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Category: Books

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
NYC, Alfred A. Knopf, October 2017, hardcover, $22.99 (449 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $11.99.

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
London, Penguin Random House Children’s/David Fickling, October 2017, hardcover, £20.00 (560 pages), Kindle £9.99.

This is Pullman’s long-awaited followup to his multiple award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. Its volume 1 is known as Northern Lights in Britain and was published in July 1995. It was retitled The Golden Compass in the U.S. and not published until March 1996. A little over twenty years later, both the American and British editions of The Book of Dust are published simultaneously and with the same title. Yet they are not physically identical. The two editions are typeset separately, with American and British spellings and terminology as appropriate, and the British edition is over a hundred pages longer. The American edition has almost none of the interior illustrations by Wormell, which are just chapter-heading drawings that are frankly not worth missing.

It is not a sequel. The main character in His Dark Materials is the young woman Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pantalaimon. Lyra is 11 and 12 years old, not yet an adolescent, and her dæmon can still take any male animal, bird, or insect form, which he does. At the conclusion of the trilogy Lyra becomes an adolescent, and Pan’s form is fixed as a talking pine marten. But The Book of Dust is Lyra’s story before His Dark Materials. In La Belle Sauvage she is only a baby.

They aren’t really talking-animal novels. The Book of Dust is set in that alternate Earth where everybody has a dæmon, a talking animal personification of their soul, accompanying them. The dæmon cannot stray too far from its person.

The protagonist of La Belle Sauvage is Malcolm Polstead, the potboy at his father’s inn on the shore of the River Thames at Oxford:

“Malcolm was the landlord’s son, an only child. He was eleven years old, with an inquisitive, kindly disposition, a stocky build, and ginger hair. He went to Ulvercote Elementary School a mile away, and he had friends enough, but he was happiest on his own, playing with his dæmon, Asta, in their canoe, on which Malcolm had painted the name LA BELLE SAUVAGE. […]

Like every child of an innkeeper, Malcolm had to work around the tavern, washing dishes and glasses, carrying plates of food or tankards of beer, retrieving them when they were empty. He took the work for granted. The only annoyance in his life was a girl called Alice, who helped with washing the dishes. Se was about sixteen, tall and skinny, with lank dark hair that she scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. […] He ignored that for a long time, but finally rat-formed Asta leapt at Alice’s scrawny jackdaw dæmon, knocking him into the washing-up water and then biting and biting the sodden creature till Alice screamed for pity. She complained bitterly to Malcolm’s mother, who said, ‘Serves you right. I got no sympathy for you. Keep your nasty mind to yourself.’” (p. 2)

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Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder. Maps by the author.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2017, trade paperback, $15.00 ([3 +] 397 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Reading Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe is an exercise in frustration. There is a detailed map of the world of Amarthia, but it’s so reduced as to be illegible. There is considerable exciting action, but it’s wrapped in such extensive descriptions as to become almost boring.

The beginning of the novel is what would be a tense dramatic sequence anywhere else. A team of six big-game hunters, loaded for monsters, moves into a secretive nighttime kill mission in a deserted slum district in Kairran, the capital of the desert nation of Pytan. Yet it goes on for forty pages!

“Vincenzo Nieves only averaged 165 centimetres, but the long ears poking out through the crown of his worn white fedora with its faded black band made him appear much taller. As he hop-stepped along, they bobbed and swayed, twitching now and again like electrified antennae.

The jackrabbit had a melodious baritone honeyed by the southern strains of upper-class Banton, far away in the bayous of the West United Kingdoms. Or at least it would be melodious if it was not constantly ringing in the ears of his teammates.

‘So there I was, just enjoyin’ a nice breakfast salad. Actually, it kinda reminded me of the carver’s salad they serve at this quaint café in Clairmount, but never mind. I’m sittin’ there, and in from the kitchen walks this absolutely gorgeous leopard girl, I mean you’ve never seen spots like she had. She had this cute little bob cut that showed off her earrings and a cute top that … well …’ He trailed off with a lascivious gleam in his golden-brown eyes, but no one was actually paying attention to him.

Most of his stories tended to end this way. Only Vince’s appetite for food rivalled his appetite for women. He was not the guy with a girl in every town; he was the guy with a dozen girls in every town. Still, Mohan [the tiger leader] had to admit that, for all his boasting, at least he kept the stories relatively clean. And his behaviour wasn’t entirely without cause; he was a handsome fellow who kept his wavy blond long-fur trimmed short and proper, as befitted a southern gentleman, and had dyed and groomed the fur on his chin into a matching goatee.” (pgs. 10-11)

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“You can only carry so much”- Kristyna Baczynski’s ‘Vessel’

by Bessie

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here.  (- Patch)

Being of modest means, in the past I have shamefully bought comics due to page count alone. Quantity counts when strapped for cash and I’d usually choose comics with a bit more meat on their bones. Although I’m slowly collecting Hellblazer trades they’d always be at the top of my list when they came out due to their huge wodge of pages and densely written style that would take me a few weeks to chew through. Recently being a little bit more financially relaxed and delving deeper into the small press and independent scene I’m discovering more often that the best comics can be both beautiful and brief. Vessel is an independent comic from Leeds artist Kristyna Baczynski. It stars an unnamed anthro protagonist who completes her education and finds herself immediately stuck in an all too familiar procession of banal and ultimately interchangeable jobs. Baczynski captures the feeling of quiet mundanity here perfectly in a series of repeated patterns, her character stood in the same pose and expression in each and every one, with only the hats name badges changing. She finally realises after what could be years of these jobs that her own inaction, that she has to make her life happen as she rushes out into the world. While the subject matter is as well travelled as her heroine by the end of the comic, Baczynski’s unique voice and artistic style ensures she still has something fresh to say on the matter. It’s powerful and deeply affecting, especially to someone like myself who might be realizing that life doesn’t happen on it’s own.

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Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending, by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending, by Mary E. Lowd
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2017, trade paperback, $9.95 (227 pages), Kindle $6.99.

Otters in Space III follows right after Otters in Space II, published four years ago. There’s not even a brief What Has Gone Before. Unless you have a really good memory, you had better reread the first two books before starting this.

The series is set in the far future, after humans have uplifted cats, dogs, and otters (and some others), then disappeared. The dogs and cats run Earth, and the otters run everything in space. The protagonist is Kipper Brighton, the tabby cat sister of Petra and Alastair Brighton. Alastair has just run for Senator of California, and despite cat voters outnumbering the dogs four to one, the dogs who control the results announce the dog nominee has won in a landslide. Alastair and Petra must decide whether to challenge the vote and risk starting a cat-vs.-dog civil war. Meanwhile, Kipper has gone into space and is aboard the Jolly Barracuda, an otter merchant spaceship on a supply run to the Jovian colonies. They find the colonies under attack by aliens that turn out to be raptor dinosaurs who have already conquered an octopus space civilization that the cats, dogs, and otters didn’t know about. Otters in Space II ends with the cats and dogs of Earth uniting to oppose the dinosaurs, while Kipper commands a spaceship full of rescued cat refugees returning to Earth.

(I hope that Lowd plans to eventually republish the three books of Otters in Space as a single novel.)

Otters in Space III begins with Jenny, an otter, and Ordol, the leader of the octopi (that’s them on Idess’ cover), flying back from the Persian cat colony of New Persia on Europa in a stolen spaceship, to the Jolly Barracuda hidden in Jupiter’s Red Spot:

“As they flew toward Io, Ordol’s tentacles continued to work in Jenny’s peripheral vision, running scans and taking readings. The ship’s computer displayed the results in a language Jenny couldn’t yet read. Sharp angular letters clustered erratically into words – or so Jenny assumed – and scrolled senselessly across the computer screens arranged beneath the central viewscreen.

The sight of the alien language made it impossible for Jenny to forget: this ship was stolen. They had disabled the homing signal to hide it from the original owners, but it was stolen nonetheless.

Ordol could read the writing, at least, a little of it. He’d been a slave to the aliens who’d built the ship. Before it was renamed Brighton’s Destiny; the aliens who wrote the inscrutable language that filled its screens and who still enslaved the rest of his people.” (p. 10)

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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert. Introduction by J. B. Kaufman. Illustrated.
Glendale, CA, Disney Editions, August 2017, hardcover $40.00 (176 pages).

I can’t say that I have been waiting all my life for this book, but it seems like it. As an animation fan during the 1970s and 1980s, everyone knew the Walt Disney story from the creation of Mickey Mouse onward, but nobody seemed to know what came before Mickey Mouse. Information about Disney’s first Laugh-O-Gram cartoons in Kansas City was gradually learned – his move to Hollywood and the Alice Comedies, then Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; then in early 1928 – nobody knew the exact date — the Oswald cartoons were somehow stolen from him, and he quickly created Mickey Mouse to replace his loss. But what happened in early 1928? Animation fans wanted to know.

The general story slowly emerged, but there was a shortage of details, and no one place contained all the information. Then in 2006 the Disney Studios reacquired the long-dormant Oswald rights from Universal. Well, to cut a long story short, this book now presents those details, with contemporary illustrations from the Disney Archives on almost every page. It’s not complete; there are still seven of Disney’s 26 1927-1928 Oswald cartoons that have not been found. But there is enough information here, in text and illustrations, to fill a book – this book.

This is fine for the animation fan. Is it worth it for the furry fan? Definitely! Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a major anthro animal star of the late 1920s; by Disney in 1927-28, and it took him a decade to sink out of popularity under other directors during the 1930s. Here he is during his original stardom. If Disney hadn’t had Oswald taken away from him, we would never have gotten Mickey Mouse. Instead Oswald would have gone on to the mega-popularity that Mickey won. (Maybe. Oswald was still owned by Universal Studios, so Disney never would have had the creative freedom that he did with Mickey, who was 100% his own character.) Furry fandom would have acknowledged Oswald instead of Mickey as one of its major influences.

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The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy
NYC, Tom Doherty Associates/TOR Books, August 2017, trade paperback, $14.99 (127 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is the first novella in the new Danielle Cain horror series, “a dropkick-in-the-mouth anarcho-punk fantasy that pits traveling anarchist Danielle Cain against vengeful demons, hypocritical ideologues, and brutal, unfeeling officers of the law,” as a blurb says. #2 will be The Barrow Will Send What It May, to be published in April 2018. This is not a furry series; #2 will pit Danielle against zombies. But this #1 is fantasy-animal-related, although not anthropomorphic.

Danielle is the foul-mouthed narrator, a late-twenties now-cynical anarchist, no longer looking for the idealized commune where everyone loves everyone else and anarchy really works. As The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion begins, she is hitchhiking in rural Iowa to such a rumored commune, and she has to pull a knife on the car’s driver who does not want to let her out in the middle of “nowhere”.

“Ten years of putting up with shit like that from drivers. It was getting old. Hell, at twenty-eight, I was getting old. Ten years ago I’d talk to drivers about anything and love them for it. I loved the nice ones for their kindness, I loved the crazies for their stories, and sure, I hated the racist pieces of shit, but if nothing else I got to feel like I had the pulse of this racist, piece-of-shit country. But a decade is an awfully long time, and whatever shine I’d found on the shit that is hitchhiking had long since faded. Still, it got me where I wanted to go.” (p. 12)

Freedom, Iowa is a commune of about two hundred squatters and anarchist activists in an abandoned ghost town. But why Danielle wants to go there is:

“It was the last place Clay had lived, the last place he’d spent much time before he’d found his way west and his hand had shown his razor the way to his throat. No warning signs, no cries for help.

I had a lot of questions. If there were answers, I might find them in Freedom, Iowa.” (p. 13)

Danielle encounters the first horrific animal near the town right away.

“After a hundred yards and a couple turns, when the trees were getting thick enough to cast the whole of the road into shadow, I saw a deer on the shoulder ahead, rooting at something on the pavement. The beast was crimson red. Bloodred. I didn’t know deer even came in that color.

I crossed to the far side of the street so I wouldn’t disturb him, but I couldn’t help staring. A rabbit was dead on the ground beneath him, its belly up, its rib cage splayed open. The deer looked up at me then, his red muzzle dripping red blood.

On the right side of his head, he bore an antler. On the left side of his head, he bore two.” (ibid.)

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Passing Through; Tails from the Road – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Passing Through; Tails from the Road [edited by Weasel]
Manvil, TX, Weasel Press, September 2017, trade paperback, $9.99 (138 pages), Kindle $2.99.

There is an editor’s introduction that sets the mood of hitchhiking drama, but isn’t clear whether it’s just a mood piece for this anthro universe, or if it was a real-life personal event that inspired this anthology. Here are six short stories and novelettes about anthro hitchhikers. “Cash, Grass, or Ass, open up and hitch a ride!” (blurb)

In “First Time Ain’t Easy” by Tyson West, Rod (called both Roderick and Rodney) is a 20-year-old raccoon whose father and friends consider to be soft and immature. He hitchhikes from Illinois to Seattle to visit a cousin, gets a ride from a friendly black panther (clearly an African-American), and the two are arrested and jailed in Montana. Rod hopes to be released in a few days, but is he tough enough to survive in prison until then?

“Seed of a Doubt” by Frances Pauli is a rare anthro story with sealife:

“‘Raise your right fin.’ The bailiff fluttered silver gills and rolled one eyeball the size of Ray’s head in the direction of the judge. ‘And state your name.’

‘I’m Ray.’ The courtroom water ran a good five degrees warmer than he was used to, but the increase in temperature behind his scales was more from nerves than the fact that hey were in the shallows. ‘Sorry. Ray Blythe.’” (p. 27)

The judge is a squid, the bailiff is a cod, and the defendant who Ray is a reluctant witness against is a shark mob boss. A big shark. Ray is a remora who had hitched a ride — was attached to Carl Sanguini, the shark, at the time of the alleged murder. A remora is a small fish, used to being silent and unnoticed, as Ray was when the alleged murder took place. He is extra nervous at being the center of attention in the coral courtroom.

What happens in the trial could only happen if the characters are anthro sealife. Kudos to Pauli.

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Imperium Lupi, by Adam Browne – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Imperium Lupi, by Adam Browne. Illustrations, maps by the author.
Kent, England, U.K., Dayfly Publications, July 2017, trade paperback, £15.99, $20.99 (724 pages), Kindle £3.99, $5.99.

The book starts off with three complex full-page maps and several insignia. One map is of the walled city of Lupa, captioned “The capital of Wolfkind”. The insignia are of such things as “Buttle Skyways”, showing a dirigible, and “Lupan Laws”, the seal of the Lupan Republic’s government. There is also a ten-page lexicon at the rear of the book of terms used in the novel, such as:

Chakaa: The hyena answer to the Howlers, they are forbidden to use white-imperium by their beliefs, but unlike wolves they cope well with the psychotic side effects of purple-imperium. Even so, Chakaa are often unstable and are sidelined by the exacting standards set by noble-born hyena society, and only tolerated at all for their great strength and usefulness in battle.

The Politzi: Lupa’s police force, consisting largely of hogs, rats, rabbits and other lesser beasts who are for the most part unable to wield imperium directly.

Queens Town: Cat colony on the east coast, independent of Lupine Law. It was allowed to remain sovereign Felician territory as part of an ancient peace settlement between Felicia and Lupa. It is the first port of entry for any cats, or other beasts, coming to the Lupine Continent from across the Teich.

Imperium Lupi is set on the world of Erde. The first character that the reader meets in Part 1, Chapter 1 is Howler Rufus, a red-furred wolf, on a train:

“The pain subsiding, Rufus leant back into his seat, chest heaving beneath his cloak. He glanced around the dilapidated carriage; his fellow passengers diverted their curious gaze or hid behind newspapers. Little beasts mostly, mice, rats, rabbits, all the lesser races, who wouldn’t dare speak to Rufus without being spoken to.

The train slowed and the station panned into view, its fine marbled columns standing proud, each tarnished by the faintly spangled lustre of imperium ash. Rufus reached over and grabbed his helmet from the adjoining threadbare seat. He placed it over his brow; the padded metal hugging his sleek wolfen skull. It was black, save for the cheeks, which were white. Luminous red triangles were set beneath each eye-hole, like that found on Rufus’ brooch. Made of the wonder mineral imperium, they glowed even in the muted daylight, and against the helm’s white cheeks they resembled two bloodied fangs lying atop freshly fallen snow. The helm’s nose was covered by a grille punctured by a dozen round holes that enabled Rufus to breathe. Only his inquisitive green eyes and perky red ears remained visible, endowing him with menacing anonymity.” (p. 25)

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Press Release! Dogs of War II: Aftermath, edited by Fred Patten, Debuts at MFF

by Pup Matthias

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

Dogs of War II: Aftermath, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Midwest FurFest 2017 in Rosemont (Chicago), Illinois over the November 30-December 3 four-day weekend. The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.

Dogs of War II: Aftermath is an all-original anthology of 20 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals (not just dogs) in military scenarios, from battle action to boot camps, from the past to the future, on land, at sea, and in space. This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of military s-f.

From bioengineered military dogs with Artificial Intelligence to a fawn trying to prove he is a stag, a horse sailor on a warship, a canid-ape space war, a self-aware robot bird, a fox soldier passed over for a deserved promotion, reindeer Vikings, animal Sea Bees constructing an island airstrip, and more; these are stories for your imagination and enjoyment.

Contents:
Dog, Extended, by Cairyn
Remembrance, by Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden
Scars, by Televassi
The Surface Tension, by Dwale
My Brother’s Shadow, by M. R. Anglin
Close to Us, by MikasiWolf
Lime Tiger, by Slip-Wolf
Umbra’s Legion: The Destruction of Ismara, by Geoff Galt
Umbra’s Legion: Charon’s Obol, by Adam Baker
The Call, by Lord Ikari
Every Horse Will Do His Duty, by Thurston Howl
Matched Up, by K. Hubschmid
The Son of Goulon Stumptail, by NightEyes DaySpring
Noble, by Thomas “Faux” Steele
Trial by Error, by Jaden Drackus
The Night the Stars Fell, by KC Alpinus
Tears of the Sea, by MikasiWolf
The Pack, by Argyron
Red Engines, by Kris Schnee
Going Home, by Miles Reaver

Price: $19.95. 478 pages. Wraparound cover by Teagan Gavet.   ISBN 978-1-61450-397-2.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.&

The Art of Aardman, Foreword by David Sproxton and Peter Lord – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Art of Aardman: The Makers of Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run, and More. Foreword by David Sproxton and Peter Lord.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, August 2017, hardcover $24.95 (128 pages), Kindle $9.99.

Aardman Animations was founded forty years ago in Bristol, England. Since then it has become one of the world’s leading stop-motion animation studios. Most of its popular films have involved anthropomorphic animals, from Gromit, the long-suffering dog in the “Wallace and Gromit” shorts and the Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit feature to the features Chicken Run (chickens), Flushed Away (rats), and Shaun the Sheep the Movie. Even The Pirates! in an Adventure With Scientists! had Mr. Bobo, Charles Darwin’s chimpanzee assistant.

This book does not focus on any of their works in particular. It is rather about the studio’s production techniques. First come the ideas for the plots and characters, then creating the worlds that go with them – the secondary and incidental characters; the backgrounds, and so on; the “Mechanical Marvels” (no Aardman production would be complete without some intricate device, often Rube-Goldbergian or steam-punk, including Wallace’s fanciful inventions; and Aardman’s attention to lighting.

These sections are filled with examples, from preliminary pencil and crayon sketches to complete stop-motion models, taken from the studio’s archives. The popular anthropomorphic characters are shown here, but it is a hit-or-miss affair; they are mixed in with Aardman’s other art. The sketches are identified by artist, primarily Nick Park; others include Sylvia Bennion, Peter de Sève, Johnny Duddle, Norman Garwood, Phil Lewis, Peter Lord, Matt Perry, Michael Salter, Matt Sanders, Christian Schellewald, Richard Starzak, Jo Symanowski, Evgeni Tomov, and more. The finished models and stills from the films are labeled Production still or Puppet.

Image provided by Chronicle Books

Whichever you like, you will find it here. This is a very enjoyable book for the fan of Aardman’s creations to just browse through.

Fred Patten

Like the article? It takes a lot of effort to share these. Please consider supporting Dogpatch Press on Patreon.  You can access exclusive stuff for just $1, or get Con*Tact Caffeine Soap as a reward.  They’re a popular furry business seen in dealer dens. Be an extra-perky patron – or just order direct from Con*Tact.&