Dogpatch Press

Fluff Pieces Every Week Day

Category: Opinion

The Snake’s Song: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel, by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Snake’s Song: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel, by Mary E. Lowd.
Eugene, OR, ShadowSpinners Press, March 2018, trade paperback, $11.99 (210 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $3.99.

ShadowSpinners Press says, “Labyrinth of Souls novels must contain the idea of an underworld labyrinth. The form of the labyrinth and the nature of the underworld are left to the fevered imagination of the author. […] Most stories will lean toward dark fantasy but science fiction, horror, psychological thriller, Noir, mystery, etc. will be considered.” The Snake’s Song is its sixth novel, and its first furry one.

The Snake’s Song is a work of fabulism rather than traditional furry fiction. “The snake sang,” it begins. “The snake sang and mice knew better than to listen. Mice and rats and songbirds and frogs – none of them listened to snakes. Songbirds and frogs sang their own songs; mice and rats told stories. None of them listened to snakes.

And neither did squirrels.

But one day, a gray squirrel named Witch-Hazel stopped to listen to a soft hissing carried on the wind, a susurrus coming from a tunnel, hidden beneath a bush. With melancholy sighs and mesmerizing murmurs, the hissing voice sang a song of days gone by, days long ago when the earth and sky and underground were bound together with a river that flowed in endless, looping circles; tree branches embraced the heavens, and tree roots held the depths in their woody arms; and all the creatures of Earth could make a pilgrimage into the sky to meet the All-Being who had created every animal.” (p. 13, reformatted)

Squirrels don’t listen to snakes, but now Witch-Hazel does:

“‘Tell me about the All-Being,’ Witch-Hazel asked breathlessly.

‘The All-Being is why birds can fly, fish breathe water, beavers are builders, and bees can turn pollen into honey. Each of them reflects the glory of the All-Being.’

Witch-Hazel wondered how she reflected the All-Being’s glory. ‘How about squirrels?’ she asked.” (p. 14)

Is the snake trying to lure her into its underground lair? But she dimly remembers her mother telling her of the All-Being when she was a tiny kitten, and of the Celestial Fragments – the Sun Shard that grants strength, the Star Sliver that grants endless breath, and the Moon Opal that grants flight. Witch-Hazel is too wary to follow the snake into its hole, but she can’t stop thinking about the Celestial Fragments and the All-Being.

“Witch-Hazel pictured a creature with one bat wing and one sparrow wing; a green cat eye and a yellow coyote eye; a long rabbit ear and a round mouse ear; a deer antler and an antelope horn; a hoofed foreleg and a webbed paw; a mountain lion’s golden haunches and a squirrel’s silver tail – because no creature on Earth has a tail more beautiful than a squirrel.” (pgs. 17-18)

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Chlorophylle et le Monstre des Trois Sources, by Jean-Luc Cornette (writer) and René Hausman (artist) – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Chlorophylle et le Monstre des Trois Sources, by Jean-Luc Cornette (writer) and René Hausman (artist). Illustrated.
Brussels, Le Lombard, March 2016, hardcover, €14,99 (48 pages), Kindle €9,99.

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

I am a big fan of the original Chlorophylle stories written and drawn by Raymond Macherot (1924-2008) in the 1950s and 1960s. They have all been reprinted in an attractive three-volume Intégrale set, which I applaud and recommend.

Today Le Lombard is having new adventures produced of many of its most popular comic strips of the French-Belgian “Golden Age” of the 1950s and 1960s, by the most prestigious artists of today. (You should see what has been done with Mickey Mouse!)

Both Cornette and Hausman have had long careers in the French-Belgian comic-book industry as both artists and writers. I will speculate that the main attraction of Chlorophylle and the Monster of Three Sources is Hausman’s detailed watercolor art.

I can appreciate it intellectually. But on a basic emotional level, it seems wrong. It’s like seeing a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge story by Jack Kirby or Art Spiegelman in their own art styles – or, contrariwise, a Captain America adventure or a Maus episode drawn in Carl Barks’ art style. But this is being done deliberately.

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Black Friday (The Valens Legacy), by Jan Stryvant – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Black Friday, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $9.99 (226         pages, Kindle $3.95.

Perfect Strangers, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, September 2017, trade paperback, $9.99 (240 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Over Our Heads, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, October 2017, trade paperback, $10.99 (252 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Head Down, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2017, trade paperback, $10.99 (250 pages), Kindle $3.99.

When It Falls, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, January 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (284 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Stand On It, by Jan Stryvant.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, January 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (256 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The first sentence of Black Friday is, “Sean looked both ways as he started across the street, not that there was much traffic during the day here at the University of Nevada, Reno campus this late in the day.” The third sentence is, “Mid-terms had just finished and he was pretty happy with his grades this semester, he’d finally gotten the hang of this whole ‘college’ thing, so what if it had taken him nearly three years!” Sean may be a college student, but I’ll bet he hasn’t been taking any writing courses.

Black Friday is the first novel in the six-volume The Valens Legacy. It is one of the five novels on the 2017 Ursa Major Awards ballot for Best Anthropomorphic Novel of the Year. It has 506(!) customer reviews currently on Amazon (most books are lucky to get 10 customer reviews), mostly five-star and 4-star reviews, although I agree more with the first cited, a two-star review: “Entirely avoidable grammatical mistakes, misuse of terms and DEAR LORD the treatment of adjectives!”

The other four Ursa Major finalists for Best Novel are Always Gray in Winter by Mark J. Engels, Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending by Mary E. Lowd, Kismet by Watts Martin, and The Wayward Astronomer by Geoffrey Thomas. I have seen all four of these discussed on furry-fandom websites. I have not seen any indication that anyone in furry fandom has been reading Black Friday. Where did its nominations come from?

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A pup’s response to the lobby incident at FWA – Guest post from Jones.

by Patch O'Furr

Following Part 1 and Part 2 here’s one more take. (Sorry if it’s beating a dead horse, or pup, but it has to post week-of). Thanks to Jones for submitting. Good boy!

Many puppy players ARE furries. @Pup_Leo: “mixing my pup gear with my fursona”

Hello. I’m Devin Jones, your friendly local furry hermit. I’ve been in the fandom for 16 years, both active and periphery, and I’ve been a pup for seven years. This recent incident at FWA has called me to bring my expertise in both spaces to bear on making a decision on how I, personally, should react and handle the overlap between the pup and furry communities.

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Puppy play incident at Furry Weekend Atlanta – is that OK in public? (Part 2)

by Patch O'Furr

Continuing from part 1: Controversy erupted about a video from FWA that appeared to show sex in public, but it didn’t. It was puppy players wrestling (moshing). Pup play is an offshoot of the leather scene that overlaps with furry, but isn’t always welcome. The behavior at FWA was one issue – and then a separate, bigger debate came up about welcoming that interest at furry cons. Here’s a point/counterpoint about it.

Click through above for more from Pup Matthias, a Dogpatch Press staffer who says “Pups are a spectrum of sexual and non sexual like furries, but they haven’t had people whitewash their history”. 

He gave further explanation:

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Puppy play incident at Furry Weekend Atlanta – is that OK in public? (Part 1)

by Patch O'Furr

Furry twitter was growling about two puppies wrestling in the middle of a hotel lobby. It was an “OMG! Furs are having sex in public at FWA” thing. It started with one tweet of a video that sort of looks like people having sex – but then the subjects posted a close-up 360 video showing it wasn’t. Even so, online outrage kept getting the video taken down from Youtube (see it on Vimeo).

Changa Lion of the Prancing Skiltaire house, a graymuzzle furry who staffed at ConFurence and tipped me about this, said it resembled plenty of previous “bullshit said about older cons that wasn’t actually true”:

It’s like it becomes self-reinforcing. No matter what is said, it’s now firmly in place in people’s minds that furs were having sex in public at FWA. I almost want a yearly award for the biggest fan outrage of the year that is actually bullshit.

What were they doing?

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Crafter’s Passion, by Kris Schnee – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Crafter’s Passion by Kris Schnee.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, March 2018, trade paperback, $7.99 (247 pages).

This actually shouldn’t be reviewed here because it’s not anthropomorphic. But it’s in Kris Schnee’s Thousand Tales series, and the previous four books all had protagonists who became fantasy animals: a griffin, a squirrel-girl, a coyote-man, and a pegasus. If you’re a Thousand Tales fan, you’ll want to read it despite its protagonist remaining human.

Schnee’s Thousand Tales books aren’t meant to be furry fiction, but science-fiction. Schnee postulates that by 2038, Artificial Intelligences have become so advanced/powerful that when a new one code-named Ludo is put in charge of the Thousand Tales interactive game, and programmed to make sure its players “have fun”, Ludo does everything to ensure that they have fun – including giving them the choice of abandoning their human bodies and living in Thousand Tales permanently, as the creature of their choice.

The process involves the scanning of their brains (an expensive process that results in the death of their human bodies) and the transfer of their minds to Ludo’s control within its Thousand Tales universe. Most governments (much more regimented than today) oppose this. But it involves a person’s free choice, and some experts argue that the process involves the successful transferral of the person into a new body without being killed.

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Cold Clay: A Murder Mystery by Juneau Black – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Cold Clay: A Murder Mystery by Juneau Black.
Philadelphia, PA, Hammer & Birch, November 2017, trade paperback, $12.95 (198 {+ 1] pages), Kindle $4.99.

This sequel to Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, described as “a Murder, She Wrote with animals”, is a worthy followup to it. Again the cast is:

Vera Vixen: This cunning, foxy reporter has a nose for trouble and a desire to find out the truth, no matter where the path leads.

Deputy Orville Braun: This large brown bear is the more hardworking half of the Shady Hollow constabulary. He works by the book. But his book has half the pages ripped out.

Joe Elkin: This genial giant of a moose runs the town coffee shop – the local gathering spot. If gossip is spoken, Joe has heard it, but this time, he is the gossip.”

And too many others to list here. Cold Clay takes place several months after the events in Shady Hollow.   The animal inhabitants of the village of Shady Hollow are settling back into their peaceful routine – newspaper reporter Vera Vixen might call it boring – when the rabbit farm workers of Cold Clay Orchards who are transplanting an apple tree find the skeleton of a moose buried beneath it.

The news soon spreads, and all thoughts turn to the popular moose proprietor of Joe’s Mug, Shady Hollow’s coffee shop. Joe’s wife Julia disappeared eleven years ago. She was flighty and hadn’t wanted to stay in what she considered a nowheresville, so when she vanished, leaving Joe with their baby son, everyone assumed that she had walked out on them. But a moose’s skeleton, which is soon determined to be the missing Julia’s, and that she was murdered, sets all Shady Hollow talking again. There’s not really any evidence against Joe, but there isn’t against anyone else, either.

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2 Gryphon punches down on a critic – what can we learn from this?

by Patch O'Furr

Quick: What’s the difference between a car driven into a crowd by a terrorist, and a swimming pool? That’s a question about the video below from 2 Gryphon.

He was reacting to a video criticizing his beliefs about hate groups. Like neo-nazi marchers who murdered a woman in 2017 by driving a Dodge Challenger into a crowd – (with participation by haters from the furry community, leading one to kill himself in March 2018.)

2 Gryphon claims to be respectful of the critic Tantroo McNally, AKA Sonious. a furry news writer and Youtuber. At the same time, his reaction was punching down on an easy target with 369 subscribers in front of his 28,000.  That’s unusual. Sonious doesn’t get other ratings like this, and it pushes down search results. With so much unbalance, it’s hard to get both sides. Everyone likes both sides, right? So let’s give a deeper look to what Sonious was criticizing. This was the source of it all:

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The closing of Pounced.org is a wake up call for fandom attitudes about sex.

by Patch O'Furr

Yesterday’s article covered the closing of Pounced, a long-lived furry dating and personals site, out of fear of legal liability under a controversial new law, FOSTA. A statement on Pounced discussed ill-defined wording that made the law overkill; and how the smallest organizations may face the worst liability. It particularly could require administration that sounds easy on paper, but makes an untenable burden in practice.

FOSTA is meant to protect assumed victims of sex trafficking, but falsely makes “victims” and “sex work” the same thing. My article suggested that nobody wants trafficking abuse, but sex work isn’t illegal everywhere, it exists everywhere and can be called a healthy consenting adult issue. Beyond that is anti-free-speech, anti-business, and intrusive paternalism of a law that has collateral damage on stuff like harmless dating. Here’s some editorial elaboration.

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