Seriously, I have been looking forward to April and the Extraordinary World for five years, when the first in-production news appeared and then its “coming soon” trailer was on YouTube as Un Monde Truqué. They didn't say anything about a talking cat, which is why I didn’t announce it on Flayrah then. YouTube has had to take that trailer down. This new one isn’t nearly as good, but it does have the talking cat in it.
In a steampunk alternate world’s 1941, when Europe is united in a Triple Empire under Napoleon V and its three capitals of London-Paris-Berlin are connected by cable car, scientists have been disappearing for decades. The earlier trailer was about the disappearance of the child Avril (April) Franken’s parents. This new trailer is about the adult April’s hunt for them, with her talking cat Darwin and her companion Julius.
The 105-minute movie, co-directed by Persepolis animator Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, was released in France on November 4th. GKIDS has picked up the American rights for a 2016 release, in both dubbed and subtitled versions.
M.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?
See also: Fred's review of Mindtouch.
What is there to say about the Ratchet & Clank movie that this Cartoon Brew announcement doesn’t say? So Ratchet is a lombax –that’s news to those of us who haven’t played the video game. It’s nice to see the return of the Rainmaker animation studio in Vancouver.
“[V]iewers over the age of 10 clearly aren’t the target audience for Ratchet & Clank” – maybe, but it still looks like fun to this 74-year-old. I guess we’ll wait until next April 29 to see.
An Anthropomorphic Century; Stories from 1909 to 2008, edited by Fred Patten and published by FurPlanet Productions, is scheduled for release at the RainFurrest 2015 convention, in Seattle, Washington, on September 24-27, 2015. It will be on sale through the online FurPlanet catalog thereafter.
An Anthropomorphic Century contains 20 short stories and novelettes published from 1909 to 2008, mostly in the s-f magazines and books of the latter 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.
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.
Tales 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.
What if… instead of developing atomic bombs, the USA and the Soviet Union had instead put their efforts into developing giant atomic monsters — and flung them at each other? That’s the idea behind World War Kaiju, a new illustrated novel written by Josh Finney and Michael Colbert with full color art by Patrick McEvoy. “What if Doctor Strangelove created Godzilla? World War Kaiju is the story of an alternate history, one in which the atom bomb was never created and the ultimate weapon of mass destruction is the kaiju: Fifty foot tall radioactive beasts spawned from the mysterious KAI-235 isotope. Follow the journey of one journalist as he teams up with a retired CIA operative to uncover the truth about the conspiracy behind the monsters.” World War Kaiju is available now in trade paperback by 01 Publishing. Check out the official web page, and of course the animated preview on YouTube.
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.
In command of his family's star freighter, foxen noble Lord Rolas Darktail finds himself a captive of the infamous pirate, the Red Vixen. Drawn to her easy freedom, he finds himself torn between staying with her, and honoring his duties to his family, who must escape the cruel countess they serve.
Come along with Rolas as he experiences love and adventure in this science fictional take on a traditional Age of Sail romance novel.(blurb)
It's rare that I come across a story that not only makes me get massively pissed off at a character or laugh out loud in public, but Captive of the Red Vixen by Royce Day did that and so much more. Day has crafted a wonderful story that contained every element of a story I personally look for and enjoy in a tale. It also reminded me a lot of what brought me into the furry fandom to begin with.
Amazon Digital Services, Inc., August 2011, Kindle $2.99 (106 pages).
When the results of Earth's genetic experiments fled for 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!
Includes the novella "A Distant Sun," and the short stories "Rosettes and Ribbons" (Best in Show anthology), "The Elements of Freedom," "Tears" (Pawprints), "Pantheon," and "Butterfly" (Anthrolations magazine).
This book is a warm blanket, hot chocolate, and cuddles by a fire.
I had read a short story of M.C.A. Hogarth's before, and was curious about how she would handle a larger work. Stumbling across this collection of short stories, I decided to give it a try.
See also: Review by Fred Patten
Taboo is a work of anthropomorphic fiction for adult readers only. (publisher’s advisory)
It is rated NC-17.
Every society has taboos, from sacred vows which must never be broken to the limitations of sexual expression. These [fourteen stories answer] the question, "Which line would you cross?" (blurb)
This is a longer book review than usual, since it covers 14 individual short stories. If you don’t want to read a review this long, my critiques are all at the end.
Since this is a furry NC-17 anthology, you can guess that all fourteen stories feature explicit sex. Whether it fits the story or not.
"That Red Panda Girl" by Tarl "Voice" Hoch"
Raven, the almost-40 panther, is a high school teacher happily married to the beautiful nympho Holly the jaguar, who sets up some kinky sex activity for him almost every night. But that doesn’t keep him from lusting after one of his students, the red panda Leah. She’s gorgeous, she’s over 18, and she’s already unmarried-but-pregnant. Raven knows that a sexual liaison between a teacher and his student is taboo, and jeopardizing his relationship with his wife is really foolish. But Leah is also a nympho lolita, and she desperately wants him …
Illustrated by Kadath’s cover.
Miara is a humanimal, a woman just like anyone else, except with feline features and some feline abilities … (blurb)
I cannot help remembering A.I.P.’s July 1977 movie of The Island of Dr. Moreau, with Burt Lancaster as Dr. Paul Moreau, the Mad Scientist who was uplifting animals into humanimals™, and downlifting humans into humanimals™. I don’t think that A.I.P. put out a single bit of publicity without emphasizing that humanimals™ was its own trademarked word. Fortunately, A.I.P. is gone now, and its trademark doubtlessly expired long ago.
Miara Cooper is a cat-girl.
I am mostly human, of course. I walk upright, have two breasts, and wear clothing. But it is impossible not to notice the domestic feline in my appearance. My eyes are green and my pupils are vertical instead of rounded, at least in the daylight. My pointed, hairy ears are on top of my head. My nose is small, upturned and moist. I have a small set of whiskers at the corners of my upper lip; just a little less than would make me look like one of those Chinamen in an old Looney Tunes cartoon. My skin is white, but it is barely visible under thick, dark hair. At least the hair is human-like: fine and light brown.Just longer and thicker than most human women have on the rest of their bodies. And I have a tail. It isn’t very long; only about seventeen inches from the base of my spine, but it was enough to get in the way of sitting and learning how to pee on a toilet when I was a child. (p. 5)
Miara’s parents were hippies who took part in a scientific experiment in gene splicing before her birth. Now, twenty-four years later, society is still figuring what to do about Doctor Finchley’s and his colleagues’ essays into cat-people, dog-people, fox-people, bear-people and so on.
I even heard of one poor kid in Canada whose parents spliced him to be part moose. Must have been painful giving birth to that one. (p. 6)
Fuzzy Business, by Amelia Ritner, Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2013, trade paperback $7.95 (271 pages), Kindle $1.99.
Fuzzy Business 2: Fuzz Harder, by Amelia Ritner, Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2013, trade paperback $7.95 (178 pages), Kindle $1.99.
Phil Geusz is famous in furry fandom for his fiction featuring genengineered anthro-rabbits. They are usually highly intellectual and non-violent. This makes the beginning of Evolutionary Action rather startling: Dr. Rusty Harrison, a professor of “the University” and a personal friend of the dean, is complaining about the mess in his brown fur that killing two assassins at close range has made.
I wrung out my sponge. There was a nasty bit of scalp lodged in it, and I didn’t want to get hair all over the place. I used hollowpoints in my .357, and the explosive effect tended toward the spectacular at close range. The least I could do for poor Alice was stick around and help with the cleanup. Even if I was working nasty little balls of coagulating blood so deep into my pelt that I’d have to soak for hours to get them out. I counted Alice as a friend, after all. (p. 5)
This is one of those novels that is difficult to summarize without giving away spoilers. Over 99% of mankind has died in the catastrophe known as the Breakdown, the Plague, the Collapse or the Outbreak, and the survivors are struggling to keep up some form of civilization. There are not enough to maintain the United States of America, and it has broken apart into many tiny independent state-based countries like the West Coast Confederation, the Sooner Republic, the Colorado Republic, Iowssouri, the Arkansas Free State, the Lone Star Republic and so on. Most of them are friendly and trying to maintain good relations with each other, but at least one is out for a war of conquest against the others, executing the governments of the conquered states.
The University, which was experimenting with genengineering before the Breakdown, has all of the intelligent Rabbits left in the world, and is one of the remaining practitioners of research. It is a politically independent enclave located in the Sooner Republic, which supports it. However, the armies of one of the aggressors are approaching the Sooners and neighboring Texas, and both the Sooner and Lone Star governments and the University administration are wondering what to do.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, September 2013, trade paperback $9.95 (187 pages).
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.
These are the first two volumes of T.R. Brown’s Reflections series. Amazon.com has a special subcategory for them: Genetic Engineering Science Fiction. They should be required reading for every furry author who plans to write human-into-anthropomorphized-animal fiction. They are also good reading for everyone else.
The two are narrated by the protagonist, Todd Hershel. The setting is an unspecified future, but there are automatic/robot cars, artificial islands (“Libertarian Colonies”) for dissidents, personal computers that unfold from pocket-size, artificially-grown organ harvesting, references to a second American Civil War in the recent past and “the Vatican in exile” and bioengineered animal people grown for soldiers in wars. For legal reasons, these humanoid “neos” are required to look like the animals they are based upon.
I was driving back from a meeting with a supplier and there was a semi pulling a load of scrap metal slightly ahead of me in the next lane. My car alerted me to be ready to take over manual control, pulling me away from the e-mails I had been working on. I saw the reason immediately. An accident a couple of miles ahead. An ambulance and other emergency personnel were already on site. That probably saved my life. […] the semi next to me had a blowout in the front wheel. […] Autopilots are good, but they can’t handle an emergency like that and, before the operator could take over, the semi jerked into my lane […] (p. 1)
Todd wakes up in a hospital two months later. His body was completely crushed by the scrap metal. Since this was an unplanned medical emergency, no substitute body has been prepped for him. The only suitable usable body that can be found on emergency notice is a brain-dead felis neo – a female, at that. Todd’s wife Colleen is not happy about that, but she agrees that the important thing is to save his life. They can worry later about getting a new human body, or at least a sex-change operation back to male and cosmetic surgery to make him look more human, later.
The first 50-odd pages are filled with the details of Todd’s exploring his new body, bioengineered from a panther to be a brawny feline soldier.
“We considered just putting your head on the new body,” Walt [a doctor] continued, “but, in addition to the aesthetic problem of a human head on a felis body, there would also have been tissue rejection to deal with.” (p. 9)
The Face in the Mirror; A Transhuman Identity Crisis, by T. R. Brown, Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2012, trade paperback $17.40 (501 pages), Kindle $2.99.
Chained Reflections, by T. R. Brown, Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2013, trade paperback $19.99 (558 pages), Kindle $2.99.