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Small World, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Small World, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, April 2018, trade paperback, $11.99 (301 [+ 1] pages).

Small World is Luterman’s The Kanti Cycle, Book 2. Book 1 is Skeleton Crew. Luterman says here that The Kanti Cycle is a trilogy, to be completed in Book 3, Fair Trade.

Skeleton Crew seemed to end with a definite conclusion, but Small World continues the plot in a new direction.

Skeleton Crew is set on the generation exploratory starship White Flower II, populated entirely by 10,000 furry geroo and one giant dragonlike krakun, Commissioner Sarsuk. The protagonist is Kanti, one of the geroo.

400 years ago, the krakun came to the overpopulated primitive world Gerootec and offered to hire thousands of geroo as their starship crews. The geroo who went into space and their descendants would never see Gerootec again, but they would live in luxury compared to the backward geroo on their homeworld. After 400 years, the geroo are asking if the krakun are their employers or their slavemasters. The White Flower II would be a paradise for the geroo, if it weren’t for the krakun’s cruelly arbitrary representative, Commissioner Sarsuk. It doesn’t help that Commissioner Sarsuk openly refers to them as slaves. In Skeleton Crew, matters build to a flash point, but Kanti, a lowly deckhand, maneuvers Sarsuk into seriously injuring himself before he can slaughter any geroo. The Kanti Cycle, Book 1 ends with Sarsuk returning to the krakun homeworld to recuperate, leaving the geroo on the White Flower II in peace — for awhile.

Small World begins with Sarsuk returning to the starship. He’s not happy, and he’s going to make as many people suffer as he can.

“‘On my shuttle you will find a cage. Fill it.’ Commissioner Sarsuk clipped his strand back onto his necklace. ‘I know that you love to agonize over choices, trying to make the perfect decision. So in the infinite compassion that I have for you –’ He rolled his eyes. ‘—I am giving you some extra time.’

‘Fill … a cage …’ the captain said quietly. ‘With?’

Sarsuk crossed his arms and leaned on his elbows so he could comfortably lower his face down to Ateri’s level. ‘You’re smart. At least you always act that way. What do you think? What’s the one thing on board this ship that has any utility at all?’

[…]

‘My crew?’

‘Fifty slaves should do, Ateri,’ Sarsuk said. ‘I had a ringel cleaning crew previously, but I can’t see any reason to buy more of them. Fifty geroo would be a nice perk considering how much I’ve had to endure for the company recently,’ he added, his eyes filling with self-pity.” (pgs. 4-5)

The blurb summarizes the setup: “The commissioner accidentally let his last cleaning crew starve to death, so now Kanti and forty-nine of his teammates will have to spend the rest of their lives living in a one room barracks with only a single airlock protecting them all from the planet’s poisonous atmosphere.”

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Furry Dance Parties in Europe – A look by Soffy

by Patch O'Furr

Independent dance parties by furries, for furries: the concept has been growing around the world since the late 2000’s. It can spin off from cons, but doesn’t depend on them. It’s more ambitious than informal meets and events that happen once. Those can stay inner-focused, but dances bring new partnership and support from overlapping communities and new kinds of venues. It crosses a line to public space, so a stranger can walk in and discover their new favorite thing. It encourages new blood and crossover. It makes subculture thrive. It’s a movement!

Parties that give a Q&A get a featured article. See The Furclub survey for questions and party list.

The big list recently got enough entries that it needed to be split between continents. It brought a tip about a bunch of Euro and German parties that hadn’t caught notice, too many for an article for each. There are already well established ones on the main list, so this is just the extras. Most seem to be once-a-year, which makes it great to find so many.  Soffy, a journalist and furry in the UK, stepped up to collect them. (Thanks Soffy!)

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A&H Club, Volume 1, by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

A&H Club, volume 1, by Rick Griffin. Illustrated.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2018, trade paperback, $18.29 (unpaged [82 pages]).

Popular furry writer/artist Rick Griffin has two Internet comic strips. Housepets! is the one that everyone is familiar with. Once a year he collects them and publishes a Create/Space album.

A&H Club is his other Internet strip. In one way it’s just more familiar high-class Griffin anthropomorphic art, and jokes about not wearing any pants. In another it’s the opposite of what Griffin does in Housepets! It’s serious, not comedic, even if it does view today’s society as semi-comedic. It’s realistic, not fantastic; aside from featuring anthropomorphic animals who walk about nude below the waist. Its two main characters are a pair of lesbian lovers (Adrian is really bi), one of whom is a single mother. It consists of full pages rather than strips.

Griffin first collected his A&H Club into three comic books of between 22 and 28 pages each. Now he has gathered those into a CreateSpace album of 82 pages including the three front & rear covers.

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The Milo Story, Nazi Prevention, and A Simple Hope – by David Lillie of Dreamkeepers

by Patch O'Furr

Welcome to David Lillie, artist of Dreamkeepers, a comic with a connection to here via Fred Patten’s reviews. A fantasy comic doesn’t need to tie to current events, but that changes when it embraces controversy.

Dreamkeepers did that by hitching their marketing to Milo Yiannopoulos in 2016, buying an ad on his show and giving him a fan art fursona. Milo was known as a demagogic celebrity who rose with Gamergate and the alt-right, and fell by condoning pedophilia. He addressed furries by bashing them on Breitbart, as I mentioned in this article about looking at conservatives before Trump was elected. But the topic here isn’t really Milo, it’s the things he rode in on, and they need to be clearly defined.

Regular readers will be familiar with reactionary groups aligned with the alt-right, like Altfurry. An honest look will find them inseparable from racism. Despite their claims to be defenders of free speech, I think they aren’t motivated by limitations being imposed on freedom, but the opposite; they’re reacting to society getting too free for the targets of their hate, who they consider lesser humans. Their leaders want unaccountability for it, and many of their collaborators simply don’t understand the greater context, or don’t care as long as they personally come out ahead.

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River Water, by Eikka – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

River Water, by Eikka.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2016, trade paperback, $9.00 (122 pages), Kindle $2.99.

This is a happy nature novella, like Bambi by Felix Salten – not! (Not that Bambi is very happy.)

Flix is a pregnant young vixen, happily mated to Bracken, a strong but not very bright tod. This is fine with her. She doesn’t love him as much as she feels that she can relax with him as the protector of her and her (and his) kits. This is a great relief after her own orphaned and very insecure childhood.

“His brain wasn’t talon-sharp, if that wasn’t obvious from his idea that shrubberies could spontaneously attack, but that was fine by her. She knew he’d sooner let his bones collapse than let anyone get a strand of fur on her, and she’d given him a litter of magnificent kits growing inside her body alongside a growing feeling of being protected than she’d had in a very long time.” (p. 8)

Unfortunately for her, Bracken is immediately killed while she is out hunting. She does not grieve for him as much as she’s panic-stricken at being without a protector once again. Even worse now that she has a wombful of growing kits to also care for.

Flix is so desperate for a new protector that when she comes across a lone stoat, even younger and more naïve than she is, she grabs him for the job. He takes some persuading at first –

“The stoat blinked open his eyes, and reacted just as expected, twisting, scratching, biting, kicking. Flix, feeling disturbed but making sure she remained calm, called out as clearly as she could.

‘Okay, stop! I’m not going to hurt you! I know you’re lost and I know you’re alone – but that’s why I’m here! I want to help you! But please, I need you to stop!’

The stoat began to slow his struggling, but whether this was because he believed what she was saying or just getting tired, Flix didn’t know – she just continued speaking regardless.

‘Are you listening to me? Are…? Look, what’s your name? Mine’s Flix. What’s yours? Mmm?’

He just stared at her. She asked the question again. ‘What’s your name?’

‘…You’re a fox” the stoat breathed out.

‘Yes, I know,’ Flix said, ‘but there’s nothing I can do about that. And anyway, I’m not an ordinary fox… I’m a good fox.’

‘G… Good fox?’

‘Yes,’ she said, astonished at what she was saying; the amount of animals she’d torn the fur off, she was akin to a good fox as much as a stick insect was to a vicious destroyer of nature. ‘Ground squirrels, tree squirrels – good foxes, bad foxes. So you don’t have to be afraid. Just tell me your name.’

The stoat stared for a while longer, before sliding out the word ‘Nezzick’.

‘Nezzick,’ Flix repeated. ‘Brilliant name. Now… You know I’m here to help you, don’t you? … Just say yes or no.’

He didn’t say anything.” (pgs. 11-12)

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Meet Emma the Tiger – A Showcase of Fandom Love from BLFC 2018

by Pup Matthias

Thanks to Matthias and Rune of Rune’s Furry Blog. Her guest article about the story was submitted at the same time, so some of her info is included too. – Patch

This was the sixth year for Biggest Little Fur Con (BLFC), one of the biggest and fastest growing furry conventions in the fandom. Last year it had over 3,500 attendees and raised $36,000 for charity. This con has been The Con on many Furries lips… (or is that maws?) Many furs will travel far and wide to attend for a weekend of anthropomorphic fun. It’s attended by many fandom favorite suiters and seems to have good control of its public image.

However, with cons as big as BLFC, news and drama from within can spread like wildfire on social media, for better or worse, becoming the “face” of the convention for that year. Things were going smoothly at first, but during the con it was reported that a 10 year old girl was a target of verbal bullying.

The story of Emma the Tiger and how she almost left the fandom emerged on Twitter.  A user posted a screen grab from Instagram by Krysta Kennedy (xrainbowdawnx) explaining what happened. Emma was there for the fursuit photo shoot that takes place at every con’s massive fursuit gathering. She was approached by two mice who started to mock her fursuit. Emma was so embarrassed that she ran out without her father, saying that she hated being a furry and didn’t want to be in the fandom anymore.

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AZ Republican Leader Exploits Furries To Disguise Anti-LGBT Policy, “Concentration Camp”

by Patch O'Furr

By Tempe O’Kun and Patch, with thanks to Tonya Song for interview questions.

Recently, AZ Rep. Kelly Townsend (a politician in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2013) stumbled into the furry fandom.  She’d been threatening to sue teachers who were organizing for resources to fix a crisis in schools with leaky roofs, 25-year-old textbooks, rats in classrooms, and no budget to afford toilet paper. It all started when she responded to criticism by Pepper Coyote, a furry who happens to be a teacher in Arizona.

Furries, as we are naturally inclined to do, welcomed the curiosity with the usual range of mostly-SFW responses. This sort of interaction happens with some regularity. Some innocent outsider happens upon the fandom, and we get to watch him or her discover the wacky world of talking animals. Sometimes they even become a loved fixture of the community like Boozy Badger.

Except that’s not what’s happening here.

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Eagle Furdance swoops in with a dance party for Swiss fandom – with bowling!

by Patch O'Furr

Furclub: “A repeat/regular nightclub event by furries for furries.” The concept has been spreading since the late 2000’s. It’s a dance party independent from cons. It builds on their growth, but takes things farther. It’s more ambitious than informal meets and events that happen once. Those can stay inner-focused, but this brings partnership with new kinds of venues, and new support for what they host. It crosses a line to public space, so a stranger can walk in and discover their new favorite thing. It encourages new blood and crossover to other scenes. It makes subculture thrive. It’s a movement!

Parties that give a Q&A get a featured article. See The Furclub survey for questions and party list. Here’s Eagle Furdance in Switzerland, introduced by organizer Avalon Bluejay. Their 4th party happened on April 28, 2018.

Who is involved? 

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The Wonderling, by Mira Bartók – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Wonderling, by Mira Bartók. Map, illustrations by the author.
Summerville, MA, Candlewick Press, September 2017, hardcover, $21.99 ([vii +] 450 pages), Kindle $9.46.

The Wonderling is a Young Adult fantasy recommended for grades 5 to 9; ages 10 to 14. It has “already been put into development for a major motion picture,” according to the blurb.

It has been compared to the novels by Charles Dickens about wretched orphans in Victorian England. Think of A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist, with furries – or at least strange beasts.

“He looked like a young fox but stood upright like a child and had no tail to speak of. His eyes were a lovely chestnut brown and flecked with gold. But there was something about them that gave one the sense that, although he had not been in this world very long, he carried within him some inexplicable sorrow.

He was a creature with an innocent heart. What kind of creature, though, who could say? Despite his fox kit face, his snout was more dog than fox, and there was something rabbity about him too, in the way his nose twitched when he sensed danger, and how he trembled when he heard the loud clang of the orphanage bell. But the most singular thing about him was that he had only one ear.

[…]

But Number Thirteen – one-eared, nameless, and small of stature, for he never grew taller than three feet high – could not remember where he came from.” (pgs. 4-5)

Number Thirteen has been raised from infancy in Miss Carbuncle’s large Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, just outside the large “Great White City of Lumentown”. He is about 11 years old.

“On the front of the Home’s brochure was a happy-go-lucky creature with the head of a rabbit and the body of a little girl, wearing a polka-dot dress and bow, clutching a bouquet of daisies. Beneath the picture, the caption read: Have you been unexpectedly burdened by a recently orphaned or unclaimed creature? Worry not! We have just the solution for you!” (pgs. 6-7)

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Vincent and the Dissidents, by Christopher Locke – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Vincent and the Dissidents, by Christopher Locke.
Los Angeles, CA, Fathoming Press, April 2018, trade paperback, $14.95 ([x +] 335 pages), Kindle $3.99.

This is The Enlightenment Adventures, Book Two. When I reviewed Book One, published in February 2015, I said: “And this is only Book One of The Enlightenment Adventures. Those who read it through to the end will not be able to resist going on to Book Two.” Now, after a three-year wait, here it is.

In Book One, Persimmon Takes On Humanity, the raccoon Persimmon leads a tiny group of North American forest animals in an apparently hopeless drama of taking on all humanity to destroy its enterprises that exploit animals: commercial meat farms, fur farms, puppy mills, and especially circuses with performing animals. Persimmon starts out as an indignant but naïve protester against all human callous exploitation of animals for profit or amusement. By the end of the novel, she is a grim militant.

“She looks directly at the Rottweilers with a stern expression. ‘Listen to me very carefully. I want to help you, but there are two of you and thousands of minks, and they’re suffering immensely. I’ve heard horrible things about what they’re forced to endure. Right now some of them have open wounds. Some don’t have any water. And some are going slowly insane because they’re trapped in stifling, barren cages. It’s unbelievably cruel, and we’re here to put a stop to it. You’re either with us or against us.’” (Persimmon Takes On Humanity, p. 146)

Vincent and the Dissidents begins with a ten-page Cast of Characters and Synopsis of Book One, so the reader can drop running into the action. The Cast of Characters says about Vincent:

“VINCENT – A cunning mink whose fur is mostly black with a hint of blue. He lived a hellish life on a fur farm before he finally escaped. He then vowed to himself that he would rescue the minks who were still trapped on the farm. A few months later, he was lucky enough to meet Persimmon and her team. They joined forces and successfully rescued most of the minks. Little did Persimmon know that after she and her team had moved on to their next mission, Vincent began gathering his own army of animals who would rescue other animals using more aggressive tactics against humans than her own.” (p. [iv])

It’s more complex than that. Persimmon originally grandiosely dubs her animal group The Uncaged Alliance. In Book One, she constantly argues with Rawly, another raccoon, as to what tactics they should use and what their next mission should be. They end up splitting, with Rawly leading the remnant of The Uncaged Alliance (including Persimmon’s younger brother Scraps), and Persimmon starting afresh with a new title, The Enlighteners. Vincent has been organizing his own group, the Dissidents.

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