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Category: Books

Tomori’s Legacy, by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Tomori’s Legacy, by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2018, trade paperback, $15.99 (165 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Tomori’s Legacy is the Brackhaus’ Packmasters #3. I reviewed #1, The Relics of Thiala, and #2, Raid on Sullin, favorably. This #3 is the shortest, but it’s no less rip-roaring, space-opera fun. The cover, again by Darbaras (Dávid László Tóth), features Cat, the series’ narrator.

The Packmasters series is set in a far-future interstellar community. Cat (the narrator), Ferret, Bear, and Wolf are four bestiae, bioengineered anthro-animen in hiding, led by Ana, a young human with semi-suppressed Packmaster powers. The bestiae are considered beneath contempt by most humans, and were enslaved by an arrogant cult called the Packmasters who used them to try to conquer the galaxy. The Packmasters were apparently all killed by the rest of humanity in a bloody civil war a generation ago, and the bestiae were all slaughtered except for a few that powerful humans kept as pets. Ana, a mistreated adopted orphan now in her early twenties, escapes with the help of Cat. They gather three other bestiae and discover that Ana has Packmaster powers; but instead of her using them to dominate the others, they form a pack of friends with a telempathetic bond under Ana’s leadership, Cat’s guidance, Bear’s piloting, and Wolf’s muscle (plus the mostly-childlike Ferret). They steal a luxury space yacht, the Lollipop, belonging to a corrupt human Senator, Viscount Tomori, and flee to Vandal, a distant space station towards the Fringe of the galaxy that is (what else?) “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”. But Tomori comes after them. The Relics of Thiala ends with Tomori and Bear dead. In Raid on Sullin, the remaining four form a tighter family, Bear is replaced as pilot by Ferret, and they are joined by Ten, a battle-hardened gazelle who is no less deadly for being a herbivore.

To quote the beginning of the blurb for Tomori’s Legacy, “Viscount Tomori is long dead, but his affairs just don’t want to rest in peace.
[…] Now Ana and her pack are part of the power struggle among the crime lords of the Rim, and have to return to Darkside before things get out of hand.”

The climax of The Relics of Thiala is the bestiae and Ana stealing Viscount Tomori’s space yacht and fleeing to Vandal, a criminally-owned space station; Tomori’s coming after them; and the fight in which he and Bear are killed. Raid on Sullin begins with the authorities of Vandal ruling that they acted in legitimate self-defense, and “to the victor belongs the spoils”. Ana, Cat, Ferret, and Wolf are the new owners of the Lollipop. They are immediately sidetracked into the adventure of Raid on Sullin.

Tomori’s Legacy begins with their return (with Ten, the gazelle) to Vandal, where they are stunned to learn that they weren’t given only the Lollipop. They are the new owners of all Tomori’s property. Since he had run his clan as his personal possession, they now own his criminal businesses, including a shitload of thugs and schemers who each want to take over and become the new boss of Clan Tomori.

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Dangerous Thoughts, by James L. Steele – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Dangerous Thoughts, by James L. Steele.
Grove City, OH, KTM Publishing, June 2018, trade paperback, $15.00 (369 [+1] pages).

Dangerous Thoughts is Archeons, Book 1. The setting is so unusual that it needs to be quoted at length:

“A bubble in spacetime expanded from a single point at eye level. It grew wider and wider until it seemed to rest on the circle of stones off the pathway. The bubble wavered and puckered as it held open against the pressure of the surrounding spacetime trying to collapse it.

The opening caught the attention of several inhabitants of this world, and they approached it. On the other side they saw a planet none of them recognized immediately, of fiery volcanoes and two daytime stars in the sky, one red, the other white. Standing on this alien world were the two sentient beings who had opened this hole. The natives of this world instantly recognized them as Deka and Kylac, two Archeons from the planet Rel.

[…]

The Relians visible through the wavering sphere approached it. They grew larger, filled up the opening until finally they emerged from its surface. The first to step through was a theropod covered in blue scales so dark they were nearly black. A red stripe ran up the top of his snout and down his back to the tip of his tail. Immediately after his tail exited the portal, a bipedal canine with digitigrade legs and a slightly hunched posture followed. His belly was white, his forearms were black, and the tip of his tail was white as well. The rest of his body was covered in red fur. They stood side by side and observed the people as the unstable sphere closed behind them.” (pgs. 3-4)

The two Archeons, shown on the cover by ThemeFinland, are Deka, the theropod, and Kylac, the mammal. They have just recovered from an explosion that killed their fellow Relians and destroyed the portals, “leaving hundreds of planets without links to other worlds.” (blurb):

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The Good Furry Award, The Furry Book, and Joe Strike’s Furry Nation News from Anthrocon

by Patch O'Furr

Grubbs Grizzly of “Ask Papabear” has quite an established presence with many followers. Now he’s emerged from his cave to announce an award for other furries who demonstrate Outstanding Community Spirit.

Good furries are everywhere. But sometimes when fandom takes a look at itself and how it can be better, bad furries get attention. From circa-2000 Burned Furs, to Nazi Furs who have ruined furry conventions, troublemakers get more attention than they deserve. (None might be a fair amount.)

The Good Furry Award is coming to reward a fandom member each year for their community spirit. On top of benefit to one, the process of looking at nominees and their work is meant to promote much more conversation about good things that the vast majority of furries do for each other and outsiders alike.

The “Ask Papabear” website is now taking nominations for Good Furries: https://www.askpapabear.com/good-furry-award.html

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The Adventures of Peter Gray, by Nathan Hopp – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Adventures of Peter Gray, by Nathan Hopp.
Green Bay, WI, Written Dreams Publishing, April 2018, hardcover, $25.50 (248 pages), trade paperback $16.99.

The Adventures of Peter Gray is told as an autobiography, being written by an elderly Peter Gray, a wolf Furren, in a retirement home in New York City, presumably in the 1960s or later. (The Epilogue gives a specific date.) There is a reference to watching I Love Lucy on a color TV. He seems to be strongly religious:

“No one stops playing their fancy radios, singing ‘Top of the World’ or watching I Love Lucy on their colored televisions to ever be thankful for what’s been given. Or is to be given. Nobody kneels down and thanks the Lord for how much a single year can impact who you are, who you have become, and who you love. No one even thanks Him that much anymore.” (p. 8)

The autobiography begins on New Year’s Day, 1899, when Peter is a homeless 12-year-old street orphan freezing in the alleys of lower Manhattan. His descriptions make it clear that this is a funny-animal world. There are humans, but they are rare compared to the Furren, who seem almost exactly like the humans:

“A Catholic raccoon, Lance Turner was no taller or older than me, but he was more dedicated to his faith. He was also one of my best friends. We’d known each other for nearly five years, and the raccoon and I had gotten some real bruises from our meets. He was a funny guy when not quoting scripture, though I couldn’t say the same about his older twin brothers.” (p. 15)

“As the she-wolves gathered the items they needed, I glanced at the Furren helping them. It was Alan himself, a six-foot mouse with black fur, an unpleasant face, and covered in burly muscles. I knew the guy, and had once stolen a package of cheese from him earlier in my youth. I prayed the mouse didn’t recognize me.” (p. 16)

“‘Hey, cub. Would ya’ like a new pair of boots?’ a raccoon vendor asked me after he’d crossed the road. He had a single tooth and his musky stench made me gag. I didn’t try hiding my distance. ‘These are made of the finest leather in all of the East Coast, and I’ll give half –’

‘—and I’m a Crown Prince of England. Not interested,’ I mumbled, passing by. ‘We can’t even wear boots.’” (p. 19)

So the Furren don’t wear footwear, at least. The humans are roughly analogous to the African-Americans:

“‘Gosh…’ Lance gasped. ‘Are those…?’

‘Humans?’ I nodded, still staring. I’d heard of them, but had never seen two this close. ‘What else could they be?’

Humans were a very strange species, having no fur or tail as a distinct feature to the bodies, nor any claws or large fangs to hunt. Their short, angular noses didn’t smell as good compared to wolves or bloodhounds. I remember once reading in a newspaper that humans were scattered across the planet and often thrived in bands like packs, keeping together. Others preferred the cities over countryside, but humans were kept far below the Furren in the food chain everywhere. Always under the Furren, especially the carnivores.

It wasn’t until decades ago that they were freed from the chains of slavery in America, thanks to a powerful wolf in the White House. Some, mainly canines, still look down on them as dirtier than sooty snow, but I chose not to. As long as they had a stove and coal, any human was a friend of mine.” (pgs. 21-22)

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Endling: [Book One] The Last, by Katharine Applegate – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Endling: [Book One] The Last, by Katharine Applegate. Illustrated by Max Kostenko. Map,
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, May 2018, hardcover, $17.99 ([vi +] 383 pages), Kindle $10.99.

This first book in a Young Adult fantasy series, recommended for 8 to 12-year-olds, is narrated by Byx, a young dairne; apparently the last of the dairnes – the endling.

“My parents feared I would be the first among us to die when trouble came, and trouble, they knew, was fast approaching.

I was small. And sometimes disappointing.

But I knew I could be brave as well. I was not afraid to be the first to die.

I just did not want to be the last to live.

I did not want to be the endling.” (p. 5)

Dairnes are a golden-furred doglike people with marsupial-like pouches and arm membranes (glissaires) that can glide, like flying squirrels.

“Dairnes were often mistaken for dogs. We share many physical similarities.

Dogs, however, lack opposable thumbs. They can’t walk upright. They aren’t able to glide from tree to tree. They can’t speak to humans.

And dogs aren’t – forgive me – the sharpest claws in the hunt, if you take my meaning.” (p. 4)

Byx lives in the Kingdom of Nedarra, a large land shown on endpaper maps. Nedarra has nine talking animal species including six primary species:

“That was the closest I had ever come to humans, one of the six great governing species. Those six – humans, dairnes, felivets, natites, terramants, and raptidons – had once been considered the most powerful in our land. But now all of them – even the humans – were controlled by the despotic Murdano.” (pgs. 7-8)

Other talking animals of Nedarra include the wobbyks, the starlons, and the gorellis. Below those are the non-talking animals like chimps, whales, horses, crows, crickets, and so on. That’s Byx and Tobble, a wobbyk, on the cover by Max Kostenko. The wobbyks have three tails and are fierce fighters – according to Tobble:

“‘It’s only fair to warn you,’ said Tobble. ‘You do not want to see an angry wobbyk. We are fearsome to behold. I in particular am known for my fierce temper.’

‘Thank you, Tobble,’ I said. ‘But –’

‘Back home they called me Tobble the Terrible.’” (p. 93)

Byx has never seen a human, but they have been described to her.

“And I learned, most importantly, that humans were never to be trusted, and always to be feared.” (p. 8)

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Snow in the Year of the Dragon, by H. Leighton Dickson – Book Review by Fred Patten, who was born in the Year of the Dragon

by Pup Matthias

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

Snow in the Year of the Dragon, by H. Leighton Dickson.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2018, trade paperback, $19.99 (i + 335 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon is dedicated “To Readers of Infinite Patience”. I assume that’s because this is Book 4 of Dickson’s The Rise of the Upper Kingdom series; and it’s been five years since Book 3, Songs in the Year of the Cat.

Has it been worth the wait? YES!!

To summarize, it’s 5,000 years in the future. Civilization has disappeared. In the Far East a new Oriental culture is forming, the Upper Kingdom, a blend of ancient Chinese and Japanese customs with bioengineered animal peoples. To quote the blurb for Book 1, To Journey in the Year of the Tiger:

“This is a powerful, post-apocalyptic story of lions and tigers, wolves and dragons, embracing and blending the cultures of Dynastic China, Ancient India and Feudal Japan. Half feline, half human, this genetically altered world has evolved in the wake of the fall of human civilization.”

In Book 1, Kirin Wynegarde-Grey, a genetic lion-man (yes, he has a tail) is the young Captain of the Empress’ personal guard. While the rest of the great Palace is preparing the celebrations to mark the turning of the Year of the Ox into the Year of the Tiger, he is assigned to leave on a long mission with four others (and several guardsmen). The Upper Kingdom is guided by a Council of Seven, revered Seers whose visions have infallibly led the Empire in wisdom and peace for centuries. Now something, or someone, is killing the Seers, one by one, by unknown means, always in their beds at the close of the Second Watch of the night. Kirin and his companions must discover the cause and stop it.

The four others are Kirin’s adjutant, an aggressive snow leopard woman; the Empire’s Scholar, a young and naïve tigress; the Empire’s Alchemist, an older cheetah-woman of dubious loyalty; and Kerris Wynegarde-Grey, Kirin’s twin but silver-gray where Kirin is golden, the Empire’s Geomancer but a drunken ladies’ man. They have more adventures than they expect, and are led outside the Empire’s borders, into the unknown West (Europe) where they awaken surviving scientists of the forgotten human civilization from suspended cold-sleep. In Book 3, Songs in the Year of the Cat, Kirin and the others return to the Upper Kingdom, and Kirin becomes the Empire’s Shogun-General to mobilize a defense against the awakened Ancestors and their weapons of mass destruction.

Snow in the Year of the Dragon contains action scenes, but it is worth reading for all of Dickson’s writing:

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The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Great & the Small, by A. T. Balsara. Illustrated by the author.
London, Ontario, Common Deer Press, August 2017, hardcover, $31.99 (287 [+ 4] pages), Kindle $4.99.

Don’t be scared off by the price. There is also a trade paperback for $14.99. And most of you will get the Kindle edition, anyway.

The Great & the Small begins with a bustling marketplace scene:

“… in the weak December sun, the harbour city’s popular market was bustling with people looking for last minute presents. Middle-Gate Market was festive with its potted evergreen trees and strands of blinking coloured lights. Shiny red balls trembled on the boughs of the tinsel-dressed pinks as salt air gusted up the hill from the sea below and rattled the lights against the rafters where they were strung.

Watching over all of this, under the faux Gothic clock, stood Middle-Gate’s most famous tourist attraction: a brass statue modeled after the gargoyles of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral. The monster stood on guard, a five-foot winged beast that stood meekly by while tourists thronged around it, snapped selfies, and rubbed the creature’s flared nostrils for luck.” (p. 9)

Then dips beneath it:

“That was the side of the market the tourists saw and the locals loved. They had no idea of the other side, the one that lay below. A distinct world, with its own ways, its own rules: a colony of rats.

Tunnels wound underneath the hill, tooth-carved thoroughfares, veiled from the eyes of humans. There were tunnels high up and tunnels below that snaked deep into the hill’s belly.

The Uppers were dug alongside the city’s swanky cafés and eateries, and food was never far away. But lower down the hill, below the heart of the market, it was different. Tangles of narrow tunnels limped through broken pipes, leaking sewers, and sodden earth, connecting scores of foul smelling, crumbling burrows.

No rat lived in the Lowers by choice. Except one, that is.” (ibid.)

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Exploring New Places – Fred Patten’s New Anthology (Press Release)

by Pup Matthias

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

Exploring New Places, edited by Fred Patten, is launching at Anthrocon 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA over the July 4th holiday weekend (July 5-8). The book can be pre-ordered from FurPlanet Productions. It will be for sale on the FurPlanet online catalogue afterwards.

Exploring New Places is an all-original anthology of 19 short stories and novelettes of anthropomorphic animals venturing into unfamiliar places, in their own city, on their own world, in space, or in a different dimension. This anthology is designed to appeal to fans of science-fiction and fantasy.

Whether by the power of music to “send you right out of this world”, or a rabbit spaceship captain searching for the creators of her species; a galactic police agent called to a new planet to solve murders, or alien furries who enter a human university; a gorilla student wandering off in a museum, or two-tailed squirrels confronting interstellar explorers; these are stories for your imagination and entertainment.

Contents:

To Drive the Cold Winter Away, by Michael H. Payne
In Search of the Creators, by Alan Loewen
The Rocky Spires of Planet 227, by Mary E. Lowd
Defiant, by Joshua Carpman
Why Indeed, by Pepper Hume
Come to Todor!, by Fred Patten
You Are Our Lifeboat, by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen
The Animal Game, by Vixyy Fox
Ashland’s Fury, by MikasiWolf
Legacy, by M. R. Anglin
Umbra’s Legion: Shamblers of Woe, by Adam Baker
Umbra’s Legion: Where Pride Planted, by Geoff Galt
Beyond Acacia Ridge, by Amy Fontaine
One Day in Hanoi, by Thomas “Faux” Steele
Welcome, Furries, by Cathy Smith
Back Then, by Frank LeRenard
Tortoise Who, by Mary E. Lowd
I Am the Jaguar, by Cairyn
The Promise of New Heffe, by Kary M. Jomb

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Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Solo. T.3, Le Monde Cannibale, by Oscar Martin. Illustrated.
Paris, Delcourt, October 2017, hardcover, €16,95 (123 [+ 5] pages).

Thanks, as always with French bandes dessinées, to Lex Nakashima for loaning this to me to review.

Or maybe not. Solo is a three-novel set, and I gave very good reviews to the first two albums. Solo is a bioengineered rat-man warrior in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to build a peaceful home for his wife Lyra and their children. It’s a Conan the Barbarian scenario, full of constant blood, ambushes, gladiatorial combats, rat-vs.-everybody-else warfare, and little else. The action and mood are violent and exhausting, but as long as each album ends with a “to be continued”, there is the hope of a happy ending.

Well, we can forget that about vol, 3, “The Cannibal World”. Solo returns home after an unsuccessful hunt to find it smashed open and Lyra and their three children kidnapped. He searches for them in the human meat farms. He always misses them by days. He’s constantly delayed by fights to the death with humans, monkeys, cats, and bloodthirsty mutants.

On page 67, Solo finds an orphaned puppy. He shifts from searching for his family to caring for the puppy, raising it to become a killer hound. When Solo is eventually killed, the dog avenges him. (But it’s only a momentary victory. We are left to hope that the dog will continue to survive as Solo had.)

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Art for Tiny Paws con, and tail wags for graphic journalism.

by Patch O'Furr

What got me into furries was classic and TV cartoons and underground animation, and adventure and fantasy novels (Redwall, Spellsinger). I’d buy them by the armload at the used book store. It was all cool to me whether it came with critical approval or not. I just craved more. A good way to get more is DIY-style and from fandom. I found that in small doses with zines in the 1990’s.

Superhero comics were never my thing (I think the 90’s was a bad time for those). Then I found some indies where muscle-people were as seldom seen as they were for a real bookworm. Indies were a step closer to animation and fantasy stuff I loved. It still didn’t exactly register that there was a divide between supposed lowbrow and highbrow comics. I didn’t care that Art Spiegelman’s Maus got a Pulitzer prize and helped turn “graphic novels” into a regular section in book stores. I did get interested by their connection to that energy of zines.

Now I’d say “graphic journalism” (Maus, Joe Sacco’s Palestine) is a bit of an inspiration. It turned many heads this year when the New York Times got a Pulitzer for a nontraditional graphic story, instead of editorial cartooning.

Would you be into seeing illustrated stories like that here? I’d love to gradually give it a try. Not yet, but if a story really demands it. Up to now this site has been almost exclusively text writing. The visuals are really important and those usually aren’t custom made. But I have the power to give it to you!

Tiny Paws con is getting a little of it. They asked me to make some art, so here it is. If you’re near the con, you should come say hi in August!

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