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The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman – review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
NYC, Alfred A. Knopf, October 2017, hardcover, $22.99 (449 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $11.99.

The Book of Dust. Volume 1, La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman. Illustrated by Chris Wormell.
London, Penguin Random House Children’s/David Fickling, October 2017, hardcover, £20.00 (560 pages), Kindle £9.99.

This is Pullman’s long-awaited followup to his multiple award-winning His Dark Materials trilogy. Its volume 1 is known as Northern Lights in Britain and was published in July 1995. It was retitled The Golden Compass in the U.S. and not published until March 1996. A little over twenty years later, both the American and British editions of The Book of Dust are published simultaneously and with the same title. Yet they are not physically identical. The two editions are typeset separately, with American and British spellings and terminology as appropriate, and the British edition is over a hundred pages longer. The American edition has almost none of the interior illustrations by Wormell, which are just chapter-heading drawings that are frankly not worth missing.

It is not a sequel. The main character in His Dark Materials is the young woman Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon Pantalaimon. Lyra is 11 and 12 years old, not yet an adolescent, and her dæmon can still take any male animal, bird, or insect form, which he does. At the conclusion of the trilogy Lyra becomes an adolescent, and Pan’s form is fixed as a talking pine marten. But The Book of Dust is Lyra’s story before His Dark Materials. In La Belle Sauvage she is only a baby.

They aren’t really talking-animal novels. The Book of Dust is set in that alternate Earth where everybody has a dæmon, a talking animal personification of their soul, accompanying them. The dæmon cannot stray too far from its person.

The protagonist of La Belle Sauvage is Malcolm Polstead, the potboy at his father’s inn on the shore of the River Thames at Oxford:

“Malcolm was the landlord’s son, an only child. He was eleven years old, with an inquisitive, kindly disposition, a stocky build, and ginger hair. He went to Ulvercote Elementary School a mile away, and he had friends enough, but he was happiest on his own, playing with his dæmon, Asta, in their canoe, on which Malcolm had painted the name LA BELLE SAUVAGE. […]

Like every child of an innkeeper, Malcolm had to work around the tavern, washing dishes and glasses, carrying plates of food or tankards of beer, retrieving them when they were empty. He took the work for granted. The only annoyance in his life was a girl called Alice, who helped with washing the dishes. Se was about sixteen, tall and skinny, with lank dark hair that she scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. […] He ignored that for a long time, but finally rat-formed Asta leapt at Alice’s scrawny jackdaw dæmon, knocking him into the washing-up water and then biting and biting the sodden creature till Alice screamed for pity. She complained bitterly to Malcolm’s mother, who said, ‘Serves you right. I got no sympathy for you. Keep your nasty mind to yourself.’” (p. 2)

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Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe, by Joshua Yoder. Maps by the author.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2017, trade paperback, $15.00 ([3 +] 397 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Reading Mark of the Tiger’s Stripe is an exercise in frustration. There is a detailed map of the world of Amarthia, but it’s so reduced as to be illegible. There is considerable exciting action, but it’s wrapped in such extensive descriptions as to become almost boring.

The beginning of the novel is what would be a tense dramatic sequence anywhere else. A team of six big-game hunters, loaded for monsters, moves into a secretive nighttime kill mission in a deserted slum district in Kairran, the capital of the desert nation of Pytan. Yet it goes on for forty pages!

“Vincenzo Nieves only averaged 165 centimetres, but the long ears poking out through the crown of his worn white fedora with its faded black band made him appear much taller. As he hop-stepped along, they bobbed and swayed, twitching now and again like electrified antennae.

The jackrabbit had a melodious baritone honeyed by the southern strains of upper-class Banton, far away in the bayous of the West United Kingdoms. Or at least it would be melodious if it was not constantly ringing in the ears of his teammates.

‘So there I was, just enjoyin’ a nice breakfast salad. Actually, it kinda reminded me of the carver’s salad they serve at this quaint café in Clairmount, but never mind. I’m sittin’ there, and in from the kitchen walks this absolutely gorgeous leopard girl, I mean you’ve never seen spots like she had. She had this cute little bob cut that showed off her earrings and a cute top that … well …’ He trailed off with a lascivious gleam in his golden-brown eyes, but no one was actually paying attention to him.

Most of his stories tended to end this way. Only Vince’s appetite for food rivalled his appetite for women. He was not the guy with a girl in every town; he was the guy with a dozen girls in every town. Still, Mohan [the tiger leader] had to admit that, for all his boasting, at least he kept the stories relatively clean. And his behaviour wasn’t entirely without cause; he was a handsome fellow who kept his wavy blond long-fur trimmed short and proper, as befitted a southern gentleman, and had dyed and groomed the fur on his chin into a matching goatee.” (pgs. 10-11)

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Calling all furries: FurScience / IARP launches international furry survey.

by Patch O'Furr

Paws in the air if you like science!

The newest, international FurScience survey needs your participation. They will use the data to help the fandom and those outside it to learn more about it. They have been doing surveys for years, and this is their largest and most ambitious one yet. They’re hoping to blow previous records out of the water by getting 10,000 furries worldwide. At the end, results will be available to all, and it’s sure to prove fascinating for anyone who’s curious about what goes on inside the fluffiest fandom. Please spread the word about it to other furries you know!

Take the survey here:  https://psychologyuwaterloo.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_39LTMxBo27VJMl7

This is a great time to help increase knowledge, with conventions hitting record attendance. In December 2017, Midwest Furfest grew larger than any con before by a difference that equals a small con itself.  The more participants a survey can gather, the better it can represent them.  Furscience / IARP has brought data in the past that has immensely helped raise understanding about why and how people come together in this very unique group – a reason why the media is doing less and less mocking and taking more time to tell real stories. Instead of waiting for slower media to catch up, put some science in their faces to neutralize the clickbait. That’s just one reason to help, and there’s probably 10,000 reasons and more, one for every unique furry. So don’t wait, click that link!

“Confederate fursuiter” Magnus Diridian arrested at Midwest Furfest – what’s the story?

by Patch O'Furr

Midwest Furfest 2017 broke the attendance record of all furry cons by the margin of a small con itself. It raised an eye-popping $86,000 for an animal charity that was previously in the red and is now funded for years. Twitter was on fire about the smashing success for the fandom. Among many ecstatic posts by attendees, of course there had to be some kind of drama too. It came with a fursuiter being arrested. Here’s the story pieced together by claims on twitter:

Scene: a hotel lobby. A black, red and white wolf fursuiter with a German WW1 style Pickelhaube helmet is parading around. People taking photos are greeted by offensive behavior like saluting with a “Sieg Heil” and shouting racist things. It causes hotel and/or con security to pursue him, and he flees and gets cornered in some bushes until the police come. They make him take off his suit, and he’s taken away in underwear. He was previously banned from the con and hotel, and the charges involve trespassing and assaulting a staff member before his arrest.

Some of those claims may be disputed (especially the nazi part), so let’s look deeper for the truth. Here’s an arrest record. Associates confirm the fursuiter who matches it is Magnus Diridian, AKA Rob Shokawsky (real name Robert Sojkowski). What is Magnus known for in furry fandom?

  • Fake Lemonade Coyote: At Anthrocon 2014, Magnus gained notoriety with a “bootleg” fursuit made to imitate a furry who died on duty as an EMT. People mourning his death were unhappy about exploitation of his image, which continues in 2017.
  • Confederate flag fursuit: At Anthrocon 2017, Magnus caused more anger with a flag-design fursuit and a Trump sign. It was a protest of takedown of the flags around the USA due to their racist association, following national attention on hate crime murders by Dylann Roof. The story was covered in a Dogpatch Press article: The Confederate fursuit incident shows how you can’t be a troll and a victim at the same time.
  • Grimace McWendy’s: Custom suits show that Magnus puts a lot of effort into these events. If it’s not just calculated to troll, isn’t that’s a loveable quality? The same is said by people close to him who are earnest about defending him as a nice guy. I have to admit that this fursuit makes me laugh and I have to admire the creative humor. (Suiting video).

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“You let your ghosties get the best of you”- Chatting with comics creator Mark Kalesniko

by Bessie

Welcome to Bessie, of Marfedblog, a comics review and criticism site. There’s furry stuff there, and much more, with devoted curation by a fan doing exactly what they love. If you like this, give it a follow. And expect more syndicated content reposted here.  (- Patch)

“You can either stay and rot, or you can escape and burn. That’s OK; he’s a songwriter, after all, and he needs simple choices like that in his songs. But nobody ever writes about how it is possible to escape and rot, how escapes can go off at half-cock, how you can leave the suburbs for the city but end up living a limp suburban life anyway. That’s what happened to me; that’s what happens to most people”

High Fidelity- Nick Hornby

Years back, after heavily getting back into comics, I was gifted with the book 500 Essential Graphic Novels and surprised by the breadth and depth of the selection set about bookmarking and ordering a few dozen titles. Amongst them was Mark Kalesniko’s Alex, a character I instantly fell in love with and creator who’s work I quickly consumed. Having moved back to his home town of Bandini in Canada, with his tail between his legs, after abandoning his dream of animation at ‘Mickey Walt’, Alex wakes up on a park bench, groggy from another night of alcohol fuelled self destruction. Hungover, high school yearbook in his jacket and with an expressionistic painting of the town he has no memory of. The frustrated Alex fills his time wrestling with his past, struggling with artists’ block, hard drinking, and Gilligan’s Island whilst avoiding old school friends and facing up to the unthinkable. Having to be an artist, rather than a cartoonist. Freeway, drawn over ten years features a younger Alex in his animating career. Stuck in a seemingly never ending traffic jam he reminisces about his uncertain start in LA , whilst he imagines himself living an idyllic life, back in the golden days of animation.

Although optimistic now, I spent most of my teens and twenties as a shamefully stereotypically moody and sullen sod, even now I’m drawn to characters like Alex. Back then my favourite book was High Fidelity, which is the reason for the quote at the start of the review which pretty much sums up Alex’s story. Both books features a downtrodden lead character, stuck in their ways and unhappy with the way life turned out. Kalesinko’s work is great for wallowing in self pity and misery, in the same way that we’re drawn to sad songs, knowing full well they’ll bring us yet deeper into sadness. Tackling themes of depression, self destruction, inner peace and the death of a dream, they are both hugely moving and funny reads. Kalesinko can tease out the comedy of even the most disastrous and destructive events of Alex’s life, presented with his sparse fine line with the pacing and sense of movement that clearly comes from his own stint in animation.

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Furries invited to a charity livestream for the It’s Your Haven Foundation, December 8-9

by Patch O'Furr

@HavenFusky of @HavenCon has a 24+ hour livestream for his charitable foundation. Check out the schedule, and here’s @KalTorathen to tell you more, with hope to see our community come together to support a Very Good Boy! 

Have you ever wondered where the money to host and support a convention comes from? In particular, how do smaller or startup cons get funded?

One might argue that larger, long-running cons can gather money for next year’s convention during this year’s convention. But that isn’t true for smaller and younger cons. They depend on generous individuals that donate their time, money, and expertise to make them a reality.

That’s a good reason to support HavenCon (www.havencontx.com) and the associated It’s Your Haven Foundation (www.itsyourhaven.org).

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Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending, by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Otters in Space III: Octopus Ascending, by Mary E. Lowd
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, July 2017, trade paperback, $9.95 (227 pages), Kindle $6.99.

Otters in Space III follows right after Otters in Space II, published four years ago. There’s not even a brief What Has Gone Before. Unless you have a really good memory, you had better reread the first two books before starting this.

The series is set in the far future, after humans have uplifted cats, dogs, and otters (and some others), then disappeared. The dogs and cats run Earth, and the otters run everything in space. The protagonist is Kipper Brighton, the tabby cat sister of Petra and Alastair Brighton. Alastair has just run for Senator of California, and despite cat voters outnumbering the dogs four to one, the dogs who control the results announce the dog nominee has won in a landslide. Alastair and Petra must decide whether to challenge the vote and risk starting a cat-vs.-dog civil war. Meanwhile, Kipper has gone into space and is aboard the Jolly Barracuda, an otter merchant spaceship on a supply run to the Jovian colonies. They find the colonies under attack by aliens that turn out to be raptor dinosaurs who have already conquered an octopus space civilization that the cats, dogs, and otters didn’t know about. Otters in Space II ends with the cats and dogs of Earth uniting to oppose the dinosaurs, while Kipper commands a spaceship full of rescued cat refugees returning to Earth.

(I hope that Lowd plans to eventually republish the three books of Otters in Space as a single novel.)

Otters in Space III begins with Jenny, an otter, and Ordol, the leader of the octopi (that’s them on Idess’ cover), flying back from the Persian cat colony of New Persia on Europa in a stolen spaceship, to the Jolly Barracuda hidden in Jupiter’s Red Spot:

“As they flew toward Io, Ordol’s tentacles continued to work in Jenny’s peripheral vision, running scans and taking readings. The ship’s computer displayed the results in a language Jenny couldn’t yet read. Sharp angular letters clustered erratically into words – or so Jenny assumed – and scrolled senselessly across the computer screens arranged beneath the central viewscreen.

The sight of the alien language made it impossible for Jenny to forget: this ship was stolen. They had disabled the homing signal to hide it from the original owners, but it was stolen nonetheless.

Ordol could read the writing, at least, a little of it. He’d been a slave to the aliens who’d built the ship. Before it was renamed Brighton’s Destiny; the aliens who wrote the inscrutable language that filled its screens and who still enslaved the rest of his people.” (p. 10)

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Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, by David A. Bossert. Introduction by J. B. Kaufman. Illustrated.
Glendale, CA, Disney Editions, August 2017, hardcover $40.00 (176 pages).

I can’t say that I have been waiting all my life for this book, but it seems like it. As an animation fan during the 1970s and 1980s, everyone knew the Walt Disney story from the creation of Mickey Mouse onward, but nobody seemed to know what came before Mickey Mouse. Information about Disney’s first Laugh-O-Gram cartoons in Kansas City was gradually learned – his move to Hollywood and the Alice Comedies, then Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; then in early 1928 – nobody knew the exact date — the Oswald cartoons were somehow stolen from him, and he quickly created Mickey Mouse to replace his loss. But what happened in early 1928? Animation fans wanted to know.

The general story slowly emerged, but there was a shortage of details, and no one place contained all the information. Then in 2006 the Disney Studios reacquired the long-dormant Oswald rights from Universal. Well, to cut a long story short, this book now presents those details, with contemporary illustrations from the Disney Archives on almost every page. It’s not complete; there are still seven of Disney’s 26 1927-1928 Oswald cartoons that have not been found. But there is enough information here, in text and illustrations, to fill a book – this book.

This is fine for the animation fan. Is it worth it for the furry fan? Definitely! Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a major anthro animal star of the late 1920s; by Disney in 1927-28, and it took him a decade to sink out of popularity under other directors during the 1930s. Here he is during his original stardom. If Disney hadn’t had Oswald taken away from him, we would never have gotten Mickey Mouse. Instead Oswald would have gone on to the mega-popularity that Mickey won. (Maybe. Oswald was still owned by Universal Studios, so Disney never would have had the creative freedom that he did with Mickey, who was 100% his own character.) Furry fandom would have acknowledged Oswald instead of Mickey as one of its major influences.

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The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy
NYC, Tom Doherty Associates/TOR Books, August 2017, trade paperback, $14.99 (127 pages), Kindle $3.99.

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion is the first novella in the new Danielle Cain horror series, “a dropkick-in-the-mouth anarcho-punk fantasy that pits traveling anarchist Danielle Cain against vengeful demons, hypocritical ideologues, and brutal, unfeeling officers of the law,” as a blurb says. #2 will be The Barrow Will Send What It May, to be published in April 2018. This is not a furry series; #2 will pit Danielle against zombies. But this #1 is fantasy-animal-related, although not anthropomorphic.

Danielle is the foul-mouthed narrator, a late-twenties now-cynical anarchist, no longer looking for the idealized commune where everyone loves everyone else and anarchy really works. As The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion begins, she is hitchhiking in rural Iowa to such a rumored commune, and she has to pull a knife on the car’s driver who does not want to let her out in the middle of “nowhere”.

“Ten years of putting up with shit like that from drivers. It was getting old. Hell, at twenty-eight, I was getting old. Ten years ago I’d talk to drivers about anything and love them for it. I loved the nice ones for their kindness, I loved the crazies for their stories, and sure, I hated the racist pieces of shit, but if nothing else I got to feel like I had the pulse of this racist, piece-of-shit country. But a decade is an awfully long time, and whatever shine I’d found on the shit that is hitchhiking had long since faded. Still, it got me where I wanted to go.” (p. 12)

Freedom, Iowa is a commune of about two hundred squatters and anarchist activists in an abandoned ghost town. But why Danielle wants to go there is:

“It was the last place Clay had lived, the last place he’d spent much time before he’d found his way west and his hand had shown his razor the way to his throat. No warning signs, no cries for help.

I had a lot of questions. If there were answers, I might find them in Freedom, Iowa.” (p. 13)

Danielle encounters the first horrific animal near the town right away.

“After a hundred yards and a couple turns, when the trees were getting thick enough to cast the whole of the road into shadow, I saw a deer on the shoulder ahead, rooting at something on the pavement. The beast was crimson red. Bloodred. I didn’t know deer even came in that color.

I crossed to the far side of the street so I wouldn’t disturb him, but I couldn’t help staring. A rabbit was dead on the ground beneath him, its belly up, its rib cage splayed open. The deer looked up at me then, his red muzzle dripping red blood.

On the right side of his head, he bore an antler. On the left side of his head, he bore two.” (ibid.)

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Passing Through; Tails from the Road – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Passing Through; Tails from the Road [edited by Weasel]
Manvil, TX, Weasel Press, September 2017, trade paperback, $9.99 (138 pages), Kindle $2.99.

There is an editor’s introduction that sets the mood of hitchhiking drama, but isn’t clear whether it’s just a mood piece for this anthro universe, or if it was a real-life personal event that inspired this anthology. Here are six short stories and novelettes about anthro hitchhikers. “Cash, Grass, or Ass, open up and hitch a ride!” (blurb)

In “First Time Ain’t Easy” by Tyson West, Rod (called both Roderick and Rodney) is a 20-year-old raccoon whose father and friends consider to be soft and immature. He hitchhikes from Illinois to Seattle to visit a cousin, gets a ride from a friendly black panther (clearly an African-American), and the two are arrested and jailed in Montana. Rod hopes to be released in a few days, but is he tough enough to survive in prison until then?

“Seed of a Doubt” by Frances Pauli is a rare anthro story with sealife:

“‘Raise your right fin.’ The bailiff fluttered silver gills and rolled one eyeball the size of Ray’s head in the direction of the judge. ‘And state your name.’

‘I’m Ray.’ The courtroom water ran a good five degrees warmer than he was used to, but the increase in temperature behind his scales was more from nerves than the fact that hey were in the shallows. ‘Sorry. Ray Blythe.’” (p. 27)

The judge is a squid, the bailiff is a cod, and the defendant who Ray is a reluctant witness against is a shark mob boss. A big shark. Ray is a remora who had hitched a ride — was attached to Carl Sanguini, the shark, at the time of the alleged murder. A remora is a small fish, used to being silent and unnoticed, as Ray was when the alleged murder took place. He is extra nervous at being the center of attention in the coral courtroom.

What happens in the trial could only happen if the characters are anthro sealife. Kudos to Pauli.

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