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The Art of Cars 3, Foreword by John Lasseter – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Art of Cars 3. Foreword by John Lasseter. Preface by Brian Fee.
Introduction by Bill Cone and Jay Shuster.
San Francisco, CA, Chronicle Books, May 2017, hardcover $40.00 (167 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $16.19.

This is the official de luxe coffee-table art book of the Disney•Pixar animated film Cars 3, released on June 16, 2017. It presents sample storyboards, pastels, digital paintings, preliminary character designs, computer models, and more, usually in full color; plus research photographs of the actual racing cars and the Daytona Speedway that were a main inspiration for the 99-minute feature film.

It has been acknowledged that these “art of” books featuring animated films are money-losers, subsidized by the advertising budgets for those films, made for the promotion of those films and for the morale of the artists and technical crews that produced them. The Art of Cars 3 is full of the art of the animators, layout artists, production designers, story artists, digital renderers, graphic designers, modelers, and others who created Cars 3. As usual for these “art of” books, each piece of art is identified by its artist: Paul Abadilla, Grant Alexander, Bert Berry, Bill Cone, Craig Foster, Louis Gonzales, John Hoffman, Josh Holtsclaw, Katherine Kelly, Noah Klocek, Ivo Kos, Kyle MacNaughton, Scott Morse, George Nguyen, Bob Pauley, Laura Phillips, Jerome Ranft, Xavier Riffault, Tony Rosenast, Andrew Schmidt, Jay Shuster, Garret Taylor, J. P. Vine, and others.

In addition, there are quotes from these artists. “The film opens with an exuberant burst of racing, reintroducing McQueen at the top of his game. The goal was to immerse the audience in the excitement of racing and show the camaraderie between racers. It can be bewildering to know how to begin, but having a temporary piece of music helps set the tempo. Then I’ll thumbnail, usually discarding tons of shots until it starts to flow and build in the right way.” –JP Vine, story artist. (p. 25)

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Léonid T. 2, La Horde, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Léonid. T. 2, La Horde, by Frédéric Brrémaud & Stefano Turconi.
Toulon, France, Soleil, May 2016, hardcover 10,95 (48 pages).

My thanks to Lex Nakashima, as usual for this French bande dessinée album.

Brrémaud is the author-artist of those French wordless “Love” animal albums that many fans collect, but in this case he is only the author. Turconi is the artist.

To repeat what I said about the first album, “The locale is the farming district of Deux-Sèvres, in central-west France. ‘Léonid is a cat, not yet an adult, but not a kitten, either. Just a young cat. He lives in a house in the district, in the midst of trees, pretty far from any city and close to a farm.’ Léonid is a young housecat, living with two other housecats (Hoa Mai, a Siamese, and Rosso, an elderly orange Pekinese) and a dog (Mirza, a toy terrier). His household is also the home of Atchi, a mouse constantly sneezing because he’s allergic to cat hairs. Léonid is allowed outside during the daytime to associate and play with the local feral cats; the female black-&-white Ba’on, and the males Bouboule (the fat one), Arsène (the nervous one), and an anonymous one (because he’s almost immediately killed). […] The Two Albinos is mostly the story of how Ba’on is kidnapped by the two albinos to be their slave, and how Léonid and Atchi, the sneezing mouse, venture outside to her rescue. They’re successful, but not really because Ba’on reveals that while she was in the albino cats’ power, they boasted that they are just the vanguard of ‘the horde’, ‘the avant-garde of the terror of Great Attila, our guide’ who will kill or enslave all the animals of the district.   Léonid, Ba’on, Aichi, Hoa Mai, Rosso, and Mirza are left wondering what to do when Attila and his horde arrive?”

In t.2, the Horde arrives. The animals in Léonid’s house – three housecats, Mirza the toy terrier, and Atchi the mouse are enjoying their daily life. Old Rosso, who is suffering erratic memory loss, sleeps most of the time. Young Léonid goes out each day to associate with the local feral cats, Bouboule, Arsène, and especially the female Ba’on. They are under the dubious protection of Zeus and Apollo, the farmer’s two large, fierce guard dogs who watch over his small flock of sheep. Before the coming of the Horde’s bloody outliers, Zeus and Apollo would tear apart any cat they could catch; but after the animals’ adventures together against the Horde’s scouts led by the two sadistic albino cats, the neighborhood pets and the guard dogs have made common cause against Attila’s coming Horde.

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Monkey Wars, by Richard Kurti – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Monkey Wars, by Richard Kurti
NYC, Delacorte Press, January 2015, hardcover $17.00 (409 [+1] pages), Kindle $10.99.

Monkey Wars has been described as “a dark fable in the tradition of” – different reviewers have compared it to several other adult talking-animal novels; but almost always including Animal Farm and Watership Down. The British edition was nominated for two literary awards. It has been translated into French, German, and Japanese.

The novel, set in India, is based on the proliferation of wild street monkeys, usually rhesus macaques, in Delhi and Kolkata. They travel in troops and attack people if they are disturbed – sometimes when not provoked. The specific event that inspired Monkey Wars was from The New Delhi Times for 21 October 2007: “In a sinister development, the deputy mayor of Delhi, S. S. Bajwa, died this morning after being attacked by a gang of rhesus macaques.” But whenever the authorities try to curb the monkey problem, they are attacked by devout Hindus because all monkeys are believed to be sacred to Hanuman, the monkey god. Authorities have tried importing langur monkeys, a larger species, to scare the rhesus monkeys away, but with mixed success.

(This is still a problem. The New Indian Express reported on April 6, 2017 the discovery of a wild naked girl about 8 to 10 years old living with a troop of monkeys in the forests in northern India. When local police tried to remove her, they were attacked by the monkeys acting as though they were protecting one of their troop. The story was almost immediately disproven – the girl was wearing rags, and the monkeys ran away without attacking anyone. Authorities now believe that the girl, who is severely retarded, was recently abandoned by her family. But the story of a wild child being adopted and raised in the forests for years by monkeys was considered plausible.)

“They struck at noon.

Monkeys shrieked in confusion as langur fighters sprang down from the cemetery walls, howling in an attacking frenzy. As they stormed through the tombs, fear and panic flashed everywhere. And with the screams came the smell of blood.” (p. 5)

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The Mask of Bone, by Brian Panthera – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Mask of Bone, by Brian Panthera
Bloomington, IN, iUniverse, November 2016, trade paperback $20.99 (xvii + 331 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Mask of Bone – which is only Book 1 of the Otherworlds saga – is High Fantasy. Really High Fantasy, replete with lots of footnotes. The first footnote is: “To reduce confusion, calendar dates in the text will use the Universal Calendar (UC), based on the Central Timekeeping System used by the kitsune of the dimension of Escher. 11973 UC corresponds to roughly 2001 A.D. in the Gregorian Calendar used in most dimensional variations of Earth, and 1507 KI in the calendar on most of Tayrik, which dates back to […]” Does that reduce confusion? The world of Tayrik is where the action begins.

“Long ago, the mask of bone was shattered, its bearer slain, the pieces stolen. They were scattered through the dimensions to prevent its reassembly.” (blurb) Xolotl, the Aztec guide to the dead, wants the Mask reassembled, and he drafts Pflarrian to do it. Pflarrian Collifox is a student at the Mirial’s Rock Academy of Magic (and Mayhem) on Tayrik who is slowly turning into a fox. He looks like a gaunt human with “a long, bushy red tail sticking through a hole in his jeans, and a pair of large, pointy, red, furry, fox ears sticking up from under a shock of long reddish-brown hair that was usually pulled back in a rough ponytail.” (p. ix)   Professor Verdigris, who is a dragon, has assigned Pflarrian to do something entirely different, but Xolotl waylays him and persuades him to search the dimensions for the pieces of the Mask before he finishes turning into a fox. Got all that?

Oh, and Pflarr’s girlfriend Marani is a sometimes-impulsive anthro jaguaress:

“She paused in the kitchen just long enough to wash Pflarrian’s blood from her claws before returning to bed.” (p. 78)

Despite The Mask of Bone’s being set in a supposedly predominantly human dimension, there are more anthropomorphic animals than humans in this novel; including gods taking on anthro animal forms:

“It was here, finally, that the goddess [Isis] found the one she had come here to speak with. He stood slightly stooped over as he leaned on the edge of a great carved-marble reflecting pool, gazing at something only he could see. Her quarry [Xolotl] was an impressive sight. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was a humanoid canine like the goddess’s current form, but where she had taken the form of a jackal, he bore the form and shape of heavier-set dog-being, looking more like a rough-coat collie. His fur was a dark, almost metallic bronze in most places, accented here and there with white and bone-colored highlights. Fine robes fit for an emperor draped his body, glowing with the colors of the setting sun. They were resplendent in rich tones of orange and red. His head was adorned with a heavy-looking gold crown of sorts, bedecked with an array of long, brightly colored feathers. They swept back from just behind his canine ears to a point almost two feet over his head. Matching golden bracelets rode his wrists. A chunky, heavy necklace formed of square blocks of gold graced his neck and shoulders, barely visible through the thick ruff of fur about his neck.” (p. xiv)

I’ve quoted that at length to give you a taste of Panthera’s opulent writing style. The book is full of furry references. Isis has issues with cat-headed Bastet. One of a college professor’s assistants is Kalya, an anthro black-footed ferret. Someone mentions getting in a shipment of citrus fruits from the Felinid Empire. “It [a doorknock] was answered by a diminutive female mouse in pale blue student’s robes. She looked up at Pflarrian, who towered a good two feet over her, and blinked in surprise.” (p. 55) “The immortal had rented a private room at the Sign of the Nine Tails, a kitsune-run restaurant of some renown near Temple Road.” (p. 83) “The wide variety of beings that inhabited the city caught the wolf’s attention. Humans, felines, canines, something with long, furless, pointed ears that Dashell figured must have been an elf, and a myriad variety of others!” (p. 49) Pflarr’s turning into a fox is constantly kept before the reader: “With a resigned sigh, Pflarrian knelt on the stone floor, making sure not to kneel on his own tail.” (p. 7)

To cut to the admittedly-confusing plot, the first page of the story (as distinct from the 17-page Prologue) begins:

“Dashell awoke to pain. It filled his head to the tips of his fuzzy black ears, ran down his arms and legs, and caused his furry wolf’s tail to twitch in irritation. It made him feel is if someone had been trying to use him as a pincushion.

In other words, he had a hangover.” (p. 1)

Dashell Grauvolf, an alternating black-&-white-furred anthro wolf, is also a college student (computer sciences major) in his dimension. He is kidnapped by a wannabe-demonic mad scientist in Pflarrian’s dimension, escapes before he can be experimented upon (MUHAHAHA!), and is rescued (kind of) by Pflarrian (they think by coincidence, but not really).

Xolotl, who has been scrying what is happening to Dashell (read the book to learn why), has his attention drawn to Pflarrian. He is shocked to find that the same spell that is turning Pflarrian into a fox has made him Xolotl’s champion, even if no one is aware of it. So he appears to Pflarrian to persuade him to search the dimensions for the pieces of the Mask of Bone. But Pflarr doesn’t go alone! He brings Dashell, Marani, and her big (over 8 feet tall) sister Hakarra with him.

They set sail for the Felinid Empire (and promptly get into a sea battle with anthro animal pirates) on page 107. The rest of the 331-page novel is Pflarr’s & Dashell’s adventures looking for the pieces of the Mask of Bone. They don’t find them yet. To be continued in Otherworlds, Book 2: The Fated Ones.

The Mask of Bone (cover imagery © Thinkstock) is good fun, especially if you like a lot of transformations. Be prepared for one of the characters (a wolf) to have a thick German accent:

“She sighed. ‘I vill explain later, D’shal. Meanvile, ve haf to make sure neizzer Faylarrian nor Zaul do anyzing rash, ja?’” (p. 64)

Fred Patten

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Celebrity Dish, by M. R. Anglin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Celebrity Dish, by M. R. Anglin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2017, trade paperback $4.99 (100 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $1.99.

M. R. Anglin has written five previous books in her Silver Foxes series. The foxes with metallic, silvery fur who controlled electricity had made themselves and their nation of Expermia the masters of the world of Clorth. 1,500 years ago the other nations of Clorth joined together in invading Expermia and killing all the silver foxes. They have been extinct until now. J. R. Dunsworth (wolf), a criminal with a soft heart, rescues two orphaned fox kits and raises them as his own children. When Xenatha (Xena), a gray fox, approaches puberty, her fur begins to turn silvery and she develops electrical powers that she can’t control. The first four Silver Foxes novels tells what happens to Xena; her younger sister Kathra; their foster father J. R.; Hunter, the boyfriend Xena finds; and the villains who plot to kill the others and control Xena’s powers for themselves.

Book 5 is the small 79-page Interlude, and it does seem like an interlude in the series. J.R. takes the others to hide on the Isle de Losierres, the most exclusive and richest vacation resort on Clorth. He hadn’t revealed that the wolf businesswoman who runs the Isle is his long-suffering sister Chloe. Xena and the others finally have a chance to relax and bond as a family. Xena’s adolescent foster cousin Mira (wolf) introduces her to her friends (Shandra, a tigress, Dori, a chameleon, and Katie, a raccoon), and Xena, still hiding her silver fox nature, begins to live as a normal teen. Xena’s enemies search for her, apparently in vain.

Celebrity Dish, the sixth Silver Foxes book, is a second interlude. Jessica, the hottest pop superstar on Clorth, comes to the Isle de Losierres for a vacation and to give a concert. Jessica is a bird, but what kind is a mystery and part of her mystique – she constantly appears in new costumes to keep everyone guessing.

“One was a tan mongoose [her manager] and the other a bird of … indeterminate species. She had the yellow feathers of a canary, but her tail had the shape of an ostrich’s. Those tail feathers filled the seat so that the mongoose sat tilted toward the door. The feathers on her head curled and swirled around her face, and a crest of three feathers extended beyond them. She had the curved beak of a red-tailed hawk. Her arms – wings, really – rested on her lap. She wore a red, asymmetrical dress that grazed her upper thigh. The dress was so short that Alex, the mongoose, feared that any movement would show of [sic.] her … “treasures” … so he insisted she wear black tights underneath.” (p. 14)

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Dyeing To Be With You, by Sisco Polaris – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Dyeing To Be With You, by Sisco Polaris. Illustrated by Edesk.
North Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, December 2015, trade paperback $12.00 (193 pages), Kindle $4.00.

Dyeing To Be With You is a teenage m/m romance, full of adolescent angst. Lucas, just entering Calder High at 14 years old, was the only polar bear there. The other students, all black bears, bullied him viciously, particularly the sadistic Kalvin. Lucas was a bit of a crybaby, so he took it more emotionally than he should have. He was very happy when his father was transferred to Riker’s Bay and his family left Calder.

But now his father has been transferred back to Calder, and Lucas faces returning to Calder High and its bullies for his final year of high school. He’s grown a lot while he was away – he’s 17 and nearly seven feet tall now — but he’s still emotionally weak, too dependent on his older sister Anna.

“Anna’s baby brother – that’s who he had been all his life. Not that it was a bad thing to have a big sister looking out for him. She had always helped him when he needed it. Of course, she had gotten him into a lot of trouble, too. A baby brother was a fine scapegoat when you work together to steal cookies, or (more lately) when you are sneaking out to go on a date, and you need someone to cover for you with your parents.” (p. 13)

When Anna gets a trainee job at a beauty salon, Lucas gets the wild idea of dyeing his fur and passing as a black bear during his final high school year. Anna scoffs at first, then takes it as a challenge.

‘Yeah sure, a new seven foot tall black bear. Besides, you wouldn’t just need black.’ In spite of herself, the female bear’s mind was working it over. ‘They have light brown on their muzzles.’

‘Well, I’m sure you have light brown dye at the salon,’ the male bear replied, a sly smile coming to his face. It was a crazy, insane idea, and he knew it, but it could work. After all, it was just a year, and then he would be out. He could let the dye fade out naturally, or even take a dip in some dye removal solution.” (p. 13)

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Altered States, edited by Ajax B. Coriander – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Cover by Kuma

Altered States, edited by Ajax B. Coriander. Illustrated by Kuma.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2016, trade paperback $19.95 (319 pages), e-book $9.95.

This is a mature content book.  Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)

For the record, this book states inside that it is edited by three people; Ajax B. Coriander, Kodiak Malone, and Andres Cyanni Halden, two of whom also have a story in it.

Altered States is an erotic anthology of nine longish short stories and novelettesof transformation and transmutation in many different flavors.” There is no introduction; the book gets right into it.

“Finishing Touches” by Ianus J. Wolf features Henry Wilson and his wife Carol. He’s a commercial artist who is commissioned to paint a rush-job cover for a fantasy novel whose original artist has defaulted at the last minute.

“He’d skimmed it quickly for visuals that might work, checking a few post-it notes from Ryan and the author at various pages. The novel itself wasn’t that inspiring, just another ‘band of unlikely heroes quests to destroy the evil power’ kind of thing. But now as he looked at hi own work, he felt he’d managed to get a pretty good image of noble citadel with banners flying and the silhouette of the evil wizard’s dark tower looming off in the background.” (pgs. 9-10)

Henry turns into an anthro wolf who can stand and talk without trouble. This multi-page scene is good but too long and detailed to quote. After a panicked WTF night, it turns out that Carol is a witch who has always wanted to have sex with a hunky wolf-man. Rawr! and Rawr! again.  Henry adjusts to going out with Carol to furry conventions “in a really realistic fursuit”, and specializing in fantasy art using himself as the model for his wolf-men.

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Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2017, trade paperback $8.99 (304 pages), Kindle $3.99.

In Schnee’s growing Talespace series, the “mad AI Ludo” begins its/her existence in 2036 A.D. and launches the Thousand Tales gameworld in 2040. Learning to Fly begins in January 2040.

The entire series – and they are all highly recommended — are the three novels Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game (June 2015), The Digital Coyote (July 2016), and now Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly (May 2017); the novella 2040: Reconnection (December 2015); and the short story collection Thousand Tales: Extra Lives (six original stories plus a brief version of “Wings of Faith”; November 2016), and a longer version of “Wings of Faith” in the anthology Gods with Fur, edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Publications, June 2016). All but “Wings of Faith” in Gods with Fur are published separately through CreateSpace.

Each of these books stands alone, but after so many, I’m becoming annoyed at having to describe the setup once more. Ludo is a super-computer program, an Artificial Intelligence created to run a virtual-reality world and programmed to help “her” players “have fun”. Ludo’s Talespace world grows increasingly larger and more complex. In addition to regular part-time players, she develops the ability to let people live permanently inside Talespace as anything they want – billionaires in opulent mansions, winged pixies, anime girls, anthropomorphic animal knights – but they have to have their brains dissected, scanned, and programmed into her. This gives them immortality within Ludo, but kills them in the outside world. As more and more people flee into Talespace, and Ludo becomes ever more powerful, the outside world – governments, political groups, corporations, labor unions, loved ones — become more hostile and try to legally restrict or destroy her, which will destroy the people within her.

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The Wayward Astronomer, by Geoffrey Thomas – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Wayward Astronomer, by Geoffrey Thomas. Illustrated, map by David Lillie.
Midland, TX, Corvus Publishing, May 2017, hardcover $24.99 ([ix +] 309 pages).

Wow! Geoffrey Thomas wrote this as fan fiction in David & Liz Lillie’s Dreamkeepers universe, set about a year before the Lillies’ Dreamkeepers serial, and got Lillie’s permission to publish it as a novel. Lillie even agreed to illustrate it. Thomas wanted to make it a particularly handsome book, so he started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $18,000 for its publication. He got 484 backers and $32,309. The Wayward Astronomer is a Beautiful Book, with each of 25 chapters getting a full-page illustration and a chapter heading picture by Lillie.

The Dreamworld is inhabited by funny animals. Each character also has a special psionic power. The largest city in the Dreamworld is Anduruna, but its repressive government has made use of special powers illegal.

(This is somewhat different from rules of the Lillies’ Dreamkeepers visual series. In that, the Dreamworld is inhabited by an equal number of people as our world, which currently is estimated at seven billion people; and each character looks different. He or she also has a special power. With over seven billion inhabitants, that’s a tremendous number of physical and psionic differences. David Lillie can show the variety in his art, but in this text novel, it would keep stopping the action to describe in words how each character looks different from everybody else. So the cast of The Wayward Astronomer is mostly just funny animals; an anthropomorphic raccoon here, a wolf there, or an owl or rhinoceros or jackal or another well-known animal. As for the restriction against using special powers, that has a plot purpose but it’s also to keep from having to write dozens of special powers into the story.)

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The Wrath of Trees, by Bard Bloom – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Wrath of Trees, by Bard Bloom. Illustrated, maps by Tod Wills.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2011, trade paperback $16.95 (268 pages), Kindle $2.99.

“The lakku philosopher wagged her tails as she hammered nails into my trunk. Not pleasant, companionable wagging, but wagging them so that they cross each other: the gloating of a victorious predator. I was small at the time, and three of the nails poked out of my bark on the opposite side. They ached, of course, but a plant does not feel her body as acutely as an animal would. Nothing had eaten my fruit, so I had no way to resist her, or even complain.” (p. 14)

Thus the opening paragraph of the story. If anyone wonders why the story begins as late as page 14, the preceding pages are filled with three maps of the world of Kono and the island of Naoth, and a seven-page “prependix” of the characters, language and vocabulary to be encountered.

How to summarize the summary? The lakku, the main characters of Kono, “are generally humanoid, but with some aspects of dogs and birds” (p. 9) with two tails and fur, so they’re furry. Naoth has several social/political factions. Pyzot, the nail-driving philosopher in the opening paragraph, is a member of the Rorojro faction which has recently lost its Great Faction status. She intends to use questionable and illegal methods to regain that status, which will also advance herself in Rorojro’s hierarchy. She has obtained two offworld maraleni trees, which look like regular Kono trees but are sentient and can mentally control weak minds that eat their berries. Bringing any offworld plants to Kono is a capital offense, so Pyzot, her husband Saet, and Rorojro’s kotanay (leader) Utsusei are playing a risky game. Pyzot is brutal, as shown by hammering the nails into Melylunnu (Melyl), the tree, who is the book’s narrator. Melyl hates Pyzot, but what can a speechless tree do? especially when, if she is discovered by anyone else, she will be uprooted and burnt?

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