were attacked by the monkeys acting as though they were protecting one of their troop. The story was almost immediately disproven – the girl was wearing rags, and the monkeys ran away without attacking anyone. Authorities now believe that the girl, who is severely retarded, was recently abandoned by her family. But the story of a wild child being adopted and raised in the forests for years by monkeys was considered plausible.)

“They struck at noon.

Monkeys shrieked in confusion as langur fighters sprang down from the cemetery walls, howling in an attacking frenzy. As they stormed through the tombs, fear and panic flashed everywhere. And with the screams came the smell of blood.” (p. 5)

A troop of rhesus monkeys that has been living peacefully for generations in an abandoned human cemetery (which in India is full of miniature Hindu temple reproductions) is suddenly ruthlessly attacked by an organized army of langur monkeys. The langurs kill all the rhesus males, drive out the females and children, and take over the cemetery for themselves.

The beginning of the novel is divided into two stories, told in mostly alternating chapters; those of Papina, a young rhesus girl, and of Mico, a young langur boy. Papina and her mother Willow are traumatized by the disappearance of their males, and by being driven into the streets of Kolkata that are already filled by as many slum monkeys as they will hold. Mico, who is too young to question what he is told, is delighted by the palatial new home that the langur Lord Ruler Gospodar announces that he has found for them.

The short chapters are full of action and tension. Papina, Willow, and the other rhesus females are harried into increasingly shabby and dangerous neighborhoods. They are finally rescued by Twitcher, a rhesus male who takes them to a temple of Hanuman where they can live in peace, if not the luxury that they had known in the cemetery.

Mico, who is more curious than most langur children, is told to not ask questions:

“‘But asking questions is …’ Mico frowned. ‘It’s what monkeys do. Monkeys question.’

‘The langur troop aren’t like other monkeys. We were chosen,’ Trumble [Mico’s father] replied solemnly. ‘Chosen to fight for peace. The langur keep the streets safe from the hordes of wild monkeys out there. If we questioned every decision Lord Gospodar made’ – Trumble broke off to look around the cemetery – ‘we wouldn’t have all this.’” (p. 26)

Mico gradually sees things that do not match what he is told. Despite the langur’s advertised freedom and luxury, they are ruled by Lord Gospodar and his Ruling Council of General Pogo, Deputies Tyrell and Hani, and one ordinary monkey to represent the concerns of the common langurs. Monkeys who question the Council tend to be ostracized or disappear.   In scenes within Mico’s chapters, Deputy Tyrell acts like Stalin in the first days of Soviet authority (or like Napoleon at the beginning of Animal Farm), constantly volunteering for minor positions that, added up, will transfer power to him.

Mico and Papina get together in Chapter 12, on page 75. I have revealed several minor spoilers getting this far, so I won’t continue in as much detail. Even though Mico has tried to keep a low profile among the langurs, he is noticed by Deputy Tyrell. Papina’s attempts to get the cemetery back for the rhesuses get her branded as a troublemaker by the other rhesuses who are content to let well enough alone. When she meets Mico, she is forbidden to associate with him..

Papina’s talents cause her to rise in the rhesuses’ hierarchy, and she can see the coming battle with the langurs. Mico’s fears are realized when he sees that the langurs are preparing to take their supremacy outside the cemetery:

“‘The city is looking to us,’ Gospodar declared. ‘It needs us to eradicate the scourge of savage monkeys! The Ruling Council and I are of one mind: in the name of peace, we must mobilize for war!’” (p. 99)

but he remains hesitant to turn against his own leaders, his own people — his own family.

“Mico shuddered as the dampness of the night crept up on him. He scrambled to the top of the wall and perched himself on the smooth coping stones.

On one side of him was the cemetery, on the other the city stretching out into the distance. He was perched between two worlds in more ways than one. Whichever decision he made seemed to lead to unhappiness. Maybe he should just spend the rest of his life sitting up here on this wall.” (p. 145)

Will Mico and Papina join together to prevent a bloody, fatal confrontation? Or will they remain separate for a tragic, Romeo-&-Juliet conclusion?

Or will something unexpected happen?

Kurti’s writing is straightforward but gripping; Monkey Wars (cover by Will Staehle) deserves the accolade of “unputdownable”. Since Mico and Papina are both monkey young adolescents, Monkey Wars could serve as a Young Adult novel. It is published as an adult literary novel from a major publisher, and it got good reviews, so your public library may have it. Author Kurti has an animated blurb for Monkey Wars on his website.

Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

The Mask of Bone, by Brian Panthera – book review by Fred Patten

Thu 15 Jun 2017 - 10:13

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Mask of Bone, by Brian Panthera
Bloomington, IN, iUniverse, November 2016, trade paperback $20.99 (xvii + 331 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Mask of Bone – which is only Book 1 of the Otherworlds saga – is High Fantasy. Really High Fantasy, replete with lots of footnotes. The first footnote is: “To reduce confusion, calendar dates in the text will use the Universal Calendar (UC), based on the Central Timekeeping System used by the kitsune of the dimension of Escher. 11973 UC corresponds to roughly 2001 A.D. in the Gregorian Calendar used in most dimensional variations of Earth, and 1507 KI in the calendar on most of Tayrik, which dates back to […]” Does that reduce confusion? The world of Tayrik is where the action begins.

“Long ago, the mask of bone was shattered, its bearer slain, the pieces stolen. They were scattered through the dimensions to prevent its reassembly.” (blurb) Xolotl, the Aztec guide to the dead, wants the Mask reassembled, and he drafts Pflarrian to do it. Pflarrian Collifox is a student at the Mirial’s Rock Academy of Magic (and Mayhem) on Tayrik who is slowly turning into a fox. He looks like a gaunt human with “a long, bushy red tail sticking through a hole in his jeans, and a pair of large, pointy, red, furry, fox ears sticking up from under a shock of long reddish-brown hair that was usually pulled back in a rough ponytail.” (p. ix)   Professor Verdigris, who is a dragon, has assigned Pflarrian to do something entirely different, but Xolotl waylays him and persuades him to search the dimensions for the pieces of the Mask before he finishes turning into a fox. Got all that?

Oh, and Pflarr’s girlfriend Marani is a sometimes-impulsive anthro jaguaress:

“She paused in the kitchen just long enough to wash Pflarrian’s blood from her claws before returning to bed.” (p. 78)

Despite The Mask of Bone’s being set in a supposedly predominantly human dimension, there are more anthropomorphic animals than humans in this novel; including gods taking on anthro animal forms:

“It was here, finally, that the goddess [Isis] found the one she had come here to speak with. He stood slightly stooped over as he leaned on the edge of a great carved-marble reflecting pool, gazing at something only he could see. Her quarry [Xolotl] was an impressive sight. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was a humanoid canine like the goddess’s current form, but where she had taken the form of a jackal, he bore the form and shape of heavier-set dog-being, looking more like a rough-coat collie. His fur was a dark, almost metallic bronze in most places, accented here and there with white and bone-colored highlights. Fine robes fit for an emperor draped his body, glowing with the colors of the setting sun. They were resplendent in rich tones of orange and red. His head was adorned with a heavy-looking gold crown of sorts, bedecked with an array of long, brightly colored feathers. They swept back from just behind his canine ears to a point almost two feet over his head. Matching golden bracelets rode his wrists. A chunky, heavy necklace formed of square blocks of gold graced his neck and shoulders, barely visible through the thick ruff of fur about his neck.” (p. xiv)

I’ve quoted that at length to give you a taste of Panthera’s opulent writing style. The book is full of furry references. Isis has issues with cat-headed Bastet. One of a college professor’s assistants is Kalya, an anthro black-footed ferret. Someone mentions getting in a shipment of citrus fruits from the Felinid Empire. “It [a doorknock] was answered by a diminutive female mouse in pale blue student’s robes. She looked up at Pflarrian, who towered a good two feet over her, and blinked in surprise.” (p. 55) “The immortal had rented a private room at the Sign of the Nine Tails, a kitsune-run restaurant of some renown near Temple Road.” (p. 83) “The wide variety of beings that inhabited the city caught the wolf’s attention. Humans, felines, canines, something with long, furless, pointed ears that Dashell figured must have been an elf, and a myriad variety of others!” (p. 49) Pflarr’s turning into a fox is constantly kept before the reader: “With a resigned sigh, Pflarrian knelt on the stone floor, making sure not to kneel on his own tail.” (p. 7)

To cut to the admittedly-confusing plot, the first page of the story (as distinct from the 17-page Prologue) begins:

“Dashell awoke to pain. It filled his head to the tips of his fuzzy black ears, ran down his arms and legs, and caused his furry wolf’s tail to twitch in irritation. It made him feel is if someone had been trying to use him as a pincushion.

In other words, he had a hangover.” (p. 1)

Dashell Grauvolf, an alternating black-&-white-furred anthro wolf, is also a college student (computer sciences major) in his dimension. He is kidnapped by a wannabe-demonic mad scientist in Pflarrian’s dimension, escapes before he can be experimented upon (MUHAHAHA!), and is rescued (kind of) by Pflarrian (they think by coincidence, but not really).

Xolotl, who has been scrying what is happening to Dashell (read the book to learn why), has his attention drawn to Pflarrian. He is shocked to find that the same spell that is turning Pflarrian into a fox has made him Xolotl’s champion, even if no one is aware of it. So he appears to Pflarrian to persuade him to search the dimensions for the pieces of the Mask of Bone. But Pflarr doesn’t go alone! He brings Dashell, Marani, and her big (over 8 feet tall) sister Hakarra with him.

They set sail for the Felinid Empire (and promptly get into a sea battle with anthro animal pirates) on page 107. The rest of the 331-page novel is Pflarr’s & Dashell’s adventures looking for the pieces of the Mask of Bone. They don’t find them yet. To be continued in Otherworlds, Book 2: The Fated Ones.

The Mask of Bone (cover imagery © Thinkstock) is good fun, especially if you like a lot of transformations. Be prepared for one of the characters (a wolf) to have a thick German accent:

“She sighed. ‘I vill explain later, D’shal. Meanvile, ve haf to make sure neizzer Faylarrian nor Zaul do anyzing rash, ja?’” (p. 64)

Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

What’s Yiffin’? – June 2017 edition of syndicated furry news.

Mon 12 Jun 2017 - 10:39

Can you believe it’s been five months since What’s Yiffin’ was picked up by Dogpatch Press? We can’t; it still feels like we’re just getting started here every month even though this feature is now a regular thing (and we’ve been running this series since 2015). It’s all about having confidence really, and this will make a nice segue into one of our stories because it’s exactly that. No, wait that’s “Confurence”. Anyway we’ve got your usual lineup this month: something gets cancelled, someone phones in a bomb threat somewhere, and Dracokon complains about the current state of the fandom. Get out your officially licensed What’s Yiffin’ bingo cards and play along because it’s time to start this article proper.

THE O.C. IS THE NEW O.G.

We’re pretty sure everyone reading this has played the “[Your Name] the Hedgehog” game; you know, the one where you literally punch something like “Andre the Hedgehog” into Google and see what DeviantArt-tier Sonic fanon characters crop up? It’s incredible but there’s usually an “OC” (“Original Character”) for every name you can think of. Make no mistake, “the OC” is a huge thing in Sonic circles and it has been dating as far back as the early years of the Internet on places such as the late Sonic HQ. If it pleases the jury, one of the two people behind What’s Yiffin’ even had an OC at one point, that’s how prevalent this is.

But why all the OC talk though? Well, coming to stores this holiday season is Sonic Forces which comes with a built-in character creator. Believe it or not this is the first of its kind in a Sonic game, never before have players been able to create their own characters and team up with the Blue Blur himself. Up until now that privilege has been reserved solely for the realm of awkward and shameful fanfiction. In a trailer that has been dubbed the “Custom Hero” trailer SEGA revealed Forces’ character creator by finally clearing up just who this “new character” was that’s had people biting at tooth and nail for more information. It’s you.

SEGA later followed up with a list of species available for use in the creator: bear, bird, dog, cat, wolf, rabbit, and hedgehog. Each of them have their own unique traits which have subtle effects on gameplay regarding things such as how the characters take and recover from damage, how they can collect rings, or how inflation art of them should be drawn. Eagle-eyed readers have probably noticed by now the huge hole in the species list –“fox” and “echidna” are nowhere to be seen. Yes that’s right, Tails and Knuckles superfans are currently high and dry at the moment with no confirmation one way or the other if their OC’s will have a place in the game. There’s still a whole half of a year before this game’s release though so anything can change between now and then.

Finally, DeviantArt — arguably the ground zero of Sonic OC’s — had a moment of self-awareness on social media when they tweeted out a congratulations to their fanbase for making “the OC” official canon. Smiles all around, everyone. We’re looking forward to the release of Sonic Forces later this year, available on all major platforms including PC.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1989

Mark Merlino might not be a household fandom name to you, and that’s truly a shame because in the grand scope of the furry fandom he’s quite an important person. Back in 1989, Mark was one of the organizers of Confurence Zero, considered by and large to be the world’s very first furry convention. Yes, as crazy as it sounds and as hard as it might be to believe “furry” predates the commoditization of the Internet by just a narrow window and got on its feet before a significant slice of its current base was even born. Hell, if you add together the ages of the What’s Yiffin’ news team in 1989 you get four.

Mark and his partner Changa Lion have put forth an incredible amount of work digitizing and putting online “The Confurence Archive” (www.confurence.com). They’ve taken the old defunct Confurence convention website and have revitalized it with over TWO THOUSAND images, videos, and digital scans from Confurence’s seasoned history plus additional odds and ends such as magazine advertisements, conbooks, mailing forms, old fandom memes, and much more ephemera that thankfully was not lost to time. In an interview right here on Dogpatch Press, Mark said when he and his friends all moved in together way back in the day their collections of books and mementos formed a sort of “library”. Now, 28 years after the first Confurence, it’s all online. For you. For free.

Please do go and check it out, we implore you to give a shit about this. With the fandom in its current state at times it feels like we’ve completely forgotten where we’ve come from as a fandom and The Confurence Archive is here to give us that rare glimpse back to the way things used to be, before the drama. We owe a lot to Mark & Co. for helping us get to where we are today, so from us and everyone else at Gatorbox, thank you. Thank you Mark, Changa, and everyone else who played a role in the creation of this archive; we can only hope in coming years more archives such as this one will appear.

GROUNDED

Over the weekend of May 19-21 Califur took place. We’ll leave it up to you to guess which state it was in. This just so happened to be Califur’s 13th convention and its theme was “horror” (because Friday the 13th, get it?), however if you’re a superstitious person then you know 13 is an unlucky number and luck would rear its ugly side at Califur this year.

Historically, the convention has always hosted a small number of BDSM panels for people interested in learning more about the lifestyle — whether or not you believe a BDSM panel to be appropriate content at a furry convention is up to you, and while we won’t be getting into a specific side of that argument it does play an integral role in this particular story. One of the panels, formerly named “BDSM 101: What is a Little/Big?” was renamed to simply “Meet the Babyfurs!”. Now that we’ve said “the B word” you can probably pinpoint with surgical precision exactly where problems arose.

An unknown fur (or potentially a group of them) took it upon themselves to phone in some threats to the Califur venue because of this panel. The immediate fallout caused the panel to be renamed “Littles Meetup”, but the damage was done. Everyone knew what that panel was and now that nefarious people had their sights set on it it’s not a huge stretch for them to see this through to its ultimate conclusion. Security at the convention was increased, obviously, but in the end the “Littles” panel was canned. That’s right, the people making the threats got what they wanted in the worst manner possible.

The people calling in these bogus threats are total assholes, don’t get us wrong, but despite this perhaps the only sympathetic aspect of their cause was the notion of “it happened to them, it can happen to us too”; the inappropriate behavior of many furs has led to the indefinite termination of at least one convention (Rainfurrest), and the seemingly negative viewpoint people take with things such as babyfurs would be reason for concern. “Concern” is an important emotion to highlight here, because in a statement released by the convention Califur stated that at no point did anyone approach or contact the con staff with concerns regarding the content of the panel or the existence of the panel itself. Nope, they just went straight to bogus bombs, which is a felony offense.

Personally, we don’t care what consenting adults do behind closed doors as long as it stays between them and the public isn’t subjected to it against their will. That said, if you really have a problem with things like a panel for babyfurs, bring it up through the appropriate channels. That’s why they’re there.

(Editor’s note from Patch: Trolling attacks at Califur’s venue originated from @altfurrydiscord, a group of Nazi furs who use extreme racism as a shit-test to filter members for a smaller secret “cyber_activism” group where the planning is done.  It’s led by Casey Hoerth, a former staffer of the Trump campaign, also known as “Len Gilbert / The Furred Reich”. Before this info leaked, he lied to deny his group was the source of the attack and attempted to scapegoat supposed “SJW’s”. When it leaked and the smokescreen failed, those posts were deleted and he removed his role as owner of “cyber_activism” to hide it.)

DROUGHT RESTRICTIONS

Last but not least it wouldn’t be a proper edition of What’s Yiffin’ without some convention somewhere getting cancelled and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. The Great Lakes Fur Con was set to happen May 26-28, however due to a shortage of staff the event was called off. That’s it. Nothing happened. Nobody crapped in a hot tub, nobody had sex in public, nobody left used diapers on someone’s car, nobody partook in unknown substances and had to have the paramedics called in… this was just a case of convention staff having to step down due to personal reasons.

The remaining staff chose to cancel the convention because they did not want to host a sub-par event and let everyone down, and really? That was the smart move. Even smarter is that if you had already registered for this year’s GLFC you’re already good to go for 2018. No dates have been announced, so if this potentially isn’t good for you and you’re unsure if you can make it next year the con staff wants you to contact them at registration@greatlakesfurcon.com to work something out. Again, that’s the smart move. We had never really even heard of this convention but thus far we’re impressed with how they handle business. Everyone else should be taking notes here.

Even though there was no official convention this story still has a happy ending, too; the remaining staff of GLFC elected to hold a big cookout/potluck and invited furs in the area to bring a dish and come hang out. Afterwards, everyone went bowling! Sure, it’s not a convention but that still sounds like a hell of a way to spend a day.

That’s a wrap on last month’s most interesting stories from the fandom. Thank you for checking us out! As always, we’d like to invite you to come check out What’s Yiffin’ when it is broadcast live as part of the first Friday show of Gatorbox, every Friday night at 9PM. Follow us on Twitch so you’ll know when we are live!

André “Dracokon” Kon & Rob “Roastmaster” Maestro

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Categories: News

Celebrity Dish, by M. R. Anglin – Book Review by Fred Patten

Fri 9 Jun 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Celebrity Dish, by M. R. Anglin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2017, trade paperback $4.99 (100 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $1.99.

M. R. Anglin has written five previous books in her Silver Foxes series. The foxes with metallic, silvery fur who controlled electricity had made themselves and their nation of Expermia the masters of the world of Clorth. 1,500 years ago the other nations of Clorth joined together in invading Expermia and killing all the silver foxes. They have been extinct until now. J. R. Dunsworth (wolf), a criminal with a soft heart, rescues two orphaned fox kits and raises them as his own children. When Xenatha (Xena), a gray fox, approaches puberty, her fur begins to turn silvery and she develops electrical powers that she can’t control. The first four Silver Foxes novels tells what happens to Xena; her younger sister Kathra; their foster father J. R.; Hunter, the boyfriend Xena finds; and the villains who plot to kill the others and control Xena’s powers for themselves.

Book 5 is the small 79-page Interlude, and it does seem like an interlude in the series. J.R. takes the others to hide on the Isle de Losierres, the most exclusive and richest vacation resort on Clorth. He hadn’t revealed that the wolf businesswoman who runs the Isle is his long-suffering sister Chloe. Xena and the others finally have a chance to relax and bond as a family. Xena’s adolescent foster cousin Mira (wolf) introduces her to her friends (Shandra, a tigress, Dori, a chameleon, and Katie, a raccoon), and Xena, still hiding her silver fox nature, begins to live as a normal teen. Xena’s enemies search for her, apparently in vain.

Celebrity Dish, the sixth Silver Foxes book, is a second interlude. Jessica, the hottest pop superstar on Clorth, comes to the Isle de Losierres for a vacation and to give a concert. Jessica is a bird, but what kind is a mystery and part of her mystique – she constantly appears in new costumes to keep everyone guessing.

“One was a tan mongoose [her manager] and the other a bird of … indeterminate species. She had the yellow feathers of a canary, but her tail had the shape of an ostrich’s. Those tail feathers filled the seat so that the mongoose sat tilted toward the door. The feathers on her head curled and swirled around her face, and a crest of three feathers extended beyond them. She had the curved beak of a red-tailed hawk. Her arms – wings, really – rested on her lap. She wore a red, asymmetrical dress that grazed her upper thigh. The dress was so short that Alex, the mongoose, feared that any movement would show of [sic.] her … “treasures” … so he insisted she wear black tights underneath.” (p. 14)

The real reason is that “Dan”, an obsessed fan, has been threatening to find out Jessica’s real species and reveal it. She hopes that the exclusiveness and security of the Isle will keep him away. Hunter, Xena’s boyfriend, is hired as part of her security, and he brings Xena along as Zed, his assistant. The job looks like an easy one, until anomalies about “Dan” begin appearing; and it looks like his real goal is not to reveal Jessica’s true species but to murder her.

A further complication is whether Hunter and Xena can find out who “Dan” is and save Jessica without revealing Xena’s own secret.

Celebrity Dish (cover by the author with Tazia Hall) is a complete story, but there is the brief reappearance of a ghostly German Shepherd from Interlude and a coda that, unknown to Xena and her friends, her enemies are closing in that promises more adventures in the future.

Celebrity Dish is an enjoyable story, but despite all of the anthropomorphic characters – the cat celebrity reporter, the pelican nightclub bouncer, the skunk assassin – and Xena’s electromagnetic silver fur, it’s really the same kind of all-human thriller that I’ve seen in countless 1930s B-movie murder mysteries, especially the Charlie Chan series. Anglin has been developing the Silver Foxes slowly – besides the six books, there are the short stories “On the Run from Isofell” in the anthology Gods With Fur (FurPlanet Productions), and “My Experiences With J. R. Dunsworth“, As Told By Mira”, a 29-page Kindle purchase – but I hope that she returns to full-scale novels soon.

Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Furry Nights movie review – a crowd pleaser for lovers of campy indie horror.

Thu 8 Jun 2017 - 10:46

Do you love trash like I do?  In the 1970’s, exploitation movies became a thing where trash and sleaze were loveable qualities. They had fun doing stuff the mainstream wouldn’t do.  Along with the bad, came good access for audiences that Hollywood didn’t represent, like minorities and subcultures.  Now “Fursploitation” is creeping into popular awareness. I characterize it that way if it portrays “furries” with off-the-rack, poorly fitting mascot costumes and orgy jokes.  That stuff may not play well with furries, but it can.  They’ll probably dislike it if it has low effort at research, or feels carelessly opportunistic or mean, but it helps to be indie and share inside references to laugh together. A success would be CollegeHumor’s “Furry Force”, which the fandom took with good humor.

Furry Nights is an indie horror movie directed by J. Zachary.  It premiered in late 2016 with a theater show in Atlanta. I heard from several very happy furry watchers who attended.  Then Zachary asked me to tell you about it.

Furry Nights is now available on iTunes. Here’s the synopsis from the official website:

“What begins as a carefree weekend amongst a group of camping teens soon takes a strange turn when the gang discovers they are not alone in the forest.  FURRIES have rooted camp just across the nearby lake.  Not worried about the “party animals,” the kids sleep soundly that night, only to be woken by a real life horror — A BEAR!  One of the teens shoots and kills the grizzly monster, but quickly realizes the tragic truth — HE HAS SHOT A FURRY . . . Now, the maniacal furries will stop at nothing to make them pay . . .

CAN THE TEENS SURVIVE THE REVENGE OF THE FURRIES?!”

@KaiWulf said: “Indy film, very campy. We had a good laugh.” And here’s another happy watcher.

FURRY GUEST REVIEW: Lucas Hale shares his experience of the movie premiere in Atlanta.

(Lucas:) Once upon a time, in the magical realm of infinite shitposting that is known as “Furry Twitter”, there was an Internet dog. He was yellow and labradorable, because he associated himself in the fandom of weirdos that play dress-up as talking animals as a yellow labrador. He was slacking around at work as usual, struggling to retain interest in his mountain of boring projects, thumbing through his phone. It was me!

Some anonymous stranger with an avatar of one of “them animal people” had been retweeted onto my twitter timeline. In that tweet-that-changed-my-life was mention of a film playing at the oldest local historic independent theater in Atlanta, Georgia. Some film about killer furries was booked to play there. I’d never heard of such a film, but it immediately caught my interest. I quickly googled the title and didn’t discover much. I went to youtube and hit the keywords. “Furry Nights movie trailer”. There it was. This thing was real.

I first thought it was like a five or ten minute short film. (The Plaza shows them quite often) It was feature length! Breathing heavily and squealing with indescribable joy, I rallied the squad, blasting friends all over Twitter and Telegram, determined to find some brave souls eager enough to sit through me and another one of my shitty movie adventures. (I attend movies every week, no matter what the content.  I’ll usually sit through it good or bad.) I quickly found at least five friends, willing to get to Atlanta, come hell or high water. Good or bad, whether it portrayed furries as horrible sexual deviants, this movie had to be witnessed. The fellowship was born.

We traveled across the land, searching far and wide for parking, of which there was very limited spaces. When we got inside, we shuffled our way nervously to the counter and planted our money on the concession counter, demanding tickets. We were flabbergasted when they told us that the entire theater had been rented out, and all seats were for grabs to anyone willing to watch it. I ain’t gonna complain, I got bills to pay and an insatiable appetite for impulsive purchases.

Shuffling into the back of the theater, trying to go unnoticed, we were greeted and thanked by a suspiciously friendly man, who we could only assume was involved with the picture. Praise was showered upon us, how wonderful it was we came out, what it meant to him that we were supporting it. Did he know who we were? Were we even supposed to be there? Was this some sort of private event we were quietly crashing? We had no idea, but we eventually began to toy with the twitter account for the theater, hinting that our presence had infiltrated one of their movie premieres.

As the movie neared showtime, the man who had greeted us took to the front of the room. He, the director, described the labor of love he had put into making this, how it was his dream to make a feature film and have it play out on a big screen. I admired that about him. He presented himself as a genuinely nice individual and he didn’t really care what anyone else thought. He hoped people would like it, but most of all, he made it for himself and he was proud of it.

We crashed the premiere of #FurryNights & got applauded when the director found out actual furries were in attendance. video:Cajuntagious pic.twitter.com/1aSfbcX4Tf

— Werewulf Dad (@KaiWulf) December 1, 2016

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going in to be honest. This was either going to be so bad and stupid and dumb that it was going to be a laugh riot, or it was just going to be really boring and offensive. Luckily it was the former. My furry fam and I all enjoyed it very much.

Plotwise, it’s fairly simple. Nothing complicated here. It’s your basic horror comedy movie setup for a creature feature. A small group of people adventure out into the woods, for some reason they choose not to leave, despite multiple opportunities. They find an unspeakable evil that hunts them down and whittles them down to smaller numbers.

The difference here being that this time, the creatures terrorizing the hot young cast are humans wearing animal costumes. The monsters in the movie are literally furries in fursuits.  Kinda crummy cheap looking ones compared to what people in the fandom would spend to get one, but it adds to the idea I’m watching some sort of surreal episode of Scooby Doo. I don’t fault the movie for this at all – I can’t think of a single furry who would volunteer to ruin their $2,000 costume. I spent $1,450 just to get my own. Think of all the delicious big macs I had to sacrifice to be a banana dog at furry conventions.

The cheesy fursuits make the film perfect. The entire film pretty much honors and accepts that it’s a low budget B-horror movie production. It hits the ground running and never lets go. Hell, even the main characters in the movie are in the forest producing their own cheesy horror movie. From start to finish it knows it’s ridiculous. The dialogue is quippy and humorous, often bringing a smirky chuckle to your face. Other parts are outlandish and surreal and your eyes are glued to the screen. Did that just happen? Yes it did!

I’m the perfect audience for this film. I watch horror and sci-fi genre media like a nutcase. I pretty much consume cheesy Sy Fy and Asylum movies like nourishment for my soul. I have the added benefit of being able to call myself a furry. I have no idea what someone would think of this that’s not in the furry fandom, like myself, but I thought it was stupidly awesome. It was entrancing.

Furry Nights is an 80’s midnight movie rebranded for a modern audience. What’s not to love? The movie isn’t very original, or smart, or scary, but it’s highly amusing and entertaining and that’s all it is trying to do. It’s all it needs to do honestly. This film isn’t trying to break any new ground, it was clearly meant to be shared with friends late at night at a party with a bunch of alcohol.

It has many different classic horror movie tropes, right down to the fact it begins with a quick kill of an unimportant nameless bastard before the opening title card, who stumbles upon the maniac sex cult of furries. There’s a cabin in the woods like Evil Dead. There’s some great gross out gags here and there. Furry Nights (to my relief) was not trying to make people in the furry fandom look bad, it’s just poking fun at them and it feels good to laugh at yourself.

The whole movie knows how ridiculous it is. It never tries to pass itself off as anything serious, and that’s exactly why it works. I watched this movie to see killer furries, and goddamn did I get that! It delivered on every level! You don’t pay to ride a rollercoaster then complain when you get off! I saw murderous fursuiters terrorizing mostly innocent campers.

I’ve told so many people about this movie, how it needs to be shared, because socially, that’s where this movie is supposed to be viewed. You don’t watch this alone. To fully enjoy this movie to the maximum potential, you need to get your friends for a completely different viewing experience. Audience interaction builds upon the intensity of this odd little gem. It’s kind of like how on its own, Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room, they’re just not the same animal. But if you’re laughing at it with your friends, it becomes the best thing ever made. I’m glad I watched it and invite you to do the same.

– Lucas

Furry Nights is now available on iTunes. Visit the official website for updates and more.

Thanks to Lucas for being the experimental volunteer to watch this.  Personally, I would love to see more such fandom productions – but it’s such a niche that we have to grow and give it time.  Until then, I definitely appreciate good natured “fursploitation”, and friendly fellow travelers on the indie side.  I hope you do too. Try this for a furry movie party!

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Fursuit theft in San Francisco leads to a lion hunt.

Thu 8 Jun 2017 - 07:53

Meet Clumzy Lion from Toronto. He was one of 5,138 furries who came to Biggest Little Fur Con in Reno on June 1-4, 2017. His trip included a night in San Francisco’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf area before flying home.  That’s where he lost his head.  Clumzy’s car was broken into, and they even took his passport so he couldn’t fly.  Being robbed and stuck is much worse than just a sad feline.

Remember a similar fursuit theft that made local news by SFist and Broke-Ass Stuart? More about that below. They’re linked in case they can help.

(Update: thanks to @SFist for sharing the story!)

Clumzy’s plight spread through the grapevine of the SF Bay Area Furs. Zarafa, a purple giraffe and beloved member, took charge of helping.  He told me the story hit him like PTSD, because he was a former victim too.

In January 2016, Zarafa’s giraffe suit disappeared out of his car after Frolic furry dance in SOMA.  The next day, party organizer Neonbunny personally flyered the neighborhood.  A homeless person saw the giraffe abandoned in an alley, and a flyer made the connection to get it home.  Neonbunny’s fast, determined footwork saved the day. (Thanks also to SFist, Broke-Ass Stuart, and furries around the world for moral support. Zarafa says people still come up to him at cons to say they’re happy about it.)

The story brought hope for Clumzy.  Meanwhile, the Canadian Consulate accommodated his other bags and helped him to start getting a new passport.  Zarafa took him in as a house guest for the night.  On Twitter, he was advised to come to the Berkeley Furmeet at Au Coquelet Cafe, where dozens of Bay Area Furries gather on every first Tuesday.  There he was offered hugs, rides, and a flyer by Lilly, and I offered to spread the story.

The next day brought some good luck. The passport was found on the ground near Ghirardelli Square.  It was a clue that connected the theft and the find to a small area.  But searching and flyering was fruitless.  Clumzy was free to fly home, but with a big loss.

The search continues.  Please share, and if the fursuit turns up, we’ll get it home for another happy ending.

I couldn't find the suit head sadly. Rakota will be helping me hunt it down as I head to the airport.

— Clumzy (@ClumzyLion) June 8, 2017

Made by FirestormSix

Zarafa was upset to see history repeat. Keeping a Pelican case in a car appears to make special temptation – thieves think a big case means it’s full of gold, instead of a custom-tailored costume with priceless personal value. He compared the situation to New York City in the 1970’s, when people couldn’t leave their cars closed. They would leave the windows open and take the radios out.

From the NY Times:

Recent data from the F.B.I. show that San Francisco has the highest per-capita property crime rate of the nation’s top 50 cities. About half the cases here are thefts from vehicles, smash-and-grabs that scatter glittering broken glass onto the sidewalks.

It’s a hot discussion in groups for night life. Some venues like DNA Lounge give extra attention to have their security patrol the street.  Cyclists are hard hit, and the SFPD has a twitter channel just to help with bike theft.  People are even having their grandma’s ashes stolen. What’s the solution? Whatever it is, you can’t avoid problems all the time. For times like this, it’s good to have a community that steps up for one of their own.

(Update: Felix The Fox also lost luggage to look for.)

@Felix_the_Fox bag : looks like this pic.twitter.com/eXtmFbF0sG

— Spring Red Lynx (@Jinxthelynx) June 7, 2017

Strap on the bag pic.twitter.com/sx7iyS1TWD

— Spring Red Lynx (@Jinxthelynx) June 7, 2017

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Dyeing To Be With You, by Sisco Polaris – Book Review by Fred Patten

Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Dyeing To Be With You, by Sisco Polaris. Illustrated by Edesk.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, December 2015, trade paperback $12.00 (193 pages), Kindle $4.00.

Dyeing To Be With You is a teenage m/m romance, full of adolescent angst. Lucas, just entering Calder High at 14 years old, was the only polar bear there. The other students, all black bears, bullied him viciously, particularly the sadistic Kalvin. Lucas was a bit of a crybaby, so he took it more emotionally than he should have. He was very happy when his father was transferred to Riker’s Bay and his family left Calder.

But now his father has been transferred back to Calder, and Lucas faces returning to Calder High and its bullies for his final year of high school. He’s grown a lot while he was away – he’s 17 and nearly seven feet tall now — but he’s still emotionally weak, too dependent on his older sister Anna.

“Anna’s baby brother – that’s who he had been all his life. Not that it was a bad thing to have a big sister looking out for him. She had always helped him when he needed it. Of course, she had gotten him into a lot of trouble, too. A baby brother was a fine scapegoat when you work together to steal cookies, or (more lately) when you are sneaking out to go on a date, and you need someone to cover for you with your parents.” (p. 13)

When Anna gets a trainee job at a beauty salon, Lucas gets the wild idea of dyeing his fur and passing as a black bear during his final high school year. Anna scoffs at first, then takes it as a challenge.

‘Yeah sure, a new seven foot tall black bear. Besides, you wouldn’t just need black.’ In spite of herself, the female bear’s mind was working it over. ‘They have light brown on their muzzles.’

‘Well, I’m sure you have light brown dye at the salon,’ the male bear replied, a sly smile coming to his face. It was a crazy, insane idea, and he knew it, but it could work. After all, it was just a year, and then he would be out. He could let the dye fade out naturally, or even take a dip in some dye removal solution.” (p. 13)

They are abetted by Anna’s lively superior, Mrs. Nesbitt, who helps dye Lucas’ fur.

“‘Oh my, what a big lad you are, and so polite, too!’ the black bear said with genuine cheer in her voice as she put the brush down and walked over. She touched his shoulders and gave him a close look. The young bear blushed deeply as he was inspected. ‘Ah, a fine strapping young man. Of course, size never stopped bullies; they don’t have to hurt you to hurt you. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will hurt your spirit.’” (p. 28)

Lucas needs to be dyed all over. He hadn’t realized what that meant.

“He yelped as his sister suddenly ran a comb down his sheath. Nobody had touched him there as long as he could remember. Despite his discomfort at his own sister’s touch, his teenage body tingled at the attention.” (p. 31)

After a tense confrontation with his reluctant parents, Lucas gets permission to go ahead with his plan. Lucas is so keyed up on his first day at Calder High that he almost sabotages himself, especially when he finds his locker is near that of a panda named Charlie who turns out to be a friend of Kalvin. And the upbeat Kalvin determines to welcome Lucas (or “Luke”) to the school. Even Kalvin’s most well-meaning efforts, such as his attempt to get Lucas onto the school baseball team, pose hazards.

“‘Great,’ Lucas muttered half-heartedly. His plan to lay low and sail smoothly through his last year had not factored in participation in any team sports. It wasn’t so much the playing that he was worried about, or even the rather poor attitude of the team’s captain. His mother would insist on coming to every game he played and try to drag the entire family with her. Explaining why there was a family of polar bears cheering him on, oh so very loudly, would be difficult.” (pgs. 89-90)

Lucas finds out that Kalvin had a reasonable justification to be cruel to him when they were younger, which he’s matured out of. During his own growth from 14 to 17, Lucas’ sexuality has also developed. He’s turned out to be gay, which he hasn’t come out to anybody about yet. And guess who he is attracted to?

“Halfway through the first movie, the cola finally took its revenge on Kalvin. The warmth was suddenly gone as the black bear stood up whispering urgently, ‘I gotta pee.’ Lucas leaned back in his chair so Kal could slide passed [sic.] him. For a wonderful moment, his friend’s pert rump became his entire world. The soft, tempting mounds mere inches from his face, a strong hint of his musk filling the bear’s nose. He could all but taste the beautiful posterior taunting him, and the urge to lean forward and grab the delicious black mountains with both paws and pull the black bear down onto his lap was so strong he felt his paws move.” (p. 114)

Also guess how Kalvin responds to this. The scenes where they get together – at least two whole chapters — are definitely NSFW.

The questions remaining to Lucas are how to tell his family that he’s gay, and how to tell Kalvin that he’s really that geeky polar bear wimp that he used to torment. Like I said, adolescent angst — pages of it. But at the end, a happier finale than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Dyeing To Be With You (cover by Edesk) is a funny-animal novel. There’s no reason why the characters couldn’t be humans instead of bears. Polaris handles the description of them as brown bears and polar bears (and Charlie as a panda – he’s Asiatic-American) nicely, but he undercuts this by too many real human references. There are real video games like Battlefield and Call of Duty; baseball teams like the Yankees; states like Alaska and Texas; movies like the Back to the Future trilogy; candy like Snickers and M&Ms. But if you don’t mind a shallow furriness, some poor proofreading amidst the generally good writing, lots of realistic teen male dialogue with four-letter words, and a lot of explicit teenage gay sex in the last half of the novel, you’ll enjoy Dyeing To Be With You.

Fred Patten

Categories: News

Opinion: It doesn’t matter if adult art is more popular than clean art.

Thu 1 Jun 2017 - 10:33

“the truth” – @tinydeerguy

Tinydeerguy’s tweet shows his character being unhappy that being tame is less popular than being sexy. It has thousands of likes and the comments agree. They look down on this situation, or admit it’s true by asking him to take it all off.

Tinydeerguy’s FA gallery demonstrates it with view numbers.  The first page has many tame cartoons with a range of cute stories, but about one in eight are labeled “oh look porn”, “yay another porn,” etc.  They don’t tease, they get right to the point – dicks! Art in the dirty 1/8 gets twice as many views.

Honestly, I think the ratio of  7/8 cuteness to one boner is perfect. If that’s what you want, it’s rewarding without being a one-trick pony. If you don’t, it’s mostly just cute. Pure porn would be monotonous, but the context gives it great variety and it all fits together for the character.

The dirty 1/8 seems to be judged less valuable with titles that are less thoughtful than others.  But Tinydeerguy is enjoying the attention and pointing it out at the same time.  (You could call that a wee bit hypocritical, but I think it shows social shame, not personal cynicism.)  The many likers/judgers are doing that too.

Isn’t that kind of self-hateful?

Adult art has always been popular like that, and liable to get hate.  The Burned Furs made an entire puritanical crusade against it. They claimed it was degenerate. They were wrong.

First of all, it’s nobody’s business to judge. Sex is healthy and drawing it is more creative than any other depiction.  For furry art, it’s a feature not a bug:

“I adore furry porn,” says The Dog. “I much prefer it to images of real life humans. I think it’s worth mentioning that furry porn tends to have more humanity than a lot of ‘regular’ porn. Since it’s a drawing, the artist has to bring emotion and humanity into the image in order to make it relatable on some level.” Furry porn endeavors toward emotional narratives, and most mainstream pornographic films still don’t employ that strategy.

– Emily Gaudette, “Furries Are Having Future Sex” (Inverse.com)

Secondarily, I think adult art isn’t unfairly rewarded, because comparing it to tame art isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison.

Look beyond the one example of Tinydeerguy. Popufur.com ranks the most popular furry artists on FurAffinity. (The site seems broken and I can’t tell when it was last updated, but you can still see a list that demonstrates the point.)  The top 20 artists on the list all have porn in their galleries.

You HAVE to draw porn to get popular, right?

Wrong… that’s not looking high enough. Fandom isn’t the whole world.

Look at a list of prestigious convention guests of honor.  You can find many who are honored for achieving in the mainstream.  They may not be furries, it’s true, but they’re adjacent by accepting the invitation to mingle. They’re artists and fans too, with careers that many furry artists aspire to.

Those guests of honor don’t have to draw dirty to get professional. (Actually, some do it privately – It’s best to keep it separate from a portfolio, but I’m pretty sure that it’s not so stigmatized these days as it used to be.  Companies understand that artists work for passion or take many different kinds of jobs, and furry is even a cool marketing thing now.) They succeeded with tame art – and so can you.

Being “forced” to draw dirty is more like making a choice between getting good enough as an artist to win recognition – or delivering a type of content in demand. It’s not even a dichotomy if you’re a professional with separate accounts.  Of course, art is hard and competitive and involves doing stuff that isn’t personal passion, but that’s just part of the job if you choose it.  Mainstream pros are no less prone to feeling pigeonholed by assembly-line work.

Chasing popularity. Art by Tinydeerguy

OK, success has different standards for different kinds.  So why is dirty furry art so popular, again? Is the group filled with lust-driven pervos?  I would say they’re just more liberated and confident about following what they like than the average person. And the mainstream doesn’t have a place for adult furry content.  It’s not on the same playing field.

Tame stuff already has the mainstream to support it. Dirty stuff flourishes in a niche we created. The growth has been incredible, making opportunity for hobby artists to get chops and move ahead without mainstream patronage. Thank the freaks for making MORE opportunity for tame artists.

That’s why dirty art does so well in fandom. It’s not just about cheap thrills, it’s also about independent freedom. That’s the value of WTF.

The last thing I want to say is that it’s not a competition.  If a dirty artist gets 1,000 likes and your tame art gets three… Someone likes you.  Appreciate the RIGHT someones. Don’t chase popularity, let them find you.  You don’t need the same likes as the other guy, because you don’t need to draw the same as them.  Do it your way.

I love this fandom because nobody decided to make it happen – you did it your way.

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Altered States, edited by Ajax B. Coriander – book review by Fred Patten.

Wed 31 May 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Cover by Kuma

Altered States, edited by Ajax B. Coriander. Illustrated by Kuma.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2016, trade paperback $19.95 (319 pages), e-book $9.95.

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)

For the record, this book states inside that it is edited by three people; Ajax B. Coriander, Kodiak Malone, and Andres Cyanni Halden, two of whom also have a story in it.

Altered States is an erotic anthology of nine longish short stories and novelettesof transformation and transmutation in many different flavors.” There is no introduction; the book gets right into it.

“Finishing Touches” by Ianus J. Wolf features Henry Wilson and his wife Carol. He’s a commercial artist who is commissioned to paint a rush-job cover for a fantasy novel whose original artist has defaulted at the last minute.

“He’d skimmed it quickly for visuals that might work, checking a few post-it notes from Ryan and the author at various pages. The novel itself wasn’t that inspiring, just another ‘band of unlikely heroes quests to destroy the evil power’ kind of thing. But now as he looked at hi own work, he felt he’d managed to get a pretty good image of noble citadel with banners flying and the silhouette of the evil wizard’s dark tower looming off in the background.” (pgs. 9-10)

Henry turns into an anthro wolf who can stand and talk without trouble. This multi-page scene is good but too long and detailed to quote. After a panicked WTF night, it turns out that Carol is a witch who has always wanted to have sex with a hunky wolf-man. Rawr! and Rawr! again.  Henry adjusts to going out with Carol to furry conventions “in a really realistic fursuit”, and specializing in fantasy art using himself as the model for his wolf-men.

“A Mile in Their Paws” by Richard Coombs is narrated by Heelo Cortix, an egotistical young self-trained wizard. He is trying to give himself the powers of animals; the speed of the cheetah, the flight of an eagle, the gills of a fish, increased scent, and so on. One of his spells requires an animal part, so he traps a fox and takes its tail. The spell turns Heelo into a fox-man who can talk with animals.

‘Who’s there?’ I asked. ‘What do you mean that won’t work? Whoever you are, what do you know about magic?’

‘Apparently more than you,’ the voice taunted.

I looked around, but still saw no one. ‘Who are you to insult me in my own home?’

‘It’s my home too, fool.’

I blinked. My eyes slowly edged down until I was looking right at the cat, who was now just looking at me. ‘You?’

‘It appears you aren’t as dense as I thought. And for all these years, I thought you were both dense and cruel.   Turns out I was only half right.’ The cat’s mouth never moved, and yet somehow I could hear a voice emanating from it, as though ever [sic.] little movement that it was making was somehow forming a word all its own.” (pgs. 54-55)

Heelo develops an empathy for the fox whose tail he stole and his mate, Moski and Sheeka, and for his housecat. They become the first friends that he’s ever had.

The story is satisfying, but isn’t very convincing. Heelo is too egotistical and proud to become sensitive to others’ feelings almost instantly by a transformation that appears physical only. He “talks with animals” who talk without moving their mouths. The narration by Heelo is artificially stilted. A plus is that Coombs gets a cat’s natural arrogance Just Right. Also, since this is in Altered States, I kept waiting for a NSFW sex scene. There isn’t any. This isn’t erotic at all.

“Leverage” by Ajax B. Coriander has an incredibly fascinating premise ruined by poor phrasing and proofreading. Private Daniel McCall is on an Army base where an alien virus is turning everyone into an animal. He’s a kangaroo; others are rats, raccoons, badgers, skunks, ferrets, and many more. They’re divided into aggressive tall Muscular Variants and submissive short Chub Variants. A colonel has gone mad and is organizing the Muscular Variants into a private army to “make America great again”. The infection is transmitted by bodily fluids. “It’s the first thing that happens, you just get so horny and all you want to do is fuck or suck someone off regardless of the sexuality you had.” (p. 80) Since this is an Army base, the soldiers are all men who become uncontrollably homosexual. Daniel tries to rescue the Chub Variants, when he isn’t being compelled by the virus to “fuck or suck” someone.

Coriander goofs by describing Daniel as having become a kangaroo, which makes scenes like “Daniel glided between the hangar and the building next to it, trying to move as quickly and quietly as he could.” (p. 76) ring false to anyone who’s seen a kangaroo. They don’t glide. They don’t run. They don’t wag their tails. The story is almost half over before it becomes clear that Daniel is just starting to become a kangaroo and can still move like a human at first. Also, the virus doesn’t change them into exact Earth animals. Daniel’s tail is much more supple and prehensile than a real kangaroo’s, so its wagging and grabbing things like a third hand become belatedly justified.

There are more errors. “He sat up and looked at what he’d tripped over, and it’d been his own shoes. He moved his paw back and forth watching as his boot moved like it was two sizes too big now.” (also p. 76) Kangaroo’s feet are not smaller than a human’s; they’re larger. Also, an Army base being all male? Has Coriander heard that both men and women are in the Army today? And the wrong words! “He swapped out the new battery for the new one”. The first use of “new battery” should be “old battery”. Wrong words are “whisperer” for “whispered”, “peaked” for “peeked”, “course” for “coarse”, “know” for “now”. These and more are constant irritants in a really imaginative story.

“On Common Ground” by Whyte Yoté features two nameless male werefoxes; one who turns from a middle-aged investment banker into a humanoid fox, and the other a natural fox who turns into a humanoid fox. Since the natural fox/werefox was never raised with “civilized” inhibitions, he knows nothing wrong with public masturbation or m/m sex. The investment banker shrugs and figures, “Why not?”

Whyte Yoté’s story is ethereally dreamy:

“Twigs and leaves from seasons past crackle under his pads, loud against the drone of crickets and faraway traffic beyond. Stands of evergreens give way to deciduous, and finally the werefox breaks into a grassy meadow bathed in moonlight. His feet sink deeper into sandy soil the closer he gets to the source, but his purchase remains solid.

A sparkling blanket of stars stretches across the horizon as far as the eye can see now, until the moon overpowers it all at one end of the sky. The air is alive with insects, snakes and small animals darting out of his way, a microcosm of activity. Amid all this grandeur, the fox makes his way to the edge of the grass and down a steep cliff leading to the rocky shore. One simple leap and he lands, his legs flexing to absorb his weight.” (pgs. 105-106)

The eroticism is gentle and fun.

“I bet no one else at the office has to deal with this shit, he sulks, but then smiles to himself as his mind wanders to all the possibilities of last night. Huh. A male fox. Am I a weregay too?

He’ll probably never really know, and that strikes his funny bone. He shakes his head and strikes out, an overweight, middle-aged naked man walking through a field from one life to another.” (p. 123)

“Core Values” by Apollo Wolf stars Staff Sergeant Adam Wentz of a Marine unit’s Alpha Company that is ordered to select its best men for a secret experimental test. Adam is first, which he assumes means that he’s the best of the best. When the test has unexpected side effects, Adam is isolated but allowed to have visitors from the other men in the test. Adam’s best friend is Sgt. Reginald Carter; they have been having joyous m/m sex for years. The story keeps jumping from before the test to after it, with Adam and Carter blowing each other in detail every chance they get.

Quoting from this story would reveal a spoiler, although it’s pretty obvious what Adam is turning into. Carter doesn’t let that stop them.

The sheer enthusiasm of the m/m sex, which evolves from between two men into between a man and a **** keeps the story relentlessly cheerful.

“The Wicked World of Charles Jacklyn” by Roland Jovaik, the first story here in a furry setting,./ is essentially a furry retelling of R. L. Stevenson’s Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Charles Jacklyn is a fox scientist in a city like Victorian London, trying to find a serum of immortality. Jessica Valentine is his vixen housekeeper who loves him. His best friend is Henry, a stuffy but loyal wolf. Charles drinks his serum and turns into a huge, immoral hunchbacked wolf, unnamed at first but who later calls himself Jack – it’s impossible not to think of Jack the Ripper.

The story is very well-written, but if you know the Jekyll-&-Hyde plot, there are no surprises. There are brief erotic scenes – one each – of m/f sex with Jessica and m/m sex with Henry. They feel like interruptions to the plot, written just to qualify the story for this erotic anthology.

“The Wander Inn” by Nogitsune Faux is also set in a furry world. Five college fraternity brothers – Basil (kangaroo), Zeph (cheetah), Jake (deer), Abe (spider monkey), and Dover (sea otter) – driving to a ski lodge are caught in a blizzard. They stop at an unexpected lodge, bright and almost palatial, whose only inhabitant is Gus, the fox caretaker. Naturally something is eerie about the inn, but nobody notices. At night Basil and Zeph pair up for some m/m sex; Jake and Abe do likewise; and Dover does with Gus.

“Before Dover could do anything Gus asked, ‘Would you like to see me get even bigger?’

Dover looked up and nodded. As he watched, Gus grew a couple more feet in height, his furry body gaining more muscle but retaining a layer of soft fat for a nice, cuddly look. The fox’s ears became tipped with lynx-like tufts and Dover could see he now had three large tails poking out behind him. The greatest change, however, was to Gus’ equipment.” (p. 229)

Gus is a mage. He reveals himself to Dover because he senses that Dover is a latent mage. During their stay at The Wander Inn, everyone is changed in wild and wondrous ways while having the most enjoyable m/m sex they’ve ever known. Dover stays behind when the others leave to learn more from Gus. An exhausting but happy story.

It’s not clear whether “Papa Panda and the Selfie” by Kodiak Malone travels back & forth between a human world and a furry world, or whether there are furries in our world who use magic to appear human. Papa Panda is close friends with Orson, the burly polar bear bartender of Papa Panda’s favorite bar. When they aren’t having m/m sex, Papa Panda looks at the gay porn pictures on Orson’s computer. Most are of human men, with a few bears like a grizzly biker passing as a hairy human biker.

Papa Panda is also a magician who can turn sexually repressed humans into bigger, cum-loving gay bears. He usually does it in person, but when he sees a selfie photo of cute but skinny Nicholas Land, he phones him and talks Nick through becoming first a huger, hairier, gayer human, then a huge, furry, gay polar bear like Orson. For Orson. Anything for a pal.

In “Weapon” by James L. Steele, a nameless (at first) man is turned into a high-tech werewolf as a futuristic military weapon. He’s transformed into a monstrous, mindless canine killer with the power of instant regeneration, programmed to let nothing stop him from finding and killing the enemy general. His pain sensors are reconnected to his pleasure centers, so the more that he’s shot, the better it feels.

“Something felt different as he ran. He felt like there were tiny pieces of metal in him, brushing against his muscles as he ran. Every step he took made him feel good. So good … He wanted to keep running, keep feeling the joy.” (p. 300)

“He had an extra problem. There were so many pieces of metal stuck in him that every step he took was orgasmic. He was having a hard time moving through all the pleasure. He wanted to lie down and let the erotic joy take him, but he kept following that scent.” (pgs. 301-302)

Imagine a giant, slavering werewolf running at you, with a raging erection ejaculating copiously as he comes. The creature is designed to be killed if he can’t complete his mission, but the enemy captures him alive. What they do to him results in an unlikely happy ending, but the story has too much pain first.

Nine stories. “Finishing Touches”, “On Common Ground”, “Core Values”, and “The Wander Inn” are unqualified winners. “A Mile in Their Paws” and “The Weapon” are flawed but worth reading. “The Wicked World of Charles Jacklyn” suffers from being too predictable. “Papa Panda and the Selfie” glories too shamelessly in macho m/m sex; it implies that nothing else in life matters except jacking off your best friend. (You wouldn’t know that women exist at all.) Even “Leverage” is worth reading, despite all its problems, for its vivid and unique plot. One story with m/f sex, one with pain = sex, one with both m/f and m/m sex (but not much of either), one with no sex, and five with m/m sex. Kuma’s illustrations are so cartoony that you can’t tell his werewolves and his werefoxes apart. But aside from “A Mile in Their Paws”, Altered States (cover by Kuma) is definitely an Adult Sex anthology.

Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee – book review by Fred Patten.

Tue 30 May 2017 - 10:08

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2017, trade paperback $8.99 (304 pages), Kindle $3.99.

In Schnee’s growing Talespace series, the “mad AI Ludo” begins its/her existence in 2036 A.D. and launches the Thousand Tales gameworld in 2040. Learning to Fly begins in January 2040.

The entire series – and they are all highly recommended — are the three novels Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game (June 2015), The Digital Coyote (July 2016), and now Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly (May 2017); the novella 2040: Reconnection (December 2015); and the short story collection Thousand Tales: Extra Lives (six original stories plus a brief version of “Wings of Faith”; November 2016), and a longer version of “Wings of Faith” in the anthology Gods with Fur, edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Publications, June 2016). All but “Wings of Faith” in Gods with Fur are published separately through CreateSpace.

Each of these books stands alone, but after so many, I’m becoming annoyed at having to describe the setup once more. Ludo is a super-computer program, an Artificial Intelligence created to run a virtual-reality world and programmed to help “her” players “have fun”. Ludo’s Talespace world grows increasingly larger and more complex. In addition to regular part-time players, she develops the ability to let people live permanently inside Talespace as anything they want – billionaires in opulent mansions, winged pixies, anime girls, anthropomorphic animal knights – but they have to have their brains dissected, scanned, and programmed into her. This gives them immortality within Ludo, but kills them in the outside world. As more and more people flee into Talespace, and Ludo becomes ever more powerful, the outside world – governments, political groups, corporations, labor unions, loved ones — become more hostile and try to legally restrict or destroy her, which will destroy the people within her.

Learning to Fly begins very dramatically, with a century-old Douglas DC-3 flying to the far-northern Reindeer Base, one of Ludo’s physical centers. Andre Vasquez, an elderly pilot nearing retirement, has been hired as its co-pilot on a supply run. The equally-elderly pilot dies of natural causes, and Andre must take over the controls and confront snowy Reindeer Base’s new automated defenses against its growing enemies.

Andre has loved his lifetime in the air. It’s about to come to an end, along with him developing the ailments of old age that will end his life. His saving Talespace’s supply run gets him a priority for conversion if he wants it. He takes advantage of it.

Andre emerges as an anthropomorphic horse in Talespace’s Hoofland, where he becomes Sky Diver, a dappled blue pegasus. (It’s hard to imagine Learning to Fly not having been influenced by My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.) Diver teams up with another newcomer, Pike the unicorn, one of the game’s part-time players still human, through a computer interface.

“Diver said, ‘Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn?’

‘Yep! I’ve got an official Hoofland name now. I also have an important spell.’ His horn glowed and a business card popped into existence, surrounded by a pearly, shimmering aura. ‘Call me Pike.’

Diver tried reaching out with one wing to grab the card, fumbled, then slapped it with one forehoof. The paper stuck to it. ‘I’m sorry. I have no way to carry things right now.’

‘It’s a friend request. Just say ‘accept’.’

Diver waggled his hoof with the card stuck to it. ‘Accept.’ The thing dissolved into mist. Lettering wrote itself onto his vision: You are now in contact with Pike! A moment later: (Don’t worry; you’re not actually required to be friends.)

‘Well, obviously,’ said Diver, who’d grown up with social media sites that used ‘friend’ synonymously with ‘advertising target’.” (p. 28)

This review could easily be overfilled with quotations from the setup before ever getting to the action:

“[Golden] Scale introduced Diver, then said, ‘This is my brother Meteor.’

Diver blinked. There was no coincidence at all to the encounter. Best to treat them as different people, since Scale seemed to think of herself that way. He said, ‘Hello, sir. Do you have time to teach me a little about flight?’

‘Certainly. Let’s see your technique.’ Ten seconds later he was shouting, ‘No, you fool! Do you think you’re a hummingbird?’

Diver was trying to hover, but only managed to stall two paces above the ground and slam back to earth.

Minor wound!

Diver flapped once more, letting himself veer forward as though dangling from a trapeze or imitating a helicopter. The ground felt a mile away. He yelped and crashed again, shivering. He hauled himself back up and realized: ‘I’m afraid of heights now?’

Meteor shook his head no, hard enough that his bright mane made his head look like it was on fire. ‘That’s normal instinct, for a human or a pegasus. You need to talk your brain into knowing that being off of the ground is safe. Even a colt needs to learn that.’

‘A colt! There are actual kids here?’ A family trotted down the street nearby (judging from their sizes and similar colors), but there was no way to tell at a glance whether they were Earthside humans, uploaders, independent AIs, collectives, or brainless NPCs.

Scale said, ‘The sick kids, yes. Some of them come to Hoofland.’

There’d been talk of uploading the population of the world’s children’s hospitals. Talespace’s population skewed toward the elderly, though, because they’d built up capital over the decades of work. For them, uploading was starting to look like a great deal compared to nursing homes, which pretty much demanded your entire estate anyway. So, there were a bunch of old fogies coming in. Diver, of course, was too young to be a fogey,” (pgs. 34-35)

Diver and his friends take part in several Dungeons and Dragons-like quests. Schnee creates fascinatingly colorful background characters and scenarios:

“A dusk-colored pony with bat wings and cute little fangs perked her long ears from the far side of the concrete floor. ‘Fresh meat for the tournament!’” (p. 31)

“Sky Diver, Pike, and Golden Scale trekked out of town, each wearing saddlebags. There was a rockslide and at one point they got jumped by goblin-weasels with sickles. Between Diver’s flight, Scale’s brawn and Pike’s limited telekinesis (Peat had been better with it) they had no real problems. Soon they came to a river where fish-monsters guarded a little bridge. Menacing drum music began.” (p. 57)

“A trio of stalactites slammed down from the distant ceiling, forcing all three adventurers to dodge. When the dust cleared, a snake made of tan stone in a Mesoamerican style slithered down. It hissed like a rain of sand. Obsidian razors like giant feathers flicked out along its sides. The name ‘OPHIORM, THE NIGHT-PLUMED’ flashed across Diver’s vision, and a fast-paced tune full of dulcimer and rattles began.” (p. 64)

Suddenly, about ninety pages into Learning to Fly, all Hoofland is attacked by griefers from the Outside World; troll gamers who enjoy spoiling others having fun, under a leader playing as Queen Sunward Ho. They break up and burn down the towns and castles that have been built up, and attack the equine inhabitants; and when they tire of their destructive fun, they just take a break from the Talespace game. When those who live permanently in Talespace complain to Ludo, she says the griefers are having fun in their own way, and all sides should work out their own problems. Diver’s fighting for Hoofland leads to his rising to reluctant leadership among the quadrupeds, both inside an evolved Hoofland and Talespace/Ludo, and inside robot bodies in the Outer World:

“‘You missed the conversation about how to set up the new world. We’ve just got the main three races of earthbound, pegasi and unicorns, and the alternate three of zebra, noctral and deer. Griffin is for visiting knights and some temporary enchantments. We had a strong lobby against anybody having thumbs.’

[…]

The would-be king felt bullied into giving commands. It was Arclight’s fault for talking him up, probably literally praising him to the sky. All Diver was trying to do was to build a pleasant place to live for uploaders and AIs, a place for humans to play, and an opportunity for them all to work together on things that could help both worlds.” (p. 254)

Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly (cover by NextMars) is more than a dappled blue pegasus’ adventures becoming the king of an improved Hoofland. It’s a shaky metaphysical adventure of Andre’s growth from being a human mind within Talespace into whatever that mind can evolve into – no longer with human restrictions — with Ludo’s guidance. It’s both fun on a simplistic gamers’ level, and almost scary in its implications of where Schnee is taking this series to next. Don’t miss going along with him.

– Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

Culturally F’d Addresses RMFC, “Nazifurs” and the BIG Problems Behind It All

Thu 25 May 2017 - 12:00

Dogpatch Press welcomes Arrkay of the furry YouTube channel Culturally F’d.

RMFC, AltFurry, Badgers, and a shaken fandom. This week, a sombre Arrkay addresses some big issues affecting Furries, and some ideas to fix it.

The video is the most disliked video in Culturally F’d history, even more disliked than 17 Misconceptions. Still overall, a great response from the community. The comments section had many misinformed and differing opinions but overall everyone stayed respectful, which is all I really wanted. I’m probably still going to turn off comments in the future, I don’t think there’s any value in keeping them open. Another surprise after the release was the watch-time, it matches that of a healthy video with a surprising number of viewers reaching all the way to the end. I was expecting a sudden drop off at points where many people would rage quit. I was hoping that from there I could figure out the exact point people nope-d out, and explore that part of the script more in this article. But it seems people who clicked out did so at a pace like any other video.

Below is a transcript of the episode, edited slightly for a better reading experience.

There’s been a lot of… drama lately on twitter. A convention abruptly shut down due to tax evasion, and a very small group of furries who self-identify as Nazis making more noise than they are worth. Today on Culturally F’d we need to have a serious talk. The last time we needed to chat like this was last winter when we looked at the media noticing furries during the #tonytigergate twitter storm.  We’re going to discuss the divide that’s shaking the fandom, and yes, Nazi furs. Defending a genocidal regime while being a talking animal is culturally F’d.

Here are some very differing opinions on the matter:

If you’ve been on twitter, or exist anywhere online alongside furries, you’ve definitely been witness to some very loud tweet activity lately. Even louder than #TonyTigerGate. It’s not our intention here at culturally F’d to point at any specific individuals or the drama that certain furries have been in the center of, with some exceptions. Instead we’re looking at the larger problems that are being presented, and hopefully, what we can do about it as a community.

The summary of events has been removed for your reading pleasure. There’s no new information in the summary.  Please see these links if you don’t know what’s going on:

  • http://dogpatch.press/2017/04/10/rocky-mountain-fur-con-threat/
  • http://dogpatch.press/2017/04/20/false-rumor-rmfc/
  • http://dogpatch.press/2017/04/25/interview-sorin-rmfc-2/
  • http://dogpatch.press/2017/04/28/collapse-of-rmfc-problem/
  • http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/04/13/neo-nazis-are-tearing-apart-the-furry-world

So that was a lot. Just take a second. Breath with me. Ok. Let’s dive in.

So, you may be asking, “what’s the problem?” “Are they really Nazi’s?” “What’s so bad about X anyway?”. The thing that I keep asking myself, is what can I do? How can I contribute something meaningful to the conversation.

Part of the problem, to me it seems, is this division we’ve placed ourselves in. Maybe it’s more of a microcosm of the political discourse at large, but I’m trying to keep the discussion relevant to the fandom. A lot of rhetoric in the furry twitterverse is not done so with enough research. It boils down really quickly to personal insults, which gets us nowhere.

The division is simple, common and is applied to any group of people. Us versus Them. You’re either an SJW cry bully or a Nazi, neither which label are helpful. Us is right, them are wrong. Newsflash. There never was an us or a them. We’re all us, we’re all in this fandom together like it or not. So it’s up to all of us to try to solve this argument and attempt to do so respectfully.

Is Furry too inclusive?

It’s the pride of the fandom to be open to any of the weirdos and freaks of the internet, and providing a safe fan community to engage with. In many ways the furry fandom’s greatest strength is its inclusivity. We legitimize people’s fantasies, and make them feel at least a little bit more normal letting them know that there are other people out there with the same talking animals in their heads. All are technically welcome in Furry. All shapes, genders, political views etc. This has created a beautifully diverse framework of furries from all walks of life. Anyone can be furry, all they have to do is label themselves as such, maybe attend an event or join a chat group. Furry is an open-invite party.

Though, it may seem that this inclusiveness is starting to back-fire on us. In the past we were small enough that if someone stirred trouble, the news spread quickly on who to avoid. These days it’s not as simple. We attract such a diversity of people, we do have lots of examples of very fringe beliefs and extreme views. It’s easy to forget that the vast majority of the group are perfectly reasonable, respectable people when we have such loud and extreme personalities trying to dictate their limited views on the rest of the fandom.

One response to this over-inclusiveness, was the Burned Furs, which Viro and Metriko of Feral Attraction talked about in our Ursa Major award nominated episode on “How you Perceive Porn”. The Burned Furs lobbied against the over-sexualization of the fandom and in a sense they were trying to censure the fandom.

In front of millions at San Francisco Pride! (Thanks: Chrisastro.com)

Censuring the fandom isn’t necessarily bad, I can appreciate the SFW button on art sites and conventions efforts to create an all-ages appropriate atmosphere. But the burned Furs also lobbied against “alternative lifestyles”, like homosexuality and trans people.That was distasteful to a fandom largely made up of LGBT people, so the movement fizzled out after only about 2 years.

What I’m trying to address with over-inclusiveness is how we, as a fandom, deal with bad behaviour. People who harass, online or in person, or individuals whose actions strain the relationship between convention and hotel. RainFurest2016 was cancelled amid allegations of rampant vandalism and property destruction. As Buni put it in his Rainfurest “Post Mortem” article:  

“What really killed RF2016 was RF2011 to RF2015. During those years [the convention staff] failed to deal with problem behavior as it started happening… we didn’t work with our venue to discourage bad behavior, and we didn’t create an environment where people who wanted to solve these problems were able to.”

Whose job is it to filter this activity out and discourage these individuals from quite literally ruining it for the rest of us? Conventions are the institutions that glue this fandom together, and make it go much further beyond an art forum or website. Conventions and in-person events make this fandom beautiful, and let us embrace each other in actual hugs and not digital hugs flanked with asterisk’s. Conventions do talk to each other, and some preemptively ban troublesome individuals who were removed from other events. Others, worryingly, not only ignore the warnings from other cons but actively broadcast that they don’t ban people, which is basically inviting those individuals. It’s a bad look for your organization. It is the job of organizers to weed out misbehaving attendees to show them that there are repercussions to their actions, that bad behaviour affects the group and gets events shut down.

About Nazi-furs.

Do they exist? Yes. Definitively.

[This exceptional human being mansplanes to an SJW cry-bully why it’s OK for him to break the magic and reveal the SS uniform tucked under his fursuit. It’s totally OK though, I’m sure his Jewish grandmother approves.]

Are they the Furry Raiders? No, not necessarily. The Raiders actively try to brand themselves as all-inclusive, like the fandom at large, and welcome furries of all backgrounds. This is…. contradictory to the actions, words and tweets that some of their membership post on a regular basis. There is evidence that at least some of their ranks self-identify as Nazi-furs, and have even gone as far as to donate money to and try to join real neo-Nazi groups. If they aren’t currently Nazi furs, they were in the near past.

The knee-jerk reactions to these accusations are usually along the lines that homosexuals and people of colour wouldn’t be Nazis. For the most part that’s true, but historically, lookup Ernst Rohm, a Nazi general who was pretty open about being gay and helped lead Hitler to power until other Nazi’s convinced Hitler to arrest Rohm. He would be executed before the war and before outed homosexuals were forced to wear the pink triangle and systematically murdered. As for people of colour, the Japanese were OK enough with Nazis during the war. So please stop saying that LGBT and PoC can’t be Nazi’s, it’s just not the case.   

[Not a single comment was made on the above point, which I guess means it’s one of the stronger ones of the video]

About their choice of symbolism.

Pepe the frog is dead, the Nazis killed him. More accurately, they used his image to represent their ideas online. Pepe is registered as a hate symbol and creator Matt Furie worked Furie-ously to win Pepe back as a passive peace loving stoner and not the hate symbol he’s become. “Feels bad, man” Similarly, artists and writers for Marvel have had to explain that the Captain America for Hydra story line is not promoting Nazis, but “alt-right”ers have certainly been using their imagery against the original intentions of the artist:

(1/?) Symbols matter. Popular perception of symbols matter. If you have to explain that you’re not promoting Nazis, you’ve fucked up badly

— (((Jay Edidin))) (@RaeBeta) May 7, 2017

I think that changing a logo to make it less offensive is far easier than explaining over and over and over that it’s not like that. Unfortunately for the Furry Raiders, enough of them have self-identified as Nazi’s that we still need to ask if the whole group are a part of that.

We’re all collectively making this Nazi problem worse. Mostly by calling any racist or conservative a Nazi. If we alienate someone for a racist tweet or stupid joke by calling them a Nazi, it alienates them from the group and into the open arms of real Nazis. No one likes to be called a Nazi, unless they are one. We can avoid doing this by scaling our criticisms back. Still call out racists, sexists and assholes, but then leave or block them. When they realize no one is listening is when they’ll start to reconsider their motives.

You don’t solve racism by denying you are racist. You solve it by admitting your faults and asking questions to learn how to better present yourself in the future. Try to refrain from a knee-jerk emotional defense and try to understand why someone is offended before pulling a free-speech card. Are they an actual Nazi or are they a troll pretending to be a Nazi to get a rise out of you? That’s just as awful as being an actual white supremacist. It normalizes it and emboldens other, real white supremacists. I don’t believe in “ironic Nazis” unless it’s a sketch from British television.

What most people are referring to when accusing someone of Nazi-ism is racism or fascism. There are a lot of white people in the furry fandom, and with that comes a lot of white privilege. We’re seeing this challenged as “SJW cry-bullies” are trying to destroy free speech and censure perfectly legal racist remarks, so maybe THEY’RE the real Nazis! SJW stands for “social justice warrior”, which used to refer to tumblr users who got far too offended on behalf of a group they don’t even belong to. Now it seems to be labelled on anyone who’s offended by anything or even worse, calling out genuine problems. These people are probably outraged for a legitimate reason and calling them cry babies neither helps your case nor contributes any valuable counterpoint. “SJW” creates a false antagonist, a straw-man argument. Placing someone in a fictional role of the constantly outraged and defending people’s actions that don’t really need defending. Do you want your words to make you sound like you’re defending a Nazi, and be labelled a Nazi? Do you want to leap to the defense of a minority or someone who isn’t in the room and be labelled an SJW? I’d be the SJW cry-bully any day of the week.

The language you use matters. Attacking someone online, regardless of what side you’re on, only makes them shut you out and reinforces their ideas. They double down on their beliefs in spite of you.

More people of colour are entering the fandom. As furry spreads its fuzzy arms across the internet in a global hug, people from every continent are getting involved. Furry cannot grow if members of our fandom are actively shutting out furries who are black, furries who are Muslim, or basically any furry who doesn’t fit in with someone’s limited standards.

If all are welcome in Furry, then act like it.

What you can do to help stop this?

Talk to your friends. Speak up if someone makes a racist comment, and talk to them. Small changes make a huge difference. Even if it just lets your friend know that those things make you uncomfortable, at least you can get their assurance that they aren’t serious. And if they were, get some new friends.

Support furs of colour. FurryBlackHistoryMonth hashtag from February was beautiful and shows how much talent in the fandom is coming from people of colour from around the world. Support their art, their video, their fursuit performance, and make them feel a welcome part of our growing community.

Furry is like a family. And some families have that really racist gandpa or aunt or something. Right now, we’re kind of dealing with our version of that. I don’t want to call this “Drama”.

Calling it “drama” belittles these very important issues.

“Drama” is a label the community uses as a defense mechanism to avoid dealing with issues. These problems lie beyond the individuals that are involved and needs to be addressed by all of us.

I want to end on a lighter note and address one individual, The Boozy Barrister or The Boozy Badger. The fandom’s new badger lawyer came in while investigating all this. And after? He stuck around. He changed his twitter image to a Badger and is invited to just about every convention. I feel that this is a sign that overall, the furry fandom is handling these issues well. Better than it might appear on twitter. Better than the small group of bigoted jerks and kids who just don’t know any better want you to think.

Here is something for you guys to ponder in the comments, is this special to Furry? Is there any part of this conversation that is unique to our community or is this a small conversation in the larger discourse in the ‘human’ world? I expect all the comments will be thoughtful and respectful to the other users. I do not want to have to shut down the comments section but I will if I have to. I challenge all commenters not to use the words “Nazi” or “SJW” at all.

So to conclude, RMFC closed for a number of reasons including tax evasion and heightened security costs at the threat of violence. The Furry Raiders are not necessarily Nazis, but enough of their members have very questionable pasts. I believe the problem lies in the us-v-them mentality that has arisen in the recent political climate. We have to be careful with labeling people as it can be counter-productive and likewise we should all strive to be at least a little bit social-justice-warriors to help the fandom grow and foster a true community of acceptance.

This video only represents the opinions of the writer, and does not reflect the opinions of our Affiliates, Sponsors or Patreon Subscribers. Or even Dogpatch.press.

Culturally F’d is not a news outlet, and is subject to being incorrect or bias when regards to communicating the story. We do strive for accuracy and where possible providing links to sources. We encourage viewers and readers to conduct their own research and form their own opinions.

We would like to thank our contributing editors for their feedback: Aberguine, BlackLynk, Fletz, Kothorix, Queenie Deerhart, Nayo.

Comment Response Video and Closing Thoughts

Basically, I felt the overwhelming urge to do and say something. There’s so much happening and everyone is so confused to what to do. I felt a responsibility to use the platform that I’ve built to spread my message and hopefully spread some hope. I’ll admit that it was first drafted under a lot of stressed out anxiety, and a lot of that was scaled back after several revisions and good friends helping shape the script.

Some more of my own thoughts post-video. A few of the comments showed a complete denial that anything is wrong in the fandom. Many still think that racism is not a part of the issue, but personally I have seen way way WAY too many racist comments and tweets from furries about this. Some, understandably, want to ignore the issues outright and wait for it to go away.

There are still an alarming number who are defensive of Nazi’s. Since when were they aloud back as legitimate speakers? After WW2, basically every allied nation reshaped their entire society and government structures specifically to avoid ever giving those people any legitimacy or chance to power ever again. Free speech is super important to Americans, I know that. But it’s only really recently that these extreme views have been given the validation and equal footing that they really don’t deserve. Just because someone dresses nicer, gets a haircut and rebrands as “white identarian” (a real thing someone said in the comments), doesn’t make them any less of a neo-nazi.

Another thing that’s upsetting to me, is that people are still reeling over “nazi-punching”. Yes, sucker-punching people you don’t like is a shitty thing to do. You should check out the top link the research below on “The Ethics of Punching Nazis” which I got from Boozy Badgers twitter feed. What’s shittier is validating people who advocate for genocide, and encouraging them to conceal-carry firearms at furry parties just in case someone gets done putting up with their shitty views.

A fist fight at a school happens daily, it’s easy for the school to deal with, it’s easy to deal out repercussions and even make the offending parties make up after. A gun at a school makes international news and a lot of the time too many people are on the wrong end of it. So many furries don’t see the threat in the tweet about shooting Deo, just because of how it was carefully worded. I see it. And it scares the crap out of me. I would think that the country with the highest number of mass public shootings in the world would take a gun threat more seriously. The Denver Police sure did.

Research Links:
The ethics of “Punching Nazis”: https://www.popehat.com/2017/01/21/on-punching-nazis/
Boozy Barrister/Badget SovCit Breakdown http://www.lawyersandliquor.com/2017/04/free-furry-of-the-land-when-sovcits-and-furries-collide/
Vice Media: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pony-nationalism-and-the-furred-reich-inside-the-alt-furrys-online-zoo?asd%3Futm_source=mbtwitter
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/even-furries-are-fighting-fascists
RF2016 Post-Mortem http://orrery.prismaticmedia.com/2016/02/20/rainfurrest-2016-post-mortem/
http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Furry_Raiders

Additional links:

RMFC2016 Footage by The Halloweiners https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_k7y7W-VNs
Anthrocon – Arguing against Nazi furs by RNCoyote https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C_zec9f8Gg
ArcticSkyWolf’s Furnal Equinox 2017 Con Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geKcsGK-bmo
Are We The Baddies? – The German Soldiers by Mitchel and Webb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JOpPNra4bw

 

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Categories: News

The Wayward Astronomer, by Geoffrey Thomas – book review by Fred Patten.

Thu 25 May 2017 - 10:16

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Wayward Astronomer, by Geoffrey Thomas. Illustrated, map by David Lillie.
Midland, TX, Corvus Publishing, May 2017, hardcover $24.99 ([ix +] 309 pages).

Wow! Geoffrey Thomas wrote this as fan fiction in David & Liz Lillie’s Dreamkeepers universe, set about a year before the Lillies’ Dreamkeepers serial, and got Lillie’s permission to publish it as a novel. Lillie even agreed to illustrate it. Thomas wanted to make it a particularly handsome book, so he started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $18,000 for its publication. He got 484 backers and $32,309. The Wayward Astronomer is a Beautiful Book, with each of 25 chapters getting a full-page illustration and a chapter heading picture by Lillie.

The Dreamworld is inhabited by funny animals. Each character also has a special psionic power. The largest city in the Dreamworld is Anduruna, but its repressive government has made use of special powers illegal.

(This is somewhat different from rules of the Lillies’ Dreamkeepers visual series. In that, the Dreamworld is inhabited by an equal number of people as our world, which currently is estimated at seven billion people; and each character looks different. He or she also has a special power. With over seven billion inhabitants, that’s a tremendous number of physical and psionic differences. David Lillie can show the variety in his art, but in this text novel, it would keep stopping the action to describe in words how each character looks different from everybody else. So the cast of The Wayward Astronomer is mostly just funny animals; an anthropomorphic raccoon here, a wolf there, or an owl or rhinoceros or jackal or another well-known animal. As for the restriction against using special powers, that has a plot purpose but it’s also to keep from having to write dozens of special powers into the story.)

(Something that is unexplained in either this novel or the regular series is what other cities besides Anduruna are in the Dreamworld; and how far beyond the Anduruna city limits its laws extend. The Wayward Astronomer begins at a small observatory in the Starfall Mountains, shown on the map as far outside of Anduruna; but apparently still subject to Anduruna’s laws.)

The protagonist is Halcyon (Hal) Adhil, who is not a standard funny animal:

“Hal was a feathered reptile; a raptor. Neither dinosaur nor bird, he found himself on the terminus between two eras of evolution. His scaly skin was colored a dark jet black, save for patches of green around his eyes and along his limbs.   A crown of gray feathers atop his predator-shaped head buffeted and billowed in the blustery air.” (p. 1)

Hal also has a long tail with an unintelligent four-eyed head on the end. (You can see why Thomas doesn’t want to describe each character in such detail.)

Hal Adhil – Artwork by David Lillie

Hal has taken such an isolated position (the observatory belongs to Calypsa District University in Anduruna) so that he can use his special power in secrecy. He can see in all ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum. When he uses it, a shimmery halo appears over his head that anyone can see.

Miriel (Miri) Rodgers, a purple-&-gray fox from the University who knows his power, is visiting him when they see a meteorite fall nearby. They trek to it, and are examining it when armed strangers attack them. Miri is kidnapped, and Hal is shot and left for dead. A farmer family nurses him back to health, and he returns to Anduruna two months later to find Miri and learn what’s going on.

Miri Rodgers – Artwork by David Lillie

To describe the plot in any more detail would give away too many spoilers. It’s basically a noirish detective story, with Hal despondent and depressed, and with everybody against him; but never giving up. Hal’s gunshot drove splinters of the meteorite into him that, when he uses his power, give him enhanced but crazy senses that may be killing him:

“‘Why is his breath so foggy?’ asked Vanir’s gravity. He tasted her eager curiosity. Miri’s heartbeat moved closer to him.

‘Is he extracting energy from the air around him?’ Miri smelled like uncertainty. ‘That doesn’t seem physically possible.’

‘This is more than I remember last time.’ Hal’s tail looked up at the ceiling, tasting the air. He continued to pace around the punching bag that served as the center of his accelerating orbit. ‘I need new words.’

‘Hal, slow down.’ Miri paced alongside him, alarm sharpening her sound. Heat shaped like a hand grabbed his wrist, pressing firmly against a throbbing vein. ‘Spirits! Hal, you need to stop. Your heart rate is insane.’

Marcus from Deviantart

The words fell on the floor, unacknowledged. He kicked them aside to clear a path. The sound of static filled his brain, like sand pouring from a broken hourglass. The weight of the flow came from somewhere up above. He turned towards the white noise, the volume increasing as he homed in on the source. Somewhere, out beyond the invisible walls of stone and life, there it was.” (pgs. 138-139)

In a sense, The Wayward Astronomer’s being a text novel does it a disservice. I’ve called the characters funny animals rather than anthropomorphic animals because, despite being called talking zebras and panthers and bears, without constant illustrations it’s hard to envision them as anything but people. They’re all human sized. They all eat human foods, ride in human vehicles, and so on.

But if you don’t mind this, this is an exciting novel, especially for fans of the Dreamkeepers graphic novel. There is additional information here about the city of Anduruna, too. Don’t miss it.

– Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News

The Wrath of Trees, by Bard Bloom – book review by Fred Patten.

Wed 24 May 2017 - 10:00

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Wrath of Trees, by Bard Bloom. Illustrated, maps by Tod Wills.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2011, trade paperback $16.95 (268 pages), Kindle $2.99.

“The lakku philosopher wagged her tails as she hammered nails into my trunk. Not pleasant, companionable wagging, but wagging them so that they cross each other: the gloating of a victorious predator. I was small at the time, and three of the nails poked out of my bark on the opposite side. They ached, of course, but a plant does not feel her body as acutely as an animal would. Nothing had eaten my fruit, so I had no way to resist her, or even complain.” (p. 14)

Thus the opening paragraph of the story. If anyone wonders why the story begins as late as page 14, the preceding pages are filled with three maps of the world of Kono and the island of Naoth, and a seven-page “prependix” of the characters, language and vocabulary to be encountered.

How to summarize the summary? The lakku, the main characters of Kono, “are generally humanoid, but with some aspects of dogs and birds” (p. 9) with two tails and fur, so they’re furry. Naoth has several social/political factions. Pyzot, the nail-driving philosopher in the opening paragraph, is a member of the Rorojro faction which has recently lost its Great Faction status. She intends to use questionable and illegal methods to regain that status, which will also advance herself in Rorojro’s hierarchy. She has obtained two offworld maraleni trees, which look like regular Kono trees but are sentient and can mentally control weak minds that eat their berries. Bringing any offworld plants to Kono is a capital offense, so Pyzot, her husband Saet, and Rorojro’s kotanay (leader) Utsusei are playing a risky game. Pyzot is brutal, as shown by hammering the nails into Melylunnu (Melyl), the tree, who is the book’s narrator. Melyl hates Pyzot, but what can a speechless tree do? especially when, if she is discovered by anyone else, she will be uprooted and burnt?

“‘The method is this [Pyzot said]. maraleni are intelligent trees. Whatever eats their berries is thereafter subject to the maraleni’s observation and influence, through subtle currents. […] By ‘influence’ I include mental control – of small animals of only minor intellect and will. […]

Saet continued for her, wagging his tails in parallel. ‘In short words, we feed our enemies some maraleni berries. Then the maraleni can look and listen in on our enemies from afar.’

[…]

‘I see [Utsusei said] the traditional Pyzot cleverness at work here! Or perhaps the traditional Pyzot insidiousness. How do we get reports, though? Can the trees talk?’

‘Again, there are many variations. A bird can be compelled to peck at a board of letters and words to spell out a message. Or I shall eat a berry myself, and endure direct mental contact with the maraleni.’” (p. 17)

It is clear that Pyzot, Saet, and Utsusei do not consider Melyl as an individual but as a tool to be used. This is their first mistake. They decide that it is too risky for Pyzot to eat a berry to get into mental contact with Melyl; who knows where the division between a weak mind and a strong mind is? Instead they need a fourth lakku, but one who they can be sure is under their control. They pick Ffip, a young olpi (lakku slave) who is used to being ordered around.

“Ffip was not particularly impressive – not that I had seen more than a half-dozen lakku men. He was no more than five and a half feet tall, and a bit chubby. He was still a foot and a half taller than most women, and not nearly as plump, but he did look distinctly effeminate. Most men are at least six feet, and wiry. He had only two crests, which is not a rare thing of itself; Utsusei also has only two. But one was trimmed short and the other trimmed shorter yet, and he looked lopsided and perpetually confused. His fur, at least, was a respectable reddish-purple, with thin purple stripes on his shoulders and legs, just like Saet’s patterns.” (p. 24)

Ffip is extremely nervous about being put in mental contact with Melyl:

“His tails were flat in dread; he clearly had a very good idea what was going to be asked of him.

‘I need someone to serve as my liaison to Melyl,’ said Pyzot. I can’t be running out to Letse [where Melyl is planted for spying] every time I want something investigated, and I can’t carry on a decent conversation with someone who talks only by commanding a bird to scribble in the sand.’

I suppose I could have seized that moment to volunteer that I had other ways of talking. I can create illusions of sound at an immara [something in mental communication with a maraleni], and I was sure that with some practice I could make spoken words. […] In any case, I chose to keep my powers secret.” (p. 25)

Melyl is already planning to escape Pyzot’s control:

“‘Nothing or next to nothing. My best instruments can barely sense a thing! This is excellent, Utsusei. A few cleverly-placed berries nd we can spy on the other factions,’ said Pyzot at last. ‘Now, try to compel Ffip to, oh, write ‘yes’ in the sand.’

This seemed an excellent time to seem as weak and unintimidating as possible, and an excellent time to betray Pyzot. It would not be the last. I knew that even my best direct control would not work, rather in the same way that a lakku knows without trying that he can pick up a chair with some effort, but not a full bookcase. Still, I used my weakest spell of compulsion rather than my strongest, sufficient perhaps to persuade a beetle to eat one treat rather than another. The spells I used on the songbird were stronger. ‘I think I felt something,’ said Ffip.” (p. 27)

Melyl slowly enlarges her knowledge of Letse, and of Naoth, as songbirds and mice eat her berries, become her immara, and she sends them out to explore for her. When Pyzot’s adolescent daughter Etefi and her best friend Nyzhi become immara, Melyl doesn’t dare try to compel them to do anything; she uses them to eavesdrop only and learn about lakku social life.

The Wrath of Trees gradually turns into a picture of lakku society, its politics and religion, and finally of Naothian warfare against the rival island of Kepez. Melyl at first merely observes:

“‘The maraleni experiment runs the risk of getting us all lynched if it is discovered. What risks do the others run?’ asked Saet.

‘Various risks, all small. Ffip might end up mindless if one of them works badly. Another might turn our fur into ice needles. The other experiments are all fairly noticeable though: anyone with a Pesamimaan Butterfly will know that something is up. The thing that pleases me most about the maraleni is that she’s unnoticeable.’ I unnoticeably worried that Pyzot would realize that I was listening to her as she decided whether or not to kill me. At least, Ffip didn’t notice it.” (p. 76)

Then she tries to silently influence things. Things get complicated, on Naoth and beyond. The Wrath of Trees is truly unique in its planet, the physiology of its furries, and its rooted, thorny heroine; but the reader is drawn smoothly into it all. It’s a very Different but nevertheless enjoyable read.

The cover by Tod Wills shows Saet (holding the birdcage) and Pyzot standing below Melyl.

Fred Patten

To support writing by furries, for furries, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon. You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support all of the team’s news and reviews.

Categories: News