Writing a fantasy tetralogy is an ambitious project. I haven't even been able to write a full fantasy yet. To commit to four books, you have to have an epic story, set in an epic landscape, with engaging characters with strengths and weaknesses enough to get them to (and through) the rough spots.
In Legacy, Hugo Jackson achieves most of this easily. His heroes are likable, with relatable issues and strengths. The tale is G-rated without being trite. The fight and battle scenes are usually nicely described, and easy to follow.
Faria Phiraco is a resonator, a manipulator of the elements via rare crystals. It is an extraordinary and secret power which she and her father, the Emperor of Xayall, guard with their lives. The Dhraka, malicious red-scaled dragons, have discovered an ancient artefact; a mysterious relic from the mythical, aeons-lost city of Nazreal. With their plan already set in motion, they besiege Xayall, pummelling the city to find Faria and rip more of Nazreal's secrets from her.
When her father goes missing, Faria has to rely on her own strength to brave the world that attacks her at every turn. Friends and guardians rally by her to help save her father and reveal the mysteries of the ruined city, while the dark legacy of an ancient cataclysm wraps its claws around her fate... and her past.
As previously covered, furry author Peter S. Beagle has been in the throes of the American court system for nearly two years now, fighting his former publishing agent Connor Cochran for damages and restitution for 15 causes of action including fraud, defamation, and elder abuse. I won't rehash all the details, but Cochran's history of sharp practice is long and appalling. Mr. Beagle deserves an end to these proceedings as quickly as due diligence will allow, but Cochran would rather drag things out in a war of attrition.
One example of the Conlan Press founder's meandering through convoluted legal roadblocks was his filing of a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, on the basis there were no issues of fact to support the allegations in not just one, or a few, but in all 15 causes of action. Initially given a tentative ruling on October 24, this was contested by Cochran. After arguing the matter, the tentative ruling was affirmed. The result? All but one of Mr. Beagle's causes of action were sustained.
At the end of April, I posted a Newsbyte regarding a charity art drive to benefit “lifelong furry” and renowned fantasy author Peter S. Beagle, in order to fund his legal costs and living expenses as he litigates a suit against his former agent.
That was the first I had heard of the troubles of The Last Unicorn’s author. Upon seeing that Uncle Kage had tweeted about this situation in 2016, however, I learned this suit had been going on for longer than I realized, and I took the time to look deeply into the situation.
What I found was horrifying, and the rabbit hole seemed to go deeper the more I looked. Today I'm going to go into more detail about this shameful situation, bringing it to light in the hopes that the more people who know, the more help Beagle will receive.
Get ready, this is gonna be a long ride. If you don't want to read every single detail, I implore you to scroll down to the "How you can help" section, or at least spread this message as far as you can. Beagle needs as many friends as he can get right now.
Peter S. Beagle is suing his former agent for elder abuse, fraud, defamation, and breach of fiduciary duty, among other related allegations, which you can read in full here [PDF].
At first, the book cover resembles the Kokopelli rock-drawing designs from the American Southwest. But if you look closely, you'll note that there are hooves and horns and, by gosh, that's furry enough for me!
Luke loves two things: his land and Sally. He pours a lot of magic and effort into one of them. The other he pretends to just like as a friend. Nobody is fooled except Luke.
Cats and More Cats; Feline Fantasy Fiction, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Further Confusion 2016 in San Jose, California over the January 14-18 five-day weekend. The book can be pre-ordered online from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.
Cats and More Cats is a reprint anthology of 14 short stories and novelettes of feline fantasy fiction (“the best of the best”) from 1989 to the present, most of them out-of-print today, plus a new essay and an extensive bibliography of cat fantasy books. This is designed to appeal to both science fiction and fantasy fans, and all cat-lovers.
FurPlanet Publications, $19.95 (261 pages). Wraparound cover by Donryu. ISBN 978-1-61450-297-5
Here is another new animated feature that we aren’t getting in America, at least right now. The Cartoon Brew website has just posted this article about Savva: Heart of the Warrior, a new Russian animated feature that opened in second place in that country, and has since been released in Poland and is coming to other countries in 2016. An American voice dub has been prepared, but no American release has been scheduled yet.
The CB article includes the trailer and a half-dozen stills. Savva and many characters are human, but there are plenty of talking animals including Angee, a white wolf or werewolf.
While I could say that Song of the Summer King by Jess E. Owen is a very satisfying action adventure young adult book played straight (which is true; it follows a coming of age story formula and it knows it), there's a lot of subtle choices made by the writer which makes this book stand out: how inaction is in itself implicit action; how listening can appear to be a prophetic power to those who have never attempted empathy; how refusing to choose between two bad options can be a valid choice.
From the beginning of the novel, Shard lives passively: he's enthralled by a patriarchal society of fascist conqueror griffins who believe only the strongest survive. He lives in constant (well-founded) fear of never being trusted and eventual exile, which are his driving influences to seek strength and social accolades. But when Shard's own heritage gets foisted upon him, he has to choose between being comfortable or being ethically consistent with what he finds to be the truth, all the while reconciling his racial differences from the dominant griffin tribe.
Shard has to question everything when he discovers that the world is more complicated than he once thought, and that it is incredibly frustrating when those closest to him continue to live trapped in their oversimplifications about what it means to live a good life.
Spoiler warning: This review does discuss plot elements some may consider spoilers below the break.
Five Elements Press, 2012, $4.99 Kindle, $25 hardcover, $12.99 paperback (264 pages). Illustrated by Jennifer Miller.
Chinese animation is still getting erratic publicity in America. Despite the recent news about the forthcoming release of the Little Door Gods CGI movie on January 1, 2016, America has just learned of the theatrical release in Beijing on this October 14 of the family (children’s) CGI-animated feature Where’s the Dragon?, with a nationwide (in China) release on October 23.
The only news so far is from Animation World Network; it’s not even on IMDb yet. AWN’s announcement on October 12 says that Where’s the Dragon? is directed by Sing Choong Foo, co-produced by the DeTao Group and Treasure Tree Studios, Inc., plus Hong Kong's Where's the Dragon? Co., Ltd. and Colour Engineering Ltd., and distributed by a Hong Kong company, SMI Movie Distribution Company, Ltd.
Here is another anthropomorphic animated movie trailer! Little Door Gods may not seem anthro at first glance, but look at the frogs in the background. Then take a closer look at the main characters, especially Shen Tu (the fat guy).
These aren’t humans, they’re Chinese door gods (ménschén); the little anti-evil charms that the Chinese have traditionally posted at their front doors. Modern Chinese no longer believe in them and have stopped using them. Light Chaser Animation in Beijing has used this as its plot for this movie: what happens to the door gods in the spirit world when humans no longer believe in them? Brother door gods Yu Lei and Shen Tu are worried about being thrown out of work. The comic-relief Shen Tu is fatalistic about it, but Yu Lei determines to journey into the human world and cause enough commotion to prove to mortals that they still need the door gods.
Here is a “stealth” anthropomorphic animated feature that has just appeared. Psiconautas (Psychonauts), directed by Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero, and produced by ZircoZine in Santiago de Compostela & Basque Films in Bilbao, has just premiered at the 63rd (2015) San Sebastián Film Festival (September 18 to 26) on the 24th. No word yet on when or where it will be generally released.
Psiconautas is based upon the graphic novel by Alberto Vázquez. The synopsis is “Teenagers Birdboy and Dinky have decided to escape from an island devastated by ecological catastrophe: Birdboy by shutting himself off from the world, Dinky by setting out on a dangerous voyage in the hope that Birdboy will accompany her.” This may be an animated cartoon, but it is clearly not a “cute” film for children.
NSFW warning: The trailer does contain some violent imagery.
The Hollywood Reporter announced on May 13 that Wizart Animation in Moscow (business office) and Voronezh (animation studio) is producing The Snow Queen 3 for release in late 2016. Presumably this is in Russia, and it’ll come to the U.S. in 2017. Also presumably the cast will include Orm the troll and Gerda’s pet ermine Luta, since they were so popular in The Snow Queen and The Snow Queen 2: The Snow King.
The same Hollywood Reporter article announces that Wizart is pre-selling its own Sheep and Wolves featuring anthro wolves and sheep – it’s titled Volkii I Ovtsi (wolves and sheep), in Russian. Here’s the the English language for Sheep and Wolves.
The article continues, "Wizart will also be […] offering pre-sales for Urfin and His Wooden Soldiers (by Melnitsa Animation)."
The cover bears the line, The Fire Bearers: Book One, letting you know it ends on a cliffhanger. It is, in fact, the first volume of a trilogy.
In the prehistoric past, when men shared the world with anthropomorphized animal-gods, there were two very different brothers in a tribe. Clay, the older brother, respects and worships the old gods who control all men’s lives, while irreverent Laughing Dog mocks the unseen gods, and swears that he controls his own destiny. The brothers love each other, in their own ways, but their differences lead both to disaster.
Doto crouched in the forest, his clawed fingers pressing down beneath the grasses and bed of fallen leaves to touch the earth below. He went out, out, into the soil, into the trunks of the trees, the branches and leaves, the grasses and ferns. He felt the air swaying branches, the sunlight on the leaves. He felt the rodents skittering across the forest floor. […] He leapt from branch to branch and winged over the canopy. He spread himself out, farther and farther. Through the keen eyes of the birds and the considering gaze of a monkey clinging to a branch above, he could see himself, crouched on the ground far below, so still that he was nearly undetectable. […] All the surrounding life lived through him. But all was not right. There was an uneasiness in the forest, somewhere around the edges. Could great Atekye have risen herself up in the south of the forest, swelling her swamps to flood the forest floor once again? (p. 1)
Tooth & Claw is a new severely-anthropomorphic full-color comic book series from Image Comics, coming our way this November. Check out the preview pages over at Image’s web site. “Tooth & Claw, the exciting new series from bestselling writer Kurt Busiek (Marvels, Astro City), artist Benjamin Dewey (I Was the Cat, Tragedy Series), Eisner-winning colorist Jordie Bellaire (The Manhattan Projects, Pretty Deadly), and letterer John Roshell of Comicraft that was announced at Image Expo in July, will launch on November 5. The highly anticipated fantasy epic can best be described as Conan meets Kamandi with a Game of Thrones-style storytelling experience. In Tooth & Claw, a secret conclave of wizards brings a legendary champion forward through time from the forgotten past to save the world—with disastrous consequences. Featuring swords, sorcery, beast-wizards, gods, sprawling animal empires, golems of radioactive decay, crystalline badlands, con women, ancient armories, young love, mystery, blood and death and treachery and destiny… Tooth & Claw is the sprawling, world-building fantasy series readers have been waiting for.” It should be noted that this new comic is being marketed as aiming for mature readers — meaning it will not scrimp on the violence or the nudity. And this is from Image!
Another notable-for-furry-fans young adult fantasy adventure series from author Kevin Gerard: Conor and the Crossworlds. “A Boy, a Mystical Creature, and the Journey of a Lifetime . . . Conor: An innocent ten year-old boy, not unlike other boys anywhere . . . Purugama: Immense, powerful, magical, a towering champion of the crossworlds . . . A young boy subconsciously calls forth the power of the crossworlds creators. They send the mystical beast, Purugama, to accompany him on a fantastic journey. After revealing a number of possible futures to his young companion, Purugama prepares to return him to his home. His plans are interrupted when Drazian, Purugama’s mortal enemy, faces the immense cougar in a ferocious battle. The prize? Conor’s life, or death, depending on the ultimate outcome . . .” As with his other series Diego’s Dragon, the author has created a Conor home page that features video previews and lots of other bits of information. The series is published by Author House.
He Walks With Dragons is the first book in a new fantasy series of the same name by author and poet Stanley S. Thornton. As he points out, unlike your average fantasy series this does not take place in a fantasy land — it imagines dragons in our actual world, influencing human history and human evolution. “Draig, a boy on the verge of his manhood, is summoned to the majestic mountain by the Great Ones. There he finds out he is about to transcend the ages and risk his life to prevent the destruction of mankind. Born into the naïve innocence of ancient man, Draig lives a simple pastoral existence in a quiet, small village. But one day he is flung on a magical journey into a forbidden new world. There Draconos, a dragon, befriends the boy, training him in the art of warfare. From this day forward, the young boy finds himself in awe at the wonders the world holds for him. Not only has Draig become a man, but he is living like a dragon and learning their mystical powers… And when the time comes, will Draig be willing to lay down his life for the sake of saving the dragons? And when the dragons are gone, where will he go?” He Walks With Dragons and The Staff And The Orb, the 2nd book in the planned 4-book series, are available now. Visit the author’s web site to find out more about the series and when the next books are coming.