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Tag: fantasy

Swift the Cat-Human, by Angelo Bowles – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Swift the Cat-Human, by Angelo Bowles. Illustrated by Charlene Bowles.
Donna, TX, VAO Publishing, April 2013, trade paperback $13.99 (206 [+ 26] pages)

VAO Publishing, “A Small Press for the Río Grande Valley” in Donna, Texas, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, specializes in books for and about the Tex/Mex border region; from poetry by South Texans to ¡Arriba Baseball! A Collection of Latino/a Baseball Fiction. Swift the Cat-Human, an omnibus collection of the three books in this series, seems like an unusual juvenile volume for them, but Angelo Bowles lives in Donna. It’s still unusual: he was a 10-year-old 5th-grader in 2011 when he wrote Book 1.

If Swift the Cat-Human hasn’t been “tidied up” by some adult, then I’m jealous. I couldn’t write nearly this well when I was 10 years old. This is an excellent children’s novel in three parts for young furry fans or to introduce pre-teens to anthropomorphics.

Swift is a housecat belonging to Dr. Gonzalo Gonzales. Dr. Gonzales drops a test tube of an experimental virus on the floor, Swift licks it:

“And then the transformation started.

My tail got longer, my back legs got a little skinnier and started stretching, and my front legs seemed to be growing, too. My paws began to lose their pads, and I started to grow opposable thumbs! What good are opposable thumbs, anyway? And five fingers? What’s up with that?” (p. 2)

The transformation is simplistic, but this is a kids’ novel with comic-book science.

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Fred Patten’s Five Fortunes – book review by Greyflank.

by Patch O'Furr

Guest review submitted by Bill Kieffer, AKA Grayflank (author of The Goat: Building a Perfect Victim.)  Guests are invited to submit articles to: patch.ofurr(at)gmail.com.

Fred Patten’s Five Fortunes (FurPlanet, 2014, $19.95) is a collection of five novellas from some of the best writers in the G-rated Furry Fandom.

  • Chosen People by Phil Geusz
  • Huntress by Renee Carter Hall
  • Going Concerns by Watts Martin
  • When a Cat Loves a Dog by Mary E. Lowd
  • Piece of Mind by Bernard Doove

I am not sure how well the theme of “fortune” applies to the five works, so on that level the collection doesn’t feel all that well tied together, but then with five long works it’s not a heavy criticism. It’s not like there’s a lot of “destiny” fans out there. Each story approaches the nugget of self-determination from a different vector from being mindful of doing the right thing (Geusz) to the finding themselves (Hall) to finding a way to survive the week (Martin) or one’s condition (Doove).

It’s a furry sampler of longer works; perfect for people who don’t always like short stories because the story’s over just as they get to know a character. If, somehow, you don’t know these writers or their universes, then this is a good place to start learning.

CHOSEN PEOPLE by Phil Guesz

The cover story.

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Beast of War, by Mina S. Kitsune – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Beast of War, by Mina S. Kitsune. Illustrated by Sal Hernandez.
Ames, IA, Light Beasts, LLC, July 2015, trade paperback $8.50 (197 pages), Kindle $4.00.

The big annoyance with Beast of War is that it is written from the viewpoint of a teen airhead of the future. Melissa Rin Brick, a college student in Atlanta, would rather attend fan conventions, dances, and parties cosplaying as “Cute Kitsune” than study. She lives far enough in the future that bullets (from the context, bullet trains) cross North America in a couple of hours from one city to another. There are AI-controlled cars. Apparently the ozone layer has been destroyed, and a Life Shell over the cities protects people from ordinary radiation.

“‘Scientists say that everyone should stay indoors during tomorrow’s solar eclipse. The current disruptions in the sun will cause serious harm to those outside. A warning is being issued: high risk of third-degree burns or stroke. They also remind you not to look directly at the sun during this event, even with the Life Shell and the Moon both blocking a majority of the harmful rays.’

Oh, blah blah. Everything that happens has to make people worry. Like you could really get burned while the Life Shell protects us from space.” (p. 6)

Mel, who has been partying at a convention while she should be in school, is met by her friend Jill:

“‘Right, but I figured you didn’t know about the warning to stay indoors today, so I was going to take you to a shelter. Class was cancelled.’

‘What, over that solar stuff? Come on. Scientists always have a bug about something, from earthquakes to global warming to a lot of snow,’

‘Yes, and thanks to global warming, the entire Midwest became an inland sea for thirty years!’” (p. 8)

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The Guardian Herd: Windborn, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Guardian Herd: Windborn, by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Illustrated by David McClellan; maps.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, September 2016, hardcover $16.99 ([xvii +] 340 [+ 3] pages), Kindle $9.99.

When we last left the flying horses of Anok, Starfire had finally united the dissident pegasi of the five separate Herds just in time to meet his two opponents’ Black Army and Ice Warriors, both under the command of Nightwind the Destroyer, the immortal, evil stallion from 400 years ago, for a sixty-page battle climax. As this fourth Guardian Herd novel, Windborn, begins, Star seems to have defeated all his enemies. He has integrated the former Black Army into his United Army. But Star is temporarily separated from his United Army, and when he returns, he finds that his pegasi have been captured by Nightwind and have disappeared.

While looking for them, he meets his deadly enemy, Frostfire, the former commander of the Black Army. Nightwind has discarded Frostfire as a loser and taken Petalcloud and her Ice Warriors to be his troops. Nightwing has vanished along with Star’s herd plus Frostfire’s mate, Larksong, and their colt. As both Star and Frostfire have to find Nightwing and the missing pegasi, they reluctantly agree to search together.

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Slave Trade, by comidacomida – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

51sViU4EeIL._SX260_Slave Trade,, by comidacomida. Illustrated by SpottyJaguar.
Birmingham, AL, Two-Lips Press, January 2017, hardcover $29.99 (466 pages), Kindle $9.99.

The first sight of the telephone-sized hardcover edition of this book is stunning. It’s a huge 8½ x 11 x 1-inch tome that’s almost impossible to hold open without using both hands, and so heavy (over 3 pounds) that it’s tiresome to hold it without resting it on a table or your lap. Slave Trade seems designed mostly for Kindle sales, although each 8½ x 11” page takes two pages to fit onto a Kindle reader. Amazon says that the Kindle edition is 912 pages.

Slave Trade is a furry erotic adventure-fantasy (although there is no rating) set in a Medieval/Renaissance-like world that is not quite funny-animal. There are six main mammal kingdoms; three for anthro animals with plantigrade (flat) legs like bears, rodents, and primates – Tenvier, Larana, and Pross — and three for those with digitigrade (walking on toes) legs; canines, felines, ungulates — Diermyna, Meisenyl, and Vensii. Some practice slavery; others don’t. Usually the characters act so human that they might as well be funny animals; then someone does something that could only be done with an animal’s nature.

“The porcupine [Gaius, a tanner] reached back behind himself to snap a quill free; he then used it to pin up a loose section of leather on the harness.” (p. 84)

Most of this takes place on the vast estates of Lord Hector Desanti, a white Stag nobleman from Vensii now residing in Pross. The main character is Sidney, a young slave (Fox) on Lord Hector’s estates. Sidney hero-worships Lord Hector from afar; he’s like a god to Sidney. So he’s stunned when Lord Hector not only notices him, but gives him personal attention.

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Kismet, by Watts Martin – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Kismet_lgKismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99.

Kismet, by Watts Martin
Dallas, TX, Argyll Productions, January 2017, trade paperback $17.95 (323 pages), e-book $5.99*.

This is a first for furry publishing, as far as I know. The only differences between these two editions are the publisher’s name and illustrated logo on the title page, the ISBN number, and the cover by Teagan Gavet. Both are dark blue and feature the protagonist in a spacesuit in deep space, but the Argyll cover displays her at a distance without showing what she looks like, and the FurPlanet cover is a closeup showing that she is a rat-woman. The FurPlanet edition is marketed as furry science fiction; the Argyll edition is marketed as just science fiction, for those outside furry fandom who may buy s-f but not a furry book.

Whichever it’s read as, hard s-f or furry fiction, Kismet is a winner. Several hundred years in the future, mankind has settled the Asteroid Belt. Mankind has also developed advanced bioengineering that enables people to have themselves bioengineered into anthropomorphic animals. There has been the mix of social acceptance and rejection that this results in for over a century. At this present, most of Earth is human and most of the anthropomorphs have migrated to the Asteroid Belt. In the Belt, the humans are called cisforms and the anthropomorphs are totemics.

Gail Simmons is a rat-woman totemic in the Ceres Ring, with her AI spaceship Kismet. She’s a salvage operator, a salvor, doing odd jobs of space hauling and space junk reclamation. She’s basically a hermit, living inside Kismet; the ship smart-AI brain is her only friend. Gail is contacted by an old childhood acquaintance who she hasn’t seen in two decades; he’s a yacht charter pilot now, and he’s just seen what looks like a derelict spaceship while making a chartered flight. His customer won’t give him the time to check it out, so he’s notifying Gail. Gail and Kismet find what appears to be an abandoned or sabotaged spaceship and two dead bodies. When Gail reports this, it leads to her being accused of theft and murder, and the missing cargo to be a handheld databox – a Macguffin – that holds information that at least one party will kill to get, that can mean “the end of the human race”.

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Furry literature: Advertising it outside of furry fandom – with Fred Patten and Phil Geusz.

by Patch O'Furr

WPbanner1(Patch:) The Furry Writers’ Guild Coyotl Awards have just opened for voting by members.  This is a good occasion to talk about furry publishing.  Committed operations are putting out a regular stream of content by fans, for fans – but is it healthy enough to support professionals? Can any of them smoothly transition between this niche and the mainstream, to be as well-rounded as they can be? Here’s a look that builds on past stories like:

Let some of the most experienced voices in furry tell you more.  Here’s Fred Patten, with comments by Phil Geusz.

(Fred:) Watts Martin’s January 2017 novel, Kismet, is being published under two imprints: at FurPlanet Productions, as furry fiction for the furry market, and Argyll Productions, as science fiction for the larger s-f market or mainstream sales; with two different covers, both by Teagan Gavet, tailored for those markets.

This sounds ambitious and imaginative. But how well will it work in practice? The record isn’t encouraging.

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Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

51yC2DEIBlL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Memoirs of a Polar Bear, by Yoko Tawada. Translated by Susan Bernofsky.
NYC, New Directions Books, November 2016, trade paperback $16.95 (252 pages), Kindle $9.58.

This was originally published as Etüden im Schnee, konkursbuch Verlag, March 2014. It isn’t published as furry fiction but as mainstream literature, so it is probably classed as fabulism or literary fantasy.

“I’d taken part in a congress that day [in Kiev], and afterward all the participants were invited to a sumptuous feast. When I returned to my hotel room at night, I had a bear’s thirst and greedily drank water straight from the tap. But the taste of oily anchovies refused to leave me. In the mirror I saw my red-smeared lips, a masterpiece of the beets. I’d never eaten root vegetables voluntarily, but when a beet came swimming in my bowl of borsht, I immediately wanted to kiss it. Bobbing amid the lovely dots of fat floating on top – which at once awoke my appetite for meat – the beet was irresistible.

The springs creak beneath my bearish weight as I sit on the hotel sofa thinking how uninteresting the conference had been yet again, but that it had unexpectedly led me back to my childhood. The topic of today’s discussion was The Significance of Bicycles in the National Economy.” (pgs. 4-5)

a Polar Bear” is actually three polar bears over three generations; a grandmother, mother, and son. The first, never named, is captured and brought as a cub to Moscow, where she is trained to perform in a circus, apparently around the 1960s. Her part is “The Grandmother: An Evolutionary Theory”.

“For a long time, I didn’t know anything: I sat in my cage, always onstage, never an audience member. If I’d gone out now and then, I would’ve seen the stove that had been installed under the cage. I’d have seen Ivan putting firewood in the stove and lighting it. I might have even seen the gramophone with its giant black tulip on a stand behind the cage. When the floor of the cage got hot, Ivan would drop the needle on the record. As a fanfare split the air like a fist shattering a pane of glass, the palms of my paw-hands felt a searing pain. I stood up, and the pain disappeared.” (p. 11)

“After hours and days spent vigorously shaking my hips, my knees were in such bad shape that I was incapable of performing acrobatics of any sort. I was unfit for circus work. Ordinarily they would have just shot me, but I got lucky and was assigned a desk job in the circus’s administrative offices.

I never dreamed I had a gift for office work. But the personnel office left no talents of their workers unexplored if they could be employed and exploited to the circus’s advantage. I would even go so far as to say I was a born office manager. My nose could sniff out the difference between important and unimportant bills.” (p. 14)

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Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions, by Rick Griffin – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

housepets_book7_cover-preview-237x300Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions (Book 7), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2016, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Here, right on schedule, is the new annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Book 7 contains the strips from June 16, 2014 to June 1, 2015; story arcs #78, “Heaven’s Not Enough, part 2”, to #90, “All’s Fair, part 1”, plus the one-off gag strips before and between these.

Housepets! presents the adventures of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff.

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Sythyry’s Journal: A World Tree Chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom, by Bard Bloom – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

9781451562934_p0_v1_s192x300Sythyry’s Journal: A World Tree Chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom, by Bard Bloom
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2010, trade paperback $25.00 (626 pages).

The opening paragraph of this dense, 626 pages of small type is:

“My exceedingly old and exceedingly famous grandparent just gave me this notebook as a going-to-school present. Zie says that zie wishes zie had had one when zie was growing up, but of course nobody knew how to do enchantments then, and there probably wasn’t time to do a lot of writing, what with all the fighting cyarr and nendrai and everything.” (p. 5)

Sythyry is a small, pale blue dragonet (actually a Zi Ri) “of impeccable lineage, considerable wit, and overwhelming inexperience, off alone at college for the first time. Zie must face terrible dangers: roommates, friends, courses in enchantment and flirtatious dance, deadly monsters, minor nobility, war, and, most dreadful of all, romance.” (blurb). The Zi Ri are hermaphrodites with pronouns to match, avoiding the “him” or “her” of the single-sex genders. The cover by Tod Wills shows zir at an Academy Buttery party surrounded by zir roommates Dustweed the Herethroy (the green grasshopper-like being at lower right) and Havune the Cani (the overdressed dog-like being at upper left), and friends Oostmarine the Orren (the otter-like being at upper right) and Anoof, another Cani (at lower left).

When Bard Bloom and his wife Victoria Borah Bloom created the World Tree role-playing game in 2001 (its cover by Mike Raabe was a finalist for the first Ursa Major Award in 2001 for Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration), LiveJournal was just getting started. Bloom explains in his “Author’s Forward” [sic.] that his own life made uninteresting reading. “So I decided to write from the point of view of a World Tree character.” – Sythyry the young Zi Ri. This book consists of Bloom’s LiveJournal entries from 2002 to 2007, as edited into novel format by Victoria Borah Bloom. Further LiveJournal entries to 2016 have been novelized in four Kindle books; Dragon Student, Ambassador to a Monster, Wizard’s Vacation, and City of Advanced Magic.

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