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Tag: fantasy

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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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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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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Housepets! Let Instincts Do Their Thing (Book 8), by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Housepets! Let Instincts Do Their Thing (Book 8), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2017, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).

Ta-Dah! Here is the latest 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, 2015, and now 2016.

Book 8 contains the strips from June 8, 2015 to June 3, 2016; story arcs #91, “The Plot Against Spot”, to #100, “The 4 Animals You Meet In Heaven”, plus the one-off gag strips 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.

But in Book 8, the housepets’ adventures often take them outside their suburban locale. Story arc #92, “All’s Fair, part 2”, is set in the huge back yard of the Milton ferrets’ estate, which Keene Milton has turned into a big amusement park and “Annual Foodapalooza Jamboree!”; maybe in Babylon Gardens but hardly part of a typical neighborhood scene. Arcs #93 to #95, “Housepets 5000 BC, parts 1-3”, introduce the large jackal Satau of the Merimde, Dragon’s second avatar, who gets sent from Ancient Egypt into the future and is drawn to Tarot the Pekinese dog, the demigod Dragon’s current (150th) avatar. Their attempt to send Satau home lands all of them (Satau and the dogs Peanut and Tarot, and the cats Grape, Maxwell, and Sabrina) in 5000 BC, the Neolithic Era, long before the building of the Pyramids and the Sphinx (to Max’s disappointment). There are rival kingdoms of the dogs and cats, and Grape is kidnapped by Ptah, the chief-king of the cats, to be his queen. (That’s Ptah and Satau arm-wrestling on the cover, with Grape and Peanut in the background.) #98, “Flip That Den!”, is in the forest outside Babylon Gardens, and #100, “The 4 Animals You Meet”, takes place in Heaven. Or a dream. Or somewhere.

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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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Scurry: The Doomed Colony, by Mac Smith – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Scurry: [Book 1] The Doomed Colony, by Mac Smith. Illustrated.
Vancouver, WA, Easy Prey Entertainment, November 2017, hardcover $30.00 (unpaged [104 pages]), softcover $20.00, Kindle $11.99.

This is the first collection of one of the best, largest (13.7” x 8.3”), and most beautiful anthropomorphic-animal comic strips on the Internet. Mac Smith, a graphic designer in Portland, Oregon, began Scurry: A Post-Apocalyptic Mouse Tale on January 17, 2016, and has been posting about two pages a week. The Doomed Colony contains Part I, Lingering Light, Part II, Beasts of Winter, and Part III, Grim Shadows. These add up to 84 pages, and an Afterword, an extensive Cast of Characters, and samples of Smith’s working process bring The Doomed Colony up to 104 pages.

Smith ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,000 to publish this book. He got $101,230 from 2,129 backers in a month. Smith says in his Afterword that he has not read any of the anthro-animal books that readers have been recommending to him. His influences are 1980s movies like The Secret of NIMH, The Dark Crystal, and The Neverending Story.

Scurry is set in a “post-apocalyptic” world in which the humans are dead or gone but their cities are undamaged. There has been no explanation yet of what happened to the humans (despite the book’s cover, no bodies or skeletons are around), or whether what happened is responsible for the animals’ intelligence (although probably this is just a talking-animal fantasy). The mice in the colony wonder whether the humans could return, or whether there are still some left elsewhere. The setting could be Smith’s Pacific Northwest; the fauna and flora fit it. The rusted and decayed look of the buildings and vehicles, and the overgrown lawns implies that humanity disappeared about a year earlier. Food in the houses has run out. Pets like cats have turned feral and hunt the mice for food.

The Doomed Colony is that of the mice in a house in an unnamed suburban neighborhood. They have eaten all of the food that they can find in their own and other nearby homes. The local ex-pet cats are growing increasingly dangerous. Feral wildlife is moving in; some like beavers and moose are harmless, but others like hawks, wolves, snakes, and owls eat mice. The colony is divided between those who want to stay put and explore farther for food, and those who want to move the whole colony into a nearby city where there may be more food and shelter from wild animals.

Politics makes the debate more convoluted. The mice have been ruled well by an Elder Council, but the Council is literally dying of old age. Is the Council’s preference to stay put based on wisdom, or a refusal to consider new ideas? Is Council Leader Orim’s wish to be replaced by his daughter Pict, whom he has trained to replace him when he dies, a good one, or is it pure nepotism? Is Resher, who leads the faction to move into the city, really working for the colony’s benefit, or does he plan that the colony’s upheaval will give him the chance to take over its leadership?

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