Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: July, 2015

Needle, and Through The Eye Of A Needle, by Hal Clement – book reviews by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Dear Patch; Here is my review of Needle and Through the Eye of a Needle by Hal Clement that I wrote for Cubist’s Anthro several years ago.  Maybe only one fan in a hundred will take the trouble to track these down, but they’ll probably be glad if they do.  Another way of looking at it is that Dogpatch Press will have the only mention of these proto-furry books before there was a furry fiction genre.

Needle, by Hal Clement.
Garden City, NY, Doubleday & Company, March 1950, hardcover $2.50 (222 pages).

NEEDL1950Hal Clement, whose real name was Harry Clement Stubbs (1922-2003), often told of how he wrote Needle as the result of a dare. John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, the most prestigious s-f magazine in the 1940s, was given to making lofty pronouncements that were understood by his writers to be dares to disprove them. On one occasion, Campbell had said that it was impossible to write a genuine science-fictional mystery story. Any such would turn out to be a standard mystery with s-f trappings, such as being set in the future or around a superscientific macguffin; but stripped of those elements, it would turn out to be just a standard mystery. Clement wrote Needle, which Campbell conceded was a genuine mystery that could only exist as also a genuine s-f story. Campbell bought it as a two-part serial for Astounding in its May and June 1949 issues.

Needle begins with two spaceships streaking toward Earth. Their alien occupants are, for the reader’s benefit, referred to as the Hunter and the Quarry. They are a jellylike or amoeboid lifeform, used to living inside a larger lifeform in a symbiotic relationship:

“The Hunter was a metazoon – a many-celled creature, like a bird or man – in spite of his apparent lack of structure. The individual cells of his body, however, were far smaller than those of most earthly creatures, comparing in size with the largest protein molecules. It was possible for him to construct from his tissues a limb, complete with muscles and sensory nerves, the whole structure fine enough to probe through the capillaries of a more orthodox creature without interfering seriously with its blood circulation. He had, therefore, no difficulty in insinuating himself into the shark’s relatively huge body.” (p. 15)

The Hunter’s people live within the bodies of animals called perits in a symbiotic relationship evolved on their world over eons. By themselves they look rather like jellyfish, and the Hunter briefly impersonates one on Earth. The metazoons provide the intelligent direction and the perits provide the physical mobility. When the Hunter’s spaceship, pursuing the Quarry, crashes into the South Pacific Ocean, his perit is killed and he is forced to move into an Earth host body:

“The Hunter’s attitude toward the animal [perit] resembled that of a man toward a favorite dog, though the perit, with its delicate hands which it had learned to use at his direction much as an elephant uses its trunk at the behest of man, was more useful than any dog.” (p. 12)

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If you visit New Orleans, see the anthropomorphic sculptures at Mardi Gras World.

by Patch O'Furr

Leviathan_float,_Orpheus,_Mardi_Gras

New Orleans is a renowned party town.  In the French Quarter, on Bourbon Street, you can get potent drinks like a Hand Grenade or a Resurrection in to-go cups, and walk around the neighborhood as boldly as you dare.  A walk into some of the restaurants can make you sneeze, because the crawfish boils have so much seasoning, that it pervades the air like a whiff of pepper spray at a crime scene.  Signs on murkier streets warn you to walk with friends, and be vigilant.  Petty crime seems taken for granted in a place scarred by hurricane Katrina a decade ago.  People party to forget woes, or live while they can with reminders of mortality all around.  Or at least that’s an excuse for barfing out the door of a taxi.  There’s many stories about long ago lives held in above-ground mausoleums of famous cemetaries.  A tour is a nice, calm way to walk off too many drinks, even if guides will tell you any kind of silly ghost story for tourist bucks.

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The Rainbow Serpent: A Kulipari Novel, by Trevor Pryce – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Rainbow Serpent: A Kulipari Novel, by Trevor Pryce with Joel Naftali. Illustrated by Sanford Greene.
NYC, Abrams/Amulet Books, October 2014, hardcover $15.95 ([3 +] 289 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

51DpIBKsGLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_This is the middle novel of an adventurous Young Adult trilogy, following An Army of Frogs (May 2013) and coming before the concluding Amphibians’ End (October 2015). “Frogs and Platypuses versus Scorpions and Spiders”. With a double-page color map showing such places as Wallaby Village, Platypus Village, The Outback, and Yarrangobilly Caves, you can easily guess that it’s set in Australia.

An Army of Frogs established Daryl, the adolescent frog protagonist, as a wannabe warrior like the fabled Kulipari who fought to protect Daryl’s damp-forest Amphibilands homeland from the spider armies of beautiful but cruel Queen Jarrah a generation ago. Unfortunately, the Kulipari have since disappeared, while the Spider Queen has formed an alliance with the scorpions’ evil Lord Marmoo. The scorpions have traditionally lived in the dry Outback and not bothered the frogs, but now Lord Marmoo is building a vast army to conquer the world. Having the Spider Queen’s help is all he needs:

“‘No, my lord. Your army is ten times bigger than any scorpion horde since the time of legend.’

‘Indeed. But as our numbers increase, we drain the outback. We’re running out of food and water. We need a more fertile land.’ Lord Marmoo’s pincers snapped shut. ‘We need the Amphibilands, and soon it will be ours.’” (An Army of Frogs, p. 34)

An Army of Frogs ends with Daryl and his sidekick Gee alone at the border of the Amphibilands and the Outback, defeating (mostly by trickery) the first scorpion troops to invade the Amphibilands. But Gee is captured. Daryl has to decide whether to go home to warn the frog elders of the scorpion menace, and get help (which would be prudent), or to venture alone into the Outback to try to rescue Gee (which would be adventurous). No contest! Read the rest of this entry »

GeneStorm: City in the Sky, by Paul Kidd – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.  

GeneStorm: City in the Sky, by Paul Kidd
Raleigh, NC, Lulu.com/Perth, Western Australia, Kitsune Press, May 2015, trade paperback $26.37 (420 pages), Kindle $7.99.

genestorm_novel___out_now__by_patpahootie-d8u5qizThis is based upon Kidd’s own new GeneStorm role-playing game, which seems to be similar to TSR/Wizards of the Coast’s 1978 Gamma World RPG. Kidd wrote an authorized Gamma World paperback novel, the rollicking adventure Red Sails in the Fallout (Wizards of the Coast, July 2011), featuring Xoota, a mutated quoll-woman, and her partner Shaani, “a mutant albino lab rat with an enthusiasm for scientific research and a Pommy accent”. It was set in the Australian desert near where Kidd lives. (Perth, Western Australia. He was the first Guest of Honour at Perth furry fandom’s annual FurWAG convention.)

Somebody sniffed that they would never read a novel hacked out as a RPG merchandising spin-off. Your loss. Kidd writes fun furry adventures.

GeneStorm: City in the Sky is set in the Australian “weird-lands” 150 years after the GeneStorm plague has transformed the world entirely. Everyone is a mutated hybrid. The protagonist is Snapper, a female half-human, half-shark. She rides a giant cocatoo. (It sounds very similar to the real one at the Further Confusion 2001 exotic animal life-drawing session that kept squawking for attention, trying to upstage the white tiger. See the cover by Kalahari.) Other characters are a blend of human/fox/golden pheasant, human/kingfisher/cat, human/tortoise/god knows what:

“Snapper ate the salty dough, dunking it in a cup of brown onion gravy. “I met a toucan once. Sort of part cat, part bird.’ […] ‘Now she married a guy that was a sort of strawberry-dog hybrid. Well – their kid sort of stayed a cat toucan. But his feathers were al red and green strawberry colours. Pretty striking.’” (pgs. 64-65).

Some can only be described:

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The Stray Lamb, by Thorne Smith – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Stray Lamb, by Thorne Smith.
NYC, Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, November 1929, hardcover $2.00 (vi + 303 pages).

stray lamb 1stYarst! I referred in a recent comment here (June 15) to “Thorne Smith-ian comedy magical mayhem”, and I was asked, “Who’s Thorne Smith?” (“You don’t know how old you just made me feel …”)

Thorne Smith (1892-1934) was the author of several mega-popular humorous fantasies during the late 1920s and early ‘30s. Most of them involved statues of Greek gods coming to life in modern NYC (The Night Life of the Gods), or their characters getting drunk and mixed up with magic. Many became comedy movies, such as the 1940 Hal Roach Turnabout with John Hubbard and Carole Landis as a husband-&-wife whose minds switch bodies, and the three 1930s Topper movies about Cosmo Topper, a stuffy banker who is plagued by usually-drunken husband-&-wife ghosts who are determined to make him enjoy life, whether Topper wants to or not. A young Cary Grant played the husband ghost in the first movie. Topper was cleaned up for one of the first TV sitcoms in 1953. (The drinking was given to a ghostly St. Bernard dog.)

Smith’s one anthro classic was The Stray Lamb. This bawdy fantasy was published in November 1929, probably less than a month after the “Black Thursday” stock market crash that set off the Great Depression. This makes The Stray Lamb the only anthropomorphic novel written during and set in the Roaring Twenties, the era of wild Prohibition parties, of sheiks and flappers and bootleggers and bathtub gin. How would anthropomorphized animals fit into this? Very comedically, as Smith tells it.

Lawrence Lamb, a forty-year-old investment banker, is bored with life. It has become a monotonous routine of daily commutes from his large mansion in the NYC suburbs to Wall Street to make more money, then back at the end of the day to spend the evening getting mildly drunk alone in his study. He and his wife have grown to despise each other. She has social pretensions (she likes to be called Sapho), which she indulges by encouraging her artistic hangers-on to attend literary soirees at their home, financed by his money while ridiculing him for making it:

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Anthrocon is upon us – Fandom in China and Taiwan – Woof Washer – NEWSDUMP (7/7/15)

by Patch O'Furr

Headlines, links and little stories to make your tail wag.  Guest posts welcome. “Local correspondents” wanted to talk about your local networks. 

Tips: patch.ofurr@gmail.com

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In The Media

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cityshirt_0Brace yourselves for Anthrocon coverage.

“Inside the furries: they’re people too”– from WTAE news in Pennsylvania:

Pittsburgh has always been a welcoming, accepting city for this fandom, and here’s to hoping it continues for this year’s Anthrocon. If you happen to see one of these NORMAL people in incredible costumes walking the streets of Pittsburgh, don’t be afraid to say hello.

Ad campaign with “Furries” ad found in copywriter’s portfolio.

A few months ago, this article got thousands of views – Mainstream advertising: “More and more, Furries are being hinted at in marketing media!”  One of the ads for Mini in San Francisco had a provocative mention of Pride month and Furries. I didn’t know much of the context, until I found the entire campaign with brief comment from the writer .  Many ads are in it, but he uses the Furries one as cover image.  He captioned it:  “Staying current on local events is key to showcasing our understanding of SF.”  It would have been amusing to hear the copywriter’s pitch.  I sent a few questions about the reaction, but sadly he didn’t reply. It’s good to know that furries have street cred.

Nasty little mockery of “furries” on Orange Is The New Black TV show.

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San Francisco Pride, gay marriage, and historic happenings in Furry Mecca.

by Patch O'Furr

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Billet Sheltie – pic by Eric Campbell.

Gay marriage just became legal across the USA.  Even if you have no plan to get one, it’s a big deal.  People of a few generations ago thought we’d have flying cars before this happened.  The writer of “Furry Force” says:

In San Francisco, the news hit right at “gay christmas”.  The city was getting ready for Pride, “the largest gathering of LGBT people and allies in the nation.”

It was already going to be one whopper of a party. But with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry fresh off the presses, Sunday’s Pride Parade in San Francisco became a rainbow-colored, joyous celebration for the ages.

The whole country was involved. The Chief of Police called it “the largest Pride celebration ever.”  Being mainstream was a big topic. On a subcultural level, the excitement spread among “the world’s greatest concentration of furries per square mile.” Furries were in the parade in 2005, returning in 2014 and 2015.

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Pic by Vincent

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Furry fan struggling for life after Taiwan explosion that injured 500. (Update)

by Patch O'Furr

Art by Alex

Art by Alex

Here’s an update to the tragic story from 6/29/15, that comes with a GoFundMe appeal for help.

Alex H. is known to furry friends as a fandom artist. To everyone else, he was the only American caught in a special effects accident at a festival in Taiwan. 500 were injured, over 200 in critical condition, and at least two have since died from burns. Hospitals and the community in Taiwan are working hard to care for the overload of victims.

Alex suffered burns to 90% of his body. His family has appealed to the public for medical funding help, receiving a large amount of the original $75,000 request in a short time. But the difficult challenge of accessing care among all the other victims have caused them to raise an urgent request for $200,000, so they can fly him back for local care in the USA.

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The Echoes of Those Before, by James Daniel Ross – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

The Echoes of Those Before, by James Daniel Ross. Illustrated by Josh Parise.
Clairton, PA, Copper Fox Books, May 2015, trade paperback $11.99 ([3 +] 256 pages), Kindle $2.99.

echoes-cover-half“In a broken world, in a broken land, there lay the shards of a kingdom. Near the center of that lost kingdom, protected by mountains, there lay a vale; along the river resided the five villages of the Fox Folk: Iceriver in the cleft of the hills where sun rarely shone; Oxbow, where the fishing was best even if done through the ice; Rocklake, where lived the steaming mud pits and the elder, where matters of law were discussed; Springvale at the entrance to the vale where the merchants and craftsmen met incoming caravans, and Sunrise, high on the slopes.

It was normally a peaceful, happy place among the low, rolling hills and tall, stately trees. Normally happy, but not today. Today they were losing one of their own.” (p. 4)

The Prologue and the first chapter introduce the main characters, Iam the white-furred Fox and Maverus the black-furred (shown on the cover by Christina Yoder) of the Fox Folk. They also establish that the Fox Folk are not the only Animal Folk, and that they have counterparts among the regular animals.

“Before the fire, stood the tall, gaunt form of the elder.   He was not a Fox, but a Drake. Some whispered he was a dragon, but he stood only just taller than they, and never breathed fire. He blinked inscrutable eyes set in a pebbly, gray reptilian face, tasted the air with a long, forked tongue, and adjusted his robes for more warmth.” (p. 6)

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Last of the SandWalkers, by Jay Hosler – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.  

Last of the SandWalkers, by Jay Hosler. Illustrated by the author.
NYC, First Second, April 2015, trade paperback $16.99 ([5 +] 312 pages), Kindle $9.99.

9781626720244_p0_v1_s260x420Biologist/entomologist/cartoonist Dr. Jay Hosler has been creating comic books and cartoon-art books since the 1990s. He may be best-known for his award-winning Clan Apis, a dramatic adventure featuring honeybees that was also (allowing for the anthropomorphization) entomologically accurate; first published as a five-issue comic book in 1998 and still in print as a graphic novel today. Now Hosler has written & drawn Last of the SandWalkers, a science-fiction comedy-drama for readers 10 and up, featuring beetles, for First Second, a subsidiary of publishing giant Macmillan.

The main characters are a scientific expedition of five beetles, all different: Lucy (shown on the cover), a sassy, rule-breaking junior member and a water-capturing tenebrionid beetle from the Southern African desert; Professor Bombardier, the motherly stable team member, a bombardier beetle; Mossy, a giant but unassuming Hercules rhinoceros beetle; Raef, a not-very-bright (mentally) firefly; and grumpy Professor Owen, a small but nasty Cape stag beetle. They are from New Coleopolis, a beetle city under a palm tree in an isolated desert oasis. New Coleopolis was founded a little over a thousand years ago, after old Coleopolis was destroyed by cocoanuts falling on it from the palm tree. It was assumed at the time by religious leaders that the god Scarabus had caused the falling cocoanuts due to displeasure at Coleopolis’ scientific community’s iconoclastic spirit, and since then the new theocratic city has outlawed research. This expedition is the first in a thousand years.

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