A Left-Handed Sword is a novella by Phil Geusz in which the characters used to be human beings. All of them have contracted a singular disease called the Lokiskur virus (Lokie for short), which has transformed them into animals. Lokie not only leaves its victims dehumanized and physically handicapped in their new forms, but often brain-damaged and depressed. They are also highly contagious; Lokie is an affliction that never lets go.
Tristan Black Wolf's The Laputan Factor opens with software developer Night O'Connell enjoying a well-earned rest in the company of his hyena boyfriend. Or with fighter pilot 1st Lt Ambrose Bierce Kovach about to enter a simulated exercise aboard the star cruiser Heartwielder. As scenes and viewpoints switch, which of these almost-identical, head-hopping tigers is the real one? Both? Neither?
The story that follows is a science fiction gay romantic comedy mystery caper, with two realities' worth of characters helping or hindering the increasingly urgent quest to work out what's going on and how to fix it.
That's about as much as I can write about the plot without the risk of ruining readers' enjoyment by blurting out spoilers. I can't even be specific about which cult 1960s TV series turns out to be vitally important. However, I can and will say that I enjoyed The Laputan Factor very much, and that if you like your furry fiction with buff, wisecracking characters, action, and a touch of mystery, you'll probably enjoy it too.
The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery and is best read with a cup of tea nearby. (publisher’s blurb)
Kyell Gold already has the reputation of being the preeminent author of high-quality erotica in Furry fandom. Now it seems that he is trying to establish a similar reputation as furry fandom’s number one mystery author, at least of what is usually called the British “cozy” mysteries, or the country-house murder mysteries of which Agatha Christie was the acknowledged mistress.
The Mysterious Affair of Giles makes no secret of this. It is advertised as an Agatha Christie-styled murder-mystery. It is dedicated “To Dame Agatha for all the inspiration.”
An acknowledgement thanks London furry fan Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden for “Brit-picking” the manuscript, making sure that it, and especially the dialogue, are correctly British. The furry characters are all English animals except where they are noted as coming from British India. Most tellingly, the title The Mysterious Affair of Giles is an obvious pastiche of Christie’s first novel, the 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which introduced both her as a mystery author and her most famous private detective, Hercule Poirot.
Yet do not think that Gold’s novella is a point-by-point imitation. There is no Famous Detective in it. The year is 1951; not exactly the present, but not the old-fashioned past, either. Tremontaine is a large manor house a couple of hours’ drive from London. The cast is Mr. Giles St. Clair, an aristocrat but also an up-to-date industrialist, his wife, and their son and daughter in their early twenties, all red foxes, and Martin Trevayn, Giles’ business partner, a stoat, their guest at Tremontaine on a business visit, plus the manor staff, a deer senior housemaid, two weasel cooks, a rabbit and an Indian otter housemaid, an Indian brown rat butler and Mr. Giles’ dhole valet.
Twelve characters. One of them is murdered.
The principal investigators are a badger police Inspector and his wolf Sergeant. The mystery’s protagonist is Ellie Stone, the young weasel assistant cook, a reader of murder-mystery novels who has never wanted to live in a real one, but who can’t help comparing the actual police’s sleuthing with her fictional police’s detecting. Naturally, everyone has a secret, and during the course of the story they all come out. Some are pertinent; others are not.
Kyell Gold’s stories often come with “Adults Only” readers’ advisories. The Mysterious Affair of Giles does not need one – quite – but its cast are all adults, and some of the secrets revealed are adult ones. I do not recall Agatha Christie ever delving into this territory, but it feels natural here and it helps to keep the story from being a period-piece.
Illustrations by Sara "Caribou" Miles,Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, February 2014, trade paperback $9.95 (107 [+2] pages), Kindle $6.99.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher's advisory)
Synopsis: Carson really likes meeting guys over Knotz, his favorite smartphone app. He has little patience for conversation and even less for the idea of a relationship. However, after a hot bear quite literally knocks him off his feet, it seems there might be more to life than his job and searching for one night stands. (publisher’s blurb)
Carson, as the cover by Soro shows, is a young male red fox (usually more dressed in public) who works in a bookstore in St. Marx. He meets Peter Belov, a handsome and ridiculously rich Russian black bear, when the latter’s expensive car knocks over his bicycle in a minor traffic accident. Carson’s cell phone, ruined in the crash, is frozen on Knotz, a gay erotic site, so there is no doubt as to his sexual orientation. Peter offers to drive him home, and since Carson’s preference is obvious, Peter proposes a gay date.
All Tied Up in Knotz is well-written, but it is 100% for the gay male eroticism market. St. Marx appears to be a city inhabited entirely by handsome gay male anthros looking for friendly sex with no long-term attachments. Females and even families with children appear later, but the reader sees things from Carson’s point of view, and he notices little but the roving gay males.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (105 pages).
Fred Patten will have a new anthology, Anthropomorphic Aliens, on sale at Anthrocon 2014. The 301-page book, published by FurPlanet Productions, presents eleven short stories and novellas featuring “furry” aliens from 1950 to 2013:
- “Mask of the Ferret” by Ken Pick & C. Alan Loewen
- “The Inspector’s Teeth” by L. Sprague de Camp
- “Specialist” by Robert Sheckley
- “In Hoka Signo Vinces” by Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson
- “Point of Focus” by Robert Silverberg
- “Novice” by James H. Schmitz
- “What Really Matters” by Elizabeth McCoy
- “Kings and Vagabonds” by Cairyn
- “The King’s Dogs” by Phyllis Gotlieb
- “A Touch of Blue: A Web Shifters Story” by Julie Czerneda
- “Fly the Friendly Skies” by Bryan Feir
The front cover blurb reads: An Erotic Historical Tale. It is rated NC-17. Isaac Ellison, a part-albino cheetah (with unusually pale fur and a beefy physique like a Marine), and his inventor buddy, Raziel, a humanoid reptile (“He looked quite draconic, but slender as opposed to the more bulky builds of lore. Small spines dotted his scalp where eyebrows would be, and two long, black horns swept back almost uniformly with his fire colored mane that consisted of fur and light feathering, before the mane started springing out wildly in any direction it damn well pleased.” –p. 7), go back in time to an anthropomorphic Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians mistake them for warrior and fertility gods, and a tremendous amount of enthusiastic sex is had by all. In fact, until the ending, The Jackal Queen hardly offers anything but. Isaac and Raziel worry about changing history, but not much.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher's rating)
The first 26 pages of this novella and the next ten or so establish the slice-of-life daily routines of the cast of buddies: Ted the hyena, his foster brother Reggie (who prefers to be called Venti) the nine-foot-tall black jackal, Regis the zebra and his teen brother Lee, Kevin the tiger, and Art the lion. Most of them are gay, but that’s only incidental in this novella; it isn’t erotically heavy. The zombie plague doesn’t get serious until around page 40.
The main characters are Regis and Lee the zebras, Ted the hyena, and new characters that are introduced on the way. Some of the buddies make it. Some succumb to the zombie plague, or are eaten by the zombies. Some go to rescue their friends, without knowing if they are already too late.
Fred Patten will have a new anthology, Five Fortunes, on sale at Further Confusion 2014. The 415-page tome, published by FurPlanet, presents five brand-new novellas by fan-favorite Furry authors, four of them featuring their popular characters or settings:
- “Chosen People” by Phil Geusz, set in his Book of Lapism world.
- “Going Concerns” by Watts Martin, set in his Ranea world.
- “When a Cat Loves a Dog” by Mary E. Lowd, set in her Otters in Space world.
- “Piece of Mind” by Bernard Doove, set in his Chakat Universe.
- The fifth story is “Huntress” by Renee Carter Hall, in a new setting of tribal anthropomorphic African lions.
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.)
Scott Beecham, a young U.S. soldier, is killed in action and brought back to life as a bioengineered part-human, part-jackal “dog-man” member of a secret team of government super-animal-men agents.
In most stories, that would be just the setup for much action. In Pile, that is the story. This novella is a quiet mood-piece about Scott’s awakening in what he assumes to be his army barracks to discover that he is no longer human:
I was alive! I couldn’t feel much yet, but if I was thinking, it meant I was still here. Everything else was just going to have to follow. Right hand? Yeah, I could do that, too. In fact, I could feel my right hand. There was something in it. Something I could form a fist around and squeeze. I did that, and I felt whatever was between my fingers bend a bit. (p. 3)
I opened my mouth, and I could feel senses slowly filing back into place. I could taste the air. There were chemicals: bleach, ammonia, rubbing alcohol, and something sweet. I could smell them, too, every bit of them. I could also smell the dog-girl who was leaning over me. She smelled like the sharp smell of water on roofing tar that came in my window every morning after it’d rained.
I could even smell a cat somewhere around. Since when did the army barracks have a veterinary ward? (pgs. 4-5)
This nature novella about forest life, particularly of a young vixen, in Central Europe around the early 1900s, is barely anthropomorphic. But it is the inspiration for Leoš Janá?ek’s popular 1924 opera of the same title, in which the forest animals are anthropomorphized and sing a lot, so it is worth reviewing here.
In fact, this book – the only printing that the story has had in English – would not exist if not for the opportunity to publish the 1981 new costume designs for the opera by the popular children’s book author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. It has detailed full-color illustrations every few pages. Actually, The Cunning Little Vixen is the popular English title of Janá?ek’s opera; the title of T?snohlídek’s novella would be Sharp-Ears the Vixen.
NYC, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, April 1985, 185 [+2] pages, 0-374-13346-8, $19.95. Pictures by Maurice Sendak. Translated by Tatiana Firkusny, Maritza Morgan, & Robert T. Jones. Afterword by Robert T. Jones.
I hate stories that are so carefully constructed that a reviewer can hardly say anything about them without giving away spoilers. Well, Winter Games is set in Gold’s Forester Universe, although it is not connected to any of Gold’s other stories. It contains mentions of Millenport and other Forester locales. It is the fifth of FurPlanet’s “Cupcake” booklets, less than novel length.
Winter Games is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher's advisory)
Sierra Snowpaw, a 33-year-old snow leopard, checks into the Lonnegan Ski Resort, apparently just on a relaxed vacation although it soon becomes obvious that he is looking for someone. Sierra does not let the search distract him from having steamy gay sex with Bret, the resort’s pine marten desk clerk.
The novella alternates in short chapters between the 2012 “now” and 1997, when Sierra was a teenage student at Tartok Ecole Internationale in Europe, presumably setting up the explanation of whom Sierra is searching for and why, and why this person is avoiding him.
A few months ago, they published their first annual list of nominees, and the winners were announced at this month's RainFurrest. Only members of the Furry Writer's Guild can participate, so the picks below give a good idea of what furry authors think is worth reading.
Lagrange is one of Phil Geusz’s slighter pieces. The novella appeared in the Sofawolf Press magazine Anthrolations #8, November 2006, and was reprinted in the online Furry magazine Anthro #25, September-October 2009. Now here it is as a separate booklet from Legion Publishing in hardcover, trade paperback, or Kindle editions, your choice.
It may also be the only high-tech astronautical erotic comedy-drama that you ever encounter. Don’t miss it.
Isiah takes a closer, in-depth look at his recent reviews.