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Tag: Kris Schnee

Liberation Game, by Kris Schnee – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Liberation Game, by Kris Schnee.
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2018, trade paperback, $8.99 (307 pages). Kindle $3.99.

This is both a sequel to Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game, 2040: Reconnection, The Digital Coyote, Thousand Tales: Learning to Fly, and all the other stories in this series, and an independent summation of all of them. It covers the years 2036 to 2040, from when the Artificial Intelligence Ludo was just starting to set up the Thousand Tales/Talespace gameworld, to when it – maybe – becomes a legally recognized independent country. It features new characters, although some previous characters appear in it. (Nocturne, identified in the first novel as a black-feathered griffin-girl, is described more fully; she’s not an eagle-lioness combination but a raven-lioness.)

Liberation Game features three main characters: Ludo, in “her” beautiful human woman form; Robin MacAdam, a young American, a member of the Latter Day Saints/Mormons helping to build a community in the Central American nation of Cibola; and Lumina, a centauroid deer robot (very shiny but metallic; not very “furry”).

As Liberation Game begins in 2036, Ludo has just begun her mission to help humans “have fun”. Lumina is one of the first independent AIs that Ludo has created. She was intended to become the android companion of a German doctor who Ludo hoped to encourage to become a supporter of Thousand Tales and one of its first uploaded residents, but he is killed almost immediately, leaving Lumina at loose ends. She drifts over to Robin’s project.

Robin, the assistant of Edward Apery, are the two Mormons/Americans helping the local natives of Cibola to construct a modern village, Golden Goose. The name is intended as both a symbol of what they hope to accomplish, and as a subtle hint to Cibola’s corrupt government that it can get more over the long run by letting the experimental village succeed than by taking all its assets as “taxes” immediately.

“The village of Golden Goose existed by a strange partnership. The Latter-Day Saints (or Mormons) had pumped money into Cibola in the hopes of winning over some of the local Catholics. The government had eagerly deeded them some land to start economic reconstruction. Robin himself had initially cared more about travel and adventure and damn good local coffee.

The village’s other partner wasn’t human: Ludo the gamemaster AI.” (p. 5)

At this point, Ludo is mostly a silent partner, helping to subsidize Golden Goose’s development for the long-range goal of building one of her centers of Thousand Tales and uploading human minds into Talespace. Edward/administrator and Robin/engineer are the tutors of the local natives, and their representatives to Governor Leopold, their Cibolan government official.

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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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The Digital Coyote, by Kris Schnee – book review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

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

51bo46jw5qlThe Digital Coyote, by Kris Schnee.
Seattle WA, CreateSpace, July 2016, trade paperback $8.49 (238 pages), Kindle $3.99.

This is Schnee’s third Thousand Tales book, following the novel Thousand Tales: How We Won the Game, and the novella 2040: Reconnection. There is also the short story “Wings of Faith”, in the anthology Gods with Fur, ed. by Fred Patten (FurPlanet Productions, June 2016). To quote from my review of 2040: Reconnection: “Ludo is the advanced Artificial Intelligence who can scan anyone’s brain and recreate it in ‘her’ fantasy world, in the setting and body of their choice. Handsome men and beautiful women, noble warriors, flying griffins, anthropomorphic animals; anything, living in an ancient Greek or medieval European or sci-fi futuristic paradise. Of course, their original body in 2040 A.D. Earth is dead, and the consequences of this back on Earth may be unknown, but who in Ludo’s world cares?”

Pete Timaeus is a Washington, D.C. senator’s aide; great at data analysis but otherwise with massive psychological problems about dealing with the real world. He wants Ludo to “fix” him. “She” demurs:

“‘You can fix me!’

The AI shook her head. ‘That’s not what uploading is for. People already argue that converting a human brain into software destroys the soul, that my residents are false copies made for suicidal customers. If I deliberately get your mind wrong, what’s the point?’” (p. 3)

What Ludo does is to take Pete into the computer world of Talespace as he is, with his inferiority complex and hypochondria and inability to make choices and acrophobia and insecurities about dealing with other personalities, and lead him into fixing himself. Mostly as a coyote.

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