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Love Match, by Kyell Gold – book review by Fred Patten

Fri 21 Apr 2017 - 10:44

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

Love Match, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Rukis.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $19.95 (378 pages), e-books $9.99.

Kyell Gold is arguably the best author in furry fandom. He has won many literary awards inside and outside the fandom. Even those who do not like adult explicit writing have been won over by the high quality of his fiction.

Many of his books are set in what is loosely called his Forester University world. The best-known are the five “Dev and Lee” novels, chronicling the meeting of Devlin Miski, tiger football star, and Lee Farrel, fox gay activist, during their senior year at Forester U.; their becoming homosexual lovers, at first secretly and then openly; and their graduation from college and their first year out. Dev becomes a professional football player and Lee becomes a professional football talent scout to stay with him. Readers of the five novels became immersed in the details of professional football as Dev and Lee firmed up their personal relationship.

Now Kyell Gold has started a new series, projected at three novels. It is superficially similar, except that the sport featured is tennis, not football; and the main characters are, at the beginning, too young to have a sexual orientation. There are references to the Dev and Lee books.

Love Match is narrated by Rochi N’Guwe, a black-backed jackal from the African nation of Lunda who is brought to America the Union of the States with his mother on a scholarship from the Palm Gables Tennis Center. Rochi is immediately nicknamed Rocky by the other students, including Marquize, a cheetah from Madiyah who becomes his best friend. The Palm Gables Center, a leading tennis institution, has scoured the world for promising young players, and has brought Rocky and his mother to the States when he is only 14. (Probably. Lunda is casual about recording births.)

The novel begins with a brief prologue set in the present (2015), then drops into a book-length flashback to 2008 through 2010 for Rocky’s experiences in Palm Gables. This begins with his being introduced to the States and Palm Gables by Marquize, who is also 14 but has been in the States longer. Rocky does have some observations:

“Coyotes unsettled me because they looked so like jackals and yet the colorations were different. They had many of our mannerisms and the muzzles and ears matched exactly, more closely than the other canids at the school, none of which I’d encountered back in Lunda. Foxes were skinnier and more flamboyant, wolves stockier. I’d never met a maned wolf, but there was one named Veronica in our class and she looked like a fox who’d been stretched out. She and Kim [a coyote] hung around together a lot, but she was quieter; every now and then she would drop in a single smart comment. (p. 51)

Rocky also develops a dubious relationship with the older Braden Longacre, a dark-furred cross fox who is one of the Center’s top alumni but, as Rocky puts it, “He’s also kind of a jerk.” He and Braden get off on the wrong paw from the start:

“The sharp tone of Coach’s voice always brought us to attention. Marquize and I looked up to see him staring at us. ‘You three,’ he said, waving a paw. ‘Go start your practice games. You’re not getting time.’

Marquize and I hadn’t thought we were going to anyway, so it wasn’t that big a deal. But Braden was looking right at me, and so I paused and looked back as Marquize turned to go, and before I knew it, Braden had put a paw on Coach’s shoulder. ‘Now hold on,’ he said. ‘Why don’t I play a little one-on-two to warm up?’ He reached out a long, dark finger. ‘The coyote and cheetah there?’

‘I’m a jackal,’ I said loudly.

Coach’s big white ears swiveled. ‘Rocky and Marquize? They’re frosh –‘

‘It’s okay.’ Braden pulled his lips back in a smile. ‘It won’t take long.’” (p. 37)

But Love Match isn’t all tennis and Rocky’s school experiences. He has many short reminiscences of growing up in Lunda, which were often mixed with a long war there. His father was killed when he was too young to remember him. Rocky is devoted to his younger sister Ori, who could not come to the States with him and his mother; and he is shocked when she tells him when he phones home that she is being betrothed by their Aunt Kamina in an arranged marriage, at age 13.

“[I] hung up, then went inside to where Ma was sitting on the couch reading. ‘Ori’s getting married,’ I said, standing there with my arms folded.

Ma flicked her ears and turned the page in her book. ‘Already?’

‘You knew about this. You told Kamina to do it.’

‘No.’ She shook her head slowly. ‘I told Kamina to take care of Ori as best she could. She thinks Ori should be married, and I’m thousands of kilometers away. I’m in no position to argue, and it wouldn’t be good for Ori for me to argue.’” (p. 48)

Rocky (who is just 14) feels that he must earn enough money to bring Ori to the States where he can somehow take care of her.

Love Match is about Rocky’s mid-adolescence in Palm Gables, growing up with his tennis-playing classmates, and his stern-but-loving Ma. Other important characters are Frio (ferret), the Center’s assistant tennis coach; and Coach Murphy (white rabbit). His classmates are his pals, but they are also his rivals. Frio trains them all to play their best, and that means to study each other sharply for their weaknesses. These are mostly funny-animal scenarios, but Gold emphasizes the animal nature of the characters when he can:

“Pom had great footwork and speed and he used his tail for balance better than any other fox I’ve seen since then, except for one (a lot of players keep their tails curled around them; some let them flop around).” (p. 144)

Rocky’s classmates are Bret, a cougar; Yu, a panda; Pom (red fox) and Dom (arctic fox); and Malik, a Geoffroy’s cat; among others. And of course Marquize. Rocky and all the boys discover Internet pornography together. Rocky goes from learning theoretically what gay romance means to developing a solid gay relationship with Marquise. Braden, who has already graduated and gone on to tennis stardom, appears just often enough to not be forgotten; his role as Rocky’s mentor/enemy will grow in the sequels.

Love Match (wraparound cover and over a dozen interior illustrations by Rukis) comes to a satisfactory conclusion but leads right into the next stage of Rocky’s life. It is a bravura addition to Gold’s Forester U. world.

– Fred Patten

Categories: News

The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim, by Bill Kieffer – book review by Fred Patten.

Thu 20 Apr 2017 - 10:13

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

The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim, by Bill Kieffer
Manvel, TX, Red Ferret Press, September 2016, trade paperback $13.95 (158 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $3.99.

This book boasts – or warns – in a back-cover blurb that it delves into “the darkest, deepest reaches of human nature.” It isn’t pretty.

Frank, the narrator, seems like a total loser. He’s sullen, gloomy, depressed, works at a junk yard, and is in an abusive marital relationship. He keeps walking out on his domineering wife Kim, getting into a good relationship with some other woman, then Kim finds him, throws out the other woman, and starts her game of psychological dominance again.

He’s escaped from Kim again (only temporarily, he’s sure), gotten drunk at Phil’s Liquor Locker, and is walking back to his junker car when he sees a gang of wolfboys shoving around a gay man.

“Oh, they weren’t real wolves, but try to tell them that. The six or seven of them were trans-anthropomorphic teenagers from that private wizard school, Matthias.” (p. 18)

He decides to come to the rescue. He’s not gay himself; he’s just in the mood for a fight. (He’s previously established that he was a bully in school.) The wolfboys don’t want a real fight, so they run. The narrator finds that he’s rescued Glenn, a geeky former High School classmate of his who was even more sullen, gloomy, and depressed than he is.

Frank had always beaten Glenn up in High School, so now he rewards himself for rescuing Glenn by sodomizing him. What he doesn’t count on is that Glenn, being gay and a submissive type, likes it.

“Like I said, he was a walking victim, and he ate it up.

You could say that was our first date.” (p. 21)

There’s a lot of m/m sex, sex, and more sex. Frank wants to be a brutal dom, and Glenn, being a submissive, lets him go wilder and wilder.

“He hadn’t called the police. He was never going to call the police, it occurred to me. Glenn walked over to me as my thoughts slammed to a halt as the anger flared violently inside of me. He slowly wrapped his scarecrow arms around me as I ground my teeth. Then he started kissing my stained t-shirt, walking his lips slowly up my chest.” (p. 30)

Glenn moves in with Frank, who’s not gay but may be bi. Sometimes he brings girls home and makes Glenn watch him fucking a chick. Eventually he wonders how Glenn was supporting himself before he came along.

“Glenn got a check every two weeks for not going to work. It wasn’t disability per se, but a retainer. I wasn’t really interested, it worked out fine knowing he was always at my place, but after a while I was curious. He avoided telling me and I got all pissed off when I realized he was keeping secrets from me. Secrets are dangerous things.” (p. 31).

Well, you can guess that there’s a connection between the wizard school, Matthias; transformative magic; and the goat-man on the cover. To say what it is would be a spoiler, but the goat’s name is Cheech.

Frank starts spending a lot of time hanging around Matthias.

“My eye caught something odd on the other side of the teacher parking lot. There was a big white horse prancing around unattended on one of the fields. It was very handsome and powerful and I find myself comparing it to Cheech. It was probably just as human as Cheech, after all and that made me curious.

Just as I got close enough for the drafter to notice me, I suddenly noticed he wasn’t alone. A ninth-grader by the look of him was busy trying to get his pants back on. I looked at the horse with raised eyebrows and it glared at me, ears back, head lowered aggressively. It was very definitely a non-verbal GO AWAY.” (p. 59)

Frank, and the reader, learn the rules of – magic? Were-dom? It’s pretty intriguing what animals people can be turned into and what they can’t, and why. Frank mixes it with a lot of sex.

“That poor horse. It was disgusting.

I pictured the kid sucking my dick while Glenn had to take the horse’s cock up his ass.

That made me smile and we said our pleasant good-byes.

I beat the crap out of Glenn that night. Just because.” (p. 65)

Kim finally finds them. How do the three react to each other?

The Goat: Building the Perfect Victim (cover by Viergacht) mixes kinky sex with zoomorphs. Here is Guido’s, a restaurant that caters to zoomorphs:

“‘North?’ she said, her appearance as sudden as unexpected as Anthony’s [the manager] had been. She was merely six feet seven, six foot eight and much more slender than the bull’s. The cow moose carried a diapered human child on her hips and wore a pretty pink print dress that was dotted with small red hearts. ‘Is everything alright?’” (p. 96)

Yeah, “She put down the child, who promptly became a gangling and uncertain moose calf.” There is plenty here for the furry fan. Especially one who likes mind games and sex.

– Fred Patten

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Categories: News

A false rumor about RMFC is repeating history from the Burned Furs.

Thu 20 Apr 2017 - 10:06

Remember Rainfurrest? Bad behavior was blamed for the con’s demise. In 2015, vandalism caused a fatal economic issue between the con and its hotel. Popular attention focused on fetish activity, but the public didn’t care about it and the media was incredibly positive. That debate stayed between furries, but it was at least based on partial truth. That’s different from dishonesty you can see below. It connects the long-dead 2000-era Burned Furs and the end of ConFurence, with falsehoods that exploit the closing of Rocky Mountain Fur Con. It shows an agenda to divide fandom. (You may ask: why is this still happening in 2017?)

ConFurence, the first fur con, drew criticism about bad behavior. Organizers were blamed for advertising in gay lifestyle magazines to increase attendance, supposedly attracting fetishists who had nothing to do with furry fandom. Then in 2015, a fur dug up the actual 1997 “ad” that people were citing without seeing it.  It wasn’t an ad, and it didn’t come from furries.  The obscure ‘zine publication happened at a time when it couldn’t have influenced anyone. The rumor was a false smear.

The rumor is almost 20 years old now, but it still exists:

“we still hear stories about the early ConFurence when the organizers allowed some BDSM people in to improve attendance, with horrible results” Ask Papabear, 4/12/17 (graciously modified after discussion.)

Pernicious is a good word for such a long-standing rumor.  It spread by conveniently serving agendas, including for the Burned Furs, a group of puritans against “perversion” in fandom.  They lasted about as long as a wet fart, but they’re still a topic because they started this kind of thing.  Put them in a “stupid idea” category full of false “us vs. them” divisions against sex, sin, or “SJW’s”. (Another stupid idea: defending 2 The Ranting Gryphon because he’s “us”.) Maybe call it “hypertribalism?”

At Further Confusion 2017, I got dinner with Mark Merlino, Rod O’Riley, and Changa Lion, staff and founders of ConFurence.  They graciously answered questions about how the con died after the ownership was transferred in 1999.  The next owner was a Burned Fur.  Meanwhile, Burned Furs spread the rumors against fetishists and just plain gay people.  (They are in fandom and were never outsiders.)  The rumors went so far, you could call it a malicious hoax.

From 2005, here’s a look at a Burned Fur not just passing on a rumor, but trumping up a falsehood:

“Regarding Merlino’s marketing of ConFurence to the gay community through specialty magazines, this was confirmed at ConDorCon in the mid-’90s when furry artist Lia Graf directly faced down Mr. Merlino at a convention panel (where I was in attendance) and asked him if he had been doing this. He admitted to the action and said he felt that sexual diversity would do the fandom good.”

– Calbeck, AKA Scott Malcomson, from Wikipedia. (But there was no confirmation of such marketing, as you can see.)

In 2017, here’s the same Burned Fur @Calbeck joining “Bronies For Trump” to make a new accusation about RMFC. The agenda is to blame the con’s problems on “SJW’s” and particularly on Deo. It scapegoats her alone among everything else, for her report of a threat to con security:

@HyenaGrin you don't have to take it from me. Here's a first hand account of a journalist contacting the hotel (@roycalbeck) #fur4peace #altfurry pic.twitter.com/o98CcIp9Zg

— #BroniesForTrump (@GWSSDelta) April 18, 2017

There are blatant lies going around that I contacted the Denver Police and/or contacted the RMFC hotel Marriott and neither are true. https://t.co/XsdLSzmQCw

— Deo's Ex Machina (@DeoTasDevil) April 19, 2017

@navajo_leo I keep telling people just fucking ask the Denver PD and hotel. I'm out of state my phone number would be obvious.

Fatally stupid fuckers.

— Deo's Ex Machina (@DeoTasDevil) April 19, 2017

This accuses Deo of causing RMFC to lose support from the hotel, and it’s one of many such claims:

What we know is that Deo sent claims of “gun threats” to the police and hotel, said “threats” being a direct response of intent to defend against their own actual threat. – Calbeck on FA

Except that Deo reported to the con itself, and didn’t call the hotel. She handed responsibility to con security to do what they’re meant for. Months later her report only returned for widespread public discussion after it was reported by Dogpatch Press 12 hours before the con was canceled. The fatal security cost was caused by activity from many sides (according to the con chair) and it happened weeks earlier:

We had been approached by our hotel only 2 (maybe 3) weeks before the convention was canceled with the new costs and that was the first we had heard of them or even the possibility. – RMFC chair Sorin to Dogpatch Press on 4/18/17 (lengthy interview posting soon)

In between were many events, that even led RMFC board member Scorch to contradict Calbeck with a dubious story of the hotel “discovering” random tweets. On FA, LucanShepherd answers Scorch:

Deo and her actions are not the only influence on the sequence of events. The Raiders and upset Colorado locals and other people were involved. Both before and after Deo had any involvement… Yet you continually defend the Raiders.

For the purpose of dishonestly scapegoating Deo on Twitter, Calbeck is representing himself as a journalist… but just take his word for it:

@HyenaGrin @GWSSDelta In that I actually get paid to produce articles for a journalism outlet. Feel free to disbelieve, reality doesn't care about opinions. -:)

— Pointed Commentary (@RoyCalbeck) April 18, 2017

@RoyCalbeck @GWSSDelta > evidence or examples of said journalism to go back and check.

Do you think people should just accept unverified statements on twitter?

— Hyena Grin (@HyenaGrin) April 18, 2017

Notice how this “actual paid journalist” NEVER SPOKE TO DEO, who he is accusing. Or to me (who he pre-emptively blocked), who did speak with her.

@GWSSDelta @DogpatchPress Dogpatch calls out an actual paid journalist for doing the most basic research, which they made zero effort to attempt. Typical clickbait.

— Pointed Commentary (@RoyCalbeck) April 19, 2017

He gets paid, so it must be real? Does that apply to working for nutbag sites like World Net Daily or Infowars, and is that why he’s embarrassed to show it?  How embarrassing for a “real journalist” to get owned by this hobbyist here, while he’s revealed as a common link for falsehoods about TWO cons.

It took 3 minutes for Deo to answer my hobbyist contact to her. She told me:

Calbeck just said it was my fault out of the blue. I had never heard of the guy, and for someone who calls himself a “journalist” he did zero effort at research or getting any sort of communication with me. Called me a man, said I was part of a plot, said Art Decade was my leader, all sorts of conspiracy bullshit and regular bullshit that would have been easy to fact check if only minimal effort had been attempted.  Dishonest and negligent should also be used to describe this liar.

If you’d like to read more from Calbeck, visit his journal that absurdly claims:

“I don’t value ANYONE or ANYTHING more than I do HONOR.”

UPDATE:

Interesting that Calbeck and Foxler are both Burned Furs. Hmmm... ???? pic.twitter.com/fSASiEcLcK

— Deo's Ex Machina (@DeoTasDevil) April 21, 2017

With one side of the story about RMFC being dishonestly spread to scapegoat Deo entirely for everything – by 2000-era Burned Furs with friends like the Furry Raiders – smart and reasonable furs may not wish to join their “us vs. them” agenda.  And perhaps it’s all “us”, but some of us are just stuck in the past.  Like back in the 1930’s before it stopped being OK to be cool with nazis.  So what horribly difficult solution does the “SJW” side have for settling this division, so the other side can join us in the modern world of 2017?  Does it take a time machine? Ask this charming blue hyena how simple it is:

Should I get into helpful furry tips? I think this video could help a lot of furries pic.twitter.com/exxNLw5s1K

— THOTIMUS PRIME (@skippyena) April 18, 2017

Listen, do you hear barking about BIAS!?  Ignore that noise. But since this article talks about truth and honesty, remember that the job of journalism isn’t to report both sides.  “Both sides” means equal time between a scientist and a flat-earther.  The job is to report the truth.  If it’s about furries and you are a furry, there is no “objectivity” for that (how many furry stories can be told by non-members?)  Besides, this isn’t mass media, it’s a blog and “voice” is just as important.  People who are mad about mine probably aren’t even paying 2 cents to get theirs in.  (So start your own blog, or leave a comment below.)

If you would like to send a few cents to help me be a REAL PAID JOUNRALIST or get better at being savage, please visit Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, and support furry writing by all of the team, from opinions to book reviews.

Categories: News

A Brief History of Cartoon Animals Punching Nazis

Wed 19 Apr 2017 - 10:00

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

Nazi-panic got you down? It seems these days everywhere you look there seems to be some sour racists ruining someone’s day. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

Working on Culturally F’d gives me a great outlet to explore anthropomorphic animals throughout history and media. So after the public twitter discussions about whether or not it’s ok to punch nazis, I recalled some historical examples that helped. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, there was a huge push in propaganda on all fronts. They encouraged spending money on war-bonds, saving fats and scrap metals, starting community “victory” gardens, empowering a new female workforce, perpetuating false-optimism of a short war, warning against spies listening in, and attempting to shape public opinion and spark a sense of national identity. The military’s of the world commissioned animators to help influence public opinion during a time when Nazi Germany was beginning it’s invasions, and it was becoming clear to more and more governments that the Axis powers were not slowing down or stopping.

Propaganda like these were created to help sway public opinion, and to paint a caricature of the enemies. This was at times, incredibly offensive and racist, and it’s important we don’t forget that and that we don’t repeat it again.

We’re going to start with Animated Shorts, which were created to precede or follow newsreels of current events, often part of a pre-show for a larger, longer feature presentation in the movie theatre.

Wartime propaganda animations were explored here on Dogpatch before in “Did the Axis Have Any Funny Animals? – WWII history from Fred Patten.” (UPDATE: Fred also wrote an extended history of Propaganda representing both sides of the war in this 2012 Flayrah article Talking Animals in World War II PropagandaThanks Fred.)

“Donald Duck Nazi Episode with Prologue Speech (der Fuehrer’s Face 1943)” This one has an excellent lead in.

“Der Fuehrer’s Face (originally titled Donald Duck in Nutzi Land) is a 1943 American animated propaganda short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in 1943 by RKO Radio Pictures. The cartoon, which features Donald Duck in a nightmare setting working at a factory in Nazi Germany, was made in an effort to sell war bonds and is an example of American propaganda during World War II. The film was directed by Jack Kinney and written by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer from the original music by Oliver Wallace…

Der Fuehrer’s Face won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 15th Academy Awards. It was the only Donald Duck film to receive the honor, although eight other films were also nominated. In 1994, it was voted Number 22 of “the 50 Greatest Cartoons” of all time by members of the animation field. However, because of the propagandistic nature of the short, and the depiction of Donald Duck as a Nazi (albeit a reluctant one), Disney kept the film out of general circulation after its original release. Its first home video release came in 2004 with the release of the third wave of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets.”

This next video is from my home and native land – at least commissioned by the Canadian government. Disney studios created “The Thrifty Pig.” From 1941:

“The Thrifty Pig is an educational short animated film released in 1941. Its aim was to educate the Canadians about war bonds during the World War 2. The Thrifty Pig features reused and reconfigured animation from Three Little Pigs (1933).”

Daffy The Commando, 1943 

Most of the cartoon involves a series of comedic mishaps with Daffy foiling Von Vulture, but it’s the ending that makes this cartoon extremely memorable. Daffy Duck is fired out of a cannon and lands right in Berlin where Adolf Hitler is making a speech; as Hitler is just rambling on in a nonsensical mix of English and German (with a stereotypical German accent), Daffy whacks him with a cartoon mallet, causing Hitler to cry like a baby.

Bugs Bunny also went out of his way to play trickster against a German, and dresses as Stalin to frighten Hitler himself in “Herr Meet Hare” 1945

Some neat trivia for this cartoon from the Wikipedia page:

Daniel Goldmark cites the cartoon as a significant precursor to What’s Opera, Doc? (1957) and a source for its visual imagery. After running off, Bugs re-enters the scene dressed as Brünnhilde. The costume includes a blonde wig with braids and a Viking-style helmet. Bugs rides on a white horse, visually based on the Clydesdale horse. Musically, the scene is accompanied by the “Pilgrim’s Chorus” from the “Tannhäuser” (1845).

On the other side of the German front, the Soviet Union was also hard at work making propaganda animations. The ones I could find don’t have nazi’s getting punched, but I thought they were noteworthy. Some of Europes leaders are depicted here as dogs in “Adolf the Dog Trainer and His Pooches” from 1941 and “Fascist jackboots shall not trample our Motherland” from the same year where Hitler is angry pig stomping through Europe.

Films intended for the public were often meant to build morale. They allowed Americans to release their anger and frustration through ridicule and crude humor. Since the 1940’s, Nazis have been the but end of jokes, the go-to bad guys for films. I always thought it was funny that in most PG13 films, violence is not allowed except against aliens or nazis.

In my next article for this series, we will look at a different kind of propaganda. A type more accessible to furries and is still a powerful tool to sway public opinion today. We will be exploring the war-time propaganda of Dr. Seuss, and some more recent webcomics relevant to the alt-right discussion we have within our own fandom.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, “Culturally F’d” where we explore anthropomorphic animals throughout history, culture and mass media. If these articles get enough traffic I may adapt them to YouTube.


Last week we discussed the History of Redwall, so in this week’s F’d Up Date, Rusty takes a crack at those pesky “Raiders” that keep assaulting his peaceful abbey.

We’re also nominated for three 2016 Ursa Major Awards. “17 Misconceptions about Furries and the Furry Fandom” (Patch was a contributing writer) – and “Burned Furs and How You Perceive Porn feat. Feral Attraction” are both nominated under “Best Non-Fiction”.  The channel itself is nominated for “Best Website”. So head over to www.ursamajorawards.com to vote!

– Arrkay

Categories: News

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

Tue 18 Apr 2017 - 11:02

Greetings, Dogpatch Press readers. We hope you’ve been enjoying the run of What’s Yiffin’? on this website; it’s time for April’s edition! One thing you’ll realize over the course of watching our show is sometimes events happen so close to production time that we can’t include them in the show and they are delegated to next month’s release. The firestorm surrounding RMFC is an example of one such event. Literally a day or two after we wrapped up this episode that whole mess happened, sort of like how the story about 2 Gryphon was pushed back to this month for the same reason. Speaking of 2, here’s the news that’s fit to print!

More details and some additional insight from the show’s writers:

2 UNLIMITED

Furry Hall of Fame (yes, it’s apparently a thing) inductee “2 The Ranting Gryphon” was recently let go by Anthrocon’s board of directors, ending a near two decade run of stand-up comedy shows starting as far back as 2002. Uncle Kage, a personal friend of 2, voted against removing him from the entertainment lineup.  However this did not seem to shift the tables in 2’s favor, as the majority still spoke and the majority said “get out”. It’s important to note that 2 has not been banned from the convention. He just doesn’t have any stage time for a show this year.

2’s style of humor has often been compared to that of George Carlin, due to it’s vulgar yet socially poignant nature. When word got out that he was dismissed, he blamed the fandom’s shift in taste on “SJW’s” (Social Justice Warriors, far-left liberals who are strongly in favor of political correctness and racial/class issues). There was also a stray Twitter account involved named “@0ffensiveFacts” that had been dead for a year and previously had some interesting things to say about Jewish people. Naturally, these kinds of accusations result in drawing attention to the content in question. People began to scrutinize 2’s material to try and see why this paragon of the fandom was kicked out of said fandom’s largest convention.

“What is sexual molestation? The physical nature of it is obvious, but what what does it represent emotionally to the victim? A loss of control. Helplessness. Perhaps some pain. Being forced to do something you don’t want to. Shame and embarrassment. These are all unpleasant things. But they’re also unpleasant things that most people experience nearly every day from their bosses or co-workers at their jobs or from teachers and other students at school.”

The preceding quote comes from a rant blog post on 2’s website from 2012. This isn’t “edgy” humor. This isn’t even humor at all. What this is, is someone who’s never been through the trauma of molestation, before thinking he can be an edgelord about it and look “cool” by telling people to just walk it off. 2, I don’t know how much money you make doing stand-up, so I don’t know if you’ve ever held a job before, but when someone comes home and goes “man the boss really screwed us today”… the boss didn’t literally screw anyone.

2’s response to this criticism was to double-down on his fame, and say when this all blows over he’ll still have 25,000 people watching his videos. (Referring to the number of subscribers on his YouTube channel). That’s not how it works, 2. You have 25,000 subscribers, but most of your content gets about 400 views on average. To put this into perspective this dumb fake news show will average about 200 and the up and coming Gatorbox channel only has 1,000 followers. Your comedy career is fishtailing in a very dangerous manner, 2, and as entertainers ourselves we can only caution you about the next steps you take because — in regards to your career — they very well might be your last ones. Show some humility.

STILL CAN’T ENJOY HER SANDWICH

Nick Robinson, better known as “the guy from Polygon’s Car Boys who isn’t Griffin McElroy”, is an Internet comedian and videographer. The aforementioned Car Boys is arguably his most popular work, but he works on other projects for Polygon as well. Nick is not a furry, but he’s certainly aware of our culture and its memes. Toward the end of last month he tweeted out a joke about how everyone masturbated to Krystal from Star Fox Adventures “and anyone who acts like they didn’t … is lying to you”.  Simple enough. Not the funniest thing we heard that month, but still a solid 5/10 performance from a guy whose usual schtick is commentating a game where he drives a school bus into a spinning hammer.

This tweet would be unmentionable, had it not been for the fact that it attracted — of all people — Feminist Frequency, who were quick to shame Nick and everyone else for participating in this. “Nobody in our office feels that way about Krystal,” the tweet chain began. What, did Anita Sarkeesian herself go around personally asking everyone in the Frequency offices if they jerked off to a cartoon fox from some awful early 00’s video game, or something? Their message to Nick (and presumably everyone else) continued: “she’s literally trapped in a crystal. Finding a female character who is damseled and stripped of her agency arousing is kinda gross. Attitudes like this are indicative of just how male-dominated gaming culture remains.”

Good lord, all this hub-bub over a groaner of a joke. Congratulations, you’ve now propelled Nick and his joke into the spotlight, while shining another that serves to show the world how ridiculous you are that you can’t understand humor. Was the joke sexist? Of course it was, but we don’t see any contrary publications getting into people’s faces for saying gross things about that Guzma character from the latest Pokémon game. Fantastic double standard there. Also, nowhere in Nick’s tweet did he mention anything about getting off on the fact that she’s “in bondage”. We don’t even think her damsel status crosses the minds of the weirdos who obsess over her. We’re 100% certain the only thing they’re focused on is right there on Krystal’s chest.

Everyone has jerked off to Krystal at least once in their lives. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you.

SOME DAYS YOU’RE THE DOG

Every year Bad Dragon releases a joke product on April Fool’s Day that’s available for only 24 hours. This year they continued the tradition by releasing a massive 10 inch silicone fire hydrant. The hydrant, 11 inches around at its widest point, was offered in bright red or safety yellow and ran you a cool $100 (plus shipping). Previous years’ toys have included silicone crowbars (“The Freeman”), shot glasses, bowling pins, flashlights… and a human penis billed as “The Ultimate Pleasure”. The What’s Yiffin’? staff (all two of us) agree that “The Ultimate Pleasure” was their funniest one.

Anyways, a hundred bucks in the year of Our Lord 2017 landed you one rubbery fire hydrant, plus matching collectible “Teeny Weeny” and plastic keychain hydrants. The hydrant also came with a free liquid tube upgrade. You know, for shooting water out of it… because it’s a fire hydrant. Get it? Bad Dragon’s sale and store page for the hydrant include the disclaimer that these “toys” are for “novelty purposes only”. But you know people are going to disregard that (LINK IS NSFW).

If you missed out on nabbing yourself one of the hydrants, then you’re out of luck. You’ll have to turn to the secondhand Bad Dragon collectors’ market and pay an inflated collectors’ price. We don’t actually know if there’s a secondhand market for Bad Dragon toys, but none of us are willing to put that term in our search history, especially with congress apparently getting ready to sell that information to anyone with deep enough pockets. No thanks.

WORLD’S CHILLEST MANAGER

2017’s Texas Furry Fiesta took place at the end of last month. The good news is nobody crapped in a place they weren’t supposed to, and nobody blacked out from drug use or had the cops called on them, so all in all it was a good convention. Good by 2017 standards, at least. Furry conventions that take place at hotels are always full of strange people, but often times we forget about the everyman in these situations – people who just so happen to be staying at the same hotel at the same time either for business or personal leisure purposes. Nicola Craig, one such normie, was a guest at the Intercontinental Dallas hotel during the weekend of Furry Fiesta. She left some choice words for the management in a review posted to TripAdvisor.

“Paid $330 a night and it sucked, this place was dirty and had a furry convention on with no warning to other guests. manager is an [sic] BAD. I do not recommend. Also they are on priceline for 89 a night. Wouldn’t even bother. Manager should be fired”

Naturally, she left all one-star reviews for every available amenity category. So, two things. One, hotels don’t usually “warn” people about conventions. If you’re this concerned over sharing a hotel with a convention, most venues have schedules posted on their official websites. If they don’t, you could always call them and ask. Two, you probably should’ve booked on Priceline you idiot. Speaking of calling people, this entitled winner was so displeased with her experience that she apparently did call the hotel at some point and demanded to speak to a manager, because that manager, Stefan Huber, responded to her TripAdvisor review.  He reminded Nicola who’s court she was playing on:

“I have to admit that I am offended by this review for several reasons. I don’t understand how you, particularly as a travel agent, can feel right about insisting on certain guests being better than others … you are harming our reputation simply because I would not compensate you for your guests’ expectations to be surrounded by “like” individuals.”

We can feel the heat coming off that burn all the way from where we are. The 13th Amendment made it illegal to own people like that. We’d kill to know how blasted Nicola became upon reading Mr. Huber’s response, but sadly this is where the paper trail ends. We may never know. One thing we do know, however, is that next year Nicola and her “like individuals” won’t be there ruining the fun for everyone at Furry Fiesta 2018; they’ll be staying a Motel 6 or something instead.

And that’s what April has to offer! We sincerely hope you enjoyed this installment of What’s Yiffin’?, and if you did please consider giving us a subscription on YouTube and a follow on Twitch. What’s Yiffin’? is broadcast as a part of the show Gatorbox, which is live every Friday night at 9PM (US Central). What’s Yiffin’? is performed on the first Friday of every month. Take care, and we hope everyone has a fantastic Easter weekend!

André “Dracokon” Kon & Rob “Roastmaster” Maestro

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1.  Want to do something REALLY awesome? Ask two friends to share the link.  Thank you – Patch

 

Categories: News

April is Furry Poetry Month – guest post by Shining River.

Tue 18 Apr 2017 - 10:29

In the United States and Canada, the month of April is celebrated as National Poetry Month, a tradition in the United States since 1996 and in Canada since 1998. Many literary magazines, libraries, authors, schools, and websites participate in this in a wide variety of ways. Since 2015, writers of the furry community have been celebrating their own version of this, which we may now call Furry Poetry Month.

The writing of poetry by furries, whether they be dedicated writers or occasional writers of poems, is not just a recent development. Poems can be found online in the Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry, of the 1990’s. A once-active site that featured furry literature was Anthrozine. Starting as early as their second issue in 2005, twenty-six furry poems were published over the years that the site was maintained by Michael Bard and Quentin Long.

Poetry probably appeared on Fur Affinity user pages soon after it’s beginning in 2005.  Over the years, approximately eight groups have been created to feature poetry and other writing. Most of these groups have had little activity in recent months, some of them not for several years. The Poets Guild began in 2009 features two poetry anthologies and four dozen individual poems that are posted on the site. Their activity declined for a year or so but has recently had an increase in posting. The most active FA group for poetry at this time is Poetic Furs. Begun in 2015, they have featured an interview with a different poet each month.

Over the years there have been some printed versions of furry poetry. This writer still has his copy of the 1999 Conifur NorthWest furcon con book and we find on page 41-42 what might best be described as a rap, but it’s still poetry, titled “I Am The Very Model Of A Furry Individual” by Mee-Shee.  Another example was the first volume of Allasso in 2012, edited by Brian Lee Cook, which contained seven poems along with fiction short stories.

More recently, poetry has been featured on Adjective Species.  Their first publishing of a furry poem, “Whiskey Sour”, by Lunostophiles, appeared in 2013.

In March of 2015 an essay written by this writer, titled “Finding the Animals in Modern Poetry”, was followed by the creation of the “Inaugural Adjective Species Poetry Collection”. It was curated by Lunostophiles. This featured original animal themed poems from thirteen writers of the furry community. The following year in April, Adjective Species published another essay by this writer, “Finding the Animals in Cowboy Poetry”, which was soon followed by the “Second Adjective Species Poetry Collection”, with nine poems contributed. This was curated by a prominent furry writer, Poetigress.  Also at that time seven original poems written by Poetigress were published over three days.

The Furry Writers Guild was founded in 2010 to be a group for writers to share their experiences and to provide information about writing and publishing. In April of 2015 on their site forum, a new discussion board for poetry was created.  Also at this time, Laura “Munchkin” Govednik and Altivo Overo developed the idea for a book of poetry featuring animal themed poems from Furry Writers Guild writers. The sales of the book would be donated to an animal charity.  This successful project, titled “Civilized Beasts”, appeared in December 2015, published by Weasel Press.

In 2016, the project was begun again, as reported here on Dogpatch Press. Poem submissions are closed at this time and the release of the new book has not yet been announced.

Finally, the enjoyment of poetry does not have to be just a solitary, silent, experience. There are many un-traditional ways of creating and experiencing poetry. Recitation and performance of poetry occasionally occurs in the furry community. Fursuiter rap performances on Youtube are a good example, and this writer enjoyed poetry readings by two furry writers at Rainfurrest 2015.  You might find a way to poetically express yourself with some of these activities: https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/30-ways-celebrate-national-poetry-month

Poetry comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors, much like the fursuits of the furry community. Poetry written by others can put into words the ideas and emotions that we ourselves may not have the skill to express.  Poetry that we write can be a way to gather together our thoughts and emotions and get a clear look at them.  Somewhere out there in the world there is a poem, or maybe many poems, that is good for each one of us.

– Shining River

Categories: News

The King of Las Vegas, by John Van Stry – book review by Fred Patten

Mon 17 Apr 2017 - 07:10

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

The King of Las Vegas, by John Van Stry
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2016, trade paperback $10.99 (234 pages), Kindle $3.99.

John Van Stry has written four Hammer Commission novels; The Hammer Commission, Wolf Killer, Loose Ends, and The King of Las Vegas. They are set in a world where demons, devils, monsters, and vampires are real. Three of the four feature Mark Levin, a demon-devil-monster-vampire hunter for the FBI and Interpol who is a monster himself. Mark and his French partner Jake are minor characters in The King of Las Vegas, which features a rakshasa.

A traditional rakshasa is an Indian (Hindustani) demon, usually described as a huge fanged cannibal who can shape-shift and live hundreds of years. In Van Stry’s novel, it’s a tiger-striped shape-shifter who can turn into a tiger (not a were-tiger; the distinction becomes important in the story) that happens to be a good guy. Rafael is an American college student on vacation in India who is captured and enslaved by a Rakshasa (Van Stry sometimes capitalizes it) and is turned into one himself.

Eleven years later Rafael escapes to American Catholic missionaries in India, and is turned over by them to Mark and Jake. When they determine that Rafael doesn’t want to prey on anyone, he just wants to return to America, they help him out. As a rakshasa, he needs lots of meat, he feeds on strong emotions, and he has to be near tigers. The best place in America for that is Las Vegas – the casinos provide plenty of cheap meals, the gamblers provide the strong emotions, he can pass his tiger stripes as makeup or tattoos for an act, and several Las Vegas attractions and magicians have live tigers.

Van Stry makes the rakshasas part of civilization. The Indian government encourages them to settle along the Indian-Chinese border to discourage Chinese invasion. Rafael’s abusive slave-master has used his Rakshasa powers to make himself a billionaire, and Rafael sues him for enough to make himself independently wealthy.

So Rafael settles in Las Vegas. He can’t go back to college, but he’s not hurting. He’s got all the money he needs. His head-to-toe tiger stripes make him popular with the girls. He can wander through the casinos and drink in the excitement and joy, filtering out the negative emotions like greed and disappointment. Later he uses his shape-changing ability to become a popular Elvis imitator, and he has all the positive emotions he could need.

Here Rafael discovers that he has matured further as a rakshasa without the supernatural power of his former master holding him back. (This also displays CreateSpace’s lack of proofreading.)

“He opened his eyes and looked down at his body. He was covered in fur, but not the light coat he’d had after Janet, no this was the fur of a tiger, and it matched the patterns of his markings.

Examining the palms of his hands, and the soles of his feel [sic.]. he now had dark pads, his fingernails and toenails had disappeared, and when he flexed his fingers, long wicked claws slid out of their hiding places in his fingertips.

Standing up then, he moved across the room in almost a glide as he came to the mirror and looked himself over. He felt stronger than he had before, more balanced, more in tune with his being. Then he noticed his face.

He had a tiger’s head.

He looked a bit closer and longer, it wasn’t actually a real tiger’s head, but it was close. It was a bit more humanoid, and more sized to fit his body. Turning to look at his profile and take the time to admire himself, he noticed he had a tail now as well.” (pgs. 67-68)

Tigers are also very territorial, and Rafael settles into Las Vegas as his city. So he isn’t happy when he senses the death and corruption that he associates with vampires.

“He caught a whiff of it then. He froze, the hairs on the back of his neck starting to rise, and looked around carefully sniffing at the air. Tt was faint; he could just barely detect it. Seeing that there was no one around, he shifted into his full rakshasa form, that he’d achieved for the first time only just hours ago. He grumbled a little as the seat of his trousers split, he’d forgotten about the tail, and his clothing felt a little tighter now, with the fur sprouting from his skin, but with the tiger’s head, came the much stronger tiger’s sense of smell.” (p. 74)

Rafael scents the vampire and gets rid of it and its followers. Then Rafael and his girlfriend Janet Hoskins find another vampire. And another. Las Vegas turns out to be the vampire capital of America. And Sonny Capridella, the Godfather of all the vampires (who also controls the drug dealers and all organized crime in Las Vegas) sets them all to finding out who is conducting a one-monster war against the Vampire Mob.

I don’t review werewolf horror fiction, but The King of Las Vegas (cover by eBook Launch — prices start at $349) is more of a furry superhero against vampires/the Mob action thriller. Problems: besides the lack of proofreading mentioned above, there is Jake’s pathetic French accent:

“‘He is not being zee rude,’ Jake said leaning forward and flashing a rather devastating smile. ‘Your boyfriend, he has zee powers zat make him zee most powerful being in zee city. Zat comes with a responsibility, no? So it is for zee best zat he always remember what he is. It is safer for all involved, most especially for himself.’” (p. 184)

If you want something besides pure furry fiction and you like a good-monster superhero fighting vampires who are also gangsters, try The King of Las Vegas.

– Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1.  Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Rocky Mountain Fur Con backs neo-nazis, sex offender to intimidate critic for reporting threat.

Mon 10 Apr 2017 - 07:30

A Dogpatch Press exclusive report for community interest.

BACKGROUND: A neo-nazi cult-like group (the “Furry Raiders”) is agitating the Colorado Furries.  They recruit members with gifts, grooming, and manipulation.  It makes a classic appeal to people who are desperate to belong to a group. The Furry Raiders self-create an “us vs. them” situation by provoking others so they can pretend to be treated unfairly.   Their trolling includes assault, spreading hate speech, display of nazi-style apparel, refusing to honor meet rules, posting photos of people against their wishes, doxxing enemies to harrass them on the phone, and persistent straw-man attacks at “SJW’s”. In 2016, they provoked wider attention when they tried to gain power at Rocky Mountain Fur Con by interfering with the hotel room block.  In early 2017, they gained more mainstream news headlines.

There is a spotlight on furries and the subculture they love. This report, with participation of many concerned Colorado furries, is not to sensationalize the fringe so media can mischaracterize the rest. Their message is that they care enough to oppose malicious behavior, so protecting a superficial image is less important than making a good community.

Deo, a steelworker in the midwest, was upset about the trolls.  They were ruining what the furry community represents to her.

It made her connect current events to the problem.  She tweeted about punching Nazis.  It was a rhetorical comment in line with the patriotic spirit of entire generations of Americans since WWII.

A troll answered to threaten her.  It involved Rocky Mountain Fur Con.  Deo had never gone and wasn’t planning to go, but cared enough about other furs to notify police and hotel security. Deo says: “It started when a Furry Raider member @Oliviameles threatened to bring a gun to RMFC – I contacted RMFC con security to warn them.  I never received a reply to my email.” 

To understand what Deo experienced next, you should know:

  • After the “Furry Raiders” interfered with RMFC 2016, the con is under fire for continuing to accept them, having staff defend them, and even having “Raiders” on the inside as staff.
  • The founder of RMFC, Kahuki, is reputed to take pride in his con never banning anyone, including those banned by other cons. Colorado Fur Boiler saw it happen in a Facebook group: “Kahuki came in, told us his title – and bragged that he ignored warnings from other cons and people about potentially problematic or dangerous congoers – and that he has never had to ban anyone from RMFC – and nor could he see doing so in the forseeable future. That was posted on the Colorado Furries FB before a mod deleted it.” Colorado fur Timber saw it too: “He was bragging about how no one had been banned, and they didn’t listen to other conventions.”

When Deo reported the threat, Twitter banned the troll account.  But RMFC didn’t answer.  Or so it seemed until two months later.  That’s when things turned upside down.  Following her report, she seems to be the first person to ever get banned from the con.   The delivery method is eye-popping.  When your eyes recover, get ready for an article series.  Dogpatch Press will expose:

  • The individuals behind a scandal.
  • The way it came out.
  • Why it won’t just go away.
  • How concerned people are working for real solutions.

Remember what happened to ConFurence, Rainfurrest and Oklacon?  There’s an opening for a new entry to that list. And that’s just a start.

Here’s the response letter Deo got after she reported the threat:

Deo says: “When I got the letter I was worried, scared. I knew the claims were false, but how much money would I lose paying a lawyer to defend me from frivolous litigation and lies? Was my house in jeopardy? I have two roommates, both furry artists, I was worried about how this would affect them.  The letter is intimidating, threatening, and before I talked to lawyers and found out about Sovereign Citizens I wasn’t sure what to make of it.”

If you have even a mild level of sophistication with this stuff, you can tell that no real licensed lawyer would use this kind of garbled pretend-legalese.  It includes the bogus numbered accusations, a made up “law” that’s just misspelled latin, and the threats against Deo’s home.  You may be able to pick out “dog-whistle” language that spells out “Sovereign Citizen” (notice the “fingerprint seal”.)

Sovereign Citizens are an extremist anti-government movement whose members believe that US law doesn’t apply to them.  They think they can just make up their own law and enforce it with guns.  Filing false liens against property is one of their tactics to cause a nuisance. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, they believe they “get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore”, are “rooted in racism and anti-Semitism,” and do “acts of deadly violence”.

So who is Kendal Emery, the guy signing this?  Why is he upset enough about a critic to attack them supposedly on behalf of RMFC?

Search Kendal Emery on the Colorado Sex Offender list. Compare Facebook profile pics.  They confirm he’s a member of Colorado Furries using the handles “Kahuki Otter/Kahuki Lairu“.

Wow… this is embarrassing!  Kendal/Kahuki founded RMFC.  He’s the founder who is proud of the con for never banning anyone.  That’s ironic because in 2008 he was forced to step down as con chair when people discovered his sex offending.  It appeared that they were parting ways when he stepped down and current chair Sorin took his place.

Surely those named in the letter for suffering damage (including RMFC and BLFC) couldn’t be genuinely connected to Kendal/Kahuki’s threat!  Could they? Deo asked BLFC and they said they had nothing to do with it, but the letter was official.  She contacted Sorin, chair of RMFC:

Sorin is fully aware of this (it’s confirmed from other sources too.)  This isn’t just a felon pretending to have legal authority to intimidate critics with fake “Sovereign Citizen” language.  Sorin is supporting Kahuki to represent a con that supposedly dumped him, and use the RMFC name for threats.  Kahuki still owns RMFC and that 2008 scandal was just brushed under the rug.

For confirmation, the address on the threat letter and Sorin’s reply does match RMFC’s organizing corp under Kahuki’s name:

There’s more entries on Kahuki’s legal record. They’re not necessarily worth mentioning about a random person, but this is a CEO for a nonprofit.

The rabbit hole goes deeper.  It appears that the “Sovereign Citizen” gibberish in Kahuki’s letter has another source: his friend Scorch, AKA Rodney Brian Graff.  Scorch is on RMFC’s board.  Compare his archived comments from the Colorado Furries FA group, where he defends the Furry Raiders and Kahuki’s sex offense.  Or the legal gibberish on his FA profile where he claims to be a “self taught law student.” Or his “official” ID which is something special to behold.

Scorch has other interesting stuff on his website.  Poke around in the public directory to find stuff concerned with 9/11 trutherism, the “flat earth”, so-called alternative physics, or this collection of photos of dolphin genitalia. But never mind all that… being weird is one thing; this story is another.

TL;DR:

  • A neo-nazi style group is invading furry fandom.
  • RMFC and some of its staff and board defends them by threatening critics.
  • Threats are coming from a sex offender who supposedly stepped down from operating RMFC but still owns and represents it.

You couldn’t write a Troma movie this bad.  The con was operating with pride in welcoming the worst of the fandom, until a critical tweet and safety report angered them enough to threaten a regular fur (who wasn’t even attending).

Deo says: “This situation is a mess. I have a convicted felon who found my name and address and is sending me threatening letters in which he pretends to be a lawyer.  Obviously things within RMFC, and it’s parent corporation MAAAC are seriously wrong if the Board of Directors chose to intimidate me into silence rather than make a public statement about the security of the con and the safety of RMFC attendees.”

Why does Deo care? “The furry fandom is this amazing place full of wonderful creative people. I’ve been so blessed to be a part of it, I love this fandom. Most of my friends are furries, and without those friends I’d be lost.”

Stay tuned for the next parts, when Dogpatch Press covers even more news tied to fascist furries. We are committed to supporting the community and power of the press.  Notices to us are subject to publication. Threats will be defended with maximum power to expose the truth.

Categories: News

Swift the Cat-Human, by Angelo Bowles – book review by Fred Patten

Fri 7 Apr 2017 - 10:17

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

Swift the Cat-Human, by Angelo Bowles. Illustrated by Charlene Bowles.
Donna, TX, VAO Publishing, April 2013, trade paperback $13.99 (206 [+ 26] pages)

VAO Publishing, “A Small Press for the Río Grande Valley” in Donna, Texas, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, specializes in books for and about the Tex/Mex border region; from poetry by South Texans to ¡Arriba Baseball! A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fiction. Swift the Cat-Human, an omnibus collection of the three books in this series, seems like an unusual juvenile volume for them, but Angelo Bowles lives in Donna. It’s still unusual: he was a 10-year-old 5th-grader in 2011 when he wrote Book 1.

If Swift the Cat-Human hasn’t been “tidied up” by some adult, then I’m jealous. I couldn’t write nearly this well when I was 10 years old. This is an excellent children’s novel in three parts for young furry fans or to introduce pre-teens to anthropomorphics.

Swift is a housecat belonging to Dr. Gonzalo Gonzales. Dr. Gonzales drops a test tube of an experimental virus on the floor, Swift licks it:

“And then the transformation started.

My tail got longer, my back legs got a little skinnier and started stretching, and my front legs seemed to be growing, too. My paws began to lose their pads, and I started to grow opposable thumbs! What good are opposable thumbs, anyway? And five fingers? What’s up with that?” (p. 2)

The transformation is simplistic, but this is a kids’ novel with comic-book science.

“‘Um,’ I said. The vet’s eyes got very big. ‘If you really know Dr. Gonzales, I think you should give him a call so he can get me the heck out of here!’

‘Y-y-you can talk?’

‘Well, I would twitch my ears at you, but I don’t think you’d understand.’” (p. 6)

Dr. Gonzales is afraid the government might take Swift away and keep him secret, so he decides to go public:

“‘I’m going to call all the newspapers and TV stations, Swift. I’m going to tell them about you, and you’re going to talk to them. That way no one can keep you a secret.’” (p. 11)

The government and a big company, ZooTek, argue over whether the cat-human transformation virus should be controlled, and by who. It ends up with Dr. Gonzales working for ZooTek, and ZooTek transforming more cats into cat-humans under close controls such as declawing and microchiping them. Cat-humans are the size of human 10-year-olds, and a lot of people want one. ZooTek wants to be ready to sell them. After two months, there are about fifty cat-humans; all of the “tame” cats held by Animal Control Services. When ZooTek transforms some feral alley cats that Animal Control has just caught, things start to go wrong. Three are transformed but escape before they’re declawed. Swift goes after them, but he’s not a fighter and he has been declawed, so he’s beaten and clawed pretty bloody. A man who just happens to be a former circus performer trains him in martial arts for two months. Swift captures two of the feral cats, but Reaves, the meanest and smartest of the three, has gone after Dr. Gonzales. Swift follows, frees Dr. Gonzales, and meets Kenmei (the black cat on the cover), the new cat-human that Dr. Gonzales has made to replace Swift. But Reaves escapes again, after injecting himself with another virus that will mutate him into something worse.

That’s Book 1, Mix-Up. In Book 2, Shutdown, Swift and Kenmei recruit three more cat-humans to help them catch Reaves; Fluffy, Chrysty (a girl; short for Chrysanthemum), and Mr. Cuddles. In Book 3, Creep-Out, Swift recovers from a six-month coma to find that the situation has deteriorated considerably. Among other problems, there is a giant cat-human monster, Anvill, giving all the cat-humans bad reputations.

Swift the Cat-Human is very much a novel by and for pre-adolescents. Swift has the physique and mentality of a 10- or 11-year schoolboy. His being a cat-boy with a tail and fur gives him, if not exactly super-powers, at least traits that most 10- or 11-year-olds will consider super-cool. There is a lot of schoolboy humor:

“We piled into the back of Enzo’s truck. Mr. Cuddles said, ‘The only time I ever got in a truck was when they took me to get neutered.’

Chrysty looked at him. ‘Thank you for sharing that,’ she said sarcastically.” (p. 60)

“He tried to rush off, and that’s when everyone else joined in. We noticed that we had no armor, so we all got branches, strong ones, and used them like lightsabers (I watched Star Wars with Enzo. It’s old, just like him, but the fights are cool.) (p. 72)

The book ends with several things unresolved. Angelo Bowles says in the unpaged Extras that Books 1 – 3 are just the beginning of a planned ten. There is a Coming in December 2013 announcement for Cat-Human Academy; Book One: Lock-Up; but neither Amazon nor the VAO Publishing catalogue list it. Too bad. Maybe Angelo Bowles decided to wait until he has attended middle and high school before writing those.

As I said, Swift the Cat-Human (cover by Charlene Bowles) is too young for most furry fans, but it is an excellent children’s novel in three parts for young furry fans or to introduce pre-teens to anthropomorphics.

There are other cat-humans, a total of eleven, all profiled in the Extras. Charlene Bowles is identified as the 15-year-older sister of Angelo Bowles. She has also illustrated books by David Bowles (including The Smoking Mirror, a Young Adult novel about shapeshifters), who is apparently their father. It sounds like there is a talented family there.

– Fred Patten

 

Categories: News

Fred Patten’s Five Fortunes – book review by Greyflank.

Thu 6 Apr 2017 - 10:14

Guest review submitted by Bill Kieffer, AKA Grayflank (author of The Goat: Building a Perfect Victim.)  Guests are invited to submit articles to: patch.ofurr(at)gmail.com.

Fred Patten’s Five Fortunes (FurPlanet, 2014, $19.95) is a collection of five novellas from some of the best writers in the G-rated Furry Fandom.

  • Chosen People by Phil Geusz
  • Huntress by Renee Carter Hall
  • Going Concerns by Watts Martin
  • When a Cat Loves a Dog by Mary E. Lowd
  • Piece of Mind by Bernard Doove

I am not sure how well the theme of “fortune” applies to the five works, so on that level the collection doesn’t feel all that well tied together, but then with five long works it’s not a heavy criticism. It’s not like there’s a lot of “destiny” fans out there. Each story approaches the nugget of self-determination from a different vector from being mindful of doing the right thing (Geusz) to the finding themselves (Hall) to finding a way to survive the week (Martin) or one’s condition (Doove).

It’s a furry sampler of longer works; perfect for people who don’t always like short stories because the story’s over just as they get to know a character. If, somehow, you don’t know these writers or their universes, then this is a good place to start learning.

CHOSEN PEOPLE by Phil Guesz

The cover story.

I’ve had the advantage of enjoying Geusz’s stories for far longer than most of the Furry Fandom. As part of the TSA-Talk, he was one of the voices that helped shaped my own writing voice through example and conversation. His heroes have an an honesty and vulnerability that I have never been able to match. His worlds reflect the diversity of morality and pragmatism of humanity, and the Lapist story-verse is no exception.

Sheriff Juniper Rabbit is in many ways a typical Geusz hero; Transformed, a minority by choice, and with a specific set of skills, our new sheriff has a unique point of view of both the average Joe and the Privileged classes. Unlike the more moneyed Lapists, Juniper understands that just choosing to become a Rabbit, doesn’t make you a better person. Like most Geusz heroes, Juniper inspires by example and most of his success isn’t just in winning against impossible odds, but in stepping up and being the “better man” time and time again.

Juniper differs from the author’s other TFed heroes in that his transformation is by choice, without coercion or being born into this form. Not that it is without sacrifice, of course, but these changes seem worth it to our hero.

The story’s nice and flies by in Geusz’s light and tight style. The mystery of the arsonist is wrapped up rather too quickly and much of it off camera, but this is less a crime story than a story exploring the Haves’ willingness to dehumanize the Have-Nots. Overlooking the cause of conflicts is much too easy. It’s always been much too easy.

HUNTRESS by Renee Carter Hall

This is a very nice and sweeping tale set in an alternate Africa with anthropomorphic lions villages and somewhat nomadic hunters. This intelligently combines the human and realistic dynamics of human villages with the hunting schemes of lions in the natural world. In Huntress, all the big game hunters are females with their own way of life and traditions. Yet, they are also tied to the villages for trade… and recruiting.

This is a multi-layered coming of age story as Leya goes from child to adult, trying to find her place in the world. Yet, as no time is she an outright outcast. She finds her place several times in the course of the story, and often enjoys the sensation of fitting in.

Over the years, it’s not that she outgrows her place in the world so much as it becomes time to take another place.

Leya’s story was very refreshing in this way. Leya’s not a super-skilled Huntress; Leya is not rejected at every step. Leya grows and does not create a single enemy along the way. Everyone is supportive; but they also have their own emotional needs. In this way, it reminds me of the best chick-lit novels: growing and exploring both your skills and emotional landscape… and yet there’s still action; it’s not all in Leya’s head.

GOING CONCERNS by Watts Martin

If I recall correctly, this is the second story I’ve read set in this universe. The first was Indigo Rain. I quite enjoyed both works even if I think the humans and the furred people get along just a bit to well.

The sparsity of commas was my only complaint I had in Indigo Rain. With Fred running the edits here, I have no complaints with the comma placement and grammar here.

The dialogue might have been way too witty for its own good, but it was played off as a character flaw with the feline detective. To my old eyes, I think the proper placement of “old school” pauses that a comma brings really made the dialogue pop. The plot was a shade tighter and more robust than I recall of Indigo Rain.

I hope I can find more stories with Swift and Scava in them.

WHEN A CAT LOVES A DOG by Mary Lowd

We return to the universe of Otters In Space and join our lead characters, Lashonda (a cat) and Topher (a dog), getting married in a rare mixed species ceremony. It is a nice enough ceremony, marred only by the fact that Topher’s mother believes that this is a publicity stunt. Topher’s a comedian in the early stages of his career and it’s not a wholly unreasonable possibility. The dog is known for his cat jokes; jokes the uplifted felines understand are actually mocking the dogs who are largely in charge of the human free world. But the romance is there…

At first, both claim that they aren’t interested in children — cats and dogs cannot produce offspring in this universe — but when Lashanda sees Topher playing with children in the park, the flood gates open. At first, she wants a litter for Topher and then herself.

How they follow this new dream is an exploration of love and science that made me smile several times and turn green with envy once or twice.

Lowd’s style and execution always fascinate me. She’s a superb craftsman and has a deft hand with a light style. I honestly don’t know how she explores the life changing issues and challenges that she does and keep it honest, yet light. There’s more than a suggestion of depth here, but it never gets too dark or too common. I keep watching her stuff, hoping to learn her tricks, but I oft-times have to just settle with being entertained and inspired.

PIECE OF MIND by Bernard Doove

I know I’ve been aware of Chakats and Doove’s universe for quite some time. I don’t recall the stories readily, but I’m sure that I must have read some of them over the years. I certainly found his pictures on Usenet from my dial-up days. Finding his art on the web today made me feel wonderfully nostalgic.

Reading this story felt like slipping into comfortable old slippers.

In Piece of Mind, I can see that there’s a lot of world building and culture here, but sometimes the struts and framework are a little too exposed. A little too on the money, maybe. The craftsmanship needed to build a cohesive universe are obviously here.

How can I not attach myself to our story lead instantly? I’ve had to deal with anxiety and guilt… not to mention the judgement of others. This should be a cinch, but it’s not that easy. The author’s decision to hide the Caitian’s deep dark secret played well for story needs, but in keeping the reader (ok, this reader) in the dark, it created distance that I had to overcome.

By the time I was invested in Arrak (who went by three or four names in the story — that didn’t help, either), I had very little energy to start getting to know the Chakat Windy as well. Honestly, she became likable quickly enough and was well used to foil Arrak while mentoring him, but given her role in the ending of the story… I didn’t see much of a sniff of the emotions that the conclusion should have been made of.

The end is much too pat, but be that as it may be, the cold cat on the skiing slopes created a few amused and touching moments that let me know that Doove’s capable of selling characters to the reader (or me, in this case).

*spoiler*
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There’s an epilogue on the web version of the story (http://www.furry.org.au/chakat/Stories/PieceOfMind.html). I’m not sure if it fixes my issue of the “patness,” but it does seem a better and more natural display of intimacy than their earlier confession of love.

Buy Five Fortunes on FurPlanet.

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Categories: News

Word of Mouse, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein – book review by Fred Patten.

Wed 5 Apr 2017 - 10:54

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

Word of Mouse, by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Illustrated by Joe Sutphin.
NYC, Little, Brown and Co./Jimmy Patterson Books, December 2016, hardcover $13.99 (284 [+ 6] pages), Kindle $9.99.

(See an animated TV ad for the book.)

This children’s fantasy, recommended for 8- to 12-year-old readers (middle grade/grades 3-7), will be too young for most DP readers. But it’s a quick and enjoyable read for those who liked Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. – the novel by Robert C. O’Brien, rather than the Don Bluth animated movie that turned it into a fairy tale.

James Patterson is a writing machine. He holds the Guinness World Records for the most #1 New York Times best sellers and the first author to sell over 1,000,000 e-books. He has topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid authors for the last three years. Wikipedia lists 164 books by him, alone and with a co-author. He has written adult mysteries, thrillers, and romance novels, and young adult and juvenile light school-life novels and science-fiction. His adult thrillers featuring Alex Cross, police psychologist, are by himself alone, and most of his others are in collaboration. Chris Grabenstein is a frequent co-author on his children’s novels. Word of Mouse is their first fantasy featuring talking animals.

The narrator is Isaiah, a mouse:

“My story starts on the day I lost my entire family. I’m running as fast as I can behind my big brothers and sisters. Down the hall. Past the mop bucket. Toward the open door.

We’re escaping from a place that’s foul and creepy and 100 percent HORRIBLE!” (p. 1)

Isaiah is the only mouse who escapes without being recaptured. What makes Word of Mouse of interest to furry fans is that it’s quickly apparent that Isaiah and his siblings are experimental lab mice. Isaiah is bright blue, Abe is crimson, Winnie is chartreuse, and all 97 of them are different colors. But this is just Lamina Research Laboratory’s color-coding. What’s inherent in Isaiah and his siblings are that they’re unusually intelligent, can see in color instead of just black and white, and probably have human life spans instead of a mouse’s usual one to two years.

Isaiah, having been raised around scientists (Lamina is a leader in genetic engineering), knows big words that apply to mice like crepuscular and tenebrous, and can read.

“Did you know that the word mouse supposedly came from the Sanskrit word mus, which means thief? Now, I don’t typically think of myself as a thief. I’ve never taken anything that wasn’t freely given to me. I never had to.

But scurrying through Suburbia, a stranger in a strange land, I realize I might not have much of a choice. No Long Coat is going to come along and toss me my daily scoop of crunchy kibble.” (p. 19)

Isaiah has to learn to avoid suburban predators like cats, dogs, and hawks, and to scrounge like normal mice. His adventures turn from juvenile science-fiction into fantasy as he meets a big family of mice (a mouse family is a mischief) and they can all talk together, although Isaiah knows a lot more than they do. Isaiah develops a romance with a pert girl mouse, Mikayla, and finds that her mischief living in the Brophys’ house is much larger than usual because the Brophys are all slobs who leave half-eaten sandwiches and dropped snacks in all the rooms. He saves them from mousetraps.

“Gwindell twitches her snout. ‘Mmmm. This box smells delicious, too!’

‘No!’ I shout. ‘Don’t go in there!’

‘Why not? It smells so peanut buttery.’ She lunges for the brown box, and I dive to block her.

‘It’s a mousetrap!’ I holler, reading what is written on the side of the cardboard mouse coffin. ‘The floor is covered with glue, and they’ve baited it with peanut butter. If you go in, you’ll never come out!’ Gwindell and her brothers examine the box carefully.” (pgs. 72-73)

He also makes friends with the human girl across the street, twelve-year-old Hailey. She can’t hear him when he talks because his voice is both too soft and in the ultrasonic range, but he jumps around on her computer keyboard like thefictional archy the cockroach did on a typewriter.

But while Isaiah has it made, for a mouse, he wants to rescue his own brothers and sisters who have been locked up back in Lamina Lab’s cages. Which he does, with the help of Mikayla and her mischief, and Hailey.

For those who like Disney-style art, there are attractive full-page or half-page illustrations by Joe Sutphin throughout the book.

My only complaint is with the prejudicial depiction of the lab’s research staff (and by implication, all scientists) as cold and unfeeling at best, and as sadists at worst; constantly sneering, sniggering, and smirking. When Dr. Ledbetter finds out that his lab mice have human-level intelligence, his reaction is to threaten to immediately dissect them instead of studying their intelligence:

“‘It’s good to see you again, B-97. My colleagues tell me that you recently demonstrated some rather unusual talents. Ones I did not know I had given you. I can’t wait to open you up and see what’s going on inside that tiny little blue brain of yours.’” (p. 260)

Word of Mouse (jacket design by Tracy Shaw, featuring one of Joe Sutphin’s illustrations) is good fun for furry fans; and, it goes without saying, as gifts for any young nieces or nephews, and for their own children when they have families. There are paperback, Audible, and audio CD versions, too.

– Fred Patten

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Categories: News

The Relics of Thiala, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus – book review by Fred Patten

Mon 3 Apr 2017 - 10:38

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

The Relics of Thiala, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2017, trade paperback $15.99 (190 [+ 10] pages), Kindle $4.99.

Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus, two retirees “in the very heart of Germany” according to their website “The Adventure of Romance”, have already written five other books, four in English and one in German. The two Smilodon Pride novels, Softpaw and Sunchaser, feature werecats, werewolves, and vampires, although they all spend most of the time passing as humans.

Now with the Packmasters space opera series, more obvious furries are featured in an unusual premise.

“Twenty years ago, the evil Packmasters used their genetically engineered bestiae in an attempt to seize control of the galaxy. The Core Worlders wiped them out, scorched their planets and kept the few surviving bestiae as trophies.” (blurb)

Really? The protagonists of The Relics of Thiala are Cat, Ferret, Bear, and Wolf, four rare bestiae — anthropomorphic animals — who had been kept as pampered pets or arena gladiators by the human elite. They are “liberated” by a human girl, Ana, to form a new pack. Ana has become aware that the reality she sees does not match “what everyone knows” about the Packmaster-Core Worlds war. The victors write the history books, and from what Ana can see, the Core World masses (not the rulers) might have been better off if the Packmasters had won. Ana – a mysterious adopted orphan who may be a Packlander child – runs away to steal three bestiae pets and one savage arena warrior to form a new pack, and go in search of what really happened to the Packmasters – and what the Packmasters really were (and Ana is).

“Now their misfit pack must face down the darkness at the heart of Packmaster society before it can poison their bond. The truth will either destroy them or grant them the power to shape their own destiny.” (blurb)

The Relics of Thiala is narrated by Cat, who gives it a very furry perspective.

“I had been the pampered pet of of a rich Core senator as long as I could think back. I was a prized possession, cared for in every possible way. There were servants who brushed my fur, servants who fed me and servants who walked me in the gardens so I didn’t turn from chubby to fat. Everything was arranged so I was exactly what my owner expected from a perfectly tame calico tomcat. My markings were rather irregular, large patches of brown and orange stripes on a white coat of fur, the only symmetric part was my tail with its beautiful dark brown and golden rings. But he thought that made me special. He didn’t keep me to display me in competitions, after all. I was his ultimate luxury item – utterly useless and terribly expensive.” (p. 32)

“Ferret stopped in front of one of the heavy steel doors lining the tunnel. Like the rest of us, he was wrapped in a voluminous cloak, concealing that he was a bestia, too. Still he had drawn some puzzled frowns, being mistaken for a human child due to his size. But nobody bothered to intervene – this was Darkside, after all. Nobody bothered, ever. Ferret fiddled with the lock only briefly before he stepped aside and allowed Bear to help him pull the door open.” (p. 11)

“After years of searching, we weren’t much closer to hard facts about the Packmasters, their beastiae and the war than we had been when we had started. Every avenue of research we had tried had turned out to be a dead end.” (p. 39)

“Furred as we were, none of us really needed the robes, but Ana insisted the same way she insisted we had proper clothes. ‘You are not animals. You are just as much entitled to have clothes to protect yourselves and make yourselves pretty as anyone else,’ she had said when she had bought me my first set of clothing. At first, it had felt strange to wear something over my fur, but it did make it much easier to blend in. And I liked being pretty.” (p. 44)

“Since my cooking skills were not suited for anything complicated, I opted for safe and simple. Couldn’t go wrong with grilled steaks when there were four people at the table who had been genetically engineered from carnivorous animal species.” (p. 49)

Cat is the first bestia in Ana’s pack. After years of sneaking about the Core Worlds, living in the shadows while adding Ferret, Bear, and Wolf, the pack is ready to begin its hunt. They steal a crime lord’s gaudy space yacht (whore-house scarlet) – small and automated so the five of them can fly it – and take off for Thiala. “Finally out here on the Fringe, we had uncovered the location of one of the old Packmaster worlds where they had conducted their research and created their bestiae. It’s [sic.] existence had been erased from all official records. There was a good chance we would find nothing but a scorched wasteland, but we hoped that there was a reason, that planet was kept secret. Maybe we would find traces of the Packmasters from before the war, or even records or hints that some had survived somewhere.” (p. 39)

I could pick nits with the story. (1) Walking about in public draped under a voluminous cloak, with a hood completely hiding your face, to go unnoticed may have a respectable ancestry – see the Mafia chieftan Luigi Vampa in The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas – but just try it in real life and see how “unnoticed” you really are. (And not just one, but a group of cloaked figures.) (2) To quote Wikipedia, “calicoes are nearly always female”.

But this is space opera, not hard science s-f. This review covers the first 50 pages of the 190-page novel (cover by Darbaras, a.k.a. Dávid László Tóth). What will Cat, Ferret, Bear, Wolf, and Ana find on Thiala and the sleazy Vandal space station? Since this is space opera, expect mucho dramatic action and weapons fire.

The Relics of Thiala comes to a satisfactory conclusion, but this series is just starting. Packmasters #2, Raid on Sullin, is due in autumn 2017.

– Fred Patten

Categories: News

Beast of War, by Mina S. Kitsune – book review by Fred Patten

Fri 31 Mar 2017 - 10:07

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

Beast of War, by Mina S. Kitsune. Illustrated by Sal Hernandez.
Ames, IA, Light Beasts, LLC, July 2015, trade paperback $8.50 (197 pages), Kindle $4.00.

The big annoyance with Beast of War is that it is written from the viewpoint of a teen airhead of the future. Melissa Rin Brick, a college student in Atlanta, would rather attend fan conventions, dances, and parties cosplaying as “Cute Kitsune” than study. She lives far enough in the future that bullets (from the context, bullet trains) cross North America in a couple of hours from one city to another. There are AI-controlled cars. Apparently the ozone layer has been destroyed, and a Life Shell over the cities protects people from ordinary radiation.

“‘Scientists say that everyone should stay indoors during tomorrow’s solar eclipse. The current disruptions in the sun will cause serious harm to those outside. A warning is being issued: high risk of third-degree burns or stroke. They also remind you not to look directly at the sun during this event, even with the Life Shell and the Moon both blocking a majority of the harmful rays.’

Oh, blah blah. Everything that happens has to make people worry. Like you could really get burned while the Life Shell protects us from space.” (p. 6)

Mel, who has been partying at a convention while she should be in school, is met by her friend Jill:

“‘Right, but I figured you didn’t know about the warning to stay indoors today, so I was going to take you to a shelter. Class was cancelled.’

‘What, over that solar stuff? Come on. Scientists always have a bug about something, from earthquakes to global warming to a lot of snow,’

‘Yes, and thanks to global warming, the entire Midwest became an inland sea for thirty years!’” (p. 8)

This is all in Chapter 1. Mel ignores the warnings, and in Chapter 2 is apparently sent by the extra radiation from the solar eclipse into another dimension – and into a new body.

“Now I’m flat on my butt in tall grass that’s brown, not green. I’m in a valley, not on a hill. And where the hell are my clothes?

The noise is making my skull spin. Yipe! What the heck is crawling on my head? Ears? I can feel myself touching fuzzy ears. Yet I don’t just feel them with my hands. I feel them with … my ears. I have fur on my head; not hair, but fur.” (p. 12)

Mel’s fursona was Cute Kitsune; now she’s a real foxgirl. She is quickly surrounded by those things in the background on Sal Hernandez’s cover:

“Grey speckled skin; seven fingers, skinny upper bodies with circular feet. Has to be a group of sci-fi freaks. They must have got me into a sensory VR room. I’ve never been in a VR this real, though I heard the sensory ones are amazing. They speak, but I can’t understand a word of it. That can’t be a scrambler. Something is very wrong here. I can see stars; they look real. I can feel the wind on my skin and bugs on my legs.” (p. 13)

The grey people have four eyes and spears. They think she’s a natural fox and put her in a cage:

“Whoa, I move fast! Too fast to stop! Oh, my neck. I didn’t know I could run that fast. I must have looked like a total fool. Oh yeah, they are laughing. That guttural reverberation could be nothing but a laugh. I’ll just pretend I didn’t do anything unnatural, like a cat would. They look sad when thy laugh, and it really hurts my ears when they make this much noise. Why do my ears have to be so sensitive? I always thought having fox ears would be great, but it’s really lame. The tail is still great to have.” (p. 18)

At this point I’m just going to quote the back-cover blurb: “A self-absorbed college student has everything she knows turned sideways. After ignoring multiple warnings, she walks down a one-way path. Now she is alone in a land and body that are unknown to her. See the world through her eyes as she struggles with the implications of the biggest mistake of her life. Can she adapt fast enough to keep alive? Can she keep ahold of who she is, or even what it means to be human? Can she make it home before she becomes more than just a beast of war?”

Mel, and the reader, have a whole alien world to explore, and she’s become a self-centered fox. Some highlights:   the world is called Haragerk. Kitsune credits a co-author, Rebecca “Lyarea” Everett. Those bulbous animals with six eyeslits on Sal Hernandez’s cover are xounds, and the seven-fingered grey men are Kumimi. Hernandez has also drawn 25 chapter-heading sketches.

Don’t expect an ending to the story. Beast of War is only Light Beasts Saga, volume 1. What will happen to fox-Mel next?

– Fred Patten

Categories: News

The Guardian Herd: Windborn, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez – book review by Fred Patten

Thu 30 Mar 2017 - 10:58

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

The Guardian Herd: Windborn, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Illustrated by David McClellan; maps.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, September 2016, hardcover $16.99 ([xvii +] 340 [+ 3] pages), Kindle $9.99.

When we last left the flying horses of Anok, Starfire had finally united the dissident pegasi of the five separate Herds just in time to meet his two opponents’ Black Army and Ice Warriors, both under the command of Nightwind the Destroyer, the immortal, evil stallion from 400 years ago, for a sixty-page battle climax. As this fourth Guardian Herd novel, Windborn, begins, Star seems to have defeated all his enemies. He has integrated the former Black Army into his United Army. But Star is temporarily separated from his United Army, and when he returns, he finds that his pegasi have been captured by Nightwind and have disappeared.

While looking for them, he meets his deadly enemy, Frostfire, the former commander of the Black Army. Nightwind has discarded Frostfire as a loser and taken Petalcloud and her Ice Warriors to be his troops. Nightwing has vanished along with Star’s herd plus Frostfire’s mate, Larksong, and their colt. As both Star and Frostfire have to find Nightwing and the missing pegasi, they reluctantly agree to search together.

Meanwhile, Nightwing has been capturing all the pegasi that he can find (around twelve thousand) and forcing them to join his herd, without telling them where he is taking them:

“Morningleaf’s tears soaked her chestnut face and dripped off her cheeks, falling hundreds of winglengths to the ground below. She dangled between her mother, Silverlake, and her friend, Redfire. The two steeds did their best to carry her through the clouds without hurting her worse. Her brother, Hazelwind, and two of her best friends, Echofrost and Shadepebble, flew ahead, creating a wake for the steeds, to ease their burden. Echofrost’s brother, Bumblewind, flew behind with Brackentail and Dewberry, whispering about escape.” (p. 17)

“Morningleaf glanced down at the land passing far below her hooves. They’d been traveling for fifteen days, visiting the five abandoned territories and searching for stray pegasi to join their herd. Many were elders, and when they refused to follow Nightwing, he’d set them all on fire. Each time Morningleaf closed her eyes, she saw the flames and heard the screams.” (pgs. 19-20)

Windborn alternates its chapters (or pairs of chapters) between Starfire’s and Frostfire’s argument-filled search, and Morningleaf’s and her friends’ attempts to escape from Nightwing:

“Star was larger than Frostfire and should have been taking the headwind to speed their flight, but the white stallion refused to draft on Star’s wake. And it was silly for Star to draft off Frostfire’s, so they flew in each other’s competing currents, slowing each other down, and Star became frustrated. They landed at the water’s edge, and Frostfire plunged his nose into the current. Star spoke. ‘We’re not working as a team.’

‘So,’ said Frostfire, water dripping down his chin.

‘So we should,’ said Star. ‘If you let me lead, we’ll travel faster.’

‘I won’t draft off you,’ said Frostfire, ruffling his violet-edged feathers. ‘You can draft off me.’” (pgs. 29-30)

“Nightwing landed his captured herd in the scrubby foothills located east of Mountain Herd’s territory. They were inland now, far from the coast, flying over a long, winding river. They’d been traveling for twenty-two days. Nightwing settled the herd once a day to drink and eat, and once a night to sleep. The pegasi were weary and hungry, and Morningleaf was no exception. Her wings ached from holding her weight.” (p. 36)

The two stories come together about halfway through Windborn, and the last half of the novel becomes Star’s and his friends’ plans to get Nightwing’s vast new Wind Herd of pegasi free from his control. There is the death of a major character, attacks by dire wolves, a giant tornado, and (here’s a giant spoiler that you won’t get from the advertising) the climactic battle between Starfire and Nightwing and the end of this series! Wow!

The four novels of the Guardian Herd series are all dramatic. I have some trouble imagining the pegasi – horses with large wings – doing such things as, here, digging Vietnam War-style tunnels with their hooves to spy on their enemies. Each volume has a Cast of Characters at the beginning of the book that describes too many multicolored pegasi. Here there are 44 of them: “Crystalfeather – small chestnut mare with bright-blue feathers, two front white socks, white strip on face. Birchcloud – lead mare. Light bay mare with green feathers, two white front socks. Graystone – Ice Warrior. White stallion, silver mane and tail, pale-yellow feathers each with a silver center, blue eyes.” (pages viii-xi) But for readers who like dramatic talking, flying horses – My Little Pony with tragedy and melodrama — this can’t be beat.

But wait! There’s more!! An early passage here alludes to a vanished Herd that disappeared 400 years previously to escape Nightwing’s first appearance:

“Redfire, who hailed from the desert, spoke. ‘Our legends say that the Lake Herd pegasi fled Anok when Nightwing became the Destroyer four hundred years ago. That they escaped.’” (p. 19)

Now, for those who have not had enough flying, talking horses, Alvarez’s The Guardian Herd website (aimed at teenage girls) promises a spinoff trilogy, Dark Water Trials, beginning in August 2017, that tells what had happened to the Lake Herd. The pegasi led by Echofrost flee the war in Anok to a new continent, where they encounter Landwalkers (humans).

See you in August!

– Fred Patten

 

 

Categories: News

Reviewer slams furries for infesting her hotel – you’ll cry when you see the Manager’s epic reply.

Tue 28 Mar 2017 - 10:14

Fiesta or infestation?

Texas Furry Fiesta was awesome for most everyone who was there. But one irate hotel guest had a nasty attitude towards the cute fuzzies breathing her air. On Tripadvisor, Nasty Nicola really let them have it:

Sounds terrible. Maybe next time she WOULD even bother if the hotel didn’t have such an BAD manager. He didn’t give a warning about the fluffballs trying to get away with heinous activity like hugs, making art, or getting treated with basic common decency.  Who could be worse than dirty furry trash? (I resemble that remark…) Well, I’ll tell you: Someone who’s racist against furries and a cheapskate jerk to service workers too. That’s an worse person.

Remember when the Vermont Furries faced discrimination? They got told they couldn’t play with others at Mardi Gras, because their costumes were too costume-y unlike other people’s costumes.  What did they do?  They got up in front of their city council and changed the law. No leashes, no masters!

Of course hotels are prepared for this kind of thing.  I hope they give employee awards for handling it right.  If they do, Employee of the Millenium goes to manager STEFAN “PREACH-IT” HUBER, for the way he beamed a stern Care Bear Stare right in Nasty Nicola’s face:

This hospitality ninja will break you if you dare to have a bad time at his hotel

Dear nicolacraig,

As I told you during our phone call earlier in the week, I am sorry to hear how displeased your guests were with their experience at our hotel.

Concerning the other group that was at the hotel while your guests were here, as I explained to you, we are not in a position, and most definitely don’t have the right, nor the inclination, to discriminate against anyone guest or any group. As a hotel, we cater to all kinds of travelers and conventions and do not feel it is necessary, to use your word, “warn”, anyone as to who is also in-house when booking.

As far as pricing is concerned, every hotel sells at different price points depending on a variety of different factors. Being a travel agent, surely you are exposed to this on an ongoing basis. Hotels are no different than airlines in the sense that you could be sitting next to someone in an airplane that paid hundreds of dollars less than you did, merely due to the fact that they booked at a different time than you did.

I have to admit that I am offended by this review for several reasons. First, because I don’t understand how you, particularly as a travel agent, can feel right about insisting on certain guests being better than others, and second, you are harming our reputation simply because I would not compensate you for your guests’ expectations to be surrounded by “like” individuals and because you expected to be “warned” that we have the D.R.A.M.A Convention at the hotel when booking these rooms.

I offer my apologies, but that is not the world we live in and most certainly not how we conduct our business.

Sincerely,
Stefan Huber
General Manager

BAM.  He also replied to a less than honest furry guest and showed them how Momma Huber didn’t raise no fool.

Now this might be a fun followup if you have a minute: tweet to @InterConDallas and thank them for hosting Furry Fiesta, and @elsanjuanhotel ‏ to tell them to promote this man up to the moon.  (Not literally, duh… moon tourism isn’t quite there yet.) Puerto Rico is his new location (he must have been called there to show them how to just slay at hospitality.)

In closing, every con should have such a stand-up guy who can professionally tell a hater to go eat a satchel of Hickory-Smoked Horse Buttholes.

PS: D.R.A.M.A. is the Dallas Regional Anthropomorphic Meeting Association. That’s the secret furry illuminati who organize Furry Fiesta.

@sylvan_wolf @DogpatchPress @SolusKrieger I came up with the acronym. ????

— Fuzz Borowski (@FuzzWolf) March 23, 2017

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Categories: News

March is Furry Women’s Month – guest post by Shining River.

Mon 27 Mar 2017 - 09:25

Thanks to Shining River for submitting this guest post.

BUST: The Secret Lives Of Female Furries “K2 in her fursuit, photo: Derek Jensen”

In the United States in 1980, a presidential proclamation signed by then president Jimmy Carter designated the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  In 1987, the Congress of the United States passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.

Here in our furry community, Twitter user @SunTattooWolf began the hashtag #FemaleFursuiterMonth two years ago. Much like the hashtag #furryblackhistorymonth from last month which was inspired by the celebration of National Black History month in the United States in the month of February, #FemaleFursuiterMonth aims to applaud the women of the furry community who make the effort to express themselves and entertain the rest of us with their fursuit awesomeness. #FemaleFursuiterMonth does also include transgender women.

Women who fursuit are also featured on the WordPress blog of Rune, sharing her furry enthusiasm with us.

Female furries do much more! The furry community also has the benefit of some talented and prolific female writers. The membership of the Furry Writers Guild comprises some 165 members, of which approximately thirty-two are women and transgender women. Several are winners of the Ursa Major Award and/or the Coyotl Award. Please visit their site for links to where you may read some stories for free and where you may purchase their works.

Some research on FurAffinity indicates that there are several female orientated groups, but none that this writer looked at appear to be very active. One group, “lady-furs”, has had some meets at furcons. You may look for yourself here (this is a list of groups classified as “Gender/Identity, Love, Relationship Status, & Sexuality ” and was apparently updated three years ago.  Does anyone out there have anything relevant that is more current?)

Here are some members from the Furry Writers Guild:

Frances Pauli

Books include “Spiders from Memory” and “Kundalis Storm Dragon”.

Carmen K. Welsh Jr.

“My short story “Night Sounds” is out in literary journal Prick of the Spindle! Why is this important? The short story is from my Furry working historical novel!”

Angela “LemurKat” Oliver

Books include “Aroha’s Great Adventure”, “Fellowship of the Ringtails” and “Tails of the Scions.”

Lauren Rivers

Published in Roar Vol. 4;  a short story titled “Almost Famous”. Also a fursuiter.

Mary E. Lowd

Her fiction has been nominated thirteen times in the Ursa Major Awards and has won a Cóyotl Award. It includes her Otters In Space books and she has at least three anthologies.

Laura “Munchkin” Lewis

Her story “The Cat Thief” was published in the ROAR 6 anthology.

M.C.A. Hogarth

Her short story “In the Line of Duty” won the 2003 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction.

Huskyteer  (Alice Dryden)

In 2011 and 2012, her stories were accepted for publication in Heat, ROAR and Allasso.

Rene Carter Hall  “Poetigress”

Her novel By Sword and Star (Anthro Dreams, 2012) won the Cóyotl Award for Best Novel, while Huntress (FurPlanet, 2015) was honored with the Cóyotl Award for Best Novella. She was also the Writer Guest of Honor at RainFurrest 2015.

Vixxy Fox

Her book (in third printing) ‘Tales Of The Fur Side’ was done with artist Dark Natasha.

Sarina Dorie

She has sold short stories to over thirty-five magazines and anthologies including Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine (F & SF), Daily Science Fiction, Cosmos, Penumbra, Sword and Laser, Perihelion, Bards and Sages, Neo-Opsis, Flagship, Allasso, New Myths, Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, and Crossed Genres, to name a few.

Fred Patten adds:

The Furry Future contains “The Analogue Cat” by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden, which won both the Cóyotl and Ursa Major Awards as Best Short Fiction of the Year.  The cover of The Furry Future is by Teagan Gavet, and the anthology contains stories by three other women authors (although one doesn’t like her gender revealed).  Gods With Fur also has a cover by Teagan Gavet, and contains five stories by women, including one that is on both the Cóyotl and Ursa Major final ballots for Best Short Fiction of last year and a second story by a woman author on the Ursa Major ballot.”

Categories: News

Slave Trade, by comidacomida – book review by Fred Patten

Fri 24 Mar 2017 - 10:00

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

51sViU4EeIL._SX260_Slave Trade,, by comidacomida. Illustrated by SpottyJaguar.
Birmingham, AL, Two-Lips Press, January 2017, hardcover $29.99 (466 pages), Kindle $9.99.

The first sight of the telephone-sized hardcover edition of this book is stunning. It’s a huge 8½ x 11 x 1-inch tome that’s almost impossible to hold open without using both hands, and so heavy (over 3 pounds) that it’s tiresome to hold it without resting it on a table or your lap. Slave Trade seems designed mostly for Kindle sales, although each 8½ x 11” page takes two pages to fit onto a Kindle reader. Amazon says that the Kindle edition is 912 pages.

Slave Trade is a furry erotic adventure-fantasy (although there is no rating) set in a Medieval/Renaissance-like world that is not quite funny-animal. There are six main mammal kingdoms; three for anthro animals with plantigrade (flat) legs like bears, rodents, and primates – Tenvier, Larana, and Pross — and three for those with digitigrade (walking on toes) legs; canines, felines, ungulates — Diermyna, Meisenyl, and Vensii. Some practice slavery; others don’t. Usually the characters act so human that they might as well be funny animals; then someone does something that could only be done with an animal’s nature.

“The porcupine [Gaius, a tanner] reached back behind himself to snap a quill free; he then used it to pin up a loose section of leather on the harness.” (p. 84)

Most of this takes place on the vast estates of Lord Hector Desanti, a white Stag nobleman from Vensii now residing in Pross. The main character is Sidney, a young slave (Fox) on Lord Hector’s estates. Sidney hero-worships Lord Hector from afar; he’s like a god to Sidney. So he’s stunned when Lord Hector not only notices him, but gives him personal attention.

At first this personal attention is all homosexual. Sidney is used to being a sex toy; he used to be owned by Lord Bulhue (hippopotamus), who was so brutal he almost killed Sidney. In fact, Lord Bulhue only sold him when he was so “used up” that he was barely still alive. So Sidney doesn’t expect anything better. He is dumbfounded when Lord Hector is actually gentle with him.

“When Lord Hector spoke he did so quietly, his firm voice carrying a sweet, melodious tone to Sidney’s ears. ‘You’ve done well with the dressing.’

Though it was barely above a whisper, the Fox had no trouble hearing it and clung to every word; his master had praised him. The Fox glowed at the compliment. ‘Thank you, Master. I wish only to please.’

The words came out of his muzzle, a veiled admission of just how much he wanted to serve. He heard the sound of his master returning to him from across the room. Sidney wished longingly that his loincloth was within reach. When the sound of the hooves on the floorboards stopped right in front of him, Lord Hector made his request known. ‘Stand for me, Sidney.’

Whimpering inaudibly, Sidney complied. He tried standing at a half-angle, avoiding meeting the Stag’s eyes as a suitable excuse. The Fox folded his paws across his abdomen in what he hoped looked like a casual stance, hoping beyond hope that he’d be able to hide his excitement at having his master so close to him. He felt as if his body betrayed him as the proximity of his paws and their warmth made his member emerge just a little further; he cursed his body under his breath.

Without saying a word Lord Hector approached him. The Stag came from the side and stopped uncomfortably close; Sidney imagined that he could feel his master’s breath against his fur and fought back the urge to shiver at how near the perfect, silvery body was from him. He kept his eyes down, biting down on his tongue until he could taste blood in an attempt to get his body under control. The Stag walked around him to his backside.” (pgs. 23-24)

No need to get more explicit; the text and the full-page illustrations by SpottyJaguar do that. (Chapter heading sketches that don’t reveal as much are by CBH.) The first fifty pages are a mixture of background exposition and eroticism, with throbbing members, sticky bodily fluids, and a frightening electronic sex machine, the Sardassi. After about page 50, the plot gets moving.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 4.00.42 PM

But what is the plot? Sidney is unbelievably naïve and timid. All he knows is that Pross is ruled by numerous Lords, most of them much more brutal then the gentle, adorable Lord Hector. They have absolute power over their vassals. When he is told that Pross is a kingdom, with a King above the Lords, he has to have what a King is explained to him. He is content to follow orders and never think for himself. So why does Lord Hector give him increasing responsibility in areas that he knows nothing about? He doesn’t understand what’s going on, but he likes it.

“Ever since he first became a slave he’d either shared a bed with a trainer or master, or, when he was given time to himself he was still surrounded by dozens of other slaves. The thought of having the work shed was unheard of; it not only provided him with privacy, but an actual door! His eyes slowly swiveled to look at the blessed portal that he never expected to provide the privacy that slaves weren’t supposed to have.” (p. 53)

Sidney is a house slave. He is dimly aware of the field slaves who tend and harvest Lord Hector’s crops. He knows nothing about the gladiator slaves. Each Lord is required by Lord Levid, the King, to train several gladiators; for the public’s entertainment in the arena, and for the King to take the best of them for the army in Pross’ war with reptilian Sarvis. Lord Hector has three brawny gladiators-in-training; Dorias (Yak), Choel (Tiger), and Uraou (Brown Bear), and a new slave that Lord Hector wants trained as a gladiator, Maern, a Stallion from Vensii who does not speak Prossian. And Tharis (Bull), but he’s old and no longer a gladiator, reassigned to stud service. Sidney is dumbfounded again to be promoted to a gladiator slave master, in charge of training Dorias, Choel, Uraou, and Maern. The first three are contemptuous of Sidney at first, but they do appreciate his going easy on them instead of savagely beating them just to show off his authority. In desperation, he gets the idea of asking Tharis to help out.

“Choel and Uraou spoke their disbelief in unison. ‘Tharis?’

The Fox shrugged. ‘Well … he has some experience as a gladiator. I guess it’d make sense that he could help everybody learn a little.’

Several of the slaves looked as though they might have wanted to say something but Sidney decided that he had to be more decisive and so he raised his voice and called out. ‘Tharis! Come here, please!’” (p. 147)

Tharis does help, and Lord Hector is pleased that the gladiators are making progress. Since Sidney is doing so well with Tharis, he is also put in charge of the Bull’s official duty; of milking his erection to collect semen.

The gladiatorial bout in the arena at Pross’ Equinox Festival is supposed to only demonstrate the gladiators-in-training’s skills, but the king suddenly orders it intensified.

“Sidney stood up when the sound of metal-on-metal indicated that their storage room door was indeed opening. Although the Fox was overjoyed to see his master the grave expression on the Stag’s muzzle was not very reassuring and Lord Hector wasted no time mincing words. ‘Only one of you is fighting tonight.’

Uraou snorted, glancing at Sidney. ‘Just one? How’re we supposed to show what we –‘

The Stag continued, speaking over the slave. ‘It’s a fight to the death.’

The Bear fell silent immediately.” (p. 187)

To give away what’s going on (sorry; it’s supposed to be a revelation), Lord Hector and King/Lord Levid hate each other’s guts. The Stag is from Vensii, where slavery is illegal. The customs of Pross require him to own slaves. The Prossian nobility is extremely brutal towards its slaves. Lord Hector, by showing kindness to his, is subtly showing contempt to the Prossian royal court and King Levid (who is always hidden behind a rich purple curtain). The Prossian nobility believe that one must torture one’s slaves to train them to be worth anything. Lord Hector, by making his least competent slave his slave master, is showing them all up – if he can really guide Sidney into holding his own with the best Prossian slave masters.

“Even as Lord Hector took his seat a wave of servants emerged from all sides of the room with silver pitchers and Lord Levid continued his conversation as if they didn’t exist. ‘Hector … we have been hearing that you aren’t your slave master’s first owner.’

The Stag nodded again, appearing to pay more attention to his empty plate than the figure behind the purple cloth. ‘That is correct, your Majesty.’

Lord Levid’s musings were spoken rather than thought. ‘How strange that must be … we could imagine that such an arrangement would be awkward at times.’

Lord Hector finally looked up, smiling pleasantly. ‘Oh, it most assuredly started that way, your Highness. There were certain aspects of his training that were required to be relearned when he became responsible for my fighting stables.’

Lord Levid’s voice was full of patronizing mirth. ‘We mean with regard to using another Lord’s cast-offs, Hector … though, we suppose we might also appreciate the difficulty of having to teach a pleasure slave how to deal with fighting slaves.’

Sidney admired his master for how efficiently he controlled his displeasure; the banter didn’t appear to affect the Stag at all. Lord Hector held his goblet up as the Panther servant poured wine into it. ‘Indeed. As I said, there were certain aspects of his training that were required to be relearned when he became responsible for my stable.’

A well dressed ferret woman almost directly across the table from Lord Hector placed her elbows on the table and rested her muzzle on her laced-together fingers. ‘I’m surprised such a little spit of a Fox could expect to command the obedience of a stable of gladiators.’” (pgs. 200-201)

After Sidney realizes what this is all about, he, Lord Hector, and Lord Hector’s gladiators (especially Maern) become more of a partnership in planning to show up the Prossian nobility. But King Levid, as an absolute monarch, doesn’t play fair.

Slave Trade (cover by MoltenGoldArt) mixes well-written refined, deadly Renaissance court politics, including attempted assassinations and ambushes, with continued scenes of graphic m/m sex. The sadistic King Levid uses everything to humiliate Sidney and Lord Hector, and to try and kill Lord Hector’s gladiators. The slow bedroom beginning at Lord Hector’s estates turns about halfway through the novel into intrigue and action at the gladiatorial arena, the Prossian royal court, and wherever King Levid may strike next.

Fred Patten

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Categories: News

Kismet, by Watts Martin – book review by Fred Patten

Thu 23 Mar 2017 - 10:00

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

Kismet_lgKismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99.

Kismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99*.

This is a first for furry publishing, as far as I know. The only differences between these two editions are the publisher’s name and illustrated logo on the title page, the ISBN number, and the cover by Teagan Gavet. Both are dark blue and feature the protagonist in a spacesuit in deep space, but the Argyll cover displays her at a distance without showing what she looks like, and the FurPlanet cover is a closeup showing that she is a rat-woman. The FurPlanet edition is marketed as furry science fiction; the Argyll edition is marketed as just science fiction, for those outside furry fandom who may buy s-f but not a furry book.

Whichever it’s read as, hard s-f or furry fiction, Kismet is a winner. Several hundred years in the future, mankind has settled the Asteroid Belt. Mankind has also developed advanced bioengineering that enables people to have themselves bioengineered into anthropomorphic animals. There has been the mix of social acceptance and rejection that this results in for over a century. At this present, most of Earth is human and most of the anthropomorphs have migrated to the Asteroid Belt. In the Belt, the humans are called cisforms and the anthropomorphs are totemics.

Gail Simmons is a rat-woman totemic in the Ceres Ring, with her AI spaceship Kismet. She’s a salvage operator, a salvor, doing odd jobs of space hauling and space junk reclamation. She’s basically a hermit, living inside Kismet; the ship smart-AI brain is her only friend. Gail is contacted by an old childhood acquaintance who she hasn’t seen in two decades; he’s a yacht charter pilot now, and he’s just seen what looks like a derelict spaceship while making a chartered flight. His customer won’t give him the time to check it out, so he’s notifying Gail. Gail and Kismet find what appears to be an abandoned or sabotaged spaceship and two dead bodies. When Gail reports this, it leads to her being accused of theft and murder, and the missing cargo to be a handheld databox – a Macguffin – that holds information that at least one party will kill to get, that can mean “the end of the human race”.

Kismet-388x600The adventure involves action, suspense, betrayal, and murder. Gail and two allies (it would be a spoiler who say who they are) travel to different parts of the Ceres Ring and discuss a lot of totemic history. Other totemics met include Ansel Santara, a red fox-man; Bright Sky, a wolf-woman; Karen Dupree, a rabbit-woman; Robert Bunten, a raccoon-man, Officer Jon Wolfe, a leopard-man (there’s a joke about a leopard named Wolfe); Travis Duarte, a stag-man; Nevada Argent, a gray fox vixen; and an implied thousands of other background totemics as bank officers, mechanics, police and judiciary, waitresses, and more in the Belt. And plenty of cisforms (humans), because totemics may be the majority in the Belt, but there are lots of humans, too.

Jack Thomas, an FBI agent from the U.S. assigned to Interpol and sent to the Ceres Ring on a case that turns out to be mixed up with Gail’s, is a handy character to explain the totemics to:

“Ansel sniffs. ‘We don’t need shoes.’

‘Says the fox bitching about walking on gravel,’ Gail chuckles. ‘I think some of it’s kind of aesthetic, but some of it’s practical. Shoes and fur aren’t a comfortable combination.’

‘I’m still trying to get a sense of what animal characteristics totemics have adopted and why [Jack says]. I can read our emotions through your ears. And tails. But I’m presuming that while Ansel has better hearing and smell than I do, he has full color vision, isn’t allergic to chocolate, and doesn’t have any other drawbacks from canine/vulpine genetics mixed in.’

Ansel grins. ‘That’s an advantage to being able to mix and match genes. On the flip side, cisform humans can wear clothes that fur makes impractical. And they don’t get fleas, mange, or other furry problems that can’t be addressed by flipping a genetic switch.’” (p. 128)

The civilization of the Asteroid Belt – Cerelia River, Ceres Ring, the Panorica Federation, the Rothbard Republic, and several independent arcologies like New Coyoacán; plus organizations like PFS (Panorica Federation Security), RJC (Ring Judicial Cooperative), and RTEA (River Totemic Equality Ass’n) – may be confusing all at once, but Martin develops them gradually, one or two new locations or terms at a time. It’s like being a tourist in an exotic foreign country; if you don’t stay in your hotel room, you pick up on things fast. New Coyoacán is very tourist-friendly.

But Kismet also takes you places that a tourist wouldn’t see:

“She’d seen pictures of Alexandria before the accident, but it’s shocking how grand the entrance plaza still remains. Copper walls – from the scent, it’s not paint, but a true high-copper alloy – soar behind her up into darkness overhead. High, long windows provide multi-story panoramas of space and the ships docked outside. The plaza itself forms a wide, tiled avenue running between buildings and the buildings, full of unnecessary steps and too-high rooflines supported by grand columns, drip with the opulence of wasted resources. The closest ones, she’s sure, had been museums, the tourist destinations the platform’s owners had expected to be the primary draw. If she remembers right it never came close to breaking even. One conspiracy theory suggests the owners sabotaged it themselves for insurance money.” (p. 285)

thefurryfuture

Kismet is grand in scope and close in depiction of both its cisform and totemic characters. This novel is also a sequel to Martin’s 20-page “Tow” in The Furry Future – Gail is on the cover of both books. She’s someone that you’ll remember.

Fred Patten

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Categories: News

Furry literature: Advertising it outside of furry fandom – with Fred Patten and Phil Geusz.

Wed 22 Mar 2017 - 10:43

WPbanner1(Patch:) The Furry Writers’ Guild Coyotl Awards have just opened for voting by members.  This is a good occasion to talk about furry publishing.  Committed operations are putting out a regular stream of content by fans, for fans – but is it healthy enough to support professionals? Can any of them smoothly transition between this niche and the mainstream, to be as well-rounded as they can be? Here’s a look that builds on past stories like:

Let some of the most experienced voices in furry tell you more.  Here’s Fred Patten, with comments by Phil Geusz.

(Fred:) Watts Martin’s January 2017 novel, Kismet, is being published under two imprints: at FurPlanet Productions, as furry fiction for the furry market, and Argyll Productions, as science fiction for the larger s-f market or mainstream sales; with two different covers, both by Teagan Gavet, tailored for those markets.

This sounds ambitious and imaginative. But how well will it work in practice? The record isn’t encouraging.

FurPlanet Productions, in Dallas, Texas, says that the two imprints on Kismet is mosKismet-388x600tly due to Watts Martin’s own initiative. Tiny FurPlanet is primarily a furry specialty press, and while it has added Argyll Productions as a second imprint for sales beyond the furry market – and with some exclusive Argyll non-furry titles – it hasn’t had the resources to really promote them. If Martin can do his own promotion of the Argyll imprint of Kismet (the name of the protagonist’s spaceship) to a wider market, more power to him.

Phil Geusz and Legion Publishing have had some experience with this. In 2012, they advertised Geusz’s seven David Birkenhead novels, about a bioengineered rabbit-man caught in a human interstellar war, on Amazon as military science fiction, not as furry fiction. Geusz said at the time:

“For twenty years I couldn’t get much published. Then the gates opened. Now I’m making hay while the sun shines and have dumped my entire two-decade backlog on the market as rapidly as possible before the gate shuts again.”

And

“I thought you might like to know in passing that the Birkenhead series is selling well in excess of all my expectations on Amazon just now — “Midshipman”, as I write this, has an Amazon sales ranking of #6896, where nothing else I’ve ever written (except other books in the same series) have ever broken the #250,000 level to my knowledge. Sadly, I’m not surprised to discover that few if any of the buyers are furries (judging the “Customers who bought this book also bought” section, it’s mostly military SF readers) The ranking fluctuates every hour or so — I have no idea what it’ll look like if you choose to look it up at any given moment, and “Lieutenant” is running currently in the 15,000 range. “Captain” peaked at #147 in all of Amazon (not just SF). Total sales were well over $100k, mostly concentrated during a three to five month period. “Ship’s Boy” was written specifically to be given away as a free teaser download, and because it was free Amazon uses a separate rating system for it.

“While I have no idea of what this means in terms of actual sales figures, it’s got to beat books ranked at 250,000 plus!”

And, still in 2012:

ShipsBoyFrontOnly-197x300“As I write this, the five “Birkenhead” books released to date are — all simultaneously — in the Amazon Kindle SF Top 100 list. It varies hour to hour, but no less than four have been there at any given moment (that I’m aware of) for over a week. Sales are in the hundreds per week, and I suspect (but cannot know for certain) that cumulatively they’re over 500/week. Furry is making its mark.”

Today Geusz says:

“All I can say about the Birkenheads is that we never at any point at all understood why it was a success and other projects failed. Legion turned several varieties of on-line advertising off and on repeatedly with no noticeable effect whatsoever, and when sales eventually tanked — they’re very low these days — more advertising of the same kind did nothing to help. The next series of books I wrote — the Byrd series — is IMO better-written and more appealing to most readers, yet its sales are downright pathetic and always have been. We’ve spoken repeatedly about this, the publishers and I, and though we retrace the same old circles over and over again the bottom line is…

“…We don’t understand anything at all about what happened or why.”

So will FurPlanet, or Martin alone, have any more success promoting Kismet as a science fiction novel, not mentioning that the main character is a bioengineered rat-woman? As the old saying goes, only time will tell —

Especially if self-promotion by authors rather than advertising by publishers is the trend of the future. Bookstores are becoming obsolete, due to the rise of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and individual publishers’ catalogues, on the Internet. (There will probably always be a few independent bookstores remaining, like Dark Delicacies, a horror specialty bookstore in the Los Angeles area, for browsing and as social gathering places for their communities.) More and more authors have their own online blogs, or are members of an online writers’ group with a website where they can promote their own works, particularly if those are published by specialty presses, print-your-own-book companies like CreateSpace and Lulu Press that don’t advertise their own titles, or the authors themselves.

fbm-logo-800

Ambitious promotion

Here are some furry or fantasy examples:

So, furry authors, you’ve sold your own short stories or novels. Now stop waiting for your publishers to advertise them, and start promoting them yourselves.

– Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon, where you can access exclusive stuff for just $1. Thank you – Patch

Categories: News

Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada – book review by Fred Patten

Tue 21 Mar 2017 - 10:00

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

51yC2DEIBlL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada. Translated by Susan Bernofsky.
NYC, New Directions Books, November 2016, trade paperback $16.95 (252 pages), Kindle $9.58.

This was originally published as Etüden im Schnee, konkursbuch Verlag, March 2014. It isn’t published as furry fiction but as mainstream literature, so it is probably classed as fabulism or literary fantasy.

“I’d taken part in a congress that day [in Kiev], and afterward all the participants were invited to a sumptuous feast. When I returned to my hotel room at night, I had a bear’s thirst and greedily drank water straight from the tap. But the taste of oily anchovies refused to leave me. In the mirror I saw my red-smeared lips, a masterpiece of the beets. I’d never eaten root vegetables voluntarily, but when a beet came swimming in my bowl of borsht, I immediately wanted to kiss it. Bobbing amid the lovely dots of fat floating on top – which at once awoke my appetite for meat – the beet was irresistible.

The springs creak beneath my bearish weight as I sit on the hotel sofa thinking how uninteresting the conference had been yet again, but that it had unexpectedly led me back to my childhood. The topic of today’s discussion was The Significance of Bicycles in the National Economy.” (pgs. 4-5)

a Polar Bear” is actually three polar bears over three generations; a grandmother, mother, and son. The first, never named, is captured and brought as a cub to Moscow, where she is trained to perform in a circus, apparently around the 1960s. Her part is “The Grandmother: An Evolutionary Theory”.

“For a long time, I didn’t know anything: I sat in my cage, always onstage, never an audience member. If I’d gone out now and then, I would’ve seen the stove that had been installed under the cage. I’d have seen Ivan putting firewood in the stove and lighting it. I might have even seen the gramophone with its giant black tulip on a stand behind the cage. When the floor of the cage got hot, Ivan would drop the needle on the record. As a fanfare split the air like a fist shattering a pane of glass, the palms of my paw-hands felt a searing pain. I stood up, and the pain disappeared.” (p. 11)

“After hours and days spent vigorously shaking my hips, my knees were in such bad shape that I was incapable of performing acrobatics of any sort. I was unfit for circus work. Ordinarily they would have just shot me, but I got lucky and was assigned a desk job in the circus’s administrative offices.

I never dreamed I had a gift for office work. But the personnel office left no talents of their workers unexplored if they could be employed and exploited to the circus’s advantage. I would even go so far as to say I was a born office manager. My nose could sniff out the difference between important and unimportant bills.” (p. 14)

After learning record-keeping, she begins to write her autobiography in her spare time as a hobby, until she learns that a human supervisor has been taking it and getting it published – without telling her or sharing the money. She discovers how to manage her own sales, and finds that her autobiography is a best-seller. She’s become an intellectual, and is invited to literary conferences. But a famous intellectual polar bear as a member of the intelligentsia becomes an embarrassment to the Soviet establishment. She is encouraged to move to Siberia (the climate will be so much more comfortable to polar bears), and finally to emigrate to West Germany; then to Canada where she finds too much freedom. She marries a polar bear from Denmark, has a daughter, and they re-emigrate to East Germany.

Part II, “The Kiss of Death”, is about the first bear’s daughter Tosca; but the narrator is a human in the East German national circus (later identified as Barbara). When the Soviet Union gives the circus nine polar bears – nine bears arrogant with Soviet labor demands, who go on strike – she incidentally learns about Tosca.

“Though she’d graduated from ballet school with top honors, Tosca hadn’t been able to land a role in a single production, not even in Swan Lake, as everyone had expected. And so she was regularly performing for children. Her mother was a celebrity who’d emigrated from Canada to Socialist East Germany and had written an autobiography. The book was long out of print, and no one had ever read it, so it was really more of a legend.” (p. 84)

She brings in Tosca hoping that she will be an encouraging role model for the Soviet bears. When she isn’t – “When her [Tosca’s] vehicle passed the quarters of the nine polar bears, they immediately began to heckle her: “Strike-breaker! Scab!” (p. 88) – she works with Tosca to develop a solo act. Eventually she writes

Tosca’s biography, rather than Tosca writing an autobiography.

“‘I’ve started writing your biography,’ I said to Tosca, who sneezed in surprise.

‘Are you cold?’

‘Very funny. I have a pollen allergy. Here at the North Pole, no flowers bloom, but there’s still pollen in the air, and I can’t stop sneezing. It’s uncanny, having pollen without flowers.’

‘I’ve written up to the period just after your birth. Your eyes weren’t open yet. Your mother and you weren’t alone, there was a third shadow.’

‘My father wanted to live with us, but my mother couldn’t stand him. She used to snarl whenever he came within sight of us.’

‘Isn’t that normal for a mother bear?’” (p. 124)

Eventually Barbara and Tosca become so close that Tosca takes over writing the narrative. After the reunification of Germany, they travel around the world as a duo.

“During the performance, I took great pleasure in watching the children in the audience. They stared at us open-mouthed and wide-eyed. In Japan we received a letter that said: ‘it must be exhausting to put on a bear costume in this heat and perform onstage. Please accept my heartfelt thanks for your wonderful performance! Our children were ecstatic.’ Apparently there were audience members who were incapable of believing I was really a bear. How fortunate that no one came into the dressing room and asked me to take off my bearskin.” (p. 160)

When they retire, Tosca is sold to the Berlin Zoo where Knut is born.   Part III, “Memories of the North Pole”, is Knut’s story.

Knut’s story is a blend of fiction and fact. Knut was born in the Berlin Zoo, and is probably the most famous polar bear in history. There were Knut T-shirts and plush dolls. Knut’s keeper Matthias became almost as popular, and when he unexpectedly died, Knut was distraught by his disappearance.

“And this news too reached me in the form of a newspaper article: Matthias is dead. He died of a heart attack. At first I didn’t understand what that meant. I read the through several times. Suddenly a thought struck me like a stone: I can never see him again.” (p. 229)

Although the protagonists are individual polar bears in a human world, there are others in supporting roles: the nine Soviet circus bears, the first bear’s Danish husband Christian, and others. The first bear is briefly confused by human anthropomorphic fiction.

“The protagonist was a mouse. Her form of gainful employment: singing. Her audience: the people. On the vocabulary list I found the word Volk, which corresponded to the Russian narod.

[…]

As long as the mouse went on singing, the Volk gave her its full attention. No one aped her, no one giggled, no one disrupted her concerts by making mouse noises. This is just how my own audience behaved, too, and my heart leaped as I remembered the circus.” (p. 49)

The bear is disappointed when she learns the story of the mouse singer is only fiction; a literary conceit.

Memoirs of a Polar Bear (cover by Alyssa Cartwright) has a melancholy, ethereal ending that fits the book nicely. The real Knut died. The book’s Knut goes on. In fiction, he can live forever.

Fred Patten

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