You cannot always judge whether a novel will be good or bad by its first line, but I’ve found that a story with a good first line rarely turns out to be bad. The first line of Striking the Root is, “Rowan hung upside-down from a branch and drew emerald knots in the air, hoping to please the Lord.” Yep, that’s a grabber. And Striking the Root just keeps getting better.
In an apparent dungeons-&-dragonish magical world, young Rowan Janiceson is an “awakened” gray squirrel in a joint civilization of humans and squirrelfolk. The world was originally inhabited by just humans; but several centuries ago, the human wizard Lord Veles, Great Lord of the Forest, planted the seed that grew into the massive Great Oak and awakened the first squirrels in size and intelligence. Since then, Veles has mostly withdrawn to let the squirrelfolk run their own civilization under their own Council in what has become the squirrel nation of Great Oak. Many squirrels have left Great Oak to settle among the human city-states.
Rowan is one of the squirrelfolk who worship Veles as the god of the squirrelfolk, and he is unhappy that more and more squirrels are drifting away from the True Faith, calling Veles by the disrespectful name of “Greenie” and considering him as just a human wizard, not a god. When the Council of Great Oak intends to send a representative into human lands on a trade mission, Veles arranges for Rowan to become that messenger. Rowan is both scared to venture from the squirrel nation into the human world, and proud to be the ambassador of the squirrel’s True Faith.
Fred Patten, the editor of Best in Show: Fifteen Years of Outstanding Furry Fiction (Sofawolf Press, July 2003; republished as Furry!); Already Among Us: An Anthropomorphic Anthology (Legion Printing, June 2012); and The Ursa Major Awards Anthology: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration (FurPlanet Productions, June 2012), will have a new anthology published by FurPlanet go on sale at Anthrocon 2013.
What Happens Next: An Anthology of Sequels presents eleven new stories by fan-favorite Furry authors featuring their popular characters:
- M. C. A. Hogarth and her Alysha Forrest
- Brock Hoagland and his Perissa and Maelith
- Kevin Frane (Rikoshi) and his Iolite League
- Kristin Fontaine and the crew of the interstellar freighter Tai-Pan
- Michael Payne and Cluny, the sorceress squirrel with Crocker, her human familiar
- Jenner and Dr. Benjamin Rat, M.B., B.S. D.R.A.N.Z.C.O.G. F.R.A.C.G.P.
- Kyell Gold and a new tale of Argaea
- Elizabeth McCoy and her feline centauroid Kintarans
- Chas. P. A. Melville and his Felicia, the Vixen Sorceress
- Ken Pick and his Brigit Bunny on the planet of the foxlike Thalendri
- and Roz Gibson and her Jack Salem
… takes them to the dungeon, and does bad, bad things to them. If you thought VancouFur had an offensive theme, watch out! This one is truly NSFW, and best for those who appreciate wanton displays of licentious content.
The queer furry rapper's video, "Why the Boys All Love Me", follows an announcement for the making of a "nightmarish gay goth animal S&M" video at Halloween in San Francisco. It flaunts his mission to "put Satan back into hip-hop", and makes a sequel to a previous video featuring fursuiters. This time, Furry content is minimal, and indirectly limited to a few cameos and participation by dedicated furries who cross over between that group and others (such as the S&M fetish scene). Please consider it labeled that way up front, and view accordingly.
It is not easy to tell the setting of Spur at first. It seems to be our world, but Merle Castison, the first-person narrator, is a talking Andalusian stallion which nobody seems to consider strange. Disreputable, maybe, but not strange. Merle has agreed to accept the curse to be turned into a horse of rich industrialist Arthur Beckmann, for $10,000 a month, upkeep in a palatial stable with phone, TV, and computer on Beckmann’s luxurious horse-farm, his oldest and best friend Cole as his personal groom, a customized spell to allow him to keep human vision and speech, and frequent visits from his human RPG-playing friends.
Merle’s workaholic father disowns him for choosing Easy Money over Hard Work, but Merle doesn’t see what’s wrong with taking advantage of a cushy offer that is honest, although he privately agrees with his father that he has not accomplished anything notable in his thirty-eight-year life. Nobody would want to become a horse permanently, but this is just until Beckmann dies; then Merle will revert to human with all the $10,000 monthly payments he’s saved.
Except that Beckmann dies and Merle stays a horse.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
For most of his wizarding life, Simon Canopus Artyle lived in the same splendid little house that was nestled up against the trunk of a giant tree. The tree was an Ephaian Oak, only it was much larger than any normal Ephaian Oak should be, having grown to its inordinate size due to the fact that Simon had spent over two centuries living in proximity to it, and magic flowed through Simon more readily than it did most people, including other wizards. When a wizard lives anywhere, though, giant tree or no, a full-fledged community typically grows up around them within five or six decades, since, as a general rule, a wizard is a very good thing for any town to have (and after this happens, most wizards decide against packing up and leaving, since the inevitable will inevitably happen again, and most simply can’t be bothered to make the effort anyway). (p. 1)
This opening paragraph indicates the leisurely, relaxed style in which Frane presents this somewhat Georgian anthropomorphic comedy of manners. Simon Artyle, a fox wizard of a couple of centuries (although he looks to be only twenty-nine or thirty), is a reader, a lover of books and libraries, to such a degree that other wizards have made him their Grand Historian of Magic, Wizarding, and Spellcraft.