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2015 Ursa Major Award winners announced

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Ursa Major Awards 2015 winners The results of the 2015 Ursa Major Awards were announced at a presentation ceremony at What the Fur 2016 in Montreal, Quebec on May 20, 2016. 1,157 people voted.

Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture

  • Inside Out (Directed by Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen; June 19)

Runners-Up

2015 Ursa Major Award final ballot

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Ursa Major Awards logo by FoxenawolfVoting for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards, for the Best Anthropomorphic Literature and Art of the 2015 calendar year in eleven categories, is now open. The voting is open from March 15 to April 30. The awards will be announced at a presentation ceremony at What the Fur 2016, in Montreal, Quebec, on May 20-22, 2016.

The eleven categories are: Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series, Best Anthropomorphic Novel, Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction, Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work, Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story, Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip, Best Anthropomorphic Magazine, Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration, Best Anthropomorphic Game and Best Anthropomorphic Website.

Voting is open to all! To vote, go to the Ursa Major Awards website and click on "Voting for 2015" at the left. You will receive instructions on how to register to vote. You do not have to vote in every category. Please vote in only those categories in which you feel knowledgeable.

This final ballot has been compiled from those works receiving the most nominations that were eligible. Please check the dates of publication next year to make sure that your nominations are only for works published during the calendar year (January through December) in question.

Update (22 May): The results have been announced.

2015 Ursa Major Awards: Only two weeks left to nominate

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Ursa Major Awards logo by Foxenawolf Have you nominated your choices for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards, for the best new anthropomorphic releases of 2015 in eleven categories? Nominations close on February 29, in only two weeks.

The categories are Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short Work or Series, and so on for Novel, Short Fiction, Other Literary Work (anthologies, collections, non-fiction and art books), Graphic Story, Comic Strip, Magazines, Published Illustration, Game and Website. Works first published or released during the 2015 calendar year are eligible. You may make up to five nominations in each category.

Nominations opened on January 14 (the first day of Further Confusion 2016) and have been going on for a month. The nominations will be tallied between March 1 and March 14. The final ballot, consisting of the five titles in each category that receive the most nominations, will be announced on March 15, and voting will take place until April 30. All those who send in nominations will be registered as eligible to vote on the final ballot. Those who did not nominate but wish to vote on the final ballot may register to do so.

2015 Recommended Reading List closed

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Ursa Major Awards banner by EosFoxxThe 2015 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List is now closed.

Many nominations for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards are likely to come from the 2015 Recommended Anthropomorphic Reading List, which has been built up through prior recommendations. The awards are selected by a two-stage process of nominating and voting. Members of the public send in up to five nominations in each of the eleven categories. The top five nominees in each category (more in case of a tie) are then presented on a final ballot for a public vote. Inclusion on the List is not necessary for nomination if a work is otherwise eligible; first published during January to December 2015.

Nominations take place between January 14 (the first day of Further Confusion 2016) and February 29. The nominations will be tallied between March 1 and March 14. The final ballot will be announced on March 15, and voting will take place until April 30. All those who send in nominations will be registered as eligible to vote on the final ballot. Those who did not nominate but wish to vote on the final ballot may register to do so.

The voting will be counted, the winners’ trophies prepared, and the results will be announced at the Ursa Major awards presentation at a ceremony at What the Fur 2016, at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, Pointe-Claire, Montreal Airport, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on May 20-22.

The Ursa Major Awards and Recommended List are administered by the Anthropomorphic Literature and Arts Association (ALAA). For information, and to nominate beginning on January 14 and to vote beginning on March 15, go to http://www.ursamajorawards.org/.

2015 Anthropomorphic Reading List, December update

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by Heather BrutonThe ALAA’s 2015 Anthropomorphic Recommended Reading List has already had its November update, and will post its December update in a week. This includes all of the anthropomorphic works published or released during 2015 that have been submitted by someone as being worth reading, looking at, or playing. Look it over and see if you have been missing anything.

If there is any 2015 work that you feel is worth recommending that is not on the List, please hurry and submit it to recommended@ursamajorawards.org.

Call for help: We have a recommendation of Teagan Gavet’s wraparound cover for the EuroFurence 21 Conbook for Published Illustration, but this does not appear to be posted on the Internet. Would someone who has the EuroFurence 21 Conbook please scan the cover and post it on the Internet so we can link to it and everyone can see it?

Review: 'Mindline' ('The Dreamhealers', volume 2) by M.C.A. Hogarth (by Greyflank)

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Mindline by M.C.A. HogarthThe second half of the Dreamhealers duology. The first half of which made me cry no less than three times and I reviewed here in mid October 2015.

There is significantly less crying in this book. While the plot is more dramatic and further reaching than Mindtouch, and the highs even higher the lows are less sublime. The character's discovery of an unfolding relationship and domesticity were such a touching part of the first half that I raved about it for days. This book is lacking that, but it is just as well. I doubt anyone could have duplicated it in another work, even a sequel.

The wisdom we overlook when we fly past a sign at 100 mph, and then have to walk back and pick it up is a valuable lesson. We all have those moments/milestones. Jahir has at least two of them. As does Vasi, although his is more like the opposite and he has to race away at 100 mph to put his wisdom to use.

See also: Review by Fred.

Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, January 2014, trade paperback $15.99 ([1 +] 341 [+ 7] pgs.), Kindle $5.99.

Review: 'Song of the Summer King' by Jess E. Owen

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15751365.jpgWhile 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.

Review: 'God of Clay' by Ryan Campbell

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Goccover.jpgWhen I finished God of Clay by Ryan Campbell, I described the experience as "satiating something I was hungry for." And usually when I read genre fiction, I have to take bits and pieces of things I want from the books I read and make compromises. "Well, this book had gay protagonists at least, even if the conflict didn't let you forget that, and the characters paid for it." Or "this book has people of color as opposed to the assumption of a main character's innate whiteness, but it is overshadowed by western mores and still exhibits egregious exoticism." Or "well, there's a woman over 40 who plays a significant role, but she's more or less window dressing."

God of Clay, on the other hand, was a buffet of the things I was hungry for: colorful sensory splendor; anthro and human presence; smart character decisions the fueled further conflict; a non-white cast of main characters; gay protagonists with sexuality not intrinsically tied to the main conflict; a world where you can still be older than 40 and be a woman and make life changing decisions for yourself and your tribe.

See also: Review by Fred.

Sofawolf Press, September 2013, trade paperback $17.95 [on Amazon] ([5] + 259 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $7.99. Illustrated by Zhivago.

2015 Anthropomorphic Recommended List, October 15 update

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by Heather BrutonThe ALAA’s 2015 Anthropomorphic Recommended List has been updated from August to October 15. This includes all of the anthropomorphic works published or released during 2015 that have been submitted by someone as being worth reading, looking at, or playing. Look it over and see if you have been missing anything.

If there is any 2015 work that you feel is worth recommending that is not on here, please submit it for the next update to recommended@ursamajorawards.org. It is almost the end of 2015, so do not delay!

Review: 'Mindtouch' ('The Dreamhealers' Volume 1) by M.C.A. Hogarth (by Greyflank)

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MindtouchM.C.A. Hogarth is a writer who belongs to the Furry Writers' Guild, something I've been involved with these last few months since crawling out from under my bed after hiding there for a few years. I went looking for a few good books about furries with LBQT+ relationships for a future BookCrossing bookbox, because I like to share furriness with my friends.

I wanted to buy a few books from Amazon for the free shipping; something I hardly ever do. I figured I should get to know my fellow writers better, and while this didn't seem like the kind of book I was looking for for, I liked the idea of two different types of ESPers co-mingling, both aliens on an alien world (not to mention, college kids ... education is sexy, am I right?).

I have to admit to being daunted by the size of the book. Four hundred plus pages. I wanted a writing sample, not a bible. I have over a hundred unread books in my queue! Did I really want to push most of those back in order to relate better to a name in a chat room? And it was book one of two. Who writes duologies, anyway?

Studio MCAH, July 2013, trade paperback $16.99 ([3 +] 408 [+ 7] pages), Kindle $5.99.

See also: Fred's review of Mindtouch.

'Zootopia' ('Zootropolis'?) coming sooner than you think

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Disney's ZootopiaThe release date of Disney’s forthcoming theatrical feature Zootopia (Zootropolis in the U.K., Portugal, Turkey and other countries; Zootropola in Croatia and Zwierzogród in Poland) is March 4, 2016. But on January 19, 2016, the Disney merchandising machine will release a slew of tie-in books, published by Disney print subsidiaries or licensed by it. Most, but not all of them, will be juvenile-oriented. Some of them, such as the Disney Zootopia Ultimate Sticker Book or Judy Hopps and the Missing Jumbo-Pop, will be little more than picture books featuring the leading characters. Others, such as the Zootopia Big Golden Book, will also be picture books but will show a condensation of the movie’s plot. And a few, such as Zootopia: The Official Handbook, Zootopia Junior Novelization and DK’s Disney Zootopia: The Essential Guide, will be of interest to the adult enthusiast. No lavish The Art of Zootopia coffee-table art book has been announced yet, but there will undoubtedly be one by next March – or sooner.

Update 10/15: Cover art for most of the books discussed in this article have been revealed.

2015 Anthropomorphics Reading List: August 8 update

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by Heather BrutonThe Anthropomorphics Literature and Arts Association (ALAA), which administers the annual Ursa Major Awards, has updated the 2015 Anthropomorphics Reading List to include the titles recommended by furry fans through August 8. This list is often used by fans to nominate in the next year’s Awards.

All fans are invited to recommend worthwhile anthropomorphic works in eleven categories (motion pictures, dramatic short films or broadcasts, novels, short fiction, other literary works, graphic stories, comic strips, magazines, published illustrations, websites, and games) first published during 2015, if they are not already on the list. Send in your recommendations to recommended@ursamajorawards.org, and read the List to see what other fans have recommended.

Nominations for the 2015 Ursa Major Awards, in the same eleven categories, will open on 14 January 2016 (the first day of Further Confusion 2016) and will be accepted until 28 February. Don’t miss this opportunity to nominate the titles that you felt have been the best anthropomorphic movies, novels, comic strips and books, websites, games, etc. of 2015 for the Awards. And don’t forget to vote when the polls open on 15 March.

Find Your Spirit Animal… Or Else!

Writer C.R. Grey has created a new fantasy series for young readers that’s described as “Drawing on the traditions of Harry Potter and His Dark Materials… a fantastical boarding-school adventure with steampunk sensibilities and political intrigue…” The first book in the Animas series, Legacy of the Claw, goes like this: In a world where everyone eventually hooks up with a non-human animal, known as a “kin”, in a spiritual connection known as an “animus bond”, 12-year old Bailey Walker fears that he will become an outcast if he doesn’t find his own kin soon.  But darker forces are at work in his world… forces that seek to enslave all the kin and destroy the power of animus forever. This new series is available now from Disney-Hyperion. Check it out over and Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2014 Disney-Hyperion

image c. 2014 Disney-Hyperion

The Boy Who Fell to Earth

In 2012 John Claude Bemis (author of the Americana-Fantasy series The Clockwork Dark) brought us a new post-apocalypse novel for young readers called The Prince Who Fell From The Sky. “In Casseomae’s world, the wolves rule the Forest, and the Forest is everywhere. The animals tell stories of the Skinless Ones, whose cities and roads once covered the earth, but the Skinless disappeared long ago. Casseomae is content to live alone, apart from the other bears in her tribe, until one of the ancients’ sky vehicles crashes to the ground, and from it emerges a Skinless One, a child. Rather than turn him over to the wolves, Casseomae chooses to protect this human cub, to find someplace safe for him to live. But where among the animals will a human child be safe? And is Casseomae threatening the safety of the Forest and all its tribes by protecting him?” Published by Random House, check this out over at the author’s web site.

image c. 2014 Random House

image c. 2014 Random House

They Will Change the World of Dragons

Here’s another one of those “how did we miss this?” young-adult fantasy book series. Tui T. Sutherland is part of the author collective that, under the name Erin Hunter, created the Seekers and Warriors series of cat-based fantasies. In 2012 though, she returned to her own name to bring us the Wings of Fire series, beginning with The Dragonet Prophecy (published by Scholastic, Inc.) “The seven dragon tribes have been at war for generations, locked in an endless battle over an ancient, lost treasure. A secret movement called the Talons of Peace is determined to bring an end to the fighting, with the help of a prophecy — a foretelling that calls for great sacrifice. Five dragonets are collected to fulfill the prophecy, raised in a hidden cave and enlisted, against their will, to end the terrible war.” As you can well imagine, things don’t turn out as planned when the five young dragons escape. Their adventures have thus far lead us through six books in the series, and at least two more books are being written even now. Check out the first book over at Barnes & Noble.