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A brave newt world

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War With the Newts is a theatrical adaptation of the satirical novel by Karel Čapek, who is known for popularizing the word "robot" through his play R.U.R. It was adapted by Professor Natsu Onoda Power and performed at Georgetown University.

The play consists of a series of vignettes depicting the events surrounding the uplifting of a species of hyper-intelligent newts. When they are first discovered, they are seen as an able-bodied workforce, but gradually they begin to see how they are being enslaved by humans, and rise up in revolution. The newts were portrayed by actors wearing kigurumi newt suits and fingerless arm-gloves, and they frequently stole the show from the human actors. I had the opportunity to see the play in its world premiere run at Georgetown University. For a new play, this had a remarkable level of polish, while at the same time being eclectic, energetic and engaging.

Review: 'Inhuman Acts: A Collection of Noir' edited by Ocean Tigrox

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Inhuman Acts: A Collection of NoirInhuman Acts: A Collection of Noir is tied together with a framing sequence as Stanley Rivets, private investigator, reviews 13 case files given to him by a mysterious figure.

It's my least favorite narrative in the book as many of these all new stories simply take place on incompatible worlds. Stanley (or his host) is, I imagine, giving the introduction to each story. The introductions are done well enough, but they aren't exactly in the flavor of (nor consistent with) the foreword.

That's OK. You're not really paying for the foreword, nor the introductions. These stories of anthropomorphic noir all stand alone well enough. Some stories are weak in their presentation of the anthropomorphic aspect of the story-telling; by that I mean these stories could too easily be about humans. This doesn't bother some furries.

The best of the collection mix the science fiction, the fantastic, and the crushing atmosphere of dark or darkening worlds to create Ocean Tigrox's vision of furry noir.

Disclaimer: I have a story in this collection.

FurPlanet Productions, September 24, 2015, trade paperback $19.95 (316 + 2 pgs.). ebook from $9.95 Edited by Ocean Tigrox, cover by Seylyn.

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.

New art site, Furry Network, sees traffic growth following FA Forum incident

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Furry social networks have grown since the early days on the Internet. Gone are the days when you had to find some hidden Usenet group, or dive into a MUCK to hang out with furries (though you still can if you want to). Furries now have a multitude of websites in plain view, from art-based social galleries such as Fur Affinity, Inkbunny and SoFurry, to image boards and thread-based sites such as e621 and fchan.

It seems that the catalog of places for furries to flock to has become pretty saturated over the years. But even with this plethora of choices, a new contender has come out of the gates and is attempting to make its mark on the furry community. Furry Network, not to be confused with the defunct Furry News Network, is a new furry community site that is currently in beta. However, with a more-saturated market, it is important to ask: will Furry Network just be another furry site with a new coat of paint, or will it offer something its competitors don't? Let's take a look.

Update (Nov 20): A recent update has added many features. These include the support of textual and multimedia works. Therefore you can now upload stories, music, and even short movies if you wished. It also has the capacity of changing an artwork to a photo with the edit feature now. These new media types are also their own tab.

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.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #26 ('The New Avengers', 'The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl')

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This will be the second Pull List in a row to feature only Squirrel Girl comics (and also the second Pull List in a row to feature a The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1, because Marvel's doing a thing again). Between her and all the Friendship is Magic comics, this Pull List thing has just become one big, happy ball of positive energy. Except when I throw in a Hack/Slash, an Avengers Arena or a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #4, and things get a little darker.

But, the stories we tell (and the stories we enjoy) influence how we think of the world; it's much easier to believe the world will end in some kind of apocalypse when your favorite TV show is The Walking Dead (a show about the apocalyptic end of the world), even if you don't necessarily believe it will come via zombie plague. It's harder if you watch a show where you have to take a time machine five million years into the future to see the end of the world. So, anyway, if you're looking for a comic book series that might influence you to see the world more positively, basically, stuff with Squirrel Girl helps.

Review: 'Naughty Sexy Furry Writing: Enter At Your Own Risk' by Rainfurrest volunteers

Your rating: None Average: 1.7 (3 votes)

NSFW:Enter At Your Own RiskThe RainFurrest Annual Charity Anthology was created to celebrate and showcase the literary aspect of the anthropomorphics fandom as well as to raise funds for charity. NSFW: Enter At Your Own Risk is the adult version. Lots of sex with anthropomorphic animals.

Features the following writers, all who donated stories: Bryan Nickleberry, Rechan, Cheshire, Bill Kieffer, Kits and PJ Wolf, and featuring art by Dr. West, Bill "Greyflank" Kieffer and P. Gaither with a cover by Rhari.

The collection is nice, not as uneven as some anthologies, although some stories could use a bit more proof-reading.

Disclaimer: I am one of the story writers of the anthology. I am also the biggest offender in the proof-reading sense.

Illustrated, Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Publications, September 2015, trade paperback $10.00 (124 pages).

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.

Con Report: Lakeside Furs 9 and Eurofurence 21

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EF21b_1.jpgOne of the drawbacks of living in South Africa is that the furry scene is currently rather small. Despite attempts to bring furs from all over the country together for a national meet, we had limited successes and, even when we managed a national furmeet, only assembled between 14 and 16 attendees. Things have improved during the last few years, and meet sizes have increased quite dramatically, even to the point that plans are underway to reboot the South Afrifur convention in 2016.

So, when I moved to Europe, I was glad to finally have the opportunity to attend proper, large-scale furry conventions. I chose two different cons to attend. One was Lakeside Furs, which is a relatively small (approximately 50 attendees) Austrian convention. It made sense as I was now living in Austria and it offered a way to meet the Austrian furry community. I also chose Eurofurence which, as the largest furry convention in Europe, is an almost obligatory furry visit. Although I didn't realize it at the time, both Eurofurence and Lakeside Furs were started by Unci, although he is no longer involved with Eurofurence.

Review: I keep my promise to 'Shaun the Sheep'

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Shaun the SheepBack in 2011, I wrote my first top ten movies of the year list, where I chose Winnie the Pooh as the seventh best movie I saw that year, but I didn't see it in the theaters. Because it was Winnie the Pooh, and it was a children's movie even more so than the average animated movie featuring talking animals, and it would have been embarrassing for a late twenty-something to be caught going alone to the movie theater to watch it. Explaining that I was only watching it to review it for a furry website wouldn't have really changed that. But I wrote back in that first top ten list:

I decided to skip this movie at the theaters because, you know, it’s Winnie the Pooh. Big mistake. Next time, I’ll man up, and watch the kid’s movie.

I was right back then; it does, sometimes, take a man to review a kid's movie. That was a promise to myself that I wouldn't let embarrassment get the better of me in the future. Shaun the Sheep was the first real test of this self promise. I mean, Free Birds were a slightly different proposition; as "geek culture" becomes more and more prevalent in pop culture, to the point they are nearly synonymous, watching animated movies, even those with slightly awkward studio pedigrees, is much less of a big deal. But I was fairly certain Shaun the Sheep was meant as a pre-school level animation (I was unfair in this assessment; I was thinking of the spin-off Timmy Time, which is meant for pre-schoolers but is not the basis of this movie); but I made that promise to myself not to let pre-school prejudice get in the way.

Good call; this is a pretty good movie.

Anthrocon: Furry convention becomes staple of steel city

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When Anthrocon started in Albany in 1997, the humble gathering went by the name of “Albany Anthrocon”. Two years later the convention found itself moving out of New York State and into Pennsylvania. Through that was learned the first major mistake a fledgling convention could make. Naming your new convention after the city it is hosted in is like someone getting their lover’s name tattooed to their arm. Ironically, it’s a mistake that other conventions still make to this day.
But living through mistakes is what makes one stronger in the end. It has now been about one decade since the largest furry convention had made its home in Pittsburgh. At this point I think it’s a much safer bet to commit to being inked.
As there were 6,389 recorded attendees to this convention, there are just as many stories and perspectives on the convention. So this review will focus on three sections I focused my experiences around: fursuiting, performances, and writing. It is essential to note that reviewing a convention is unlike reviewing any other medium where you can experience a full package. Many panels run concurrently so one has to make a choice, usually based upon one’s preferences.

'Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe' #51 is coming

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Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe #50Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe, launched in January 1992 by a consortium of Seattle-area furry writers, artists, and editors, and the oldest on-paper furry fanzine still being published, released its fiftieth issue in September 2012. Despite its website’s continued online presence with its semi-annual schedule, the long delay since number fifty was published has resulted in a growing doubt that it is still in existence.

Now editor Gene Breshears has stated that issue number fifty-one is finally ready for the printer, and should be out by the end of this month, or August 2015 for sure. The delay has been partly due to the requirement that all stories in Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe must be consistent with that fictional universe’s 36th-century interstellar storyline. With over a hundred stories by different authors, making sure all details, references, and characterizations are consistent, and the need to get illustrations for those stories, all on a volunteer basis, means it is getting increasingly difficult to prepare an issue.

But Tai-Pan fans can relax with the expectation that issue number fifty-one is about to appear.

Review: 'Ted 2' will haunt your dreams

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Ted 2This movie gave me a nightmare. I'm not kidding.

I watched it last night, then decided to sleep on it before reviewing it. And I had bad dreams about watching a mostly plotless movie that kept interrupting itself with boring distractions, and it just wasn't funny at all. When I woke up, I didn't realize at first that Ted 2 was the inspiration for this bizarre dream. But, what else could it be? Actually this dream interpretation site I randomly Googled says it could mean I am:

... attempting to protect [my]self from [my] emotions and/or actions. Viewing them on a movie screen projects them onto another person and thus makes those feelings and actions seem more distant. [My] subconscious is trying to protect [me] from experiencing them directly.

Alternatively, it could mean:

To dream that [I am] watching a movie suggests that [I am] watching life pass [me] by. Perhaps [I am] living vicariously through the actions of others. Consider also how the movie parallels to situations in [my] waking life. [I should] observe how the characters relate to [me] and how they may represent an aspect of [my]self.

Well, that is incredibly depressing; I'm just going to continue on with the theory that watching a movie late in the day may cause me to dream about watching movies at night.

Review: 'dʒrægɛn: A game about a Dragon'

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d?ræg?n: A game about a DragonAs I was looking for a furry game to review this month, I didn't have to go too far before I ran into a promotional video that caught my attention. Despite the simplistic voice acting there was something about the aesthetic and the sense of humor that dʒrægɛn: A game about a Dragon held about itself that seemed to garner immediate interest and curiosity.

So what is this game about a dragon? Let's take a look and find out.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #25 ('The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl')

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1I've probably made it fairly clear in past Pull Lists, but just in case I haven't, Squirrel Girl is my favorite superhero. For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Doreen Green is a Marvel mutant with the ability to talk to squirrels, as well as squirrel like agility, plus a squirrel tail. Together with her squirrel sidekick, Tippy Toe, she fights crime as Squirrel Girl. Very well. At risk of sounding like a hipster, I liked Squirrel Girl before Squirrel Girl was cool. Of course, Squirrel Girl is cool because she is not cool (which also sounds super hipster-y), but my love for the character is not ironic.

I like her because she is a genuine superhero; she both has superpowers and acts heroically, but more importantly, she also likes being a superhero. She has fun being a superhero. If she doesn't take, say, an encounter with Doctor Doom seriously, it's not because she herself sees the ridiculousness of the situation. She doesn't see fights with supervillains as something to worry about; she's a superhero. She is supposed to fight supervillains; and she wants to fight supervillains. On a meta-level (and though she doesn't quite go to, say, Deadpool's textual awareness level, like most "humorous" Marvel characters, she has her medium aware moments), she believes that she will win any fight with a supervillain because she is a superhero, and superheroes always win in the superhero stories she reads; therefore, by choosing to be a superhero, she chooses to win. It is not "realistic" that she should, say, beat Doctor Doom with squirrels, but, seeing as how she isn't real, reality does not concern her.

This is why she is such a divisive character; a certain sort of comic book fan believes that comic book superheroes can only be taken seriously if it is presented "realistically." This viewpoint has been the default comic book fan view for decades now, to the point where a character who regularly and unequivocally wins fights with supervillains, and doesn't angst about it, stands out like a sore thumb, and is therefore a breath of fresh air, especially if your personal preference (like mine) is Guardians of the Galaxy over Watchmen. This is not to say a comic book that deals with the consequences of superheroics is bad; it's to say that a comic book that deals with the consequences of superheroics isn't automatically good. And comic books that don't aren't automatically bad. Or for that matter, that "realism" and "explores consequences" are mutually exclusive.

So, anyway, Squirrel Girl has her own comic book now, and it's awesome. Here's a review of the first three issues.