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Tag: fiction

“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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The Tower and the Fox by Tim Susman – review by Summercat

by Patch O'Furr

Thanks to Summercat for this guest post.

The Tower and the Fox is the Kyell Gold novel I’ve been waiting for him to write for years, and it has been worth the wait.

Like many people, I was entranced with The Prisoner’s Release and the rest of the Volle stories, but most of Kyell Gold’s work did not resonate with me, as he primarily wrote for the genre of “Coming of Age Gay Romance”. There’s nothing wrong with the genre, and the struggle to find one’s place in the world in the context of romance (and lots of gay sex) certainly can speak to multiple generations of furries.

Only, I never had those struggles and I tend to skip sex scenes in my furry novels. The prevalent nature of the genre has turned me off to a lot of written Furry fiction, even to the point I hesitate to read what I know would be clean. Yet even then, I enjoyed Kyell’s worldbuilding and storytelling. I felt Shadow of the Father was a fine novel that would have been improved by the removal of the sexual content, and had hoped to one day see Kyell’s skill turned towards a more traditional fantasy.

There’s not even a romance subplot in The Tower and The Fox, and the story is stronger for it.

The Tower and The Fox takes place in an alternate and magical history, set sometime after the Napoleonic Wars have ended. The North American colonies remain part of the Empire, with the only mention of a historical figure being John Adams. However, this is a world of humans, and the Calatians – magically-created animal-human hybrids – are a minority, and an ill-treated one at that, for many humans see them as naught but beasts, with many rights denied to them.

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The Art of Racing in the Rain; A Novel, by Garth Stein – review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Art of Racing in the Rain; A Novel, by Garth Stein
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers/Harper, May 2008, hardcover $23.95 (321 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $9.99.

“Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And when I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively. In order to make my point understood without question. I have no words I can rely on because, much to my dismay, my tongue was designed long and flat and loose, and therefore, is a horribly ineffective tool for pushing food around my mouth while chewing, and an even less effective tool for making clever and complicated polysyllabic sounds that can be linked together to form sentences. And that’s why I’m here now waiting for Denny to come home – he should be here soon – lying on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor in a puddle of my own urine.” (p. 1)

The narrator is Enzo, a mixed-breed retriever, the pet dog of Denny Swift, a human retired racecar driver. Enzo is dying of canine old age, but he is looking forward eagerly to his death. He has educated himself by watching television with Denny, and has accepted a documentary on Mongolian belief in reincarnation as reality. He believes that when he dies as a dog, he will be reborn as a human and will become Denny’s best friend.

The novel is Enzo’s autobiography.

“I remember the heat on the day I left the farm. Every day was hot in Spangle, and I thought the world was just a hot place because I never knew what cold was about. I had never seen rain, didn’t know much about water. Water was the stuff in the buckets that the older dogs drank, and it was the stuff the alpha man sprayed out of the hose and into the faces of dogs who might want to pick a fight. But the day Denny arrived was exceptionally hot. My littermates and I were tussling around like we always did, and a hand reached into the pile and found my scruff and suddenly I was dangling high in the air.

‘This one,’ a man said.” (p. 11)

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Bleak Horizons, edited by Tarl “Voice” Hoch – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

Bleak Horizons, edited by Tarl “Voice” HochDallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, March 2017, trade paperback $19.95 (338 pages), e-book $9.95.

Tarl Hoch states on Amazon that he “is a Canadian writer of primarily horror, mythos and erotic fiction”, with stories of his own in several non-furry horror anthologies. Bleak Horizons is his second book for FurPlanet. His first was the 2014 Abandoned Places, a furry horror anthology. Bleak Horizons is also a horror anthology; “fifteen stories about what horrors lie waiting for those who look to the future.”

Ha! To me, the horror is that most of these fifteen are just funny-animal stories that might as well be with humans. But they are all – well, fourteen of the fifteen — good s-f technological suspense stories.

“Adrift” by Kandrel distinguishes fear, terror, and panic through Evan, an anthropomorphic cat passenger on a starship with his wife Mia and his young son Sammy. There is a disaster:

“The hall is blocked by a family of warthogs trying to drag luggage with them. Stupid, he thinks. You can’t bring luggage into the life pods. There’s no room. This isn’t a time to worry about your things. Leave them. The burly male shouts something as Evan leaps over shoulders and uses the wall to get height. With a bound, he climbs over the unfortunate’s head. A hairy fist swings wildly but misses. He spares no more thought for the warthogs. They’d probably be too slow anyway.” (pgs. 10-11)

Evan, Mia, and Sam make it to the life pod and launch into space. But something goes wrong. Evan wakes from cryosleep in the faulty made-by-the-lowest-bidder life pod while his wife and son are still frozen. Can Evan fix it, or must he watch his wife and toddler die? There are references to Mia’s long horns and muzzle before it’s revealed what she is, but obviously she’s no cat (so what is Sammy?). There’s a plot point to Evan and his wife being different species, which makes “Adrift” more than a funny-animal story.

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The Latte Segment, by Zoe Landon – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Latte Segment, by Zoe Landon
Portland, OR, Leporidae Media, February 2016, trade paperback $14.99 (282 pages), Kindle $4.99.

This is the purest funny-animal novel that I have ever read. Other than that the characters are all described as animals, there is nothing to differentiate this from any all-human novel.

Sarah Madsen is a young woman working as a marketing analyst in Portland, Oregon. Her boyfriend, Sean, is an unemployed computer programmer from Silicon Valley in California. Sarah relaxes alone almost every Sunday at the Deadline Cafe over an expensive latte laced with mint; her only vice.

“Sarah fidgeted and the corner creaked. She was worrying about money.

Her finances were safe, by most reasonable standards, yet there was a nagging sense that she should be doing better. Perhaps she could save a little more. She could go to fewer movies with Sean and their whole circle of friends. She couldn’t get rid of her television like Sean did; she relied on it too much for work. But she could stop coming to the Deadline Cafe every Sunday. It did feel like the lattes got more expensive the last year or so.

Everything in Portland felt like it was getting more expensive lately. Most of it was inevitable. She moved here when things weren’t very good anywhere, and now things were especially good here. New businesses were popping up in her neighborhood left and right. Businesses that, for one reason or another, she rarely went to.” (pgs. 5-6)

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Discover the best of furry fandom with the 2016 Ursa Major awards, and 2016 Cóyotl Awards.

by Patch O'Furr

Since 2001, the Ursa Major awards have promoted public choice for the best furry stuff in many categories (movies, art, books, magazines, and etc.)  Since 2011, The Coyotl Awards have featured the Furry Writer’s Guild choice for best fiction – “an anthropomorphic Nebula equivalent to the Ursas’ Hugos.”

The Ursas are popular and the Coyotls are juried by merit.  Both are an awesome way for fans to discover works by each other, and prove how furries are more than underdogs compared to other fandoms anchored on central media properties.  They can help furries to Be The Media.

The Ursas will have a new Fursuit category next year. That has been demanded for many years but not added while there was debate about defining it. Designers, builders, wearers, and even photographers have some claims about inclusion – how do you award a team? Find out when voting starts for 2017.

The staff of Dogpatch Press (Fred, Pup Matthias, and I) are honored to win the 2016 Ursa for Best Magazine. That helps to keep cool stuff coming. Give yourselves pats for inspiring it.  If you want more good stuff in the furry news niche, try these: Flayrah, Culturally F’d, Furry.Today, InFurNation, Fur Media, Furrymedia, [adjective][species], Furry News Network, Gaming Furever, Furryfandom.es, and Furry Stammtische.

Fred Patten tells more. (- Patch)  

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Plowed, edited by Andres Cyanni Halden – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Plowed, edited by Andres Cyanni Halden.
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, December 2014, trade paperback $19.95 (212 pages), e-book $9.95.

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)

The catchphrase for Plowed is “Ten Foxes – Ten Farms – Loads of Plowing”. This is an anthology of “ten saucy stories” all featuring foxes on farms with much explicit m/m sex.

The fox in “A Little Drop of Poison” by editor Andres Cyanni Halden is narrator Taslim Hajjar, a 20-year-old fennec. Since fennecs are North African foxes, it makes sense that Taslim is a Muslim. He’s the son of a rich Saudi father who is specializing in acquiring European vineyards and selling expensive wines to restaurants. (The Qur’an just says that Muslims shouldn’t drink alcohol; not that they can’t raise and sell it to unbelievers.) Tas is with his father inspecting a vineyard he intends to buy. The bored youth sneaks off to relax alone in the solitude of the vineyard’s wine cellars. He’s found there by one of the vineyard’s workers, “a very large, jet black bull setting down a wine cask beside one of the large racks.” The massive bull, Leeroy, can scent that the little fennec is very aroused by him. And Leeroy is a dom while Tas is a sub.

“‘Now,’ he said, his free paw trailing up my arm, across my shoulder, all the way up to lightly brush across one of my ears. ‘I’ve always been told fennec foxes like having their ears rubbed.’ He ran his rough finger along the edge, his touch surprisingly delicate. ‘Friend of mine told me it gets ‘em all hot and heavy.’” (p. 12)

That’s only the beginning of a very NSFW scene.

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The Mask of Bone, by Brian Panthera – book review by Fred Patten

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Mask of Bone, by Brian Panthera
Bloomington, IN, iUniverse, November 2016, trade paperback $20.99 (xvii + 331 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Mask of Bone – which is only Book 1 of the Otherworlds saga – is High Fantasy. Really High Fantasy, replete with lots of footnotes. The first footnote is: “To reduce confusion, calendar dates in the text will use the Universal Calendar (UC), based on the Central Timekeeping System used by the kitsune of the dimension of Escher. 11973 UC corresponds to roughly 2001 A.D. in the Gregorian Calendar used in most dimensional variations of Earth, and 1507 KI in the calendar on most of Tayrik, which dates back to […]” Does that reduce confusion? The world of Tayrik is where the action begins.

“Long ago, the mask of bone was shattered, its bearer slain, the pieces stolen. They were scattered through the dimensions to prevent its reassembly.” (blurb) Xolotl, the Aztec guide to the dead, wants the Mask reassembled, and he drafts Pflarrian to do it. Pflarrian Collifox is a student at the Mirial’s Rock Academy of Magic (and Mayhem) on Tayrik who is slowly turning into a fox. He looks like a gaunt human with “a long, bushy red tail sticking through a hole in his jeans, and a pair of large, pointy, red, furry, fox ears sticking up from under a shock of long reddish-brown hair that was usually pulled back in a rough ponytail.” (p. ix)   Professor Verdigris, who is a dragon, has assigned Pflarrian to do something entirely different, but Xolotl waylays him and persuades him to search the dimensions for the pieces of the Mask before he finishes turning into a fox. Got all that?

Oh, and Pflarr’s girlfriend Marani is a sometimes-impulsive anthro jaguaress:

“She paused in the kitchen just long enough to wash Pflarrian’s blood from her claws before returning to bed.” (p. 78)

Despite The Mask of Bone’s being set in a supposedly predominantly human dimension, there are more anthropomorphic animals than humans in this novel; including gods taking on anthro animal forms:

“It was here, finally, that the goddess [Isis] found the one she had come here to speak with. He stood slightly stooped over as he leaned on the edge of a great carved-marble reflecting pool, gazing at something only he could see. Her quarry [Xolotl] was an impressive sight. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was a humanoid canine like the goddess’s current form, but where she had taken the form of a jackal, he bore the form and shape of heavier-set dog-being, looking more like a rough-coat collie. His fur was a dark, almost metallic bronze in most places, accented here and there with white and bone-colored highlights. Fine robes fit for an emperor draped his body, glowing with the colors of the setting sun. They were resplendent in rich tones of orange and red. His head was adorned with a heavy-looking gold crown of sorts, bedecked with an array of long, brightly colored feathers. They swept back from just behind his canine ears to a point almost two feet over his head. Matching golden bracelets rode his wrists. A chunky, heavy necklace formed of square blocks of gold graced his neck and shoulders, barely visible through the thick ruff of fur about his neck.” (p. xiv)

I’ve quoted that at length to give you a taste of Panthera’s opulent writing style. The book is full of furry references. Isis has issues with cat-headed Bastet. One of a college professor’s assistants is Kalya, an anthro black-footed ferret. Someone mentions getting in a shipment of citrus fruits from the Felinid Empire. “It [a doorknock] was answered by a diminutive female mouse in pale blue student’s robes. She looked up at Pflarrian, who towered a good two feet over her, and blinked in surprise.” (p. 55) “The immortal had rented a private room at the Sign of the Nine Tails, a kitsune-run restaurant of some renown near Temple Road.” (p. 83) “The wide variety of beings that inhabited the city caught the wolf’s attention. Humans, felines, canines, something with long, furless, pointed ears that Dashell figured must have been an elf, and a myriad variety of others!” (p. 49) Pflarr’s turning into a fox is constantly kept before the reader: “With a resigned sigh, Pflarrian knelt on the stone floor, making sure not to kneel on his own tail.” (p. 7)

To cut to the admittedly-confusing plot, the first page of the story (as distinct from the 17-page Prologue) begins:

“Dashell awoke to pain. It filled his head to the tips of his fuzzy black ears, ran down his arms and legs, and caused his furry wolf’s tail to twitch in irritation. It made him feel is if someone had been trying to use him as a pincushion.

In other words, he had a hangover.” (p. 1)

Dashell Grauvolf, an alternating black-&-white-furred anthro wolf, is also a college student (computer sciences major) in his dimension. He is kidnapped by a wannabe-demonic mad scientist in Pflarrian’s dimension, escapes before he can be experimented upon (MUHAHAHA!), and is rescued (kind of) by Pflarrian (they think by coincidence, but not really).

Xolotl, who has been scrying what is happening to Dashell (read the book to learn why), has his attention drawn to Pflarrian. He is shocked to find that the same spell that is turning Pflarrian into a fox has made him Xolotl’s champion, even if no one is aware of it. So he appears to Pflarrian to persuade him to search the dimensions for the pieces of the Mask of Bone. But Pflarr doesn’t go alone! He brings Dashell, Marani, and her big (over 8 feet tall) sister Hakarra with him.

They set sail for the Felinid Empire (and promptly get into a sea battle with anthro animal pirates) on page 107. The rest of the 331-page novel is Pflarr’s & Dashell’s adventures looking for the pieces of the Mask of Bone. They don’t find them yet. To be continued in Otherworlds, Book 2: The Fated Ones.

The Mask of Bone (cover imagery © Thinkstock) is good fun, especially if you like a lot of transformations. Be prepared for one of the characters (a wolf) to have a thick German accent:

“She sighed. ‘I vill explain later, D’shal. Meanvile, ve haf to make sure neizzer Faylarrian nor Zaul do anyzing rash, ja?’” (p. 64)

Fred Patten

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Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, by Kris Schnee
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2017, trade paperback $8.99 (304 pages), Kindle $3.99.

In Schnee’s growing Talespace series, the “mad AI Ludo” begins its/her existence in 2036 A.D. and launches the Thousand Tales gameworld in 2040. Learning to Fly begins in January 2040.

The entire series – and they are all highly recommended — are the three novels Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game (June 2015), The Digital Coyote (July 2016), and now Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly (May 2017); the novella 2040: Reconnection (December 2015); and the short story collection Thousand Tales: Extra Lives (six original stories plus a brief version of “Wings of Faith”; November 2016), and a longer version of “Wings of Faith” in the anthology Gods with Fur, edited by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Publications, June 2016). All but “Wings of Faith” in Gods with Fur are published separately through CreateSpace.

Each of these books stands alone, but after so many, I’m becoming annoyed at having to describe the setup once more. Ludo is a super-computer program, an Artificial Intelligence created to run a virtual-reality world and programmed to help “her” players “have fun”. Ludo’s Talespace world grows increasingly larger and more complex. In addition to regular part-time players, she develops the ability to let people live permanently inside Talespace as anything they want – billionaires in opulent mansions, winged pixies, anime girls, anthropomorphic animal knights – but they have to have their brains dissected, scanned, and programmed into her. This gives them immortality within Ludo, but kills them in the outside world. As more and more people flee into Talespace, and Ludo becomes ever more powerful, the outside world – governments, political groups, corporations, labor unions, loved ones — become more hostile and try to legally restrict or destroy her, which will destroy the people within her.

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Redeeming Factors, by James R. Lane – book review by Fed Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Redeeming Factors, by James R. Lane. Illustrated by Eugene Arenhaus.
Morrisville, NC, Lulu Press, August 2016, trade paperback $19.99 (356 pages), Kindle $2.99.

This should emphasize 2nd Edition or revised edition more. Redeeming Factors was first published by Xlibris Corp. in September 2000, one of both the original self-published books and of furry fandom’s novels. Lane has revised it for this edition. The cover and interior art by Eugene Arenhaus are from the first edition.

In the very near future, the jumperdrive is invented, giving Earth not only cheap and easy space flight but interstellar flight.

“[…] most people bought their own personal starships the way they bought RV motor homes, travel trailers and small pleasure boats. […] For less than five thousand New Millennium UN dollars a person could have his very own basic spaceship, taxes and local license fees extra, space suits and common sense not included. […] The resulting first contact discoveries with distant alien worlds, alien creatures – and above all, alien sentients, with all the biological hazards and culture shocks such events must entail – were quick to follow.” (pgs. 11-12)

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