Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: May, 2016

The Companions, by Sheri S. Tepper – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

THCMPNNS2003The Companions, by Sheri S. Tepper.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Eos, September 2003, hardcover $25.95 ([vi +] 452 pages), Kindle $9.99.

In the far, far future, the galaxy is being explored and colonized, and Earth is incredibly overpopulated. The Worldkeeper Council government, supported by the humans-only IGI-HFO political majority, declares that all animals (only pet dogs, cats, and small cage birds are left by this time) are to be exterminated because they take up too much room and use up too much air. The tiny underground movement that wants to keep the animals alive, called arkists because they have accumulated spaceships to use as arks to evacuate the remaining animals from Earth, decide to take them to Treasure, the moon of a newly-discovered and poorly-explored world covered in moss, where they can be hidden in safety. Jewel Delis, the narrator, is an arkist who goes from overcrowded Earth to care for the “companions” of humans, especially the dogs.

The Companions contains dialogue, but mostly Tepper writes in long, blocky narrative paragraphs:

“Earth scared me at first. The towers were huge, each a mile square and more than two hundred stories high. Podways ran along every tenth floor, north on the east side of each tower and south on the west side. Up one level, they went west on the north side and east on the south side. They stopped at the pod lobbies on each corner, so when you were on one, it went woahmp-clatter, rhmmm, woahmp-clatter, whoosh. That’s a pod-lobby stop, a slow trip across the street, another pod-lobby stop, then a mile long whoosh, very fast. The pod-lobbies were full of people, too, and that’s the clatter part, the scary part. Taddeus and I saw more people in one pod-lobby than we’d ever seen together anywhere on Mars, and many of them were dressed in fight colors: Tower 59 against Tower 58, Sector 12 against Sector 13, all of them pushing and shoving and tripping over each other. Often they got into fights or screaming fits. It took us a while to figure out how to dodge them and keep out of their way, but when we got good at it, it turned into a kind of game, and we rode the podways for fun. It was a lot safer than it sounds, because there are so many monitors on the pods that people are afraid to do anything really wicked unless they’re over the edge. Tad and I thought part of the fun was spotting people that were about to go over the edge. We could almost always tell.” (p. 18)

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The Guardian Herd: Landfall, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

51uiY0PYthL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Guardian Herd: Landfall, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Illustrated by David McClellan; maps.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, February 2016, hardcover $16.99 ([xvi +] 328 [+ 4] pages), Kindle $9.99.

The adventure grows more desperate in this third volume of The Guardian Herd saga. It might be described as a My Little Pony with savage teeth and razor-sharpened hooves in it.

The multicolored flying pegasi of Anok are divided into five rival herds that the young Starfire has been trying to bring together peacefully. As he said in The Guardian Fire: Starfire, first novel in the series, when the over-stallion of another herd proposed making an alliance and forcing the other herds to join them, “But that’s not uniting; that’s conquering.” The Guardian Herd: Stormwind, the second novel, ends with Star learning that Nightwing the Destroyer, the crazed, all-powerful black stallion of 400 years ago, is flying back to Anok to conquer the herds and kill him. But the five herds are still fighting among each other; Star is still untrained; and Star fears that he may turn as crazed and deadly as Nightwing is.

Landfall begins, not counting a dramatis personae of 40 important pegasi, with a 16-page battle to the death between Nightwing and Starfire. And Star dies! Horribly (but not too horribly; this is a Young Adult book). He’s saved by a ghostly deus ex machina that tries to make us believe that he wasn’t really dead, y’know, just in an exceptionally deep suspended animation.

Umm … no. Sorry; this isn’t believable. I’ll buy the talking, flying horses, but I won’t buy Starfire being not really dead. He’s killed too definitely, and his salvation by the equivalent of Tinker Bell showing up and waving her magic wand is too cheesy. It further destroys the suspense by showing that whatever hardships Star suffers in the future at the hooves of Nightwing, if they get too bad we can expect an unexpected deus ex machina to bring him back to life.

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Neighbors, by Michael H. Payne – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

5132WJOdC0L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Neighbors, by Michael H. Payne
Balboa, CA, “Hey, Your Nose is on Fire” Industries, October 2014, trade paperback $10.00 (212 pages), Kindle $3.00.

August Lancer, the narrator, is a young resident of Haven Space, a sanatorium and rehabilitation clinic in Southern California. Dumped there by his father (who sends expense money but never visits), Gus is a loner in a wheelchair, afflicted by a degenerative condition that has paralyzed him from the waist down and made it almost impossible to talk. His only pleasure is watching a TV cartoon series about ponies.

This all changes when Gus is adopted by a hospital therapy black cat named Spooky, who tells him that her name is really El Brujo.

“‘El Brujo?’ I heard myself ask with words that weren’t words. ‘But … you’re female. Aren’t you?’

Another little smile. ‘I’m a bit of a trendsetter.’” (p. 19)

Gus finds himself able since her appearance to talk with the other animals and birds around him. Serena the squirrel. Jefe the crow and his flock. The sparrows who nest just outside the window. Nobody else notices anything unusual, even when El Brujo and Jefe dance together, so Gus worries about it.

“Another thought hit me hard, then, one that I’d tried my absolute damnedest over and over the last bunch of months to stop myself from thinking: what if El Brujo and Serena and the sparrows and crows this morning and the weird little voices I heard in the trees and bushes out in the neighborhood –

What if it was all in my head? What if the shredded chunks of my nervous system weren’t making me understand the animals but were instead making me imagine I could understand them? Was it just a matter of time before rows of dancing chipmunks were telling me to set things on fire and kill people?” (p. 31)

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Fursonas documentary out now – one of the top Furry News stories of the year.

by Patch O'Furr

Here’s one of those media events where a story catches on and gets a lot of coverage at once.  That used to happen very rarely.  Now it’s happening every month or so in 2016, “The Year of Furry.”  The director, Dominic (Video Wolf) is killing it with interviews and promotion.

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Black Angel, by Kyell Gold – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

BlackAngelFrontCoverBlack Angel, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Rukis.
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, March 2016, trade paperback $19.95 (vii + 379 pages).

Black Angel is the conclusion of Kyell Gold’s Dangerous Spirits trilogy that began with Green Fairy (March 2012) and continued with Red Devil (January 2014). The three novels are a powerful mixture of spiritualism, drugs, and adolescent angst, shifting between centuries and societies. They are also set in Gold’s larger Forester University anthropomorphic-animal alternate universe, with clear parallels to our own. Each of these three is complete, but assuming you will like Black Angel enough to want to read the others, readers are recommended to start all three from the first.

Solomon Wrightson (black wolf), Alexei Tsarev (red fox), and Meg Kinnick (otter) are three very troubled seniors at Vidalia’s Richfield High School. All three have left home. Sol, who has just realized that he is gay, is constantly nagged at home by his father to excel at sports. Alexei, who has come from Siberia on a student visa, is concerned by the silence of his sister back home; he is sure that their parents are intercepting their mail. The mannish Meg has gotten her parents to let her move into a decrepit apartment to be an artist. Her apartment has become a social center for the three. Sol’s traveling into the past in Green Fairy, and Alexei’s being haunted by a ghost in Red Devil, may be due to external causes in those novels, or – as the rational Meg scoffs – it’s all in their imagination.

“Hi. I’m Meg. I’m nineteen, and I’m fucked up.

That’s not a big secret, by the way. Pretty much anyone who knew me from about fifteen to now would tell you the same thing. Only back then I thought it was a good kind of fucked up.” (p. 1)

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Bay Area Furs find out why there should be a Furry award for Best Journalism.

by Patch O'Furr

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Pic: UltraGor

There was a hunt for a missing giraffe…

Zarafa is a furry superstar lately.  But he didn’t go looking for notoriety.  It happened one night after a show when his treasured purple giraffe fursuit was stolen from his car.  It led to community-wide support, and miraculous recovery of the suit. Now people recognize him on the street.

Credit is due to Neonbunny, the show DJ, for pounding the sidewalk to spread flyers.  How many promoters would do it for one show goer?  Dedication like that built a local scene for furry dance parties.

Finding the suit flipped around the loss to amazing extremes beyond Zarafa and a circle of furry friends.  The support drew notice from local media, and they found it irresistible to share:

The San Francisco Bay Area Furry scene drew a journalist from New York.

A new surprise came two months later.  Another news article covered Zarafa’s night out and loss of his suit.  The journalist had been on the scene, but not with intentions to write about drama like that.

Whitney Kimball originally contacted me through Dogpatch Press.  She was looking for leads for a story about older people who may have discovered Furry fandom in later life. (I told her the word was “greymuzzle”). I pointed her to Zarafa, Neonbunny, and Spottacus.

After my introductions, they handled the rest.  Whitney learned about Neonbunny’s “Furries vs. Drag Queens” dance party.  Soon she was flying from New York to San Francisco to be there.  (That’s dedication, right?)  I had nothing else to do with the resulting article (although I’m told the main graphic seems to show me in the background. Nice!)  It’s exciting to share it:

How the furry community rallied when Zarafa Giraffe lost his head – by Whitney Kimball.

It’s a kickass article, according to the feedback.  Have you read many others that talk about the “lightning bolts” you get from wearing a fursuit?  (It invited more interest too – Zarafa was then contacted by Zoomin TV, a euro outfit doing video news for niche channels.) Spottacus said:

‘This is wonderful… it sets the right tone, weaves several threads into a great story with exactly the right feeling, and captures the essence of what is going on inside the head inside the fursuit.”

One furry friend (and journalist in real life) had an interesting comment:

Why don’t we have an award?

The Ursa Major award seems to be all for fiction, even if there’s an “other” category. Fred Patten is a member of the award committee.  He told me: “what to do about non-fiction works with regard to the Ursa Majors is being discussed.”  

Everyfur knows how the furry community regards the dreaded “THE MEDIA”. It starts with supersensitivity, and maybe a hate/hate relationship.  Attention from them seems to cause a defensive crouch with claws out.

But furries are in many ways created by the media. It’s an internet-based subculture of fans. With “The Year of Furry” happening, and furry movies blowing up the box office, I think it’s a good time to stop dancing around this frenemy.

The quality of Whitney’s article makes me want to do more than share. It made me talk about establishing an award because of the story. Whitney liked that:

“WOW, I think that is the most flattering feedback I have ever gotten in 6 years of writing!! Thank you for featuring the story, Patch, I really appreciate it! And I’m happy to hear that the news coverage is improving in general. That Vanity Fair piece was just godawful.”

If “the media” is mostly bad, reward it when it’s good.

If they’ve spread negativity before, it’s part of notoriety that now draws them back.  That’s a monster they helped to create.  Now the more interest grows, the more you have power to say “no” if they ask for access.  Making them work to do better would flip the dynamic.  It would be smart to own that power and award good attention.

Well written articles are coming with growing frequency. It makes me want to start a short list of the best. Here’s a few that I would list for special recognition:

What do you think about an award name?  How should it be organized?  Who could pitch in? 

Look for a second article here soon about more spotlight on Bay Area Furries.

 

 

New anthro fiction anthology The Society Pages – OPEN FOR SUBMISSION.

by Pup Matthias

635924657937624242-zoo2There’s a vast community of writers within the Furry Fandom.  From building community sites like SoFurry, to their own Furry Writers Guild, they come together to explore the anthropomorphic writing arts with novels, comics, and anthologies.  Many anthologies are being made in the fandom, and they’re always looking for new talent.  Keep your ears perked for announcements about anthologies open for submission, and you may find one with a vision that inspires you to get involved.

Did you like Zootopia, and the way Disney brought an anthropomorphic world to life, accounting for all the different sizes and species and their needs?  Did it make you imagine your own society of walking, talking animals? Zootopia was only about mammals, but what about reptiles, birds or insects? Will they all live together, or is one group seen as lesser to another?

If you think about this when you write, The Society Pages is the anthology for you.

The Society Pages is edited by Lily White, known for writing the NSFW webcomic Pierce Me. She founded Scratchpost Press earlier this year to publish a variety of work she found lacking in the fandom. Lily says:

“I’ve always wanted to work in publishing so this seemed like a great way to just dive in.”

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DreamKeepers, Volume 4, Descent to the Archives, by David & Liz Lille – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

514FCHz6XFL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_DreamKeepers, volume 4, Descent to the Archives, by David & Liz Lille
Monroe, MI, Vivid Independent Publishing, July 2015, trade paperback $24.99 (117 [+ 11] pages).

“Dreamkeepers is a supernatural fantasy adventure series for teens and up.” (publishers’ advisory)

After two years and an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign, here is DreamKeepers, volume 4, Descent to the Archives, containing Chapters 10 through 12. By now, so much has happened that you have to first read What Has Gone Before; either page-by-page for free on the DreamKeepers website or as albums from Amazon.com.

To rephrase what I have said in my reviews of the first three volumes, “The Dreamworld is a mysterious reality that parallels our own,” inhabited by funny-animal DreamKeepers, one for each person in the world. They guard us from the nightmares that would drive us mad. “Everyone’s DreamKeeper is completely unique – your personality and subconscious influence your DreamKeeper’s appearance and abilities.” Since there are now over seven billion people in the world, that’s a lot of almost-all different funny animals; but David Lillie has shown in large crowd scenes that he can draw that many DreamKeepers. Most DreamKeepers live in “Anduruna, the largest DreamKeeper city in the DreamWorld.”

“The protagonist is Mace, a young puppy (or is he a kitten?) in Grunn’s orphanage, a Dickensian hellhole along Anduruna’s eastern seacoast. Mace, the equivalent of a ten- or eleven-year-old human boy, is always getting in trouble for his practical jokes. He doesn’t care that he makes it easy for the orphanage’s real troublemakers to blame their tricks on him. But when his best friend is brutally murdered and he is blamed, he is forced to flee with Whip, his little blue companion (don’t call him a pet) into Anduruna’s lower-class throngs. There he meets Lilith Calah, a female counterpart from the aristocracy’s elite Sabbaton Towers who has just escaped a murder attempt (with the help of her half-sister, Namah) that apparently is connected to a black magic plot (and believe me; Dave & Liz can draw really gory and frightening black magic!) by the Dark DreamKeepers to overthrow the DreamKeepers and bring the nightmare hordes into the ascendency.”

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Children of Steel and Interregnum, by John Van Stry – Book Reviews by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

41yvBNmOuCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Children of Steel, by John Van Stry.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, February 2012, trade paperback $12.99 (350 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Interregnum, by John Van Stry.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, May 2015, trade paperback $9.99 (198 pages), Kindle $2.99.

John Van Stry first came to the notice of furry fandom with the story “Changes” in Yarf! #51, December 1997. But he began writing before that under the pen name of Banner Von Trippen, with “Waiting for Shadamehr (or Someone Like Him)” in Yarf! #49, July 1997. His serialized Dialene, beginning in Yarf! #64, April 2002, under the Von Trippen name, featured a foxmorph living in his Children of Steel universe. Since then he has been publishing through CreateSpace under his real name. Most of his stories have been published as science fiction, not furry fiction, even when they feature anthropomorphic animals.

Children of Steel is set in a familiar-to-furries future. To quote its rear cover, “Raj is just your average everyday genetically modeled and artificially created anthropomorphic worker for one of the many corporations of the future. Extensively trained and conditioned from birth he’s now indentured for the next fifty years of his life; assuming he doesn’t die first, or somehow manage to pay off his creation and training debts. Created by the corporations to deal with the harsh labor shortages of the twenty second century when humans will no longer take on the dangerous jobs Raj finds himself now in the harsh world of space exploration, trading, corporate maneuverings, and sometimes the even more dangerous fanatics that hate Raj and his fellows.”

Raj Rakir is “‘a sentient leopard-man of .7 human norm on the Rourstat scale,’” created by the Tri-Star Mining and Manufacturing corporation. He is presented “‘with your bill for creation and training by the corporation. As covered in the created species act of 2069 you must now work for above said corporation until you have either paid this bill, or completed a term of 50 years indentured servitude.’” (p. 4) The bill comes to three-plus million new dollars. Even with an expected lifespan of a hundred years – assuming he isn’t killed in one of those dangerous space jobs first – Raj can expect to spend most of his life working for Tri-Star. But he’s not worried about it.

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