Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: February, 2016

Birdsong: A Story in Pictures, by James Sturm – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

birdsongBirdsong: A Story in Pictures, by James Sturm. Illustrated.
NYC, TOON Books, April 2016, hardcover $12.95 (60 pages).

This is my first furry book review of a little wordless picture book (9” x 6”) for pre-schoolers. Two thoughtless young children are playing warriors in a forest. The boy attacks a red bird singing in a tree. Wounded, the bird slowly flies up into a mountain, slowly enough that the children can follow it. They climb until the reach a cave inhabited by an angry hermit. The hermit magically transforms their bodies into monkeys. The children are captured and become a circus marvel: “They Read! They Write! Chimps Or Children?” Eventually (the implication is that several months pass) the circus owner gives them their freedom. They build a house in the trees. When they see another red bird, they do not disturb it.

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2040: Reconnection; a “Thousand Tales” Story, by Kris Schnee – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

20402040: Reconnection; a “Thousand Tales” Story, by Kris Schnee. Illustrated.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2015, trade paperback $4.99 (86 pages), Kindle $0.99.

This thin booklet is not a sequel to Schnee’s Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game (CreateSpace, June 2015), but it is set in the same world. Or rather Ludo’s world.

Ludo is the advanced Artificial Intelligence who can scan anyone’s brain and recreate it in “her” fantasy world, in the setting and body of their choice. Handsome men and beautiful women, noble warriors, flying griffins, anthropomorphic animals; anything, living in an ancient Greek or medieval European or sci-fi futuristic paradise. Of course, their original body in 2040 A.D. Earth is dead, and the consequences of this back on Earth may be unknown, but who in Ludo’s world cares?

Alma does. She’d been an old man dying painfully from cancer:

“She’d signed over her modest estate to Ludo in return for having her cancer-infected brain slowly diced, analyzed and recreated as software. As each chunk of brain matter got sheared away she’d lost parts of her memories, her senses, only to have them come back from that terrifying void. She’d gone blind in the surgical room, then seen test patterns and finally the vibrant colors of the digital world. The ruling AI’s voice had asked her, incidentally, what sort of body she wanted once the process was complete.

As an old man whose flesh was incurably ruined and destroying itself horribly, Alma had begged to become something different.” (p. 1)

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Cats on the Prowl, by Nancy C. Davis – book reviews by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

cats on the prowl book 1Cats on the Prowl, Book One, by Nancy C. Davis
Melbourne, Victoria, Collins Collective, August 2015, paperback $7.89 (iii + 176 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Cats on the Prowl, Book Two, by Nancy C. Davis
Melbourne, Victoria, Collins Collective, October 2015, paperback $7.98 (iii + 174 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Cats on the Prowl, Book Three, by Nancy C. Davis
Melbourne, Victoria, Collins Collective, November 2015, paperback $7.98 (iii + 170 pages), Kindle $2.99.

All three novels have the subtitle “A Cat Detective Cozy Mystery Series”. They are set in very large type. Make that:

They are set in very large type.

They would probably be less than 100 pages each in normal-sized type. Nevertheless, like most cat cozies, they are presented as adult novels, although they are more suitable for Young Adults.

It also depends upon how you define “cat cozy mysteries”. They are usually light mystery novels with a human young woman amateur detective, who is helped or at least followed in her investigations by her pet cats. The three Cats on the Prowl novels are unusual in having anthropomorphized cat detectives doing all the crime-solving.

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My Fursuit Is Killing People – Guest post by Akhetnu.

by Patch O'Furr

Guest post by Akhetnu/Angriff.  Enjoy his previous post, Cultural Appropriation In Fandom, which brought spirited comments.

This fursuit set a record high $11,575 auction price.

This fursuit set a record high $11,575 auction price.

Imagine you are walking by yourself and see someone drowning.  You could easily save the person, but your shoes will be ruined and you would have to buy another pair.  Would you rescue the drowning individual anyway despite the monetary cost of new shoes? 

Most furries, I’d wager, would reply in the affirmative.  So if you would sacrifice $50 or $100 (depending on your taste in footwear) to save someone’s life, why spend $2000 on a full fursuit if that same $2000 could prevent the needless deaths of even more people in need somewhere in the world?

This is the dilemma that Peter Singer poses to us.  Singer is an influential modern ethicist in the utilitarian tradition, both well known and rather infamous for his various viewpoints on euthanasia, veganism, zoophilia, and economic equality (none of which are the subjects of this article).

One of his central conclusions, based on the thought experiment just provided, is that everyone in the developed world can and should live on a basic subsistence level, with all their surplus money being given to the poor around the world.  These could take the form of donations to various NGOs and charities, governmental foreign aid, or self-funded projects. (Assume the programs in question are the kind that have measurable results and where most of the money goes directly to those in need; Charity Navigator is a valuable tool for this). 

In his utilitarian calculus (which prioritizes the results of actions and emphasizes the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ and overall human happiness and freedom from suffering), any spending on luxuries while others are starving is immoral.

This means my fursuit is killing people. Since rather than donate the thousand or so dollars spent on head, tail, hands and feet (not to mention the reproduction 19th century Prussian uniform) to needy third world people, I instead spent it on something novel that I don’t really *need*…at least not like needy people need food, clothing, and medicine.

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Read Only Memories, the cyberpunk video game with an LGBT twist – Review by Pup Matthias.

by Pup Matthias

 

rom_cast_1024

Read Only Memories: A New Cyberpunk Adventure
Develop by MidBoss, Rated M for Mature
Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Ouya $9.99

Do you like Cyberpunk? Do you like stories where technology is rampant in all aspects of modern life? How about being a detective like from Blade Runner trying to solve the murder of your old friend only to discover a bigger conspiracy tied to a large corporations like 1984? Do you like cute, adorable robots? Then Read Only Memories is for you, my friend.

ROM_BannerRead Only Memories is an old school adventure game released in October of 2015, but it offers a look at a future that not only celebrates the tropes of the sub-genre, but reflects what our own future might very well be.

You play, well, yourself. It’s Christmas time in Neo-San Francisco in the year 2064 A.D. Technology has advanced so much that the human body can be repaired and enhanced with cybernetic augmentation or genetic modification. Hybrids are looking less human and more like a furry convention. The Oculus Rift turns out to be a success as they are the common portable devices for people to use for the web. And most of all, Relationship Organizational Managers, or ROMs, have become the new IPhone, Roomba; pretty much all-common tech today, but it has cute little eyes. Aw.

However, all is not well. With technology moving at such a rampant pace, people get scared (because have you seen what happens in Terminator?) It leads to the Human Revolution, seeking to slow the progress of today, in fear that without checks and balances we might lose what makes us human.

It’s a tense time to be alive.  So where are you in all of this?

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Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, by Juneau Black – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

titleShady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, by Juneau Black.
Philadelphia, PA, Hammer & Birch, October 2015, paperback $12.95 ([1] + 197 [+1] pages), Kindle $4.99.

This is a stereotypical murder mystery except for the funny animal cast. Shady Hollow is a small forest animal town where everybody knows everybody else. They’re all friendly, except maybe for grumpy toad Otto Stumpf.  But he’s considered cranky but lovable – until the morning that he’s found floating face down in the mill pond with a knife in his back.

Almost all the reviews call Shady Hollow “a Murder, She Wrote with animals”. The book begins with a Cast of Characters:

Otto Stumpf: The grouchy, taciturn toad of Shady Hollow. Not many folk admit to liking Otto. The better question is who hates him.

Vera Vixen: This cunning, foxy reporter has a nose for trouble and a desire to find out the truth. Can she trust anyone around her?

BW Stone: The cigar-chomping skunk of an editor of the Shady Hollow Herald. BW (“Everything in black and white!”) loves a good headline. Would he kill to create one?” (p. 1)

The Cast goes on to profile thirteen others such as the lazy bear police chief, his bear deputy who does all the work, the hummingbird town gossip, the moose coffee shop owner, the beaver industrialist, and the raccoon small-time thief. Each is described suspiciously. As the popular coffee-shop proprietor, “If gossip is spoken, Joe has heard it. Maybe he heard too much.” As Vera investigates, everyone turns out to have a secret that he or she would rather keep hidden. But are any of the secrets serious enough to lead to murder? And how would a recluse like Otto have learned them?

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Lifeless, by Graveyard Greg – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Smash Capps

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

Lifeless, by Graveyard Greg.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2014, trade paperback $9.95 (105 pages).

Lifeless CoverIn the 2010 Deathless and this sequel novella Lifeless, the characters are all anthropomorphic animals, and species doesn’t matter. Ivan the Russian snow leopard (“‘You’re seven feet tall, weigh over three hundred pounds, and have a long, fluffy tail that I trip over too many times,’” complains his friend Tank the rabbit in a freezing Reno, Nevada winter) is an exchange student, living in a college apartment. He has a gay boyfriend, Tank the rabbit, who is a frequent visitor of his cousin Hopper and his roommate Darryl, a hyena. Tank lives with his nearby parents Nikki the rabbit, a martial-arts expert, and his father, a huge Greek bull of supernatural origins. Other friends are Scowl the cougar martial-arts trainer, Jolly the giant panda, and Brent and Brooks, the twin stallions. Everyone is easy with Ivan’s and Tank’s homosexual lifestyle.

Ivan has his own relationship with Russia’s mythology, and Deathless was about his pursuit to America by the Russian folkloric Koschei the Deathless with his undead monsters. All of Ivan’s new American friends rallied to save him. Now six months later in Lifeless, Ivan is again in supernatural danger after Tank and his parents have departed on an extended family vacation, and with the kidnapping of Brooks. Ivan is left to fight with the aid of Scowl, Brent, and new ‘morphs. New characters include … well, yarst! I can’t say much about Lifeless at all without giving away spoilers.

Let’s just say that Ivan and his friends now have a quest rather than a fight for their lives. New characters, good, neutral, and evil include anthro red foxes, a lion, and a monitor lizard. The hunt for an ancient mystic object leads them through Reno, Nevada’s glittery casinos. And what Ivan is holding on Donryu’s cover is not a cup of cappuccino.

Lifeless is complete in itself, but the booklet ends with a note that Ivan’s adventures will continue in Faithless, not yet published. Scowl, Tank, and the others will also have more adventures of their own in Graveyard Greg’s forthcoming Changes and Relationships.

Fred Patten

Shadow Walkers – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Shadow WalkerShadow Walkers, by Russ Chenoweth.
NYC, Charles Scribner’s Sons, April 1993, hardcover $13.95 (153 pages).

Shadow Walkers is one of those unillustrated novels that make it very difficult for the reader to decide whether the talking animals are supposed to be natural, unclothed quadrupedal animals or bipedal, clothes-wearing funny animals. Set on Cape Cod during winter, and featuring two rat children, Sara and her brother Peter, the different scenes imply both situations. Cover artist Gregory Manchess has prudently avoided depicting any of the characters.

“Rats are good climbers, but rats are good at many things that they are ordinarily too sensible to do. If Sara had told her parents what she planned, they would have asked her not to do it because it was dangerous and unnecessary. So she hadn’t told them, and that troubled her. […]

The trunk rose above her like a wall for thirty feet before the first great limb jutted out, as large itself as a good-sized tree. […] Sara climbed, carefully and surely, stopping every few feet to listen. She was exposed here and nearly defenseless, but still nothing moved in the woods. She felt safer when she had reached the limb and could stretch out for a moment on the rough bark and look and listen. […]

Two feet below the highest leaf, she had to stop. The branch had shrunk to less than half an inch and bowed slightly with her weight. It was high enough. […]

She never knew what made her glance down in time to see the shadow glide among the dim trunks with the silence of a moth and settle on a limb below her. It was an owl, a very big one, and he had decided for some idiotic reason to change his daytime perch and come to join her in her tree. […]

He couldn’t see her against the light – he or she. It didn’t matter – she’d get no concession either way. Owls had little sense of smell, but they could hear a seed drop on the forest floor. She’d better not shake off any acorns. He would hear her move or cough. […] He might wait all day, knowing she was there, and then in darkness come and pick her off the branch like a ripened peach.” (pgs. 2 and 4)

That certainly sounds like a natural rat and owl in a tree. But then:

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The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

9568681512The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, by Dino Buzzati. Translated by Frances Lobb. Illustrated by the author.
NYC, Pantheon Books, October 1947, hardcover $2.75 (146 [+1] pages).

The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, by Dino Buzzati. Translated by Francis Lobb. Illustrated by the author.
NYC, New York Review Children’s Collection, December 2003, hardcover $18.95 (147 pages).

The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, by Dino Buzzati. Translated by Francis Lobb. With an introduction and reader’s companion by Lemony Snickett. Illustrated by the author.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper Trophy, February 2005, paperback $5.99 (186 pages).

This is a book that I never expected to review. It was one of the first library books that I read, from the Los Angeles Public Library, presumably when I was seven years old since the American edition was published at the end of 1947. I loved it! I read and reread it, and memorized several poems in it. I still remember this, after almost seventy years:

One, two, three, four

These dark thoughts soar

Fear, sorrow, doubt, despair

Hover in the midnight air.

I eventually grew up and forgot about it. I was reminded of it this January when Jim Korkis mentioned in his column on animation history that Heinz Edelmann, the art designer of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine animated feature (1968), had later seriously tried to produce an animated feature of The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, but had failed to get financial backing for it.

This led me to see whether Wikipedia had any mention of the book. It does, but the Wikipedia article just says that it was a famous Italian children’s book, La Famosa Invasione degli Orsi in Sicilia, published by Rizzoli in 1945, and “The American hardcover edition was published by HarperCollins in 2003 and the paperback was published in 2005, also by HarperCollins and The New York Review Children’s Collection.” Not only is that slightly inaccurate, there is no mention of the 1947 American edition that I read! This seems unfair to me, and since the LAPL still has that 1947 edition, here is my review of it.

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Fur-Esports: A Competitive Gaming Team for Furries.

by Smash Capps

Dogpatch Press welcomes Smash Capps for his first guest post. He’s an eSports journalist who wrote about getting a warm introduction to furry at Further Confusion 2016.

At the Daily Dot’s “20 Under 20” series, see a profile of Sonic Fox, also appearing below. Their article came out with perfect timing after this one was completed and scheduled. 

Fur-eSports Logo

Fur-eSports logo

Of all the ways to promote the furry community at large, this may be one of the most unique attempts yet: Fur-eSports. This creatively named group looks to be “An eSports team for Furries, by Furries,” according to its Twitter account.

For those who do not know, the term eSports generally refers to competitive gaming. Many furry conventions hold gaming tournaments and some have even been reported on by their communities. eSports however, is something much larger than that. For games like League of Legends, grand finals matches can bring in over 14 Million viewers and fill entire stadiums to watch a match. Even on the smaller end of eSports events can be huge. The tournament Evolution 2016, one of the longest running fighting game tournaments of all time, plans to have its grand finals at the Mandalay Bay Events Center: a 12,000 seat entertainment complex that has hosted Katy Perry, UFC Fights, and even the Latin GRAMMY Awards.

Are there enough furries to support a large team for these kinds of events? 51% of U.S. households own a dedicated game console.  42% play video games at least three hours a week according to the Entertainment Software Association. It should come as no surprise that many of these people would also be among the fandom.

In fact, one of the most prominent Mortal Kombat X players is openly a furry and even wears furry attire while competing at events:

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