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Category: Reviews

Jackal, by Joel Gallay – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Jackal, by Joel Gallay
San Jose, CA, Gallanic Media, November 2017, trade paperback $12.00 (321 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Don’t be misled by the title. That is not a jackal on the cover but the narrator, Jobe Pungushe (pungushe is “dog” in Zulu), a battle-scarred dog-human hybrid soldier in late 21st-early 22nd-century warfare in southern Africa:

“‘And in local news,’ a newscaster proclaimed, somewhat dimmed by the white noise in my ears, and I went for my tinnitus meds in my wallet pocket. ‘A crime advisory is forecasted in Bulawayo’s northeast burrough given the influx of refugees from former South African states. As we know, officials in New Salisbury announced that they planned to accept the old South African Western Cape province’s offer to join Rhodesia. Offers made by Northern Cape, Free State and Lesotho are still pending. Rhodesian law enforcement predicts that, with the current, nearly anarchic state of the former South African provinces, that by taking in said provinces too quickly may result in adverse effects, from simple crime spikes to the reactivation of extremist cells and assorted loyalist violence, and thus must be undertaken carefully. The final lift on Martial Law in Western Cape is said to go into effect on September fifth. As we know, remnants of the International Kingdoms of Man, the racialist paramilitary group involved heavily during the Independence War, linger in various balkanized South African provinces, and many fear that they still receive support from their overseas comrades in the Greater Argentine Federation to operate as paramilitaries here in Rhodesia and in result, tensions in southern Rhodesia, such as Bulawayo and New Beitbridge, are on edge, especially with the horrors of the Independence War still fresh in many a Rhodesian and South African mind, human or hybrid. Local police urge residents to above all remain civil, and to report all suspicious behaviors to the police and not seek vigilantism or violent organization.’

A scowl met my face as I heard the name of the IKM once more, as my tinnitus subsided. I shuddered a little, despite the heat. My leg ached some more.” (p. 5)

Gallay says Jackal is set “in a world parallel to ours in the close future.” Jobe is a combat veteran, one of many returning to a civilian life in peacetime.

“‘Shit, Jobe.’ The foreman chuckled. ‘You were ready to slot that fucker, ain’tcha? Your fur’s all raised ‘n shit.” The foreman turned to look at me. ‘Kinda funny though. He kinda looked like you, didn’ he? You being a canid hybrid, I mean. Same color’a fur, spots ‘n all’” (p. 7)

But this prologue takes place about ten years before the main story. New Rhodesia has prospered since the war, and is more high-tech than the prologue makes it seem:

“Walking towards the convenience store, I brought up my holowatch, making a few motions with my opposite hand to bring up the display, haptic sensors spotting my movements. I brushed past the menus to my notes, seeing my shopping list. Carton of milk, smokes, dinner for the rest of the week. Frozen dinners were what I defaulted to. Maitabella pudding too, along with some cereal for breakfasts. I quickly paced my way inside, eager to get out of the coming rain. The store was manned by an older-aged draconic hybrid man with wrinkled red skin like dyed leather, wings drooping behind him as he eyed me with tired orange-yellow eyes. Draconics always seemed to draw my eyes, hard to be inconspicuous with those big wings of theirs stuck out like radar dishes.” (p. 8)

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Rukus is a furry movie premiering on Feb 2 – here’s the trailer and a review by Marbles.

by Patch O'Furr

The director of Rukus wrote in with a new trailer:

I’ve been reading Dogpatch Press for a long time and am a big fan. The film is called Rukus and it’s a feature-length doc-fiction hybrid, centered around my friendship with a furry from Orlando, Rukus, who took his own life in 2008. It goes into his life, and childhood, and some of the people he was close to in the furry community, but then also goes into my teenage years in Memphis, and stories relating to mental health, sexuality, and the politics of documentary filmmaking.

I hope you enjoy it, and I would love to hear what you think!

Brett Hanover

Movie synopsis:

A hybrid of documentary and fiction, ‘Rukus’ is a queer coming of age story set in the liminal spaces of furry conventions, southern punk houses, and virtual worlds. Rukus is a 20-year-old furry artist, living with his boyfriend Sable in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida. In his sketchbooks, Rukus is constructing an imaginary universe – a sprawling graphic novel in which painful childhood memories are restaged as an epic fantasy. Brett is a 16-year-old filmmaker with OCD, working on a documentary about kinky subcultures in spite of his own anxiety. After an interview leads to an online friendship, their lives entwine in ways that push them into strange, unexplored territories.

Written and Directed by: Brett Hanover
Assistant Directors: Alanna Stewart and Katherine Dohan
Additional Art and Writing: Rukus
Animation: Karolina Glusiec, Ben Holm, Eusong Lee
Original Music: Brian Saia

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Skeleton Crew, by Gre7g Luterman – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Skeleton Crew, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, September 2017, trade paperback $11.99 (215 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

The title page says Skeleton Crew. The cover says The Kanti Cycle: Skeleton Crew. The spine says The Kanti Cycle. 1 Skeleton Crew. Which is the definitive version?

Probably the latter. Skeleton Crew is the first book of Kanti’s adventures. There will be at least a trilogy.

I am more uneasy about calling this a “First Edition, 2017”. I reviewed Luterman’s CreateSpace edition a long time ago. This new version contains minor revisions and all new illustrations by Rick Griffin, so it may be a preferred version. Thurston Howl Publications’ smaller type size has reduced it from 259 pages to 215 pages. But it is not so different that the plot synopsis in my earlier review cannot serve for this edition as well.

“This is the first hard science-fiction novel I’ve ever read with absolutely no humans in it. The cover […] shows two of the main characters; Commissioner Sarsuk, a kraken, holding Kanti, a geroo. All of the other characters in the novel are geroo. There are […] full-page illustrations […] by Rick Griffin of Housepets! fame, showing such geroo characters as Kanti, Saina, Tish, Captain Ateri, Chendra, and more.

The geroo are unclothed, with thick tails and fur. There are frequent mentions in the text of twitching ears, tail rings, and the like. Kanti is called Shaggy for his unruly fur.

Skeleton Crew is set entirely on, or within, the huge generation exploratory starship White Flower II in interstellar space. […] Four centuries earlier, the krakun came to the primitive planet Gerootec and offered to hire thousands of the overpopulated 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. Technically, the White Flower II belongs to the krakuns’ Planetary Acquisitions, Incorporated, with a mission of finding new planets that can be colonized.

New planets for the krakun. Never for the geroo.

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Red Is The Darkest Color and The Devil Was Green, by Brett A. Brooks – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Red is the Darkest Color, by Brett A. Brooks
Atlanta, GA, Pandahead Publishing, June 2016, trade paperback, $15.95 ([4 +] 280 [+ 2] pages), Kindle $2.99.

The Devil Was Green, by Brett A. Brooks
Atlanta, GA, Pandahead Publishing, January 2017, trade paperback, $15.95 ([3 +] 278 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Pussy Katnip owns and is the popular chanteuse at the Kit Kat Klub in Mutt Town. But she’s not reluctant to step outside her club to help someone in need – especially if this involves clashing with an old enemy:

“With more than a slight jag to his turn, Todd looked back at the stage, and then back to the bartender. ‘Does … well, that is to say, do you know if Miss Katnip ever sees any of the people who come to see her?’

Robby snorted softly. ‘Depends on who it is and what they want. You a fan?’

‘I … truthfully, I’ve never heard Miss Katnip sing before.’ He picked up the scotch and took a small sip. ‘I was hoping that I might …’ There was a moments [sic.] pause, followed by Todd taking a much larger sip and then looking Robby in the eye. ‘I’ve heard that Miss Katnip can help people. Sometimes at least. I was truly hoping that she might see me tonight.’

‘Oh.’ Robby nodded. ‘Well, y’see, Miss Katnip tries to keep a low profile, y’know? She’s not the type who goes out and gets in trouble herself.’ Casually, Robby scratched under his chin. ‘But, just for conversation purposes, what is it you was wanting to talk to Miss Katnip about? You got law troubles?’

‘What? No. No, nothing like that.’ Todd sat up straight. ‘The police and I … they haven’t been an issue. In fact, they haven’t been willing to talk to me much at all.’” (Red, pgs. 4-5)

When Todd Crocker comes into her club looking for help against a mob boss who is threatening him, he is told not to worry. Boss Dogg and his chief enforcer Mugsy are familiar adversaries. Pussy visits Boss’ rival night club, the Dogg House, during the day when it’s closed and persuades him and Mugsy to leave Todd alone:

“Faster than the eye could follow, Pussy grabbed the chair and raised it up, smashing it against the brute attacking her. Splinters of wood showered down as Mugsy flew up into the air, landing hard on the ground.

She was on him instantly. Grabbing him by the shirt, she spun around, flinging him over ten feet into the seating area. The table and chairs he met did not respond well, and the sound of cracking wood filled the space.

Pussy looked to Boss. ‘Don’t move.’ He didn’t.


‘Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to drop everything that Mr. Crocker owes you. You aren’t going to bother him, or even remember that he exists. Your dealings with him are through. Am I clear?’   She stopped inches away from him.

‘Yeah. Yeah, sure.’ He nodded rapidly.” (Red, pgs. 20-22)

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Intimate Little Secrets, by Rechan – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Intimate Little Secrets, by Rechan
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, March 2017, trade paperback $9.95 (163 pages), ebook $6.95.

Intimate Little Secrets is a collection of nine “sensual” short stories by Rechan, published for Furry Fiesta 2017. The book is publisher-rated NC-17, for adult readers.

Robert Baird describes the nine stories in his Introduction as “alternately touching and titillating; tantalizing and tender. They invite us to explore the inner lives of characters consistently defined firstly by their refreshing believability.” (p. 7) Some of these stories originally appeared online, on Rechan’s SoFurry and FurAffinity accounts.

Indeed. I have complained before about authors whose characters are only funny animals; animal-headed humans. Rechan never lets that happen. His characters are anthropomorphic animals; a blend of humans and the species that they are described as.

“Fanservice” features Robin and Dean, two shy young mink, office workers on their first evening date. Robin dresses as Veronica Tamas, a TV actress she knows Dean likes. “Part of the problem was Tamas, as a deer, had wonderful legs put on display by the mini-dress lab coat and the sleek knee high black boots. With the longer torso and shorter limbs of a mink, Robin wasn’t pulling it off.” (p. 9)

Robin tries to make it up in other ways:

“For a moment Dean only squeezed her shoulder, then his digits inched up to graze her throat. A faint chirr bubbled up as he stroked her so-soft fur, and she reached out to caress his wrist and forearm.

When his touch moved up to her cheek and muzzle, Robin closed her eyes and tilted into it, a soft breath escaping from her. The scent of him drew her in, her body easing closer to his until they bumped.

That caress lasted only a moment longer before he cupped her cheek, her whiskers brushed his, and she instinctively moved into the oncoming kiss.

Their teeth knocked together.” (p. 14)

They eventually get it right. They never get out of their office that evening. The most unrealistic aspect of “Fanservice” to me was that Robin would go all the way on a first date.

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Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, by John Crowley – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, by John Crowley. Illustrated by Melody Newcomb.
NYC, Saga Press, October 2017, hardcover $28.99 ([4 +] 442 [+2] pages), trade paperback $16.99, Kindle $7.99.

This is the story of Dar Oakley, “the first Crow in all of history with a name of his own” (blurb). It is told by a nameless human narrator in the time of death, when both humans and Crows are all dying. The narrator’s wife Debra has just died, and he is sick, delirious, and alone in his country house. He finds a sick, obviously dying Crow in his back yard:

“I approached it warily – those bills are sharp – and heard from several directions the calling of other Crows, so close I thought I ought to be able to see them, though I couldn’t. The sick one made no attempt to get away, and didn’t even watch me come closer. Or so I thought then. It would take me a long time to understand that Crows, courting or walking a field together, never turning heir heads to observe one another, aren’t indifferent to or unconscious of their neighbors. No. A Crow’s eyes are set far apart, far enough apart that he can best see very close things out of only one eye. Crows beside one another are, in their way, face-to-face.” (p. 4)

The narrator brings the dying Crow into his house on a shovel. But the Crow does not die, nor does the narrator. During the next two years the Crow and the narrator, always alone, both get well, and the narrator learn to talk to the Crow. The Crow, Dar Oakley, tells him his life story. All two thousand years of it:

“He tells me now that he can’t remember much at all of the worst days of his sickness, and the story that I tell – the backyard, the Crows, the shovel, the bathtub – will have to do for him as well as for me. The one thing he knew and I didn’t was that he wouldn’t die. That would take more than a bout of West Nile, if that’s what this was.” (p. 6)

Ka pages 13 to 442 are Dar Oakley’s story. It starts long before the days of Julius Caesar, in the lands of the Celts in northern Europe. One day the Crow who would become Dar Oakley was boasting to a wandering Vagrant Crow:

“‘You’d probably not believe me,’ Dar Oakley said one day to the Vagrant, ‘if I told you how far from here I’ve been.’

The Vagrant, poking in the mud of a pond’s edge for larvae or Frog’s eggs or whatever else might turn up, said nothing in response.

‘I’ve been where there are no Crows at all,’ Dar Oakley said. ‘None anywhere but me.’

‘No such place,’ the Vagrant averred,

‘Oh no?’ said Dar Oakley. ‘Go as far as I have,’

The Vagrant stopped his hunting. ‘Listen, fledgling.’ He said, in a low but not soft voice. ‘Long ago I left the places where I grew up. I was run out. Never mind why. Always between then and now I’ve been on the wing.’” (p. 17)

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Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, Madison Scott-Clary, ed. – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Arcana: A Tarot Anthology, Madison Scott-Clary, ed. Illustrated by Joseph Chou.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, November 2017, trade paperback, $17.99 (xi + 423 pages).

The tarot cards, according to the Preface by editor Scott-Clary, were introduced to Europe in the 15th century. They have been used for fortune-telling since the 16thth century, if not earlier. There are four suits of 14 cards each, plus 22 “major arcana” cards. The arcana have individual names: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Hierophant, and so on. Arcana: A Tarot Anthology presents 22 stories, one for each arcana card, featuring anthro animals. Each is illustrated by a full-page portrait in the style of an anthro arcana card by Joseph Chou.

The first story, “The First Step” (The Fool) by editor Madison “Makyo” Scott-Clary, is less a story than a tutorial on how tarot fortune-telling works. Avery, a shy young mountain lion, is sent by his mother to a nameless older badger fortune-teller by his mother. Avery, the narrator, is just about to leave home for college, and his mother insists that he find out from the tarot cards what the future will bring. The motherly badger is as much a lay psychologist as a fortune-teller. “The First Step” is unusual in being narrated in the present tense:

“She leans in close to me, stage-whispering, ‘I’ll let you in on a secret. None of the cards in the swords suit – in any suits – show blood. Death, yes. Change, definitely. But no blood.   It’s hardly hacking and slashing.’

‘But they’re still –‘

She holds up a paw. ‘They’re still swords, but they’re tools. Swords show work. Strife, sometimes, sure; striving toward a goal. But what they is show work. These swords aren’t working right now, they’re just standing there. So where is the striving?’

‘Behind them?’ I ask. “They figures are all facing away from something.’

‘Or toward something.’

‘So,’ I say hesitantly. ‘I’m going to go on a journey?’” (p. 11)

“Cat’s Paw” (The Magician) by Mut is narrated by a nameless desperate were-dog who accosts a lion-man wizard and his date in a bar to get his curse removed. But nobody is what they seem. Very sardonically amusing:

“So here’s the secret to spotting a wizard: look for the one with a body that’s just too perfect. There’s a stud who’s six three, muscles fighting to escape his shirt, not a hair out of place? Wizard. Or a porn star, maybe, but probably a wizard.


I’d been trawling through bars for a wizard all evening, ad it was getting close to the deadline. I’d found a couple of almosts and one obvious poseur, but nobody with real magic. This guy, though, he was unmistakeable. He hadn’t even bothered to keep it human – too green to know better, or too powerful to care. He was a lion, with a mane and golden fur and whiskers and everything. There was even a tail flicking away under the barstool.” (pgs. 21-22)

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Myre: Chronicles of Yria, Vol. 1, by Claudya Schmidt and Matt W. Davis – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Myre: Chronicles of Yria, volume 1, by Claudya Schmidt and Matt W. Davis
Berlin, AlectorFencer, January 2017, hardcover €35,00 (unpaged [172 pages]), softcover €29,00. Shipping to North America: add €8,00 for the hardcover; €5,00 for the softcover.

Claudya Schmidt and Matt W. Davis are better-known in furry fandom as the artist AlectorFencer and the stand-up comedian 2, the Ranting Gryphon. They, primarily AlectorFencer with 2’s help in plotting and writing, have been working on Myre for seven years. Now, thanks to long work and the financial aid of many Crowdsourcing supporters, the first volume of a planned trilogy is out. It’s only available from AlectorFencer at her home in Berlin, but they have published the English edition first. A German edition will be available in 2018 at the same prices.

Myre is a monumental undertaking. The hardcover edition is 13” x 9”; the softcover is almost as large at 12” x 8”. It is in full glossy color, 160 pages of story and 12 pages of concept art. Both editions come wrapped in cellophane. The hardcover has a sewn-in ribbon bookmark. The total price (book + shipping) is about $US55.00 for the hardcover or $US40.00 for the softcover.

Myre is a cigarette-smoking, hardbitten maned-wolf wanderer who comes out of Yria’s desert. She rides her dragon-mount Varug. Obviously, “dragon” here means something other than traditional flying, fire-breathing reptiles, although just what Varug is will be developed in the story. She is more than a Yrian horse, though. She and Myre are close friends. Yria is a huge world. This part of Myre’s adventure takes place in Yria’s desert wastelands; there is much more elsewhere.

(Well, AlectorFencer says in the FAQ on that Yria is a fantasy world. Many characters look like anthropomorphic Earth animals, and many are completely original. So calling any of them a maned-wolf, a badger, a lion, or any other Earth animal is too simplistic. For practical purposes, though, Myre is a red-haired anthro maned-wolf.)

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Project Anthro, by Dallin Newell – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Project Anthro, by Dallin Newell
Raleigh, NC, Lulu Press, October 2017, hardcover $28.80 (264 pages), trade paperback $12.00, Kindle $9.00.

I am confused. This book says both that it is printed by Lulu Press and by CreateSpace in North Charleston, SC. It also says “First printing, 2017”, but the Barnes & Noble website shows it with a different cover (but the same blurb), published by Page Publishing, Inc. and dated December 2016. Newell has a Facebook page devoted to Project Anthro, where it is described as “A Book Series”. Newall says, “Project Anthro 2 is written and ready to go out to publishing,” and that it is a planned quartet.

Whatever. The premise as described in the blurb seems furrier and more exciting than the novel itself. “During the Cold War, a project that was introduced during WWI has been revived, which involves weaponizing and creating anthropomorphic animals to become operatives, known as anthros. Chance Logan is a red fox, standing at five eleven, born in Australia [Newell says on Facebook and in the novel that Logan was born in London and raised in Canberra], and worked for ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service). […]”

Chance learns that a high-placed American CIA executive, John Lance, has gone rogue and is planning to use America’s secret agentry “to completely obliterate the two world superpowers, the USSR and the USA.” Lance is also a human supremacist who believes that all anthros are bioengineered to “do nothing but kill.” Logan recruits “a whole team of anthros” to stop Lance and prove that anthros are more than killers dominated by their animal instincts.

That’s a great premise. Unfortunately, Newell develops it as a substandard Mission Impossible action thriller with funny animals. It’s wacky enough without wondering why funny animals? Chance Logan is introduced in the midst of a firefight with the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. He’s one of only two anthros (the other is a cougar) in a U.S. Army unit caught behind enemy lines. They don’t do anything that human soldiers (like John Rambo) couldn’t do, plus Chance gets his bushy fox tail caught and he has to be freed. Under what conditions is a bushy fox tail an asset in jungle warfare? This also makes the reader wonder if Chance is wearing a complete Army uniform with a tail hole, or (as the cover implies) only a helmet and Army jacket, and nothing below the waist?

Whoa! Here’s the answer. “‘By the way,’ he [a human lieutenant] said, ‘you guys may want to try on some pants when we get back to the States. Just try it.’

‘Nah,’ Kay [the cougar] said as he swiped the air with his paw. ‘We’ve got fur to cover our junk, right Chance?’

‘Yeah, right,’ I agreed with a forced chuckle.

All of us anthros never wore pants; it was a lot more comfortable to go without them. Even Katie [Chance’s girl friend, an Army nurse; also a red fox] wouldn’t wear them.” (p. 15)

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Jack Wolfgang T.1, l’Entrée du Loup, by Stephen Desberg and Henri Reculé – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Jack Wolfgang. T.1, l’Entrée du Loup, by Stephen Desberg (story) and Henri Reculé.
Brussels, Les Éditions du Lombard, June 2017, hardcover €13,99 (62 [+ 2] pages), Kindle €9,99.

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

The Jack Wolfgang series looks like it’s designed for the Blacksad market. The main differences are that John Blacksad is a private investigator, and his cases are crime noir with excellently drawn anthropomorphic animals. Jack Wolfgang is a C.I.A. secret agent, and his adventures are, well, too light and too exaggerated for the James Bond market. Say they’re Kingsman clones, with a mixture of funny animal and human secret agents saving the world from megalomaniac funny animal and human villains.

The introduction states that the four Brementown Musicians in the late Middle Ages were the first animals to be recognized as having human intelligence. “They were the first animals to receive a charter from the local authorities guaranteeing their autonomy and freedom among humans.” (my translation)


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