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Category: Reviews

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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The Fuzzy Princess, Vol. 2, by Charles Brubaker – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Fuzzy Princess, vol. 2, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, February 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (175 pages).

The Fuzzy Princess, volume 1, was reviewed here last September. These are the adventures of interstellar Princess Katrina of St. Paws and her bat (Chiro) and bear (Kuma) escorts, and the humans on Earth that she moves in with (Jackson, a boy wizard, & his older sister Jordan) and their friends (highschooler Gladdie, her little sister Tara, and Rick). Kat and her companions come to Earth in a flying box (cats love boxes) that has her large interdimensional room inside it. Kat has a detachable tail that can be magically turned into anything. Kat, Chiro, and Kuma use magic/alien technology to make other people see them as normal humans. Kat’s ongoing adversary is Krisa, a rat spy from Mousechester who is usually locked inside a birdcage.

The Fuzzy Princess is Charles Brubaker’s Internet humorous comic strip, in color (this reprint volume is only in black-&-white), updated three times a week. It’s not gag-a-day; there is an ongoing story line.

But! Brubaker also publishes The Fuzzy Princess as a series of independent comic books from 24 to 36 pages, printed on demand by IndyPlanet in Orlando, Florida. This volume 2 reprints the comics from #8 to #11, with some new material. These also appear on the Monday-Wednesday-Friday online strip.

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Reborn, by J. F. R. Coates – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Reborn, by J. F. R. Coates
Capalaba, Qld., Australia,, Jaffa Books, October 2016, paperback, $15.00 (271 pages), Kindle $4.26.

“‘Jesus fucking Christ, I have a tail.’” (p. 49)

You can tell from that sentence that the speaker is not a furry fan. It’s Captain Rhys Griffiths, a rising naval officer of the Terran Interplanetary Empire; soon to be promoted to one of the youngest Admirals of the TIE. Or he was, until a transporter accident puts his mind into the body of a lowly, giggly starat.

The starats are described earlier in Reborn:

“Rhys glanced back to find the reason for his [Cardinal Erik’s] reaction; one of the starats was approaching. Starats were a breed of artificial creatures, created in a laboratory over two hundred and fifty years ago. They were still the pinnacle of genetic engineering. Pressure from the Vatican had led to all genetic research laboratories closed down shortly after the creation of the starats. They had been created from a concoction of many different animals’ DNA, so many that even their creators had lost track. The result had been a short, furry humanoid of reasonable intelligence and capable of speech, mostly resembling a stoat or weasel. They had been bred to be subservient and weak-willed. As a consequence they were perfect at what they had been designed for: namely to serve humans in whatever way they could.” (p. 16)

Rhys spends a couple of weeks wallowing in drunken self-pity at his transformation before coming out of his funk:

“Neglecting to take a glass, Rhys chose to drink straight from the bottle instead, but he failed to take into account the design of his new mouth. Crimson liquid poured from the side of his muzzle, spilling on to his cheeks and shoulders, staining his overalls red. Suppressing an irate growl, Rhys tried again with greater care, taking just a small swig from the neck of the bottle. Still the wine wetted the fur on his cheeks, but more of it reached the back of his throat.” (pgs. 56-57)

He finds, needless to say, that the starats are much more intelligent than anyone in the TIE has realized. Once he accepts that he is now a starat –

“His humanity was fading away to nothing. Was there anything left of Captain Rhys Griffiths, the human? Did he even care anymore? For sure, there were times he wished he didn’t have to put up with the revolting discrimination starats faced, but were he offered the opportunity to become human once more, he was no longer convinced he would take it.” (p. 207)

– he leads them in their fight for equality in the Empire.

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The Flower’s Fang Series, by Madison Keller – Book Reviews by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Flower’s Fang series.
This is a colorful mixture of furry and high fantasy.

Snow Flower: Arara’s Tale, by Madison Keller.
Portland, OR, Hundeliebe Publishing, May 2016, trade paperback, $5.99 (72 pages), Kindle $0.99.

Flower’s Fang, by Madison Keller.
Portland, OR, Hundeliebe Publishing, August 2014, trade paperback, $14.99 (354 pages), Kindle $0.99.

Flower’s Curse, by Madison Keller.
Portland, OR, Hundeliebe Publishing, June 2016, trade paperback, $13.99 (238 pages), Kindle $4.99.

These three books are bibliographically complex. Flower’s Fang and Flower’s Curse are advertised as a two-volume set. The first edition of Snow Flower was published on December 21, 2014. The second edition, with proofreading errors corrected and still with Keith Draws’ cover, was published on May 16, 2016. It was reprinted with Teagan Gavet’s cover, retypeset more compactly from 126 pages to 72 pages, with the new subtitle “Prequel Novella to Flower’s Fang” added, and the city of publication changed from Seattle, WA (CreateSpace’s office) to Portland, OR (Keller’s home), on April 20, 2017. If you order it today, you’ll probably get it with Teagan’s wraparound cover.

Flower’s Fang has three listed editions, all dated August 2014. The typography of the title lettering changes, but all have the same illustration by Johnny Atomic. The third edition has two maps added.

Flower’s Curse has two editions listed, both dated June 2016. The second edition has a new cover by Idess Sherwood (the cover of the first edition is by Keith Draws), and includes the maps.

The main protagonist of all three books is Arara, a young Jegera (anthropomorphic wolf) in a fantasy world dominated by a “Kin-Jegera Empire”. The Kin are humanoid and human-sized flower fairies or elves, who wear ornate silken robes (see the cover of Flower’s Fang) and uniforms:

“‘How are you feeling?’ A melodious Kin voice asked her. The Kin hovered over Arara, her yellow petal hair framing her green face like a sun halo. The scent of the Kin’s petals reminded Arara of a sweet flower, but it was strong to the point of being overpowering.” (SF, p. 23)

The Empire is satisfactory to both, but the Kin are definitely the aristocracy and the Jegera are the peasants. The Jegera wear some clothes and can walk two-legged, but they usually run on all fours. The Kin ride the Jegera like horses.

“‘You can’t go treating her differently, Athura.’ Eraka grinned and looked at Arara. ‘That settles it. Go put on your shorts and vest. There is still snow up in the foothills, and we don’t want you getting cold.’

Arara barked in delight and scampered off to get dressed.” (SF, pgs. 3-4)

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TFF 2018 Review!

by Rune AngelDragon

Rune’s Furry Blog showcases “people within the Furry Community… their characters, life, thoughts, and beliefs”. It also covers furry issues and media. Welcome Rune! – Patch

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“We’re all mad here…”

This year at Texas Furry Fiesta, 3866 fuzzbutts fell asleep and found themselves in Wonderland! This number bumped up the convention to being on the top 5 conventions list, falling just under Furry Weekend Atlanta (FWA).

This was my 2nd time going to TFF and it has always held a special place in my heart for being my first-ever con. This year was an adventure as the convention had grown so much that it was in a new venue for a brand-new experience! Because it was so fresh and so new, I decided that a type of review was in order. So, taking from my personal experiences and the comments from others, I compiled a list of things that set the convention apart, and maybe the not-so favorable things about the convention that can hopefully be fixed in the future.

So buckle up and take this trip down the rabbit-hole with me as we explore the brand-new Texas Furry Fiesta (Lonestar Wonderland)!

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Mythic Transformations, by Kris Schnee – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Mythic Transformations, by Kris Schnee
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2017, trade paperback, $7.99 (189 pages), Kindle $2.99.

This collection of fourteen short stories by Schnee is about transformations rather than anthropomorphic characters. “In this story collection, people not only encounter these beings but become them.” (blurb)

“Guardians of Mistcrown” is set in a traditional fantasy world. Darius, a young mapmaker, is looking for a new caravan route through the Mistcrown mountains. He finds a cave guarded by Zara, a griffin, who is compelled to kill anyone who comes too close to a hidden source of magical mana. Darius and Zara trade bodies, to Darius’ dismay. But he finds that there are advantages to being a powerful, flying, ageless griffin – if he can just break the wizard’s spell that binds him to the mountain cave with the mana.

“The Petlyakov-15 Amusement Engine” is for video-game geeks.

Devjn, a hard-core video-gamer, finds an old 1980s Eastern Bloc video game in a yard sale.

“He called the saleslady over from her busy work of rearranging battered stuffed animals. ‘Is this some kind of custom case on a Nintendo?’

She shrugged. ‘It was my cousin’s, but then he moved out all of the sudden. Wasted all of his time playing video games.’” (p. 27)

Devin is intrigued by the “PE-15” Cyrillic lettering, and amused by its apparent imitation of old American/Japanese video games.

“The next day he dug up a copy of ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and blew dust out of it. He smiled at the shine of the classic golden cartridge. The PE-15 came on and showed him … ‘The Legend of Svetlana’?” (p. 28)

Devin plays deeper and deeper into the PE-15. Since Mythic Transformations is a collection of stories of “people not only encounter[ing] these beings but become[ing] them”, the only question is what will Devin turn into? Hint: it isn’t a fairy-tale princess.

“Little Grey Dragons” takes place in a classic poor Russian village. Washerwoman Alexi’s brother Petrov, the blacksmith’s assistant, finds two strange warm eggs in the forest.

“They turned at a noise from the egg that Alexi had touched. It was cracking. Alexi stared as the cracks spread for several long minutes, and finally a creature’s head emerged. Grey flesh, a grey snout, and a grey eye watching her. She stood there frightened and confused. ‘Petrov,’ she whispered, ‘what is this?’

Petrov murmured, ‘Not Firebirds. Zmei.’ He stared at the other egg, obviously willing it to crack, and it began to do so.” (p. 37)

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Raid on Sullin, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Raid on Sullin, by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, October 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (233 [+ 9] pages), Kindle $4.99.

Raid on Sullin is #2 in the Packmasters series. #1, The Relics of Thiala, was reviewed here last April. I concluded that review, “But this is space opera, not hard science s-f. This review covers the first 50 pages of the 190-page novel (cover by Darbaras, a.k.a. Dávid László Tóth). What will Cat, Ferret, Bear, Wolf, and Ana find on Thiala and the sleazy Vandal space station? Since this is space opera, expect mucho dramatic action and weapons fire.”

I’m a sucker for good space opera, and The Relics of Thiala is great furry space opera. I’ve been looking forward to the sequel, and Raid on Sullin is not a disappointment. I recommend starting with The Relics of Thiala, but Raid on Sullin has a very good “What happened so far” for those who don’t want to bother. Roughly, Cat (the narrator), Ferret, Bear, and Wolf are four bestiae, bioengineered anthro-animen in a far-future interstellar community. The bestiae are considered beneath contempt by most humans, and were enslaved by a cult called the Packmasters. The Packmasters were apparently all killed by the rest of humanity in a civil war a generation ago. Ana, a mistreated young adopted orphan, escapes with the help of Cat. They gather three other bestiae and discover that Ana has Packmaster powers, but instead of using them to dominate the others, they form a pack of friends with a telempathetic bond under Ana’s leadership, Cat’s guidance, Bear’s piloting, and Wolf’s muscle. They steal a luxury space yacht, the Lollipop, belonging to a corrupt human Senator, Viscount Tomori, and flee to Vandal, a distant space station towards the Fringe of the galaxy that is (what else?) “a wretched hive of scum and villainy”. But Tomori comes after them. The book ends with Tomori and Bear dead, and the others unsure of how Vandal’s laws will treat them.

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Legends of Heraldale, by Brian McNatt – book review by Fredd Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Legends of Heraldale, by Brian McNatt
Chickasha, OK, The author, January 2017, trade paperback, $13.95 (243 pages), e-book $3.95.

Legends of Heraldale is very much a stereotypical Young Adult fantasy. Its appeal will be to those who want to see a world where all the most familiar animals of mythology – gryphons (griffins), unicorns, hippogryphs, dragons, cockatrices, wyverns, sphinxs, minotaurs, salamanders, and mermaids – live, including some that I have never heard of like a rockodile and zakarians. But there are many curious aspects to it.

A Prologue tells of the last battle of the First Expansion War between the unicorns and the gryphons:

“For a moment, night turned to day, illuminating the two clashing forces. Through the woods to the canyon’s west massed the unicorns of the Avalon Empire, hooves beating the earth and snow as they galloped among the trees. From their horns streaked bolts of red magic at the many-towered fortress across the canyon, blasting chunks of stone from the high walls and tearing through the gryphon defenders.

From the fortress walls and towers the gryphons rained down flocks of arrows and crossbow bolts in return, each weapon striking true.” (p. 1)

Gryphons are usually thought of as quadrupedal. I have a hard time envisioning them shooting bows & arrows, and firing crossbows.

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The War for the Planet of the Apes Novels – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The War for the Planet of the Apes novels.

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations, by Greg Keyes.
London, Titan Books, June 2017, paperback, $7.99 (336 pages), Kindle $7.99.

War for the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization, by Greg Cox.
London, Titan Books, July 2017, paperback, 7.99 (318 pages), Kindle $7.99.

Both novels are “Based on the screenplay written by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves; based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver”. Revelations is advertised as “The Official Movie Prequel”. They were marketed to be released one month before, and upon the release of the movie on July 14, 2017.

It may seem pointless to review two movie tie-in novels months after the movie has come and gone, but the lasting value of literature is whether the novel is still worth reading after its movie is gone. These two War for the Planet of the Apes novels hold up well.

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations is a bridge between the 2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie and the 2017 War for the Planet of the Apes movie – or between their novelizations.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization, ended ten years after the Simian Flu has killed almost all humans. The Ape Village of intelligent chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas that had escaped from San Francisco, under the leadership of Caesar, the chimp, is starting to expand just as the few human survivors in San Francisco are also starting to expand. Their discovery of each other leads to a tense confrontation. Both Caesar and Dreyfus, the human leader, want peace, but they are sabotaged by Carver, a human hothead, and betrayed by Koba, Caesar’s chimp lieutenant who hates all humans. Dawn ends with Dreyfus dead and Caesar barely surviving his fight-to-the-almost-death with Koba, while the Apes are trying to establish a new village while facing a new group of human soldiers coming from a military base with advanced weapons.

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