Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Category: Opinion

The Animal Guild Series – Book Reviews by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Animal Guild Series

The Animal Guild, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2015, trade paperback, $11.97 ([5 +] 307 pages), Kindle $0.99.

Monsters in the Territory, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2015, trade paperback, $12.99 ([5 +] 340 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Marrhob War, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, February 2015, trade paperback, $12.47 ([5 +] 320 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Nhorn, by Jennifer Sowle. 2nd Edition.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2015, trade paperback, $11.97 ([5 +] 278 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Sowle’s Amazon “About the Author” says that she has been writing this Young Adult series since the age of 13. (Wikipedia says she was born in 1977.) Book 1 was published by CreateSpace on August 22, 2012, with this Second Edition on May 13, 2015. Book 2 was published on August 15, 2013 with this Second Edition on February 8, 2015. Book 3, March 6, 2014 and February 26, 2015. Book 4, June 8, 2014 and March 10, 2015. Book 5, January 26, 2015 and April 13, 2015. Further books are first editions.

What is the Animal Guild, and who is in it? The story is deliberately murky at the beginning:

“Corto dove between the mesquites and just missed the spiny cholla they cosseted under their branches. It was exactly how he’d cut his forepaw an hour ago and started the blood trail. Drok take every piece of cactus in this desert and chuck it over the white gates of Hell.

He didn’t continue the puerile curse because coyote scent wafted toward him again, stronger and closer. He hadn’t shaken his pursuers, attracted by the blood, and until he could hole up and stop the bleeding, he wouldn’t. The cairn terrier ran past the offensive cholla, which had been lurking in wait behind the mesquite, and wished again that he was a bit taller. […]” (The Animal Guild, p. 1)

In the opening pages the reader learns that Corto is a cairn terrier fleeing from coyotes through a desert. He is on a lone-dog mission, but he is resigned to being eaten by the pursuing coyotes, until he is unexpectedly saved by a fox. But wildies don’t associate with guilders like Corto, do they?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing” – Comic review by Ace.

by Patch O'Furr

Review: Suburban Jungle: Rough Housing
Guest review by Ace

Suburban Jungle was a web comic done by John “The Gneech” Robey that started on February 1, 1999. It starred a young tigress, named Tiffany, who is trying to make a career of acting and modeling while holding down numerous temp jobs. Along the way she meets the Kurt Russell-esque Leonard Lion, Leona Lioness (no relation to Leonard), and many others such as Drezzer Wolf and Conrad Tiger. It was slice of life with the characters residing in the fictional city. It was light, campy and a general good read.

It was the web comic that made me become a furry.

When Suburban Jungle ended in November 6, 2009 it felt like a giant punch to the gut. I had only been in the fandom ten years in the fandom because of Suburban Jungle. I loved the characters, especially Tiffany, Leona, as well as Leonard, Conrad and everyone’s favorite gay uncle, Drezzer. It was hard to fill those holes. I had never gotten to the opportunity to read Never, Never (which I found out actually came before SJ in terms of production) and while I liked other web comics, they didn’t hold my attention like SJ did.

So imagine my surprise when found out that The Gneech did another SJ comic starting in 2016. This one was a sequel but didn’t feature the same characters. Instead, the main character was a cheeger (the hybrid result of a tiger and a cheetah, in this case Comfort Tiger the sister of Suburban Jungle star Tiffany and her husband the code speaking Dover Cheetah), named Charity Cheeger.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Student, Vol. 1, by Joe Sherman – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Student, vol. 1, by Joe Sherman
Covington, OH, Joe Sherman publishing, May 2017, trade paperback, $15.95 (284 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

Readers had better consider this to have a Sex Lovers Only rating.

The date is 2290, fifteen years after the Kaspersky foundation developed the first successful human-animal person. That was a dog-man they named Furton Kaspersky. This was almost unnoticed by the public because of the simultaneous announcement that humans had been accepted into the Galactic Trade Federation. But as soon as the excitement over that died down, there was plenty of social questioning and panic over letting “animal people” into society. However, by the 23rd century there was enough acceptance of the concept of intelligent non-humans that the anthropomorphic animals couldn’t be suppressed. A compromise was reached: to construct a domed city for the scientists and the hybrids where the research could be continued “in safety”, until the general public was convinced that the animal people were safe. The scientists ensured that the steel-&-glass-domed city, also dubbed Furton, would not become a slum. Furton was built twelve years ago.

Teenager Chris Tailor is the first human to be accepted into Furton University (although its professors are humans). Chris has always been fascinated by the hybrids, and he had been sending questions to the Kaspersky foundation via computer for a decade. The foundation had usually ignored him; but apparently someone has recently decided to let a human into the animal student body as a social experiment, and Chris’ pro-hybrid interest plus his genetics major has made him stand out. Chris is incredulous but delighted to be invited inside the domed city to become a student at Furton University.

This is described in the short Introduction and first chapter. Sherman has an unusual style of huge paragraphs with justified margins, but the reader quickly gets used to them. Here he meets one of the Kaspersky professors during a subway ride inside the dome to the University:

“‘I am Professor Meyers,” The scientist introduced himself as he studied the nervous young man. ‘You’re wearing generics. New to the city I presume?’ he observed in a gravelly voice. ‘I just got into the city less than an hour ago. I’m a new student at the University,’ Chris confirmed with a nod, grinning foolishly in his excitement. ‘Ah, I’m an instructor there myself. What is your major?’ Professor Meyers inquired as he brightened up slightly. ‘Genetics… I’ve been fascinated by the hybrids ever since I watched the news feed of their first creation. I’ve been looking forward to coming here for years to learn how they are created,’ Chris answered proudly. ‘Well then, I suppose I’ll see you in my class. Genetic engineering and hybrid biology are the courses of study, which are my responsibility,’ Professor Meyers announced once he recovered from the surprising answer. He lifted and cocked his head a bit as a tone sounded down the subway tunnel. After a moment, the recorded voice signaled the arrival of the next train. Well here we are. Do you know where you’re headed? I can show you to the dormitories once we arrive at the University, if you’d like,’ he offered.” (p. 14)

Read the rest of this entry »

French anthro comic: Solo, T. 2, by Oscar Martin – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Solo. T.2, Le Coeur et le Sang, by Oscar Martin.
Paris, Delcourt, January 2016, hardcover €16,95 (109 [+ 1] pages).

Oops. This volume 2, The Heart and the Blood, almost got away from Lex Nakashima & me. Volume 3 is out already. Expect a review of it soon.

I said of volume 1, “The setting: a bleak, war-destroyed future Earth. Think MGM’s/Hugh Harman’s 1939 animated Peace on Earth, where the last humans on Earth kill each other and leave the world to the peaceful funny animals; or the similar sequence in Alexander Korda’s 1936 live-action feature Things to Come, where England (and presumably the whole human race) has been bombed and shot up back to the Stone Age. It’s Mad Max with furries.”

That’s still true of vol. 2. Quoting from my review of volume 1 again, I said, “Solo is a brawny teenaged rat-equivalent of the young Conan the Barbarian, but a lot smarter. In the first few pages, he and his warrior father are shown fighting giant, mutated monsters in a freezing winter landscape for food for their family, and killing rival mustelid warriors ready to eat them. Solo and his father win, but it is obvious to all that Solo’s family is slowly starving. Solo, a huge teenager, decides to leave so his parents and siblings won’t have to share their food with him.”

Solo spends most of volume 1 as an almost brain-dead gladiatorial warrior in a human-run arena. It’s clear that he could escape whenever he wants, but is there anyplace else in the world worth escaping to? He finally finds such a place; a new home and a wife. He finds that life is worth living again.

Of course, this now gives him responsibilities – to his wife and to his community.

The Heart and the Blood is divided into two sections; the story of 73 pages, and a mixture of “technical notes” (some of the other intelligent species of Solo’s “cannibal world”) and short independent stories.

Read the rest of this entry »

Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer
NYC, MCD Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2017, hardcover $26.00 (323 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $12.99.

Borne is a science-fiction novel, not a furry novel. That’s Borne on the cover. No furry author has ever featured an animal quite like him – if he is an animal.

“WHAT I FOUND AND HOW I FOUND IT

I found Borne on a sunny gunmetal day when the giant bear Mord came roving near our home. To me, Borne was just salvage at first. I didn’t know what Borne would mean to us. I couldn’t know that he would change everything.

Borne was not much to look at that first time: dark purple and about the size of my fist, clinging to Mord’s fur like a half-closed stranded sea anemone. I found him only because, beacon-like, he strobed emerald green across the purple every half minute or so.

Come close, I could smell the brine, rising in a wave, and for a moment there was no ruined city around me, no search for food and water, no roving gangs and escaped, altered creatures of unknown origin or intent. No mutilated, burned bodies dangling from broken streetlamps.” (p. 3)

Mord, the giant, floating, ever-hungry bear, is almost as fascinating.

“No one, not even Wick, knew why the Company hadn’t seen the day coming when Mord would transform from their watchdog to their doom – why they hadn’t tried to destroy Mord while they still held that power. Now it was too late, for not only had Mord become a behemoth, but, by some magic of engineering extorted from the Company, he had learned to levitate, to fly.

By the time I had reached Mord’s resting place, he shuddered in earthquake-like belches of uneasy sleep, his nearest haunch rising high above me. Even on his side, Mord rose three stories. He was drowsy from sated bloodlust; his thoughtless sprawl had leveled a building, and pieces of soft-brick rubble had mashed out to the sides, repurposed as Mord’s bed in slumber.” (pgs. 4-5)

Read the rest of this entry »

“Intimate Little Secrets” by Rechan – book review by Summercat.

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Summercat for this guest post.

Intimate Little Secrets by Rechan
March 2017, Furplanet and Bad Dog Books

Intimate Little Secrets is a collection of 9 short stories by Rechan. After randomly encountering him in a non-Furry location I promised to review his latest work. I went into reading this book expecting a collection of erotica and was blind-sided by well written stories that I connected with emotionally, if not erotically.

Fanservice – Robin, frustrated with her coworker Dean’s missing of her signals, decides to seduce him by cosplaying as a character from a show he likes. The quick pace from flirting to office sex raised an eyebrow. One issue I noticed is that while Robin’s species is put in early enough, Dean’s is not mentioned until after he is first mentioned and we are brought down Robin’s memory lane. However, even when one character is indistinct, I was still able to get a sense of the action playing out. The emotions and reactions of the characters are fairly real and relatable, alternating between awkward inexperience and passionate confidence when they forget to be worried.

Strange on a Train – Marjani, a serval, reads some erotic fiction on a train and enlists another passenger to assist with her arousal. This story is very well written, we’re given imagery exactly where we need it and when we need it. Marjani’s actions are not out of character for her established personality. We’re given only information about the other passenger, a skunk, that Marjani notices on her own; the name used for him is a nickname she mentally calls him. The sex itself has multiple stages; the skill with which Rechan shows rather than tells is apparent throughout. Setting aside the smut, this is a well constructed story with good progression and even a Chekov’s Gun. Despite the lack of time to develop the skunk character, he’s still given enough personality that he’s more than a two-dimensional cardboard extra. This was a fun and engaging read that I’ll be thinking back to in the future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the Altfurry blocklist – a powerful tool to reduce hate spam.

by Patch O'Furr

Have you ever hung up the phone on a jerk? Frozen out a bully who acted like a wasp in your hair?  Rejected a stalker who can’t stop asking to sniff your socks?  Shut the door on a creep who wants to get you into a crackpot religion, or to sign a petition to legalize hunting at zoos? Blocked spam to sell you a miracle cure for crotch rot, made from the powdered toenails of a peruvian jungle sloth?

Good. You stood up for yourself like an adult and moderated a nuisance. And now the power is yours to do it better than before. At least with one hate group.

The Altfurry Twitter blocklist (updated 9/24/2017 – now on Blocktogether)

 

  • Download the file. Go to Twitter: Settings > Blocked Accounts > Advanced > Import.
  • Preview allows screening by eye.  It’s your choice to verify each block.
  • The blocklist is often updated. Check this page for fresh info or subscribe to Blocktogether.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Pride of Parahumans, by Joel Kreissman – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Pride of Parahumans, by Joel Kreissman
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, December 2016, trade paperback $11.99 (161 pages), Kindle $2.99.

The Pride of Parahumans starts with a small, cramped prospecting spaceship in the Asteroid Belt in the late 2100s or early 2200s, crewed by four parahumans (bioengineered anthro animals); Argentum, the black fox mineral analyst (and narrator); Cole, the raven pilot, Denal, the red panda mechanic, and Aniya, a human-wolf-possum mix taur rescue/medic. They’re exploring asteroids, looking for a big strike. They may have just discovered one when they’re attacked by an unknown pirate spaceship. They shoot back and destroy it, killing its one-parahuman crew.

Unfortunately, they (and probably the pirate) are from the Ceres Directorate, the major Asteroid Belt and parahuman government. And the Ceres Directorate has a draconian law against killing. Self-defense is no excuse. Anyone (and in this case the whole crew) who kills has all assets seized and is sentenced to fifty years at hard labor. They agree to keep everything secret and return to Ceres.

“Naturally, we got the first indication that things on Ceres were about to go wrong just as we were leaving the cavern.” (p. 24)

The Pride of Parahumans begins as an okay space opera, full of action and suspense. Unfortunately, it seems very similar to Kismet by Watts Martin, which is also about an anthro space pilot involved in action and suspense in an asteroid belt full of furry characters and space governments, published at almost the same time. And Kismet is MUCH better written.

There are differences. Argentum is a bioengineered experiment, designed to be without genitals and androgynous. (The pronoun zie is used.) The other furries have genitals but they were made sterile (they reproduce by cloning), so they can indulge in lots of sex without worrying about getting pregnant. (Argen qveches that zie’s missing out on the fun.) The Asteroid Belt governments are more chaotic and dictatorial – they all seem like wretched hives of scum and villainy — which increases the suspense, but are less logical.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Novelizations – Book Reviews by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm, by Greg Keyes. Based on the screenplay written by Mark Bomback and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver.
London, Titan Books, May 2014, paperback $ and £7.99 (304 pages), Kindle $7.99 and £3.99.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization, by Alex Irvine.
London, Titan Books, July 2014, paperback $ and £7.99 (313 pages), Kindle $7.99 and £3.79.

La Planète des Singes, the original novel, was written by Pierre Boule in France and published in January 1963. Forget about it. It has almost nothing to do with the movies except inspiring the first of them.

Planet of the Apes, the first movie, was produced by 20th Century Fox and released in April 1968. Boulle’s novel was so extensively rewritten by numerous hands as to create an original plot. It was mega-popular, launching numerous theatrical sequels, TV spinoffs, novels and novelizations, and comic books. The comic books have arguably birthed the most bizarre variations in the form of authorized teamups. Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes. Green Lantern on the Planet of the Apes.

But we digress. All (with one exception) of the movies and TV series have had paperback novelizations and authorized prequels or sequels. Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the first movie sequel, was novelized by Michael Avallone. Most of the other books have been by different authors. Here are the two written for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the next to last movie.

The Planet of the Apes movies can be roughly divided into two groups. The first includes the first movie in 1968 and its four sequels through 1973, plus two TV series. They are set in 3978 A.D. and the next few years, when time-traveling American astronauts find that intelligent chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas have replaced humanity. The first movie was remade in 2001. Not only did that have a novelization by William T. Quick, he wrote two paperback sequels. The second group, telling how the apes replaced humanity, began in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the only movie that did not have a book, only a six-issue comic book prequel. In the near future Will Rodman is a scientist at Gen Sys, a San Francisco biotech company testing ALZ112, a viral-based drug designed to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The drug is tested on chimpanzees and unexpectedly greatly increases their intelligence. Rodman’s superior has the chimps killed, but Will and his assistant discover that a female had just had a baby. Will names the infant chimp Caesar and raises him as his own son. Events result in Caesar being taken from Will and imprisoned in the San Bruno Primate Shelter, where he learns to distrust humanity except Will. Gen Sys experiments with ALZ113, a more powerful aerosol drug. Caesar escapes, steals the ALZ113 from Will’s house, and returns to the shelter to raise the intelligence of all the apes there. They all escape under Caesar’s leadership, add apes from Gen Sys and the San Francisco Zoo, and form an army to battle the humans as they cross the Golden Gate Bridge into nearby Muir Woods. Will goes after them and begs Caesar to surrender since the apes cannot defeat all humanity, but Caesar’s loyalty is now with the other apes. However, mixed with a few earlier scenes and the movie’s closing credits is a foretelling that while the ALZ113 increases apes’ intelligence, it creates an Ebola-like lightning fatal pandemic in humans.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Tower and the Fox by Tim Susman – review by Summercat

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Summercat for this guest post.

The Tower and the Fox is the Kyell Gold novel I’ve been waiting for him to write for years, and it has been worth the wait.

Like many people, I was entranced with The Prisoner’s Release and the rest of the Volle stories, but most of Kyell Gold’s work did not resonate with me, as he primarily wrote for the genre of “Coming of Age Gay Romance”. There’s nothing wrong with the genre, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world in the context of romance (and lots of gay sex) certainly can speak to multiple generations of furries.

Only, I never had those struggles and I tend to skip sex scenes in my furry novels. The prevalent nature of the genre has turned me off to a lot of written Furry fiction, even to the point I hesitate to read what I know would be clean. Yet even then, I enjoyed Kyell’s worldbuilding and storytelling. I felt Shadow of the Father was a fine novel that would have been improved by the removal of the sexual content, and had hoped to one day see Kyell’s skill turned towards a more traditional fantasy.

There’s not even a romance subplot in The Tower and The Fox, and the story is stronger for it.

The Tower and The Fox takes place in an alternate and magical history, set sometime after the Napoleonic Wars have ended. The North American colonies remain part of the Empire, with the only mention of a historical figure being John Adams. However, this is a world of humans, and the Calatians – magically-created animal-human hybrids – are a minority, and an ill-treated one at that, for many humans see them as naught but beasts, with many rights denied to them.

Read the rest of this entry »