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Category: Books

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Once a Dog, by Shaune Lafferty Webb.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2018, trade paperback, $17.00 (319 pages), Kindle $4.15.

Once a Dog is told from the viewpoint of Jesse B. Collie, a young dog on the farm of Mister Overlord. He is no longer a puppy, but he is still too young to be trained to work like Mother, an experienced sheepdog, so he romps happily around the farmyard with his littermates Lil, Zac, Pixie, and Toby. Mister and Missus Overlord are too busy to play with him, but Oldmister Overlord – Mister Overlord’s father, now retired – plays fetch and other games with him.

The first chapter establishes the dogs’ vocabulary. The sun and moon are hot-ball and cold-ball; day and night are bright-light and slight-light; humans are uprights; dogs are packers; sheep are dumbfluffs; barnyard fowls are jumpfly-gabblegabbles, and so on.

One night there is a commotion in the farmhouse, and the next day Oldmister Overlord does not come out to play with Jesse. The reader can tell that he has died the night before, but Jesse only knows that he does not come out any more. Maybe he went away in the strange rolling-house (an ambulance or hearse) that came that night. When Mister and Missus Overlord soon leave in Truck, and Missus Overlord doesn’t close the farm gate tightly, Jesse sets out to follow them and find Oldmister Overlord. They lead him farther than he expects, into the nearby small town which has a bewildering confusion of uprights.

“He had made a big mistake and strayed into hostile territory. And for that, there was only one solution. He’d just have to try harder to smell his way out. So he lowered his nose to the ground, but that prompted an immediate sneeze. Just as he’d feared, the jumble of smells was awfully confusing. And he couldn’t trust his hearing all that well, either. His desperate attempts to single out the unique frequency of any one upright among the discordant sounds around him failed repeatedly, leaving him no choice but to continue down the road almost completely exposed and defenseless. Those packers who had signed at the bush [dogs that had urinated on a bush] had passed this way, too; he could still smell them sure enough.” (p. 29)

Jesse tracks Mister and Missus Overlord into the church where Oldmister Overlord’s funeral is being held. Mister Overlord leads Jesse into Truck (it’s the first time he’s ever been in Truck; he likes the wind blowing through his fur even more than playing ball with Oldmister) and drives him home. Jesse tells his siblings the exciting things that he saw and did, and when Zac doesn’t believe him, he jumps over the fence to prove it to Zac.

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Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, Edited by Thurston Howl – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Infurno: The Nine Circles of Furry Hell, edited by Thurston Howl. Illustrated by Drkchaos.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.99 (278 [+ 1] pages).

Infurno certainly looks like a descent into Furry Hell. It’s printed in white type on black paper – all 278 pages of it. The full-page illustrations by Drkchaos (identified in the blurb as Joseph Chou) add to the book’s grim aspect.

Actually, Infurno makes a good companion volume to the publisher’s Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, edited by Madison Scott-Clary and also illustrated by Joseph Chou. But where that anthology was weird-horror, this one is more horror-disgusting.

Infurno presents 14 stories themed around the Nine Circles of Dante’s Inferno, divided by a Prologue, eight Interludes, and an Epilogue; unsigned but presumably by the anthology’s editor, Thurston Howl. There are one each for Limbo, Lust, Heresy, and Fraud, and two for Gluttony, Greed, Wrath, Violence, and Treachery.

Kyle (sub, jackal) and Terry (dom, squirrel), two gay lovers working alone at Feral Electronics at night, are summoned to the building’s ninth basement floor. (The building doesn’t have nine basements.) There Atha, a mysterious gazelle, leads them further down a staircase.

Atha, their guide into the Inferno, tells them they must witness the final memories of 14 damned souls. Some of the Interludes are more horrific than the stories:

“A three-headed dog as large as a skyscraper loomed over the ocean. The waves themselves, though high and mobile, were thick and viscous, oily yet solid. Breaking the surface all around the dog were drowning souls. When one would breach the surface right below one of the massive heads, the head would swoop down and grab the unfortunate spirit by its head, fling it around it, chew it, and swallow it.” (p. 48) {The sea is shit, not water.]

In “Blur” by Weasel (Limbo), they meet Ely, a white lab mouse who has gotten sick of always giving blow jobs for money and tries to leave that life. “But you can’t stay a whore forever. I started getting tired of sucking dick. The taste of cum started to burn my stomach each time I swallowed.” (p. 18)

In “A New Toy” by Tarl “Voice” Hoch (Lust), Anderson, a fox pornography store owner, is offered ten new Lovecraftian sex toys. “The first impression the toy gave me was of something vagina-pink that I couldn’t make heads of tails of. There were multiple holes that looked like insertion points for a penis, but their locations didn’t make any logical sense.” (p. 38) Moral: don’t stick your prick into any hole if you don’t know where it leads.

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Longtails: The Storms of Spring, by Jaysen Headley – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Longtails: The Storms of Spring, by Jaysen Headley. Map.
Orlando, FL, the author, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.95 (338 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

“In a not too distant future, humanity is extinct. The world is now ruled by animals who wield swords, magic and technology to create and protect vast empires. As darkness grows on the horizon, an unlikely hero will be chosen to defend this new world.” (blurb)

I am immediately turned off by this. It’s the difference between the book and the movie of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH/The Secret of NIMH. In the book, things are accomplished through Science. The mice and rats have their intelligence raised through scientific experimentation, but are otherwise unchanged. The new society that the rats build is based on what they need. It doesn’t have lots of electric lights because the rats are used to living without lights. The rats don’t wear clothes because they have fur. They scurry on all fours. Nicodemus, their leader, is a wise rat who studies much. In the movie, the rats walk upright and have built a hidden imitation human town with lots of lighting. They dress in medieval clothes, and Nicodemus is a wizard who can work Magic.

Both the book and the movie have their fans. If you liked the movie, you will probably love Longtails, Book One: The Storms of Spring.

“Biological warfare and radiation during World War 4 have had surprising effects on the creatures of the world. Some for the better. Some for the worse. Raccoons scour the countryside for motorbike parts. Squirrels have taken to the sky aboard flying ships. Danger lurks around every corner.” (p. 1)

Del Hatherhorne is an average brown mouse. “He came to live in an abandoned apartment room in the northern part of the great mouse city of Verden.   His new home was on the third floor of a complex, located at the corner of 14th Street and Larimer – according to their corresponding rusted green street signs at least.” (p. 7) The World War has apparently killed all the humans but left their city intact for the mice to move into. “He’d fallen in love with the vacant studio apartment the moment he’d laid eyes on it. Shelves adorning pale blue walls were filled floor to ceiling with everything from manga (Japanese comics which read right to left), to comics (mostly published by DC but with a spattering of Marvel, Image and Darkhorse), to video games (a wide assortment with role-playing games and puzzlers making up the bulk of it) and even old movies (names like Spielberg, Lucas and Ridley Scott were embossed along the spines of the shimmering boxes).” (p. 8)

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“At least you can hiss pretty good”- Jenny Mure tackles depression in candid Possum comics

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 from Marfedblog reposted here. (-Patch)

One thing I’ve briefly alluded to but never directly addressed is feeling ‘down’ over the course of the last three years, maybe more if I’m being brutally honest with you. It’s harder to admit even after eight months of the stabilising effects of Citalopram that it had, without me really noticing, swallowed up the largest part of these years. I struggled along from day to day and mood to mood believing I could just “shrug it off,  Stubbornly refusing to even acknowledge it for what it really was, barely even able to say the word, depression.  Admitting it to others was one of the biggest hurdles and even after finally reaching out and getting help last year I still find the hardest part is just the sheer difficulty in talking about it without truly understanding why I feel this way. Selfishly it’s  one of the reasons I’ve been attracted Jenny Mure’s possum books, the closest paper and ink, maybe any medium has come to depicting the roller coaster of emotions and the even worse bottoming out and endless emptiness that follows. I know,  I know,  “You’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing” but hear me out anyway, please.

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Discover the best of furry fandom with the 2017 Ursa Major awards, and 2017 Cóyotl Awards.

by Patch O'Furr

Thank you for helping Dogpatch Press to win the Ursa Major Award for Best Magazine of 2017!

 

Ever have a hard time knowing where to start with furry media? Does the horizon get lost in the digital sands?

Look no further than the Ursa Major Awards.  That’s the Furry equivalent of science fiction fandom’s Hugo Awards, mystery fandom’s Anthony Awards, or horror fandom’s Bram Stoker Awards. The Hugos also have the Nebulas to  complement them – and Furry has the Coyotl Awards for literature, as voted by the Furry Writers’ Guild. That’s not all – furry literature will also soon have the first Leo Awards, to be announced at AC 2018. (What’s the difference? The Leos are fandom-specific and voted on by a panel of judges.) The Ursa and Coyotl winners were both announced this month, so they’re all listed below to encourage you to check out some cool stuff you might not have seen.

URSA MAJOR NEWS

The winners for 2017 were announced at a presentation ceremony at the Furry Down-Under 2018 convention in Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland, Australia, on Saturday May 5.  FurDu posted a video of the ceremony including a slide show created by Ed Otter:

There was a lot of talk about it here before they were announced. Fred Patten saw growth in activities like fursuiting competing for attention with fan media, while maybe the awards could use a boost for reach after lower voting this year than in the past. A lack of staffing and funding led to appeals for help, while Anthrocon began offering matching donation to support writers. For 2019, the Awards will be presented at AnthrOhio.

Here’s a few things that stood out about the winners:

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Small World, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Small World, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $11.99 (301 [+ 1] pages).

Small World is Luterman’s The Kanti Cycle, Book 2. Book 1 is Skeleton Crew. Luterman says here that The Kanti Cycle is a trilogy, to be completed in Book 3, Fair Trade.

Skeleton Crew seemed to end with a definite conclusion, but Small World continues the plot in a new direction.

Skeleton Crew is set on the generation exploratory starship White Flower II, populated entirely by 10,000 furry geroo and one giant dragonlike krakun, Commissioner Sarsuk. The protagonist is Kanti, one of the geroo.

400 years ago, the krakun came to the overpopulated primitive world Gerootec and offered to hire thousands of geroo as their starship crews. The geroo who went into space and their descendants would never see Gerootec again, but they would live in luxury compared to the backward geroo on their homeworld. After 400 years, the geroo are asking if the krakun are their employers or their slavemasters. The White Flower II would be a paradise for the geroo, if it weren’t for the krakun’s cruelly arbitrary representative, Commissioner Sarsuk. It doesn’t help that Commissioner Sarsuk openly refers to them as slaves. In Skeleton Crew, matters build to a flash point, but Kanti, a lowly deckhand, maneuvers Sarsuk into seriously injuring himself before he can slaughter any geroo. The Kanti Cycle, Book 1 ends with Sarsuk returning to the krakun homeworld to recuperate, leaving the geroo on the White Flower II in peace — for awhile.

Small World begins with Sarsuk returning to the starship. He’s not happy, and he’s going to make as many people suffer as he can.

“‘On my shuttle you will find a cage. Fill it.’ Commissioner Sarsuk clipped his strand back onto his necklace. ‘I know that you love to agonize over choices, trying to make the perfect decision. So in the infinite compassion that I have for you –’ He rolled his eyes. ‘—I am giving you some extra time.’

‘Fill … a cage …’ the captain said quietly. ‘With?’

Sarsuk crossed his arms and leaned on his elbows so he could comfortably lower his face down to Ateri’s level. ‘You’re smart. At least you always act that way. What do you think? What’s the one thing on board this ship that has any utility at all?’

[…]

‘My crew?’

‘Fifty slaves should do, Ateri,’ Sarsuk said. ‘I had a ringel cleaning crew previously, but I can’t see any reason to buy more of them. Fifty geroo would be a nice perk considering how much I’ve had to endure for the company recently,’ he added, his eyes filling with self-pity.” (pgs. 4-5)

The blurb summarizes the setup: “The commissioner accidentally let his last cleaning crew starve to death, so now Kanti and forty-nine of his teammates will have to spend the rest of their lives living in a one room barracks with only a single airlock protecting them all from the planet’s poisonous atmosphere.”

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A&H Club, Volume 1, by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

A&H Club, volume 1, by Rick Griffin. Illustrated.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2018, trade paperback, $18.29 (unpaged [82 pages]).

Popular furry writer/artist Rick Griffin has two Internet comic strips. Housepets! is the one that everyone is familiar with. Once a year he collects them and publishes a Create/Space album.

A&H Club is his other Internet strip. In one way it’s just more familiar high-class Griffin anthropomorphic art, and jokes about not wearing any pants. In another it’s the opposite of what Griffin does in Housepets! It’s serious, not comedic, even if it does view today’s society as semi-comedic. It’s realistic, not fantastic; aside from featuring anthropomorphic animals who walk about nude below the waist. Its two main characters are a pair of lesbian lovers (Adrian is really bi), one of whom is a single mother. It consists of full pages rather than strips.

Griffin first collected his A&H Club into three comic books of between 22 and 28 pages each. Now he has gathered those into a CreateSpace album of 82 pages including the three front & rear covers.

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River Water, by Eikka – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

River Water, by Eikka.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2016, trade paperback, $9.00 (122 pages), Kindle $2.99.

This is a happy nature novella, like Bambi by Felix Salten – not! (Not that Bambi is very happy.)

Flix is a pregnant young vixen, happily mated to Bracken, a strong but not very bright tod. This is fine with her. She doesn’t love him as much as she feels that she can relax with him as the protector of her and her (and his) kits. This is a great relief after her own orphaned and very insecure childhood.

“His brain wasn’t talon-sharp, if that wasn’t obvious from his idea that shrubberies could spontaneously attack, but that was fine by her. She knew he’d sooner let his bones collapse than let anyone get a strand of fur on her, and she’d given him a litter of magnificent kits growing inside her body alongside a growing feeling of being protected than she’d had in a very long time.” (p. 8)

Unfortunately for her, Bracken is immediately killed while she is out hunting. She does not grieve for him as much as she’s panic-stricken at being without a protector once again. Even worse now that she has a wombful of growing kits to also care for.

Flix is so desperate for a new protector that when she comes across a lone stoat, even younger and more naïve than she is, she grabs him for the job. He takes some persuading at first –

“The stoat blinked open his eyes, and reacted just as expected, twisting, scratching, biting, kicking. Flix, feeling disturbed but making sure she remained calm, called out as clearly as she could.

‘Okay, stop! I’m not going to hurt you! I know you’re lost and I know you’re alone – but that’s why I’m here! I want to help you! But please, I need you to stop!’

The stoat began to slow his struggling, but whether this was because he believed what she was saying or just getting tired, Flix didn’t know – she just continued speaking regardless.

‘Are you listening to me? Are…? Look, what’s your name? Mine’s Flix. What’s yours? Mmm?’

He just stared at her. She asked the question again. ‘What’s your name?’

‘…You’re a fox” the stoat breathed out.

‘Yes, I know,’ Flix said, ‘but there’s nothing I can do about that. And anyway, I’m not an ordinary fox… I’m a good fox.’

‘G… Good fox?’

‘Yes,’ she said, astonished at what she was saying; the amount of animals she’d torn the fur off, she was akin to a good fox as much as a stick insect was to a vicious destroyer of nature. ‘Ground squirrels, tree squirrels – good foxes, bad foxes. So you don’t have to be afraid. Just tell me your name.’

The stoat stared for a while longer, before sliding out the word ‘Nezzick’.

‘Nezzick,’ Flix repeated. ‘Brilliant name. Now… You know I’m here to help you, don’t you? … Just say yes or no.’

He didn’t say anything.” (pgs. 11-12)

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The Wonderling, by Mira Bartók – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Wonderling, by Mira Bartók. Map, illustrations by the author.
Summerville, MA, Candlewick Press, September 2017, hardcover, $21.99 ([vii +] 450 pages), Kindle $9.46.

The Wonderling is a Young Adult fantasy recommended for grades 5 to 9; ages 10 to 14. It has “already been put into development for a major motion picture,” according to the blurb.

It has been compared to the novels by Charles Dickens about wretched orphans in Victorian England. Think of A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist, with furries – or at least strange beasts.

“He looked like a young fox but stood upright like a child and had no tail to speak of. His eyes were a lovely chestnut brown and flecked with gold. But there was something about them that gave one the sense that, although he had not been in this world very long, he carried within him some inexplicable sorrow.

He was a creature with an innocent heart. What kind of creature, though, who could say? Despite his fox kit face, his snout was more dog than fox, and there was something rabbity about him too, in the way his nose twitched when he sensed danger, and how he trembled when he heard the loud clang of the orphanage bell. But the most singular thing about him was that he had only one ear.

[…]

But Number Thirteen – one-eared, nameless, and small of stature, for he never grew taller than three feet high – could not remember where he came from.” (pgs. 4-5)

Number Thirteen has been raised from infancy in Miss Carbuncle’s large Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, just outside the large “Great White City of Lumentown”. He is about 11 years old.

“On the front of the Home’s brochure was a happy-go-lucky creature with the head of a rabbit and the body of a little girl, wearing a polka-dot dress and bow, clutching a bouquet of daisies. Beneath the picture, the caption read: Have you been unexpectedly burdened by a recently orphaned or unclaimed creature? Worry not! We have just the solution for you!” (pgs. 6-7)

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Vincent and the Dissidents, by Christopher Locke – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Vincent and the Dissidents, by Christopher Locke.
Los Angeles, CA, Fathoming Press, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.95 ([x +] 335 pages), Kindle $3.99.

This is The Enlightenment Adventures, Book Two. When I reviewed Book One, published in February 2015, I said: “And this is only Book One of The Enlightenment Adventures. Those who read it through to the end will not be able to resist going on to Book Two.” Now, after a three-year wait, here it is.

In Book One, Persimmon Takes On Humanity, the raccoon Persimmon leads a tiny group of North American forest animals in an apparently hopeless drama of taking on all humanity to destroy its enterprises that exploit animals: commercial meat farms, fur farms, puppy mills, and especially circuses with performing animals. Persimmon starts out as an indignant but naïve protester against all human callous exploitation of animals for profit or amusement. By the end of the novel, she is a grim militant.

“She looks directly at the Rottweilers with a stern expression. ‘Listen to me very carefully. I want to help you, but there are two of you and thousands of minks, and they’re suffering immensely. I’ve heard horrible things about what they’re forced to endure. Right now some of them have open wounds. Some don’t have any water. And some are going slowly insane because they’re trapped in stifling, barren cages. It’s unbelievably cruel, and we’re here to put a stop to it. You’re either with us or against us.’” (Persimmon Takes On Humanity, p. 146)

Vincent and the Dissidents begins with a ten-page Cast of Characters and Synopsis of Book One, so the reader can drop running into the action. The Cast of Characters says about Vincent:

“VINCENT – A cunning mink whose fur is mostly black with a hint of blue. He lived a hellish life on a fur farm before he finally escaped. He then vowed to himself that he would rescue the minks who were still trapped on the farm. A few months later, he was lucky enough to meet Persimmon and her team. They joined forces and successfully rescued most of the minks. Little did Persimmon know that after she and her team had moved on to their next mission, Vincent began gathering his own army of animals who would rescue other animals using more aggressive tactics against humans than her own.” (p. [iv])

It’s more complex than that. Persimmon originally grandiosely dubs her animal group The Uncaged Alliance. In Book One, she constantly argues with Rawly, another raccoon, as to what tactics they should use and what their next mission should be. They end up splitting, with Rawly leading the remnant of The Uncaged Alliance (including Persimmon’s younger brother Scraps), and Persimmon starting afresh with a new title, The Enlighteners. Vincent has been organizing his own group, the Dissidents.

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