M. C. A. Hogarth
Earthrise, the first book in M.C.A. Hogarth's Her Instruments trilogy, is a comfy space opera which includes some furry critters. Based on my last visit to her work (books 1 & 2 of The Dreamhealers), the furry species are nice and familiar. The crew of the TMS Earthrise has a centaur with wings, a phoenix, a mated pair of bipedal felines, and a throw-pillow tribble with strong mental powers. Most of these are descendants of slave races that humans created centuries earlier.
The assembled characters have an almost whimsical balance, yet they still feel realistic. When we join them in the story, they're a well-meshed crew. There's a comforting alienness to each of them, a diversity that avoids stereotypes, but claims labels of diversity within diversity, if that makes sense. We mostly see them through the eyes of their captain.
In 2004, she offered “Flight of the Godkin Griffin,” a sword and sorcery fantasy diary, directly to her audience via LiveJournal, then a popular social blogging platform. (Hogarth still actively connects with fans there, at haikujaguar.livejournal.com.) Each entry ended with a question about a minor thing that could happen next, and readers who donated could vote and have an effect on the upcoming scenes. Years later, once prior publication on the Web no longer necessarily jeopardized a project’s print prospects, Hogarth sold this piece to the small press Sofawolf as a two-volume novel. Although Hogarth may have chosen to blaze the self-publishing path as a response to a traditional publishing industry that did not want her on her terms, she’s well-suited to a flexible, entrepreneurial approach to authorship, combining perfectionism with drive and marketing and management skills honed in the corporate world. “Self-publishing is more agile,” she says. “You can put things out faster, make decisions faster. It’s very rewarding for people like me, who write quickly and respond to change very quickly. There’s no set path anymore, even if you are traditionally publishing. You have to find weird opportunities and try them.”
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These are books 2 and 3 of M.C.A. Hogarth’s Her Instruments space opera trilogy. Earthrise, book 1, was reviewed in Flayrah in June 2013.
The fact that Maggie Hogarth commissioned professional s-f cover artist Julie Dillon to paint the covers of this trilogy instead of doing their covers herself, as she usually does for her books, shows that Hogarth considers them especially good (or at least especially salable). And you know how good her fiction usually is.
Rose Point, by M. C. A. Hogarth, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, October 2013, trade paperback $16.99 (349 [+1] pages), Kindle $5.99.
Laisrathera, by M. C. A. Hogarth, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, May 2014, trade paperback $16.99 (402 pages), Kindle $5.99.
This is the conclusion of M.C.A. Hogarth’s The Dreamhealers Duology. I reviewed the first book, Mindtouch, here on September 1, 2013.
In that novel Jahir Seni Galare, the colorless elflike Eldritch esper, has just entered interstellar Seersana University. His roommate is Vasiht’h, a short, skunk-furred centauroid winged Glaseah. They are both espers, but Jahir is an involuntary telepath to whom the impact of other minds is painful. In the course of Mindtouch, the two aliens develop a strong friendship, Jahir learns to control his talent – somewhat – and the two graduate.
Jahir intends to use his telepathic talent to become the galaxy’s first xenotherapist, reading his patients’ minds to help heal them. The question is whether there is any danger of the esper medic’s becoming overwhelmed by his patient’s mind.
It would be just his luck to begin his residency by reporting to the hospital as a patient. Jahir Seni Galare, nascent xenotherapist, Eldritch noble and apparently complete lightweight, sat on a bench just outside the Pad nexus that had delivered him to the surface of the planet Selnor. He had his carry-on in his lap and was trying to be unobtrusive about using it as a bolster until the dizziness stopped. (p. 1)
Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, January 2014, trade paperback $15.99 ([1 +] 341 [+ 7] pgs.), Kindle $5.99.
When the results of Earth's genetic experiments fled their makers, they took their own name as they left humanity behind; centuries later, the Pelted have spread into a multi-world alliance of cultures and languages, cribbed from Terra or created whole-cloth. Claws and Starships collects six stories of the Pelted, ranging from the humor of a xenoanthropologist on the wrong side of mythology to more serious works considering the implications of genetic engineering in a far-future classroom seeded with the children of those laboratories. Come stamp your passport and visit the worlds of the Pelted Alliance in all their variety! (back-cover blurb)
If you want to say that I have a conflict of interest reviewing this collection as I wrote the afterword to it, go ahead. I have been a fan of M.C.A. Hogarth’s “Pelted Alliance” furry science fiction stories since I discovered them in YARF! and other furry fanzines in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I included one, “Rosettes and Ribbons” from Yarf! #58, January 2000, in Best in Show, the first anthology of furry fiction. I was glad to see this first collection of Pelted short fiction, along with six illustrations by the author, in an e-book in December 2011, and I felt honored to be asked to write this afterword, for this new trade paperback edition in June 2013.
Claws and Starships consists of the novella “A Distant Sun” and the five short stories “Rosettes and Ribbons”, “The Elements of Freedom”, “Tears”, “Pantheon” and “Butterfly”. These are the Pelted stories that do not feature Alysha Forrest, Hogarth’s feline-based Karaka’An woman, the main character in the series. The first Alysha Forrest stories were rewritten into Hogarth’s novel Alysha’s Fall (Cornwuff Press, September 2000), and she has starred in most of the Pelted short fiction since then.
But there have been these six other stories that show the Pelted universe is more than just Alysha’s adventures. Claws and Starships packages them together neatly for the fans of the Pelted universe, and of really good furry interstellar science fiction.
It is unfair to compare Hogarth’s novel set at a university in her Paradox universe with Pixar’s recently-released Monsters University, but the superficial parallels are obvious. Instead of the no-two-are-the-same monsters, there are the seeming-dozens of different species of the Pelted, and some humans, wandering about prestigious Seersana University. Instead of a big green eyeball and a blue-lavender furry monster as main characters, there are a pale, tall humanoid Eldritch and a short, furry centauroid winged Glaseah.
The big difference is that in Monsters University, the cast all look different but are all from the same culture. In Mindtouch, the different species are from different societies. The students may know intellectually that they are in for some “different” experiences at S.U., but it is still a shock when they happen.
Orientation began, as he had half expected, with a speech by the associate dean of the College of Medicine, of which the xenopsychology school was a part. He was one of the Seersa, the foxine Pelted who’d given the world its name, a lean and grizzled elder with salt-and-pepper fur and the intensity of a medic. Jahir listened to his monologue while marveling that he was actually here … sitting in a chair in an auditorium filled with aliens. The woman in front of him had silk-furred ears that were trembling from the effort of catching every word. The ends of the rows had spaces for centauroids to recline, or the more avian aliens to perch. He was, very definitely, no longer home, and if the stress of his danger at being so crowded was giving him a headache, well … it was worth it, for the newness of it. (pgs. 28-29)
Claws and Starships: A Collection of Pelted Short Fiction by M.C.A. Hogarth is a selection of six short stories that I enjoyed reading just recently. Set in her Paradox universe, the Pelted consist of many races of anthros created by humans in the distant past through bio-engineering. (Read more about them.) Since then, they've grown, diversified, colonized worlds and reconciled with their creators. This particular collection shows a cross-section of several different Pelted cultures, ranging from the technologically advanced to more primitive societies.
Originally published in electronic format in December 2011 (at US$4.99), online sales proved so successful that in June 2013, paperback and Kindle versions became available. That's a good sign! The whole thing is just shy of 50,000 words and over 200 pages long. (ISBN: 9781466035553, 1490427228 and 9781490427225.)
Maggie Hogarth sent me a review copy of Earthrise (she sends me review copies of all her books; hint! hint!) with a note that I might not want to review it for Flayrah since the main characters are a human and a Space Elf Prince, not Furries.
But there are plenty of bioengineered Pelted, and at least one genuine alien, as major supporting characters in this adventure set in her 25th century interstellar civilization. Hogarth has a lot of fans who read Flayrah, and who will not want to miss one of her Pelted Paradox novels. Earthrise is prominently labeled Book 1 of the “Her Instruments” trilogy, so expect it to end with more to come. Rose Point, Book 2, will be published late this year.
Fred Patten, the editor of Best in Show: Fifteen Years of Outstanding Furry Fiction (Sofawolf Press, July 2003; republished as Furry!); Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology (Legion Printing, June 2012); and The Ursa Major Awards Anthology: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration (FurPlanet Productions, June 2012), will have a new anthology published by FurPlanet go on sale at Anthrocon 2013.
What Happens Next: An Anthology of Sequels presents eleven new stories by fan-favorite Furry authors featuring their popular characters:
- M. C. A. Hogarth and her Alysha Forrest
- Brock Hoagland and his Perissa and Maelith
- Kevin Frane (Rikoshi) and his Iolite League
- Kristin Fontaine and the crew of the interstellar freighter Tai-Pan
- Michael Payne and Cluny, the sorceress squirrel with Crocker, her human familiar
- Jenner and Dr. Benjamin Rat, M.B., B.S. D.R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. F.R.A.C.G.P.
- Kyell Gold and a new tale of Argaea
- Elizabeth McCoy and her feline centauroid Kintarans
- Chas. P. A. Melville and his Felicia, the Vixen Sorceress
- Ken Pick and his Brigit Bunny on the planet of the foxlike Thalendri
- and Roz Gibson and her Jack Salem
M.C.A. Hogarth is a furry artist and writer whose works have appeared in several publications. A guest of honor at Midwest FurFest 2003 and 2009, her short story In the Line of Duty was the winner of the 2003 Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction. Recently, Hogarth's e-novel Spots the Space Marine was the target of a claim of trademark violation by Games Workshop, developer and publisher of tabletop wargames Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, and The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.
It was on December 13 that Hogarth received an e-mail from online retailer Amazon.com, informing her that they had stopped selling Spots the Space Marine. The explanation given centred around the use of the phrase "space marine". Although an archetype of science fiction dating back to 1932, Games Workshop holds trademarks on the phrase in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe.
M.C.A. Hogarth is running a Kickstarter campaign to launch her new web comic The Three Jaguars, a comedic slice-of-life about the intersection of art and business. Prizes include cameos, product advertisements (drawn by the artist), original art and postcards. The Kickstarter is 263% funded, with a week to go. Prizes are limited.
This is labeled “The Third Book of Kherishdar”, following The Aphorisms of Kherishdar (reviewed in Anthro #18, July-August 2008) and The Admonishments of Kherishdar (Flayrah, April 4, 2012). Those two were slender “chapbooks” of less than 60 pages each, establishing the society and culture of the alien, ancient civilization of the Ai-Naidar of Kherishdar, in a series of parables of less than two pages each. Black Blossom is a full novel, telling of the culture shock that comes to the Ai-Naidar when a human comes to live among them.
M.C.A. Hogarth is raising money on Kickstarter for print, e-book and audiobook editions of her fantasy of manners serial Black Blossom, sequel to The Aphorisms of Kherishdar and The Admonishments of Kherishdar (review), featuring the Ai-Naidar – a race of feline aliens.
Money raised is to go towards "cover art, layout; all the things that make a physical book great." Backer rewards include the book, e-book or audiobooks, calligraphy bookmarks, and related short fiction.
A week from conclusion, the fundraiser has passed several stretch goals, and stands at $4646 of its initial $1500 goal (with 95 backers).
Update (30 Aug): There are now 100 backers, for a total of $4770.
M.C.A. Hogarth is now publishing audiobooks of her works, professionally narrated and unabridged. Her first three offerings are "Stormfront," a military SF adventure from her Pelted universe (home to Ursa Major-winning story "In the Line of Duty"), and the two Kherishdar collections, The Aphorisms and The Admonishments, featuring the catlike aliens, the Ai-Naidar. Audiobooks are available from Audible.com, iTunes and Amazon.
Flight of the Godkin Griffin is an example of anthropomorphic literature at its best. It is told in the form of the diary of Mistress Commander Angharad Godkin, 48 years old, from the eve of her long-awaited retirement after thirty-four years in the army of the Godkindred Kingdom; at once obviously an inhuman army on another world.
Angharad has been recuperating at Fort Endgame after being wounded at the battle for Glendallia; a Pyrrhic victory in which she lost most of her cavalry unit and half of her command staff. She is just packing to leave when she is summoned to the office of the Fort’s commander:
The Mistress General hovers behind a desk, overlooking several maps and emitting a palpable air of tension. She has never elucidated her bloodlines to me, though to be named Godkin she must be the product of the interbreeding of at least ten species, as I am. In appearance, she is mostly mammalian, leaning toward genet or marten with rounded ears and a striped tail.
‘Mistress General, you wanted to see me?’ I ask.
‘Yes,’ she says curtly. ‘Angharad Godkin, you are hereby assigned to replace the provincial governor of the newly pacified province of Shraeven, on orders of the Godson.’
My beak drops open in shock. Any soldier in the Godson’s army can retire … unless they’re on active duty.
Casandre sighs. ‘Sit, Angharad.’
I refuse. ‘I’m retiring tomorrow.’
‘Not anymore,’ she says. ‘I’m sorry, Angharad, truly, but the Godson himself sent the orders. It’s time for Governor Chordwain to step down.’ (p. 3)