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Tag: fantasy

Furry Book Month – Some Recommendations

by Summercat

Welcome to guest poster Summercat! October is Furry Book month (better late than never). -Patch

Started in 2016 by an alliance of Furry Publishers, Furry Book Month is about showcasing the written word from the Furry Fandom. To support the efforts I decided to write up a list of Furry books I’ve enjoyed in recent years that are currently available for sale. These are just short blurbs rather than full reviews, and are in no particular order. 

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Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Sabrina Online: The Tail of Two Decades, by Eric W. Schwartz. Illustrated.
Keston, Kent, UK, United Publications, June 2017, hardcover, $22.95 (unpaged [148 pages]).

This large (8½” x 11”) collection presents the last half – the last ten years — of Eric Schwartz’s Internet Sabrina Online comic strip: four strips per page from November 2006 (annual collection 11) through the end of the annual collections with #14, and the following individual strips through the end of December (Xmas) 2016. “835 strips in 20 years? I guess it’ll have to do.” But wait! There’s more! The last 24 pages of this book are Schwartz’s history of Sabrina Online, gag strips of Sabrina’s Transformer toys, and some of the better art tributes by Sabrina’s fans like gNAW, Steve Gallacci, Shawntae Howard, Max Black Rabbit, and Brian Reynolds.

Schwartz explains in his “Brief History” that he began Sabrina Online in September 1996, after becoming a Big Name Fan in furry fandom thanks to his animation short films produced on his primitive Amiga computer (done partly just to prove that he could create animation on an Amiga). This is where his first popular character, Amy the Squirrel, appeared. He had ideas for a more detailed, continuing storyline featuring Amy and her best friend and roommate, Sabrina the Skunk, so Sabrina Online was born. It was a monthly comic strip in an unusual presentation; all four weeks online together on the first of the month. It was basically a comedic slice-of-life rambling story about Amy and Sabrina. Amy gets married to Thomas Woolfe and has a son, but Sabrina remains sharing her and Thomas’ apartment; Sabrina gets a secretarial job with Zig Zag, a producer of adult entertainment; Sabrina develops a long-term relation with her boyfriend, R.C. (a raccoon), and eventually moves in with him; and finally Sabrina and R.C. get married. Sub-themes and characters include Sabrina’s parents, R.C.’s parents, Sabrina’s collection of Transformers toys (which are often anthropomorphized), Zig Zag, an extroverted zebra-striped skunk (a tiger-skunk hybrid – Schwartz doesn’t have any trouble with interspecies romances and hybrid children), Amy’s infant son Timmy who Sabrina often babysits and Sabrina’s little sister Tabitha, Thomas’ workmates, R.C.’s workmates … lots!

“I created the Sabrina Online comic strip to tell the story ideas I had built up. These were used up after the first few years.” After that he continued the strip on a day-to-day basis for a long time. “That was when I noticed that the twentieth anniversary of the first Sabrina Online comic strip from 1996 was on its way, and looked into the prospect of finishing the strip. Suddenly I had a definite purpose and goal again.” Unfinished story ideas were finished; floating story lines were tied up; and Sabrina Online was brought to a final conclusion with Sabrina and R.C. (Richard Conrad) getting married.

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Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, August 2017, trade paperback, $12.99 (178 pages).

Always Gray in Winter is one of those novels that is deliberately mysterious at first, and only gradually reveals what is going on. To avoid my own spoiler, here is the blurb on the author’s website:

“The modern day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats is torn apart by militaries on three continents vying to exploit their deadly talents. Born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s escape from Cold War-era Poland, were-lynx Pawly flees underground to protect her loved ones after genetically-enhanced soldiers led by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy unit in the Gulf of Oman. Pawly’s family seeks her out in a desperate gambit to return [to] their ancestral homeland and reconcile with their estranged kinsmen. But when her human lover arrives to thwart Mawro’s plan to weaponize their feral bloodlust, Pawly must face a daunting choice:  preserve her family secrets and risk her lover’s life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.”

Pawly is Pawlina J. Katczynski, a mid-twenties Polish-American in love with Lennart “Lenny” Reintz, a mid-twenties German-American U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security specialist. However, Pawly has become a were-lynx vigilante superhero in combat against Mawro, another werecat who uses his shapeshifting powers for sinister and unethical purposes: he is the leader and head scientist of the North Korean “ailuranthropic” R&D program. Here is Pawly, in text and also an illustration by Amy Sun Hee “inspired by the novel”, on the author’s website:

“Her fangs bit into the fur below her lower lip. Pawly fell forward and thrust out her legs against the railing. Claws sprouted forth from the tips of her fingers with a flick of each wrist. She dove toward the car and yowled to goad the driver into turning her way. Her claws sank into the skin above the bridge of his nose as she slid across the car’s hood on her butt. With a grunt she yanked her hand free, tearing both of the man’s eyes free from their sockets. He screamed and crumpled to the pavement, cradling his ruined face, weapon all but forgotten. His partner whirled around with his shotgun in one hand, leaving his chest wide open. Before reaching the wall, Pawly raked the toe claws on both feet across the man’s abdomen. She pushed off with her legs and landed past the front bumper. When she spun around, the wide-eyed man stood before her, trembling as he stuffed his entrails back inside him with both hands. Pawly responded to his horrified whimper with but a shrug before he collapsed.” (p. 7)

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Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Legacy: Dusk, by Rukis. Illustrated by the author.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback $1.95 (249 pages), e-book $12.95.

This is a mature content book.  Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)

This is the sequel and conclusion to Legacy: Dawn, reviewed here last August and set in Rukis’ Red Lantern world. Rukis has said on e621, “Legacy is a story set in the Red Lantern world, and takes place roughly 20 years before the events of Red Lantern. You do not need to follow Red Lantern to understand this story, it can be read entirely independently, but if you follow the series, it will certainly enrich the world for you.”

But you do need to know Legacy: Dawn. This begins right after. Right after. Rukis serialized the complete Legacy online on Patreon, and you can’t help suspecting the two halves are meant to be republished as a single book someday soon. You should certainly read the review of Legacy: Dawn first and then this one together. That ends “Legacy: Dawn is about Kadar’s and Ahsin’s struggle for the freedom to be together, in a society where both are treated as property that can be casually separated. It is also about Kadar’s confused instinct to be a dominant personality in a society where he is of low caste, and those of higher caste do not hesitate to punish those below them who get ‘uppity’.” That’s more recapitulation than you will get in Legacy: Dusk.

Kadar (the narrator), a golden jackal, and Ahsin, a hyena, are homosexual lovers and indentured servants – read “slaves” – together. They have escaped from a plantation of the powerful Sura Clan in the desert nation of Mataa, following a slave revolt. Mataa is ruled by hyenas, but homosexuality is socially forbidden; especially for them, since the lower-caste Kadar is the dominant and the upper-caste Ahsin is the subordinate in their relationship. They can expect to be brutally tortured and then slaughtered together if they are recaptured. They and a few other Sura escapees had been taken in by a pride of free lionesses on one of Mataa’s oases, but bands of pursuers from the Sura Clan have made it too dangerous to stay there:

“We parted ways with Dela five nights ago, and we’ve been wandering ever since. She’d given us enough provisions to last at least a week, more than enough to make it out of the dunes, if we wanted to. But each time we neared a watering hole or a small town on the outskirts, we dipped our toes only to retreat back into the desert soon after. The pinpricks of civilization around the desert’s edge were bristling with hyenas from merchant caravans and plantations selling their wares, and we’re not sure how known we are to each of the clans, but we know there are hunters looking for us, and that’s reason enough to be cautious.” (p. 11)

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Monster Island, Directed by Leopoldo Aguilar – Movie Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Monster Island. Directed by Leopoldo Aguilar, from a script by Billy Frolick & Alicia Núñez Puerto. Sony Home Pictures Entertainment, September 12, 2017, 80 minutes, direct-to-DVD, $14.99.

Distributed in the U.S. & Canada by Vision Films (Sherman Oaks, California). Produced by Ánima Estudios (México City).

Is Monster Island worth an article for DP? How can we ignore any movie with a character like Verónica, the pig-girl?

This 80-minute CGI animated movie premiered theatrically on July 21st in the U.K. It got devastating reviews. Newspaper The Guardian said the day before, “… it’s […] dispiriting to encounter this ploddingly mediocre knockoff, with its budget effects, utterly uninspired visual design and flatlining dialogue. […] The whole forgettable movie looks as if it has been generated by ageing software.” As if that wasn’t enough, The Guardian followed it up with an even worse review three days later. “There are few things more unpleasant to look at than bad animation. And Monster Island’s Technicolor yawn of regurgitated influences is monstrous in all the wrong ways. The eyeball-melting colour palette is just the tip of the tentacle – this is a cobbled-together, plotless mess […]” It got a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s just been released theatrically in South Korea (September 7th) and China (September 9th). We get it in the U.S. as a direct-to-DVD “family entertainment” (kids’ movie) release.

Lucas Frunk (voice of Philip Adrian Vasquez) is a stereotypical 13-year-old nerd at Brown Middle School. His best pal is also-nerdish Peter Kavinsky. They are both picked on by school bully Cameron (voice of Michael Robles) and made to do his science class experiments (the frog explodes). Lucas discovers the hard way at school social queen Melanie’s (Jenifer Beth Kaplan) Halloween dance that his “asthma inhaler” actually delivers a medicine that keeps him from turning into a towering orange ogre.

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The Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press – book review by Fred Patten

by Dogpatch Press Staff

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

The kingdom of the Sun and Moon CoverThe Kingdom of the Sun and Moon, by Lowell H. Press. Maps.

Bellevue, WA, Parkers Mill Publishing, September 2014, trade paperback $11.99 ([xv +] 297 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $0.99.

This Young Adult fantasy (winner of a 2015 Benjamin Franklin Award, for Teen Fiction (13-18 Years), of the Independent Book Publishers Association) is set in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, home of the Habsburg monarchs of Austria, about 1820. In those days almost all royal palaces had large populations of mice (so did the average citizens’ houses), so the 19th century map of the palace and its grounds is accurate as to the location of the fictional mouse Kingdom of the Double-Headed Eagle.

The König is a tyrant.

His subjects are starving.

And all-out war is fast approaching.

Will a pair of young, courageous

Brothers save their kingdom? (blurb)

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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?

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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