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ROAR Vol. 8, Paradise, Edited by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

ROAR volume 8, Paradise, edited by Mary E. Lowd.
Dallas, TX, Bad Dog Books, June 2017, trade paperback $19.95 (284 pages), Kindle $9.95.

ROAR volume 8, Bad Dog Books’ annual anthology of non-erotic furry adventure short fiction, is the third edited by Mary E. Lowd. It follows last year’s vol. 7 devoted to Legends, and continues the reductions in page count (394 pages two years ago, 377 pages last year, and 284 pages this year) to return the volumes to the earlier size edited by Buck C. Turner. This year’s theme is Paradise; “eighteen different visions of paradise”. Lowd says in her Foreword that, “This volume of ROAR received fewer submissions than the last two, but the average quality of those submissions was extremely high.”

It certainly is. Get ready for a long review.

The protagonist of “Northern Delights” by Madison Keller is Rafael Ferreira, a Chihuahua detective from the Phoenix, Arizona police department who goes to the start of the Idatarod sled race in Anchorage, Alaska to warn a Chow informant participating in the race of a plot to kill him. He involuntarily takes part in the race as the partner of Mae, a husky.

“Other than the crunching of snow under Mae’s paws and the shushing of the surrounding pine trees in the wind the night was silent. He’d grown up in the big city, and night to him meant the pounding thunder of a gunning motorcycle, the conversing of passing dogs, and the rumbling base leaking from a passing car.

Even the sky was unfamiliar. When Rafael craned his head back, he could see hundreds of stars twinkling brightly overhead. The sight awed and humbled him. When he was a puppy, his father had taken him up to the mountains to star gaze, but even there the lights of the city had hidden all but the brightest stars. He began to pick out constellations he’d learned about in grade school. There was Orion, te Hunter. Usually depicted in mythological art as an English Setter. Mae turned a corner and his view shifted, revealing Leo, the roaring lion. Rafael bared his teeth menacingly at the sky.” (p. 23)

Rafael discovers that Alaska is his paradise – especially if Mae is there.

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Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, Edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard.
London, Titan Books, January 2017, paperback, $14.95 (421 pages), Kindle $9.99.

“The 1968 Planet of the Apes film has inspired generations of authors. Now a who’s who of modern writers produces sixteen all-new tales, exclusive to this volume, set in the world of the original films and television series.” (blurb)

Plus an Introduction by co-editor Rich Handley and an Afterword by co-editor Jim Beard. Handley explains that, while there have been Planet of the Apes movies, TV series, script novelizations, original novels, comic books, and so on, there have not been any Apes short stories before. Hence this book.

Seventeen authors (one story is a collaboration), most of whom are veteran s-f novelists or comic-book writers who have written some form of Apes fiction before, were invited to contribute a story to this anthology. All have had the creative freedom to explore their own ideas, without any editorial attempt to make the stories consistent. Since the first five Apes films established the concept that time travel is “a highway with infinite lanes leading from the past to the future” (p. 12), all stories are equally valid.

“Unfired” by Dan Abnett is set in the nuclear wasteland in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. A group of seven mutated, telepathic humans is making a pilgrimage through the Forbidden Zone to the subterranean city:

“They spent two weeks following the track through the craterland. By night, wild dogs barked in the distance, and Taul kept his rifle close. They skirted the rims of wide craters in the heat. The sun made the air buzz and click. Chemical lakes had formed in the basins of the craters, some vivid turquoise or blood-red. The wind stank of sulfur. Occasionally, they could see shapes down in the lakes: rusted, twisted, blackened masses half submerged, buckled metal leering at the sky, vague in the mists that lay across the toxic pools.” (p. 20)

Four turn back, or die, or are killed by the Third Race (the apes), one by one. The survivors’ goal is the the city under New York; the holy city of God — the doomsday bomb.

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The Star Justice Series, by Michael-Scott Earle – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Star Justice series

Eye of the Tiger: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (439 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Space Witch: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (424 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Zeta Hack: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2017, trade paperback, $16.99 (605 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Binary Pair: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, July 2017, trade paperback, $16.99 (568 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Burning Bright: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2017, trade paperback, $16.99 (519 pages), Kindle $4.99.

These books should be readable quickly. The pages are in LARGE type. At an estimate, they contain only half or less of the wordage of most books; so I would guess that the 439 pages of Eye of the Tiger would be only about 220 pages in most books.

The five Star Justice novels are space opera s-f, not anthro animal fiction, but the main protagonist is a bioengineered seven-foot-tall were-tiger super-warrior. Amazon’s blurb is, “Star Justice is less military space opera and more of a ‘band of misfits in space’. Think Serenity, Farscape, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mass Effect, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star. If you liked those stories, you’ll love Star Justice.” That’s an American futuristic movie and a TV series, a Marvel superhero comic book (and the movies based on it), a video game, and two Japanese anime TV series. Guardians of the Galaxy and Outlaw Star have anthro animal characters among their “band of misfits in space”, and Cowboy Bebop has Ein, the corgi data dog. Readers certainly know what they’re getting into.

The setting is over 3,000 years in the future. Humanity has settled the galaxy. Civilization ranges from urbanized planets mostly controlled by megacorporations, to frontier worlds. The megacorporations engage in warlike rivalry with each other. Each of the five novels has a different setting – Mad Scientists’ lair, Western, urban crime – but each is in its own way a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” (Star Wars™) that the heroes have to escape.

Eye of the Tiger begins with one corporation’s airplane approaching its target. The plane carries a command staff about to launch into a mission with 31 enslaved prisoners. The prisoners are all criminals bioengineered to become tiger-men super-soldiers. One of them, “Adam”, so named because he is the first experimental super-soldier to survive the process, is the narrator. He hates his sadistic controllers.

“‘Adam, Adam, Adam,’ he [a scientist-controller] sighed. ‘Oh sorry, I mean Subject Two. This is your thirty-first sortie. I just can’t seem to kill you. Whatever shall I do? Oh, I know. You have point. Shotgun, pistol, knife, and how about a smoke grenade? That should do you fine.’” (Eye of the Tiger, pgs. 9-10)

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Dubiously Canon, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Dubiously Canon, by Rukis
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback, $19.95 (199 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)

“Synopsis: Tales from Red Lantern (that may or may not have happened)

A collection of stories chronicling the lives of characters in the Red Lantern universe, and their sexy misadventures.”

This collection contains five stories that originally appeared online. Four were written by reader demand to introduce two popular characters from throughout Rukis’ Red Lantern cartoon-art universe to each other, whether or not such a meeting would be possible by the story logic of this universe. So the stories are “dubiously canon”.

The four are “Language Barrier”, “Sinful Behavior”, “By Touch”, and “Ship to Ship”. All are narrated in the first person by one of the characters, most of whom are strangers to each other. Almost no names are mentioned. For readers familiar with Rukis’ Red Lantern art pages and her other novels, the descriptions of the characters will make it obvious who they are. In “Sinful Behavior”, for example, the wolfhound is Johannes Cuthbert from Red Lantern and Heretic and the bobcat is Shivah from the Off the Beaten Path trilogy. (That’s Shivah on the ship’s cannon on Rukis’ cover.) If you’re not familiar with Rukis’ Red Lantern universe – Mataa’s rocky coast in Legacy, the colony of Serwich in The Long Road Home, and so on – the locales and the characters won’t matter. All that really matters is that two healthy individuals come together, and erotic nature takes its course. M/m and m/f. Each of the four stories has a full-page NSFW illustration.

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Felicia: The Night of the Basquot, by Chas. P. A. Melville – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Felicia: The Night of the Basquot, by Chas. P. A. Melville. Illustrated by the author.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $12.00 (257 pages), Kindle $9.99.

“‘So!’ crowed Felicia happily. And then she frowned. ‘So,’’ she repeated, more uncertainly. And then, in puzzlement, ‘So.’ Her ears flicked as she turned to stare at the rising sun. ‘So, what’s a ‘Basquot’ anyway?’” (p. 86)

Felicia cla di Burrows, the vixen renegade sorceress blackballed from the Magic Council, is thirty years old this year. She first appeared as an enigmatic background character when Melville began self-publishing The Champion of Katara comic book, #1 dated August-September 1987. Now she has her first novel.

Spiteful and egocentric, all that was really clear was that Felicia had been horribly mistreated as a child. She began studying sorcery — including forbidden black magic — to gain revenge against those who had destroyed her family. But her heart was not really in being evil, and she kept using her magic to help others while postponing her vendetta against her family’s enemies. As a flawed ‘good guy’ and a colorful, charismatic character, Felicia became the most popular of Melville’s anthro animal cast when he moved to Seattle and became active in the furry community there, and he resumed his comic-book stories for Edd Vick’s MU Press in the 1990s. Felicia’s most dramatic and complex adventure was the 184-page graphic novel Felicia: Melari’s Wish (August 1994). Later in the ’90s, she starred in three lighter stand-alone stories as a sorceress-for-hire without the dark background of her vengeance goal, written by Melville and drawn by Bill Schmickle, in MU’s anthology comic-book ZU.

Melville later brought Felicia back in a series of text novelette booklets, with illustrations every few pages, published by CaféPress. These continued the lighter stories in ZU. Felicia became a professional sorceress-for-hire/detective who got involved with finding and dispelling ancient evils, or preventing their escape to wreak havoc in Katara and its neighboring animal kingdoms of Dogonia, Bruinsland (bears), Scentas (skunks), Rodentia (mice), and others. Melville wrote five of these, from Felicia and the Dreaded Book of Un (February 2004) to Felicia and the Border Collie Patrol (January 2008). One, Felicia and the Tailcutter’s Curse (June 2004), won that year’s Ursa Major Award in the Best Short Fiction category. All five were republished as a single book, The Vixen Sorceress (CreateSpace, December 2008).

Melville began producing a Felicia webcomic, Felicia, Sorceress of Katara, in December 2007, but for the last nine years there have been almost no Felicia text adventures. Now Felicia is back in a 257-page novel.

Felicia: The Night of the Basquot is her origin story, and an introduction to her world (which might be described as Tolkien lite, with funny animals). It begins when Felicia emerges in Katara from a mysterious seven-year disappearance, crackling with magic energy and ready to join the all-powerful Magi Council (a.k.a. the Brotherhood of the Candle) as its newest and youngest sorceress. Instead, she is shocked and infuriated to learn that she has been rejected.

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Griffin Ranger. Volume 2, The Monster Lands, by Roz Gibson – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Griffin Ranger. Volume 2, The Monster Lands, by Roz Gibson. Illustrated by Cara Mitten, Amy Fennell, and Roz Gibson.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, August 2017, trade paperback, $19.95 (557 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Griffin Ranger. Volume 1, Crossline Plains, 369 pages, was published in January 2015.   It ends on a cliffhanger. This book is not so much a sequel as the conclusion of a single 926-page novel. There is a 3-page What Has Gone Before, but you really need to have read Volume 1 and then continue directly with this Volume 2.

To condense what I said about Crossline Plains:

“Griffin Ranger is set in a totally alien alternate universe. The land masses are the same as on our Earth, but the life forms and civilization that have evolved are dominated by birds. (The reader will have fun identifying both geographical features such as the Twin Continents, the Alpha River, the Five Lakes, and the Endless Ocean, and the cities and towns like Defiance, Flatlands City, and Foggy Bay.) Since birds don’t have hands, the main intelligent landbound mammals are the raccoon/lemur-like ‘hanz’ that are their symbiotic partners, and two species of canines: the wild wolfen, and the more domestic herders that have evolved from them. This Earth’s civilization is dominated by the griffins, who are the principal inhabitants of what the reader will recognize as the Americas, Europe, and Asia. But in the last few hundred years the greenies, an aggressive bird species, have erupted from the Emerald Isles (New Zealand) to spread over the world. The griffins of the Northern Continent have allowed the greenies’ partial settlement there under strict supervision, but there are suspicions that the greenies are preparing to take over totally.

“Griffins during their adolescence traditionally go on a continent-wide ‘wander’ of exploration. Harrell, the Griffin Ranger in charge of an area north of Earthquake City, learns that his daughter Aera, who is on a joint wander with four companions, is a week overdue. They went missing near the central Northern Continental agricultural city of Crosstown Plains, populated about equally with griffins and greenies. Harrell is worried, but not enough to abandon his territory to search for the missing youths, until his ex-mate Vaniss, the Ranger in charge of Earthquake City and his organizational superior, assigns him to find them. To aid Harrell, Vaniss gets him two assistants: Kwaperramusc (Kwap), an exotic griffin from the islands north of the Dry Continent (Indonesia and Australia) and the Rangers’ best Investigator, and Tirrsill, an inexperienced but willing young female hanz.

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Magnificats: Return of the Demon Wind, by Gwyn Dolyn – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Magnificats: Return of the Demon Wind, by Gwyn Dolyn. Illustrated, map by the author.
La Jolla, CA, Plowshare Media, January 2017, trade paperback, $15.95 ([11 +] 239 [+ 9] pages), Kindle $3.95.

Magnificats is an unusual mixture of Young Adult fantasy and several specialized ethnic vocabularies, beginning with both faerie mythology and commonplace Irishisms; not to mention Big Words that aren’t in most Young Adult novels. 13-year-old redhaired Aoife “Apple” Standish, taunted as Red Apple Stand by her classmates in today’s Dublin, is blown by a sheegee wind to where a Magnificat is watching.

“Meanwhile, just down the street and past the cheese shop where her brother worked, Tak, the lanky old cat who lived under the ancient parish church on Apple’s route to school, sensed something awry in the autumn air. This sheegee was a concern. Sniffing, he tickled the air with his whiskers, then remarked, ‘Hmm. Interesting autumn wind; deliberate, with a stench of malice.’

While Tak was indeed a cat, he was not your everyday, meowing, rodent-chasing, scratching-up-the-furniture sort of cat. He was the leader (to be exact, Littern) of a clandestine order of numinous nine-life cats, known far and wide in creature kingdoms as Magnificats – keepers of sacred knowledge and masters of the winds.” (pgs. 1-2)

Dolyn peppers her novel with obscure words, Irish at first and later Egyptian, then others. “The strange sight of a girl caught in a whirlwind caused car screeching, men’s caubeens flying, and children diving for cover under their mums’ waving skirts.” (p. 4) Wikipedia defines a caubeen as an Irish peasant beret. “Gwyllion” is another Celtic magical word used a lot in just the first chapter – strangely, Wikipedia says it’s from Welsh mythology, not Irish. (It’s all Celtic.) Some other Irishisms in Chapter 1 that aren’t mythology-based are hooligan, shamrock, shenanigan, Finn-McCool, and gobsmacked. But when Apple goes to Egypt with other students on an archaeological dig, the vocabulary switches to Egyptian. “‘Hey App,’ Dan’s voice echoed across the flat sand, ‘we’re going to wrap this up. The winds are getting bad; looks like a haboob coming.’” (p. 29) You’ll learn more about cultures, winds, and mythologies (especially Irish) than you wanted to know:

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Furry Publishers – A Resource for Artists and Authors

by Summercat

Welcome to guest poster Summercat – a great friend to Dogpatch Press, with a cool interest in Furry Comics and Zines History.

Publisher Dealer Table. Photo provided by Rabbit Valley

When I first joined the Furry Fandom, there weren’t many fandom publishers, and most printed works were vanity press or self-publishing. These days, it seems that the world of Furry Publishing has exploded in size, with many relatively new companies plowing ahead and looking strong.

However, there aren’t too many resources available for those looking to get their works published on whom to go with, and sites like Wikifur confusingly list long-dormant and dissolved companies under active publishers. So I went ahead and compiled a list of currently active fandom publishers looking at submissions, either regularly or periodically. I do not pretend this to be exhaustive, so these listed may not be the only options available.

A word of warning: What these publishers accept may change without notice. Some only publish through submissions to anthologies, while others may open or close their submissions for certain types of media. Many of these publishers are selective in what they publish under their imprint, and are often flooded with submissions and proposals. Always do your research before sending a submission in!

When discussing a contract with a publisher, keep special care to know what rights are being sold. While most publishers only require a period of exclusivity, some may be intending to purchase complete rights to the work. Make certain that you and the publisher are both clear on what is expected from either of you! Read the rest of this entry »

Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture, by Joe Strike – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture, by Joe Strike. Illustrated.
Jersey City, NJ, Cleis Press, October 2017. Trade paperback, $17.95 ([ix +] 342 pages), Kindle $10.99.

Yes!

Here it is! What we’ve all been waiting for! The book about furry fandom!

Full disclosure: I’m quoted by name on a back-cover blurb, and cited as “a founding father of furry fandom”.

Is it perfect? No, but it’s probably better than any of us could have written. I gave up writing a book “all about” furry fandom long ago. If I may be permitted a moment of “I told you so”, I told those who asked me to write such a book in the late 1990s that it would take me around ten years to fully research and write such a book. They turned from me to find someone else who could do it right away. They couldn’t.

Joe Strike has been in furry fandom since the 1980s. He has been working on Furry Nation for at least fifteen years. It’s full of both his own knowledge and the interviews that he conducted. He has interviewed not only all the earliest furry fans, and the current leaders of furry fandom – Mark Merlino, Rod O’Riley, Jim Groat, Mitch Marmel, Dr. Sam Conway, Boomer the Dog, leading furry artists like Heather Bruton and Kjartan Arnórsson, fursuit makers like Lance Ikegawa and Denali, academics like Dr. Kathy Gerbasi, and so on – but those outside the furry community who have impacted it. The writers of newspaper and TV news stories about furry fandom? He interviewed them. The executives of Pittsburgh’s tourist bureau? He interviewed them. The directors of TV programs and theatrical animation features that have used furry themes? He interviewed them.

What Furry Nation covers: a definition of furry fandom, the influences that gave rise to it back to prehistoric times, the history of how it started, profiles of the earliest furry fans, how the rise of the Internet affected it, a description of furry fandom in North America today, with emphasis on its conventions and a profile of Anthrocon in depth, its artists and furry art, its fursuits, its public perception, an acknowledgement of its seedier side, and how it has grown from a tiny, unnoticed subgroup to an important influence on popular culture today. The book has 189 footnotes throughout it. There are over two dozen photographs and samples of furry illustrations from the 1980s (early fanzines and Furry Party flyers) to the present.

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Furry Book Month – Some Recommendations

by Summercat

Welcome to guest poster Summercat! October is Furry Book month (better late than never). -Patch

Started in 2016 by an alliance of Furry Publishers, Furry Book Month is about showcasing the written word from the Furry Fandom. To support the efforts I decided to write up a list of Furry books I’ve enjoyed in recent years that are currently available for sale. These are just short blurbs rather than full reviews, and are in no particular order. 

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