Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Month: March, 2017

Kismet, by Watts Martin – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Kismet_lgKismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99.

Kismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99*.

This is a first for furry publishing, as far as I know. The only differences between these two editions are the publisher’s name and illustrated logo on the title page, the ISBN number, and the cover by Teagan Gavet. Both are dark blue and feature the protagonist in a spacesuit in deep space, but the Argyll cover displays her at a distance without showing what she looks like, and the FurPlanet cover is a closeup showing that she is a rat-woman. The FurPlanet edition is marketed as furry science fiction; the Argyll edition is marketed as just science fiction, for those outside furry fandom who may buy s-f but not a furry book.

Whichever it’s read as, hard s-f or furry fiction, Kismet is a winner. Several hundred years in the future, mankind has settled the Asteroid Belt. Mankind has also developed advanced bioengineering that enables people to have themselves bioengineered into anthropomorphic animals. There has been the mix of social acceptance and rejection that this results in for over a century. At this present, most of Earth is human and most of the anthropomorphs have migrated to the Asteroid Belt. In the Belt, the humans are called cisforms and the anthropomorphs are totemics.

Gail Simmons is a rat-woman totemic in the Ceres Ring, with her AI spaceship Kismet. She’s a salvage operator, a salvor, doing odd jobs of space hauling and space junk reclamation. She’s basically a hermit, living inside Kismet; the ship smart-AI brain is her only friend. Gail is contacted by an old childhood acquaintance who she hasn’t seen in two decades; he’s a yacht charter pilot now, and he’s just seen what looks like a derelict spaceship while making a chartered flight. His customer won’t give him the time to check it out, so he’s notifying Gail. Gail and Kismet find what appears to be an abandoned or sabotaged spaceship and two dead bodies. When Gail reports this, it leads to her being accused of theft and murder, and the missing cargo to be a handheld databox – a Macguffin – that holds information that at least one party will kill to get, that can mean “the end of the human race”.

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Furry literature: Advertising it outside of furry fandom – with Fred Patten and Phil Geusz.

by Patch O'Furr

WPbanner1(Patch:) The Furry Writers’ Guild Coyotl Awards have just opened for voting by members.  This is a good occasion to talk about furry publishing.  Committed operations are putting out a regular stream of content by fans, for fans – but is it healthy enough to support professionals? Can any of them smoothly transition between this niche and the mainstream, to be as well-rounded as they can be? Here’s a look that builds on past stories like:

Let some of the most experienced voices in furry tell you more.  Here’s Fred Patten, with comments by Phil Geusz.

(Fred:) Watts Martin’s January 2017 novel, Kismet, is being published under two imprints: at FurPlanet Productions, as furry fiction for the furry market, and Argyll Productions, as science fiction for the larger s-f market or mainstream sales; with two different covers, both by Teagan Gavet, tailored for those markets.

This sounds ambitious and imaginative. But how well will it work in practice? The record isn’t encouraging.

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Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

51yC2DEIBlL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada. Translated by Susan Bernofsky.
NYC, New Directions Books, November 2016, trade paperback $16.95 (252 pages), Kindle $9.58.

This was originally published as Etüden im Schnee, konkursbuch Verlag, March 2014. It isn’t published as furry fiction but as mainstream literature, so it is probably classed as fabulism or literary fantasy.

“I’d taken part in a congress that day [in Kiev], and afterward all the participants were invited to a sumptuous feast. When I returned to my hotel room at night, I had a bear’s thirst and greedily drank water straight from the tap. But the taste of oily anchovies refused to leave me. In the mirror I saw my red-smeared lips, a masterpiece of the beets. I’d never eaten root vegetables voluntarily, but when a beet came swimming in my bowl of borsht, I immediately wanted to kiss it. Bobbing amid the lovely dots of fat floating on top – which at once awoke my appetite for meat – the beet was irresistible.

The springs creak beneath my bearish weight as I sit on the hotel sofa thinking how uninteresting the conference had been yet again, but that it had unexpectedly led me back to my childhood. The topic of today’s discussion was The Significance of Bicycles in the National Economy.” (pgs. 4-5)

a Polar Bear” is actually three polar bears over three generations; a grandmother, mother, and son. The first, never named, is captured and brought as a cub to Moscow, where she is trained to perform in a circus, apparently around the 1960s. Her part is “The Grandmother: An Evolutionary Theory”.

“For a long time, I didn’t know anything: I sat in my cage, always onstage, never an audience member. If I’d gone out now and then, I would’ve seen the stove that had been installed under the cage. I’d have seen Ivan putting firewood in the stove and lighting it. I might have even seen the gramophone with its giant black tulip on a stand behind the cage. When the floor of the cage got hot, Ivan would drop the needle on the record. As a fanfare split the air like a fist shattering a pane of glass, the palms of my paw-hands felt a searing pain. I stood up, and the pain disappeared.” (p. 11)

“After hours and days spent vigorously shaking my hips, my knees were in such bad shape that I was incapable of performing acrobatics of any sort. I was unfit for circus work. Ordinarily they would have just shot me, but I got lucky and was assigned a desk job in the circus’s administrative offices.

I never dreamed I had a gift for office work. But the personnel office left no talents of their workers unexplored if they could be employed and exploited to the circus’s advantage. I would even go so far as to say I was a born office manager. My nose could sniff out the difference between important and unimportant bills.” (p. 14)

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2 Uncool – a furry celebrity’s disgrace is a test of fandom tolerance.

by Patch O'Furr

Remember when Seinfeld was one of the biggest TV shows, and co-star Michael Richards derailed his career with a racist meltdown on stage? It happened at a comedy show, but it wasn’t part of the act. He apologized, and news said “It is actually one of the most honest apologies that a celebrity has ever given for bad behavior.”

It’s rare to see a career implode like that. Now let’s look at a furry happening that’s not so drastic, but more of a slow burn. A prominent performer in the fandom is being examined for poorly representing it, and found unworthy of support by its premiere convention. Bad behavior has been in plain view for years with no apologies. It took this long to accumulate wider attention. Many members say it’s long overdue, and some find it discouraging that it took so long.

“2 The Ranting Gryphon” has a problem.

His George Carlin-styled comedy has earned 24,000 follows on Youtube and audiences of 1000+ at Anthrocon. I’ve seen and laughed at his show there. But they declined to host him this year. His fans are very upset (almost as if he’s a tenured “house comedian of fandom”?)  2 himself appears to be the info source, claiming to be a victim of invalid attacks by over-offended “SJW’s”. There’s only a vague official statement citing declining attendance, so pointing blame is untrustworthy. A con can pick whoever they want, and they just chose not to pick him; friends and fame aren’t supposed to overrule quality or board decisions for approval. (Free speech doesn’t apply because it’s not between citizen and government – the host is a private organization. He isn’t “banned” and can attend the con. )

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Franko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Franco_front-cover_SC-lgFranko: Fables of the Last Earth, by Cristóbal Jofré and Ángel Bernier
St. Paul, MN, Sofawolf Press, July 2016, hardcover $39.95 (v + 128 pages), trade paperback $19.95.

Franko: Fables of the Last Earth is a collection of six cartoon-art fables written by Ángel Bernier and illustrated by Cristóbal Jofré, printed in full color on glossy paper. The word “fables” is carefully chosen; these are gentle, mystical adventures in the tradition of “magic realism” favored by many Latin American authors.

Franko is a young anthropomorphic lion adolescent living in the Atacama Desert of Chile at the “end of civilization on Earth”, with his slightly older lion friend Shin. The Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth, but as backpackers and other travelers will tell you, the deserts have their own special beauty. These six short fables display it with a quiet wonder.

Franko and Shin are lion farmers at the opposite ends of adolescence – Franko appears to be a thirteen-year-old, while the more irresponsible Shin appears about nineteen (and is addicted to gambling). Both embody the exuberance of youth. They and Mana, the ghost of Shin’s grandmother, are the only recurring characters. Mana is the voice of wisdom who tempers the rashness and naïvete of the two youngsters.

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What’s Yiffin’? – March 2017 edition of syndicated furry news.

by André Kon

Good afternoon, Dogpatch Press readers. Last month was pretty big for us – it had our news satire show What’s Yiffin’? debut on this website. Nobody tried to kill us or call us mean names or whatever, so I guess that means it was well received. If that’s the case, then today ought to be a great day for some of you, because we’ve got the March edition of the series ready to go. Thank you for making What’s Yiffin’? a part of your entertainment routine.

AND NOW THE NEWS

More details and some additional insight from the show’s writers:

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Dazzle Resplendent: Adventures of a Misanthropic Dog, by Scott Bradfield – a book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

41vJbrcNeyLDazzle Resplendent: Adventures of a Misanthropic Dog, by Scott Bradfield.
London, Red Rabbit Books, January 2017, trade paperback $9.99 (174 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Scott Bradfield has been a professor at universities in California, Connecticut, and London. He is also a literary reviewer, and an author of short stories. This is a collection of his eight Dazzle stories, originally published in literary magazines and Fantasy & Science Fiction between 1988 and 2011. Many of them have been also collected in earlier Bradfield collections, but this is the first collection of all eight of them.

Dazzle has been described as a wise-cracking talking dog, but he is more accurately a sardonic motor-mouth who talks incessantly whether anyone is listening or not. Here is how I described “Dazzle Redux” in my review of Bradfield’s Hot Animal Love: Tales of Modern Romance, for Anthro #10, March/April 2007:

“Dazzle, now living as a feral dog in the mountains around Los Angeles with a complacent bitch and her pups, is happy; but could be happier if he would learn to just shut up!

“Maybe I’m not all I should be in the family skills department,” Dazzle confessed that night to his erstwhile mate, Edwina. “But getting through to those kids of yours is like having a conversation with a block of wood, I swear. If I try to instruct them in the most basic math and science skills, they’re not interested. If I try to teach them which way to look when crossing the street, they’re still not interested. If I try to point out the most obvious cultural contradictions of multinational capitalism, why, just forget about it. They’re really not interested. If you can’t eat it or fuck it, it’s not important; that’s their attitude.”(Etc., etc.; Edwina is sleeping through all this. pg. 31)

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Vote now for the 2016 Ursa Major Awards!

by Patch O'Furr

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

419893_189786951121868_189782644455632_235270_39724323_n-e1331832247101Voting for the 2016 Ursa Major Awards, for the Best Anthropomorphic Literature and Art of the 2016 calendar year in 12 categories, is now open.  The voting is open from March 13 to April 30.  The awards will be announced at a presentation ceremony at Anthrocon 2017, in Pittsburgh, PA on June 29 – July 2.

The twelve categories are:  Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture; Best Anthropomorphic Dramatic Short or Series; Best Anthropomorphic Novel; Best Anthropomorphic Short Fiction; Best Anthropomorphic Other Literary Work; Best Anthropomorphic Non-Fiction Work; Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story; Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip; Best Anthropomorphic Magazine; Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration; Best Anthropomorphic Game; and Best Anthropomorphic Website.

Voting is open to all!  To vote, go to the Ursa Major Awards website at  http://www.ursamajorawards.org/ and click on “Voting for 2016” at the left.

You will receive instructions on how to register to vote.  You do not have to vote in every category.  Please vote in only those categories in which you feel knowledgeable.

This final ballot has been compiled from those works receiving the most nominations that were eligible.  The top five nominees in each category are the finalists.  Please make sure that your nominations are only for works published during the calendar year (January through December) in question.

2016 FINAL BALLOT

Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture

Finding Dory (Directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane; June 17)

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni; January 29)

The Secret Life of Pets (Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney; July 8)

Sing (Directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet; December 21)

Zootopia (Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, and Jared Bush; February 11)

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Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions, by Rick Griffin – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

housepets_book7_cover-preview-237x300Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions (Book 7), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2016, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Here, right on schedule, is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Book 7 contains the strips from June 16, 2014 to June 1, 2015; story arcs #78, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 2”, to #90, “All’s Fair, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! presents the adventures of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff.

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Sythyry’s Journal: A World Tree Chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom, by Bard Bloom – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

9781451562934_p0_v1_s192x300Sythyry’s Journal: A World Tree Chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom, by Bard Bloom
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2010, trade paperback $25.00 (626 pages).

The opening paragraph of this dense, 626 pages of small type is:

“My exceedingly old and exceedingly famous grandparent just gave me this notebook as a going-to-school present. Zie says that zie wishes zie had had one when zie was growing up, but of course nobody knew how to do enchantments then, and there probably wasn’t time to do a lot of writing, what with all the fighting cyarr and nendrai and everything.” (p. 5)

Sythyry is a small, pale blue dragonet (actually a Zi Ri) “of impeccable lineage, considerable wit, and overwhelming inexperience, off alone at college for the first time. Zie must face terrible dangers: roommates, friends, courses in enchantment and flirtatious dance, deadly monsters, minor nobility, war, and, most dreadful of all, romance.” (blurb). The Zi Ri are hermaphrodites with pronouns to match, avoiding the “him” or “her” of the single-sex genders. The cover by Tod Wills shows zir at an Academy Buttery party surrounded by zir roommates Dustweed the Herethroy (the green grasshopper-like being at lower right) and Havune the Cani (the overdressed dog-like being at upper left), and friends Oostmarine the Orren (the otter-like being at upper right) and Anoof, another Cani (at lower left).

When Bard Bloom and his wife Victoria Borah Bloom created the World Tree role-playing game in 2001 (its cover by Mike Raabe was a finalist for the first Ursa Major Award in 2001 for Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration), LiveJournal was just getting started. Bloom explains in his “Author’s Forward” [sic.] that his own life made uninteresting reading. “So I decided to write from the point of view of a World Tree character.” – Sythyry the young Zi Ri. This book consists of Bloom’s LiveJournal entries from 2002 to 2007, as edited into novel format by Victoria Borah Bloom. Further LiveJournal entries to 2016 have been novelized in four Kindle books; Dragon Student, Ambassador to a Monster, Wizard’s Vacation, and City of Advanced Magic.

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