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Review: 'Rise of the Penguins' and 'The Warlord, the Warrior, the War', by Steven Hammond

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Rise of the Penguins The War of the Species has begun. An ancient race of penguin has reemerged. From this race a powerful leader declares himself Overlord and unites the penguin clans of the world. His goal: to drive the human presence away from Antarctica and to exact revenge for the atrocities of the past against penguinkind. (Rise of the Penguins blurb)

Killer penguins are rising up in a war against humans for world domination! Is Steven Hammond serious? Judging by his hilarious Facebook page, hell, no! But his Rise of the Penguins series (published through CreateSpace, no matter what he says about Rockhopper Books), is so straight-faced that it is a good example of Rambo-type take-no-prisoners military fiction. With spear-carrying penguins.

Rise of the Penguins, December 2012, trade paperback $19.99 (8 + 722 pages), Kindle $3.99.
The Warlord, The Warrior, The War, September 2013, trade paperback $6.99 (6 + 112 pages), Kindle $1.99. Both by Steven Hammond, Clovis, CA, Rockhopper Books.

Review: 'The Mystic Sands', by Alflor Aalto

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The Mystic Sands The bad news: The Mystic Sands by Alflor Aalto is a funny animal novel. The characters, all anthropomorphized animals, are interchangeable surrogate humans. There is no reason for any of them to be raccoons, rabbits, foxes, weasels, squirrels, or anything other than humans. They are all human-sized, wear regular human clothes (imagine a human-sized squirrel wearing Victorian clothes), eat human diets, etc. They do occasionally refer to their animal natures:

And don’t you worry your fluffy ringed tails, my friends. (p. 36)

The good news: The Mystic Sands by Alflor Aalto is a ripping good page-turner, a guaranteed attention-holding light thriller of the 1930s Weird Tales sort with anthropomorphized animals that will have you wanting to finish it in one session. Go buy it!

Las Vegas, NV, Rabbit Valley Comics, May 2013, trade paperback $20.00 (245 pages).

Review: 'Blacksad T.5, Amarillo', by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Blacksad Tome 5 Amarillo As is now usual, I want to thank Lex Nakashima for ordering this from Amazon.fr and loaning it to me for this review.

Spanish writer Juan Díaz Canales and artist Juanjo Guarnido met while working at an animation studio in Madrid in the early 1990s. After both moved to Paris, they met again and agreed to collaborate for the French comics market on this anthropomorphic crime noir/hardboiled detective series set in America in the 1950s, featuring feline private investigator John Blacksad.

The first album, Somewhere Among the Shadows was published by Dargaud in November 2000. The multiple prize-winning comics series has been published in 23 languages. So far there have been five 56-page cartoon-art novels, set in Hollywood, Chicago, amidst the Red paranoia/nuclear bomb-shelter craze, New Orleans and now the Midwest.

Paris, Dargaud, November 2013, hardcover €13.99 (56 pages), Kindle €9.99.

Video review: 'Red Devil', by Kyell Gold

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Isiah reviews Kyell Gold's latest novel, "Red Devil", set in his Dangerous Spirits universe.

Three comic book reviews: Pull List #20 ('GotG' and 'MLP')

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

Applejack party hat It’s another milestone issue, so we’re bringing back the “animals wearing party hats” tag. I couldn’t find a picture of Rocket Raccoon wearing a party hat, however. Seems he’s not the type to do something like that. But Applejack is the best pony for wearing hats (in addition to being best pony, period), and her Micro-Series is finally here, so there we go.

Also, since this issue number is divisible by ten, there’s another index of previous issues, in case you’ve been looking forward to it.

Review: 'Play Little Victims', by Kenneth Cook

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Play Little Victims This short but deadly satire is set in the U.S., but has never been published there. Does it cut too close to home?

In 2000 (this was written in 1978), God decides to wipe out all life on Earth by covering everything instantly with giant glaciers. (Actually, He intended to wipe out all life in 1000 A.D., but He forgot.) He misses one two-square-mile valley in the center of North America, inhabited by two field mice, Adamus and Evemus. Because God also scraps the laws of evolution, the mice immediately develop intelligence. Not knowing that God missed them by accident, they decide that they are God’s new chosen people; and since the small valley has a town with a radio and TV station, an automobile factory, and lots of back issues of newspapers, they assume that He wants them to model themselves upon humans.

In no time at all, because mice breed fast, there are enough of them for Adamus to appoint a Board to help him guide the common mice.

‘I mean,’ continued Adamus, ‘it is obvious to all that this wonderful world in which we live did not just happen by accident. There has to be a Divine Plan and we are part of that Plan. We have a destiny which we must fulfill.’
The mice all looked at each other and nodded wisely.
‘Well,’ said Adamus, ‘I have discovered what it’s all about. What happened was this: the source of all being is God, who made the Valley and everything else in the universe. To prepare the way for mousekind God sent a sort of vanguard of creatures He called Men, who might best be thought of as sort of supermice. These Men prepared the Valley for us and left us all these marvelous technological aids for our existence. They also left us a vast body of literature for our guidance. Our destiny in life is to fulfill the plan of God by making the Valley an extension of Heaven. To guide us in this task we have the Word of Man, so we just can’t go wrong.’ (p. 12)

Needless to say, the mice go wrong with almost every decision that Adamus makes. One mouse on the Board, Logimus, thinks for himself and has doubts about Adamus’ pronouncements about what God wants. But Adamus, backed by his Board of yes-mice, steamrollers right over him.

Rushcutters Bay, NSW, Australia, Pergamon Press, June 1978, vi + 87 pages, 0-08-023123-3, $A9.00. Illustrated by Megan Gressor.

Review: 'The Hobbit 2: Hobbit Harder'

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug I went back and forth on whether I was going to review this movie for Flayrah. I meant to when I watched it, as I knew it would contain quite a few talking animals, including the titular dragon, but then I got behind, and I wrote my top ten list, where it fell at number eight, so I figured that was good enough.

Then it was nominated for the Ursa Majors (which I called early, by the way), and wound up as the second-most-furry nominee of the year (after the still-not-very-furry My Little Pony: Equestria Girls), so I decided to review it for Flayrah after all. Better late than never. That doesn’t mean I’ll be reviewing the other nominees, even though I did enjoy three quarters of them (and, surprisingly, it’s not the Pixar movie I’m hating on here); I just didn’t find them sufficiently furry, or even furry at all, and am a bit perplexed at their nomination over furrier fare like Ernest and Celestine, Epic, Turbo, Free Birds, or even The ABCs of Death.

Review: 'Songs in the Year of the Cat', by H. Leighton Dickson

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Songs in the Year of the Cat This is Book 3 of the Tails from the Upper Kingdom; the direct sequel to To Journey in the Year of the Tiger and To Walk in the Way of Lions. In those two, Captain Kirin Wynegarde-Grey, a genetic lion-man (yes, he has a tail) and commander of the Empress’ personal guard in a far-future post-apocalypse dynastic China (with touches of feudal Japan) that has forgotten its past, leads an expedition consisting of his geomancer brother, his snow leopard-woman adjutant, a young tiger-woman scholar, a cheetah-woman alchemist, and a mongrel-man (mixed feline) priest into unknown western lands. They encounter canine nomads in what was Mongolia, and really exotic animal-peoples in what was Europe; and they learn the true history of the world and the apocalypse that destroyed it. The expedition is much smaller when the survivors return to the Empress’ court in the Upper Kingdom two years later, just as the Year of the Tiger has ended.

In the Oriental Zodiac, the Year of the Tiger is followed by the Year of the Rabbit – except in Vietnam, which recognizes the Year of the Cat. (True; look it up.) In this novel, the future Vietnam is called simply Nam, and there is no word for rabbit. (In the real world and the present, the Vietnamese word for rabbit is ‘tho’.)

And so, we begin our story with the birth of a baby, the weeping of a dog and a cup of hot sweet tea, naturally in the Year of the Cat. (p. 1)

CreateSpace, July 2013, trade paperback $14.99 (i + 312 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Review: 'Animal Land: The Creatures of Children’s Fiction', by Margaret Blount

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

Animal Land: The Creatures of Children’s Fiction Today there are many academic studies of talking animals in children’s literature. Animal Land was one of the first, and still is one of the best. Whether you look for the original British edition, its American edition (NYC, William Morrow & Co., March 1975, hardcover 0-688-00272-2 $8.95, 336 pages), or a reprint (Avon Books, March 1977, paperback 0-380-00742-8 $3.95, 336 pages), Animal Land is worth reading. You may think that you are already familiar with all the stories covered in it, but Margaret Blount has profiles of dozens that will be new to even talking-animal connoisseurs.

London, Hutchinson, October 1974, hardcover 0-09-118410-X £4.50 (336 pages; illustrated)

Review: 'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' Pinkie Pie Party DVD (with bonus Season 2 DVD review)

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Pinkie Pie Party DVDKick it!” – Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”

This is the fourth My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic five-episode DVD put out by Shout! Factory, and instead of attempting to create a theme for this one, the episodes collected all feature the character Pinkie Pie.

Pinkamena “Pinkie” Diane Pie is a hot pink Earth pony who lives in Sugarcube Corner, a sweets shop and bakery where she works; occasionally, with supervision, as a baker, but mostly as a party planner, which is her magical talent. That description makes her sound boring. She isn’t. As she represents the Element of Laughter, a distinction she won by making fun of some trees one time, she’s the show’s designated comedy relief, despite it already being a comedy cartoon. Basically, she’s the one who’s allowed to get away with jokes deemed too silly even for the average brightly colored cartoon pony.

Pinkie Pie’s episodes tend to be the funny ones.

Origin and significance of the term "yiff"

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This article is a collaboration between Rakuen Growlithe and Christiaan Ferret.

When it comes to the furry fandom, we have many unique neologisms, including words such as fursona and the phrase pawing off, which have varying levels of acceptance in the fandom. Perhaps one of the most well-known is the term yiff, which is even understood by some non-furs. Generally accepted as a substitute for sexual activity, and able to be used as a verb, noun or adjective, it is now less accepted than in the past.

Commenting on the closure of ychan, Yiffy International and 420furs.org, Flayrah contributor Sonious remarked that yiff had not aged well. Shortly afterwards, Christiaan Ferret's defence of the word as a part of furry culture brought forth comments such as...

Though to me "yiff" will always just be a corny slang term that makes me cringe slightly everytime I hear it spoken aloud haha.

And...

I find the word annoying and needlessly cutesy, and I don't have the respect for it to study its etymology. It's just a really dumb word to me, and I'm afraid I can't say anything more about it. =/

However, we believe yiff has significance to the furry fandom as part of our shared culture and history. While we understand that not everyone will care for it, we do think it important to at least understand where the term came from.

Opinion: The top ten movies of 2013

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (6 votes)

Both are round, orb-like fruits, while one is usually red on the outside (though green, yellow and even orange are possibilities), its smooth, thin skin usually eaten, with firm, off-white flesh that ranges from sweet to sweet with varying degrees of tartness in flavor, with small brown seeds found inside the core of the fruit, while one is orange, obviously, with dimpled, but still smooth to the touch skin that, while edible, is rarely eaten directly, with much juicier flesh that is usually tarter, but not always, and still very sweet, with small tannish seeds throughout.

What am I doing? Oh, just comparing apples to oranges. Anyway, here are ten movies from 2013 you should watch sometime.

Review: 'The Jackal Queen', by Roy Lisman

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

The Jackal Queen 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)

FurPlanet Productions, July 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (138 pages). Illustrated by Kadath.

Review: 'Carpe Mortis: You Only Live Once', by Graveyard Greg

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Carpe Mortis: You Only Live Once 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.

Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, May 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (115 pages; on Amazon).

Review: 'Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure'

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (6 votes)

Alpha and Omega 2 - A Howl-iday Adventure So I managed to watch this ancient movie and see if it was any good for others out there. I didn't see many anthropomorphic movements; I missed most of the first movie, but I've seen footage and snaps of them standing up like humans and acting like them. I was disappointed that they didn't use that much in the sequel; I suspect the directors avoided it. Unfortunately, Alpha and Omega 2 is short; the whole thing was about 40 minutes long, without counting the credits. It wasn't very surprising; I'd heard people complaining. While I hope the third one will be longer [one whole minute longer], let's start by talking about the graphics.

This is my first review on Flayrah; also, don't expect my English to be that great, I lack certain words I need I think, and it's a bit of my style, especially if I had to extract nearly everything.

Also, spoiler alert! If you don't want to get spoiled, watch it first or skip them somehow.