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Review: 'Freedom City', by Phil Geusz

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Freedom CityFreedom City may be Phil Geusz’s most didactic s-f novel to date. The undated setting is roughly 100 years in the future. The locale is Freedom City, a nation-state on a very large and complex artificial platform constructed in international waters in the Caribbean. Geusz’s futuristic bioengineering transmutation science is displayed here. Most citizens of Freedom City are happy to remain human, but Harvey Foote, the protagonist, and his major rival have had themselves transmuted into a funny-animal rabbit and a cat for pertinent reasons. The rabbit-man has a large rabbit staff; so does the cat-man, but his staff includes funny-animal tigers, pumas, lions, leopards, a Siamese cat, lynxes, jaguars, and every feline that can be imagined. The story makes it clear that not only have humans chosen to be turned into anthropomorphic animals, there have been gender and age changes as well. Foote is a dynamically young 83 years old.

The novel is narrated by the rabbit-man, who is the manager of the Rabbit’s Foot Casino, the largest (76 floors) hotel/casino on Freedom City. He has had himself and his staff bioengineered into funny-animal rabbits partly as publicity for his Rabbit’s Foot, but mostly as a statement of individuality; to show what Freedom City’s science and technology can do, and to thumb their noses at the U.S. government which says, “You aren’t allowed to do that!”

FurPlanet Productions, March 2012, trade paperback $19.95 (275 pages; also on Amazon).

Two new anthologies of Furry short fiction coming in June

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The Ursa Major Awards Anthology; A Tenth Anniversary CelebrationAlready Among Us; An Anthropomorphic AnthologyI was preparing this announcement, but GreenReaper has given away part of it on Newsbytes.

Fred Patten, who has been writing Furry book reviews since 1962, and who edited the first anthology of anthropomorphic short fiction, Best in Show, in 2003, has edited two new anthologies of anthropomorphic s-f & fantasy that will both premiere in June 2012.

  1. Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology, will be published by Legion Publishing of Birmingham, AL on June 4. It will be available in a $18.95 hardcover and $9.99 trade paperback (x + 390 pages) [now $13.49], and $8.99 Kindle version, with a wraparound cover by Roz Gibson.
  2. The Ursa Major Awards Anthology: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration, will be published by FurPlanet Productions of Dallas, TX. It will go on sale at Anthrocon 2012 on June 14, as a $19.95 trade paperback, x + 380 pages, with a wraparound cover by Blotch.

Tigers are cuddly and lovable, suggests Annecy festival short

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Spare Me (intro), a CGI short film by Morph Information Technologies of New Delhi, India, has been selected for the 2012 Annecy International Animation Film Festival on 4-9 June 2012. The story/press release, in Animation Xpress (Mumbai), 30 April 2012, reads:

Save the Tiger Spare Me short film by Morph Information Technologies Incorporating Gecko Academy of Digital Arts is selected at the 2012 Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France. The story revolves around the tigers who are portrayed as emotional, sad, lovable animals appealing directly to the audiences. Pleading with humans to spare them and stop killing them for carpets and medicines. Such a majestic animal – humiliated and stripped of all dignity – should stir emotions in the hearts of the viewers and inspire them to take action and stop this unwanted slaughter of one of God’s beautiful creatures. The film employs a Monologue – like structure, presenting a series of interviews with tigers about their lives and homes.

Go Tigers! Go Cougars!

This July MX Collectibles is releasing a set of 6-inch tall collectible busts, modeled after various university mascots. And the first set of four is decidedly furry! Check out their web site for the new busts of the Louisiana State University Tigers, The Clemson University Tigers (pictured below), the University of Memphis Tigers, and the Brigham Young University Cougars. Each of these busts was created by well-known collectibles sculptor Clayburn Moore.

image c. 2012 MX Collectibles

Ice Age Comics

Also from the folks at Kaboom! is the comic-book adaptation of Ice Age: Continental Drift, the new Blue Sky Studio film coming this July. The one-shot comic book, meanwhile, comes out in May. “Sid the Sloth, Manny the Mammoth, Diego the Saber-tooth Tiger, and the hilarious saber-toothed squirrel Scrat find themselves on another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Meeting new sea creatures and battling pirates, life is never boring for this wacky herd! Starring the beloved characters from the hit film series!” That’s what they say on their web site. It’s written by Caleb Monroe with full-color art by Shelli Paroline. Meanwhile the same team is also producing Ice Age: Playing Favorites, a full-color one-shot original Ice Age story. Both these titles are coming soon.

image c. 2012 Kaboom! Studios

The Jungle Book — As Never Before

Zenescope Entertainment, the home of Grimm Fairy Tales, are now presenting their own unique take on Rudyard Kipling’s famous story The Jungle Book.  Here’s their write up on it: “The new five-issue miniseries will follow Mowglii, a young girl raised by wolves who finds herself in the middle of what the animals call The Great Animal Battle. Mowglii must learn her place in the jungle and fight for survival against many exotic beasts. But she is not the only human in this jungle island. Three other children have been raised by different animal tribes: Bomani grows up in the tiger tribe that is led by the conniving Shere Kahn, Akili learned the ways of the jungle from the mischievous Tavi mongoose tribe, and Dewan comes of age within the unpredictable Monkeys of Bandar Log, which is led by the insane King Bandar Louis. Mowglii and the rest of the human cubs play key roles in the ongoing Great Animal Battle of Kipling Isle as they approach adulthood.” The series is written by Mark L. Miller and illustrated in full color by Carles Granda, with variant wraparound covers available from Ale Garza and Mike DeBalfo. Look for it in March.

Review: 'Tiger's Curse' and 'Tiger's Quest', by Colleen Houck

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Tiger's Curse

Tiger's Quest

It all started with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in 1992. Or did it? It presumably took a few years for the popularity of the movie, the 1997 Buffy TV series, its spinoff Angel, and all of their authorized merchandising calendars, CD soundtracks, cell phones, clothing, comic books, etc., to reach pop culture critical mass.

In 2007, I was asked to review the first four paperback novels in a series about Kitty Norville, a midnight radio talk hostess who is also a werewolf; and the various handsome vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, and “normal” human assassins [!] who come into her life.

This was my introduction to the paranormal romance genre. It seemed like around 2005, every paperback publishing company had started an annual series by a female author about a mid- or late-twenties woman who gets involved with sexy male supernaturals, usually vampires. Undead and Unwed; Tall, Dark & Dead; Bitten & Smitten; Love Bites; Sex and the Single Vampire; Magic and the Modern Girl, and How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire are some typical titles.

A couple of years ago, the paranormal romance spread to novels for adolescent girls. The difference is that the protagonists are teenagers or young-twenties with raging hormones, who either are or get involved with shapeshifters who turn into superficially ferocious but really gentle (to them) fuzzy animals. Cases in point: the Kindle-published Serengeti Shifters series, by Vivi Andrews, featuring hot young lion shapeshifters (“Warning: This book contains sizzling heat, adult language, no-holds-barred cat fights, and hot shifter lovin’ with an alpha male who takes inspired leadership all the way to the bedroom.” -- four novels so far), and the Granite Lake Wolves, by Vivian Arend, starring lusty young werewolves (also four books).

The brand-new Tiger’s Curse series of four novels, by Colleen Houck, is unique only in that it is more demure than most, and is designed to conclude in the last novel rather than being open-ended.

Tiger’s Curse (January 2011, hardcover $17.95 (402 [+ 31] pages); audio CD $18.24)
Tiger’s Quest (June 2011, hardcover $17.95 (479 [+ 5] pages), audio CD $18.99)
Covers by Katrina Damkoehler; art by Cliff Nielsen. NYC, Sterling Publishing Co./Splinter.

Are snow leopards more populous than tigers?

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A photoarticle in says there are an estimated 4,500 to 7,500 wild snow leopards left in the Central Asian mountains. This is more than the number of tigers left in the wild, which is estimated to be only about 3,200.

See also: BBC tracks down tigers in the Himalayas - Chinese wineries farm tigers for bones

Two liger cubs nursed by dog

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BBC News reports that two liger cubs, the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger, are being nursed by a dog at the Xixiakou Wildlife Zoo in China after the cubs' mother stopped feeding them. The ligers are very rare and are believed to only result from matings in captivity.

'White tiger' puts police on alert in southern England

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Residents of the village of Hedge End, in southern England, called police after spotting a white tiger in a field near a local golf course. Armed officers and a police helicopter responded, along with staff from nearby Marwell Zoo.

As the police on the ground approached the tiger, they saw that it was not moving, and themal imaging equipment in the helicopter showed no body heat. At that point, the downdraft from the 'copter caused the tiger to roll over, and police realised they were stalking a life-size plush toy.

Police later commented, "It is being treated as lost property but we don't know how it came to be in the field and whether it may have been a hoax."

BBC covers Russian tiger response team, bat cull, Wombles

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The BBC celebrates the successes of the Russian Tiger Response Team, while noting that a cull is not likely to be successful in the case of the white-nosed bats.

Also recently covered was the death of Wombles creator Elisabeth Beresford.

Last known wild tigers estimated to last only 12 years

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According to the Associated Press, the World Wildlife Fund estimates no tigers will survive in the wild by 2022 – ironically, the next Chinese Zodiac year of the tiger.

The WWF estimates there are currently only approximately 3,200 tigers alive in the wild, compared to nearly 100,000 a century ago. Three tiger subspecies, the Bali, Javan, and Caspian, are already extinct.

The main reasons for the decline in wild tiger populations are poaching and habitat loss. The 2022 date is only for wild tigers; there are currently more tigers estimated to live in U.S. zoos than in their native, wild habitat.

Researchers link big cat habitat and coat patterns

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Creating a feline character? You might want to decide on their habitat before picking a coat.

Research by the University of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology has found correlations between the complexity or irregularity of a cat's pattern and its habitat:

[...] cats living in dense habitats, in the trees, and active at low light levels, are the most likely to be patterned.

The researchers admitted that this rule did not explain the coat of cheetahs, who have evolved spots despite a preference for open plains.

The team discounted suggestions that coat patterns in big cats were linked to social hierarchy or gender, as they did not differ significantly between such individuals. Their paper, Why the leopard got its spots, was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

BBC tracks down tigers in the Himalayas

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The BBC's Natural History team has found evidence of breeding tigers in the Hymalayan mountains of Bhutan, over 4000m above sea level, using a set of remote cameras.

The discovery sparked hopes of extending a 'conservation corridor' through the mountains.

In other news, the woman who dumped a cat in a wheelie bin has been charged with causing unnecessary suffering and an unsuitable environment.

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