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Tag: Mary E. Lowd

ROAR Vol. 9, Resistance, Edited by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

ROAR Volume 9, Resistance, Edited by Mary E. Lowd.
Dallas, TX, Bad Dog Books, July 2018, trade paperback, $19.95 (297 pages), eBook $7.95.

ROAR volume 9, Bad Dog Books’ annual anthology of non-erotic furry adventure short fiction, is the fourth edited by Mary E. Lowd. It follows last year’s vol. 8 devoted to Paradise, and 2016’s vol. 7 devoted to Legends. This year’s theme is Resistance; “[…] the vision of resistance […] expressed through the voices of fifteen amazing authors.”

I suspect that Lowd accepted stories based on their quality rather than their relevance to the theme. The stories are all very good, and an excellent mix of types, although I don’t see what connection some of them have to “resistance”.

“Saguaros” by Watts Martin features Hanai, a coyote aristocrat, and Tamiisi, her shy rabbit maid, in a desert world of magic:

“Tamiisi stepped toward the wall. The neighborhood lanterns were first to meet her eyes, fixed lamps glittering from lawns and porches and thorn-trees, floating lamps trailing behind or in front of unseen travelers. As her eyes adjusted, she could trace the lines of sidewalks and carriageways, see the pennants atop the highest tents of the Great Market. Sky-fish flitted through the air, over and under the stone bridges, leaping to touch the rare flying sled. If she remained perfectly still, listened ever so closely, she could hear the clockwork birds twittering in faint harmonies as they returned to the park to roost for the night.” (p. 19)

But is the magic the coyotes’ or the rabbits’ – or someone else’s? The rabbits are unhappy with their lot, but what happens doesn’t seem to be due to anyone’s “resistance”.

In “Ghosts” by Searska GreyRaven, the resistance is that Cal, an Angora neko-form, is lesbian and rejects the straight heterosexual life her domineering father demands that she lead. Cal’s partner after he dies is Deanne, a black cat neko-form scientist trying to prove the existence of ghosts. When Cal’s father’s ghost continues to try to force her to “return to God”, the story becomes like a dramatic Ghostbusters:

“I squinted my eyes shut, and suddenly felt a burst of heat along the side of my face. My father snarled and let go, dropping me to the floor. I lay, gasping for air and opened one eye.

Deanne stood in the doorway, a heavy contraption slung over one shoulder. She held what looked like a gun from a game of laser tag in her paws.

‘What … the hell?’ I coughed. ‘Is that?’ I couldn’t think of the word.

‘Nope. It’s a spectral inverter. And it’ll scorch your retinas if you look at it!’

The ghost of my father roared and flew at Deanne, who roared right back and hit him again with a beam of red-black energy. My father dodged and laughed.” (p. 47)

Calling Cal and Denise “neko-forms” instead of just cats is necessary because there’s also a non-anthro pet cat in the story.   Also a rat-form, corvine-forms, and a lupine-form for anthro animals, plus humans. The ROAR vol. 9 cover by Kadath illustrates “Ghosts”.

In “Froggy Stews” by Humphrey Lanham, Uri, a frog, and Clyde, a sea lion, are roommates despite the disparity in their sizes:

“The [drunken] frog nodded. Clyde offered up a flipper for Uri to climb onto. On a normal day, Uri would never allow himself to be carried about by a larger animal like that. Today, however, he didn’t think he could successfully move from the sink to the couch without looking more ridiculous than he would in the arms of a sea lion.” (p. 57)

After six months, one of the two decides that the Odd Couple relationship isn’t working out. I’m not sure where the “resistance” is here. In fact, I’m not sure why a normal-sized frog and sea lion would ever decide to become roommates in a normal human house in the first place. All anthro fiction requires some acceptance of fantasy, but “Peeling off his grey turtleneck and $100 jeans” (p. 53) – this is a normal-sized, normal-physique frog? And a normal-physique sea lion doesn’t have legs. “Froggy Stews” reads smoothly, but the constant description of the frog’s physical normality (a small, hopping, cold-blooded reptile) made it impossible for me to envision him dressing in clothes, getting drunk, and living in a house-sharing relationship (a two-story house, at that) with a much-larger mammal who doesn’t have legs.

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The Snake’s Song: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel, by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Snake’s Song: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel, by Mary E. Lowd.
Eugene, OR, ShadowSpinners Press, March 2018, trade paperback, $11.99 (210 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $3.99.

ShadowSpinners Press says, “Labyrinth of Souls novels must contain the idea of an underworld labyrinth. The form of the labyrinth and the nature of the underworld are left to the fevered imagination of the author. […] Most stories will lean toward dark fantasy but science fiction, horror, psychological thriller, Noir, mystery, etc. will be considered.” The Snake’s Song is its sixth novel, and its first furry one.

The Snake’s Song is a work of fabulism rather than traditional furry fiction. “The snake sang,” it begins. “The snake sang and mice knew better than to listen. Mice and rats and songbirds and frogs – none of them listened to snakes. Songbirds and frogs sang their own songs; mice and rats told stories. None of them listened to snakes.

And neither did squirrels.

But one day, a gray squirrel named Witch-Hazel stopped to listen to a soft hissing carried on the wind, a susurrus coming from a tunnel, hidden beneath a bush. With melancholy sighs and mesmerizing murmurs, the hissing voice sang a song of days gone by, days long ago when the earth and sky and underground were bound together with a river that flowed in endless, looping circles; tree branches embraced the heavens, and tree roots held the depths in their woody arms; and all the creatures of Earth could make a pilgrimage into the sky to meet the All-Being who had created every animal.” (p. 13, reformatted)

Squirrels don’t listen to snakes, but now Witch-Hazel does:

“‘Tell me about the All-Being,’ Witch-Hazel asked breathlessly.

‘The All-Being is why birds can fly, fish breathe water, beavers are builders, and bees can turn pollen into honey. Each of them reflects the glory of the All-Being.’

Witch-Hazel wondered how she reflected the All-Being’s glory. ‘How about squirrels?’ she asked.” (p. 14)

Is the snake trying to lure her into its underground lair? But she dimly remembers her mother telling her of the All-Being when she was a tiny kitten, and of the Celestial Fragments – the Sun Shard that grants strength, the Star Sliver that grants endless breath, and the Moon Opal that grants flight. Witch-Hazel is too wary to follow the snake into its hole, but she can’t stop thinking about the Celestial Fragments and the All-Being.

“Witch-Hazel pictured a creature with one bat wing and one sparrow wing; a green cat eye and a yellow coyote eye; a long rabbit ear and a round mouse ear; a deer antler and an antelope horn; a hoofed foreleg and a webbed paw; a mountain lion’s golden haunches and a squirrel’s silver tail – because no creature on Earth has a tail more beautiful than a squirrel.” (pgs. 17-18)

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What the Fox?!: Fred Patten’s Latest Anthology

by Pup Matthias

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

What the Fox?!, edited by Fred Patten, will be published by Thurston Howl Publications on March 3, 2018. The book can be pre-ordered from Thurston Howl Publications. It will be for sale on the THP online catalogue afterwards.

What the Fox?! is an anthology of 21 original short stories and two reprints, of anthropomorphic animals in humorous situations. This is designed to appeal to both s-f & fantasy fans, and fans of fantasy humor. Each story has an illustration by Tabsley (the cover artist) or Jeqon.

The anthology is available in two editions. The regular edition is in trade paperback, and the illustrations are in black-&-white and grayscale. The deluxe edition is in hardcover and the illustrations are in full color. Each edition has a different cover.

From a llama barbershop quartet to a lupine generation gap, a rabbit king battling a dinosaur (or is it a dragon?), a human with a spider fiancée, a dog-hating postal deliveryperson turned into a werechihuahua, inept wolf Vikings, a dog movie screenwriter, and more; these are stories for your imagination and enjoyment. Plus: each author’s favorite animal joke, and a recommended reading bibliography.

Contents:

FAPD, by Sofox
Perfect Harmony, by Jaleta Clegg
Counter-Curlture, by Televassi
The Carrot is Mightier Than the Sword, by Nidhi Singh
A Web of Truths, by James Hudson
Suddenly, Chihuahua, by Madison Keller
Kenyak’s Saga, by MikasiWolf
Rapscallions, by Mary E. Lowd
Dazzle Joins the Screenwriters’ Guild, by Scott Bradfield
A Late Lunch, by Nightshade
Riddles in the Road, by Searska GreyRaven
The Lost Unicorn, by Shawn Frazier
Boomsday, by Jennie Brass
Oh! What a Night!, by Tyson West
Moral for Dogs, by Maggie Veness
Broadstripe, Virginia Smells Like Skunk, by Skunkbomb
A Legend In His Own Time, by Fred Patten
The Cat’s Meow, by Lisa Pais
Woolwertz Department Store Integrated Branch Employee Manual: Human-Furred Relations, by Frances Pauli
A List of Erotica Clichés You Should Avoid in Your Heat Submission, by Dark End
The Best and Greatest Story Ever, by Mog Moogle
Self-Insertion, by Jaden Drackus
The Best and Greatest Sequel: Pron Harder Damnit!, by Some Guy Who Is Definitely Not The Main Character

Regular edition: $18.00. Deluxe edition: $25.00. 291 pages. Cover by Tabsley; 28 interior illustrations by Tabsley and Jeqon.   Regular ISBN 978-1-945247-30-9. Deluxe ISBN 978-1-945247-31-6.

Fred Patten

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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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ROAR Vol. 8, Paradise, Edited by Mary E. Lowd – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

ROAR volume 8, Paradise, edited by Mary E. Lowd.
Dallas, TX, Bad Dog Books, June 2017, trade paperback $19.95 (284 pages), Kindle $9.95.

ROAR volume 8, Bad Dog Books’ annual anthology of non-erotic furry adventure short fiction, is the third edited by Mary E. Lowd. It follows last year’s vol. 7 devoted to Legends, and continues the reductions in page count (394 pages two years ago, 377 pages last year, and 284 pages this year) to return the volumes to the earlier size edited by Buck C. Turner. This year’s theme is Paradise; “eighteen different visions of paradise”. Lowd says in her Foreword that, “This volume of ROAR received fewer submissions than the last two, but the average quality of those submissions was extremely high.”

It certainly is. Get ready for a long review.

The protagonist of “Northern Delights” by Madison Keller is Rafael Ferreira, a Chihuahua detective from the Phoenix, Arizona police department who goes to the start of the Idatarod sled race in Anchorage, Alaska to warn a Chow informant participating in the race of a plot to kill him. He involuntarily takes part in the race as the partner of Mae, a husky.

“Other than the crunching of snow under Mae’s paws and the shushing of the surrounding pine trees in the wind the night was silent. He’d grown up in the big city, and night to him meant the pounding thunder of a gunning motorcycle, the conversing of passing dogs, and the rumbling base leaking from a passing car.

Even the sky was unfamiliar. When Rafael craned his head back, he could see hundreds of stars twinkling brightly overhead. The sight awed and humbled him. When he was a puppy, his father had taken him up to the mountains to star gaze, but even there the lights of the city had hidden all but the brightest stars. He began to pick out constellations he’d learned about in grade school. There was Orion, te Hunter. Usually depicted in mythological art as an English Setter. Mae turned a corner and his view shifted, revealing Leo, the roaring lion. Rafael bared his teeth menacingly at the sky.” (p. 23)

Rafael discovers that Alaska is his paradise – especially if Mae is there.

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ROAR Volume 7: Legendary – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

51vtrw4caklROAR volume 7, Legendary, edited by Mary E. Lowd.
Dallas, TX, Bad Dog Books, June 2016, trade paperback $19.95 (377 pages), Kindle $9.95.

ROAR volume 7, Bad Dog Books’ annual anthology of non-erotic furry adventure short fiction, is the second edited by Mary E. Lowd following last year’s vol. 6 devoted to Scoundrels. It is slightly smaller – 17 stories rather than 28, and 377 pages rather than 394 – but is still larger than the volumes edited by Buck C. Turner. This year’s theme is Legends/Legendary; the legends that anthro animals listen to and live by – or not.

In “Crouching Tiger, Standing Crane” by Kyla Chapek, three Oriental students – a fox, a crane, and a snake – listen to a tigress fortuneteller as she relates the history of their tiger-crane school of martial arts. “The Manchurian government of the Qing dynasty had become corrupt beyond measure. At the same time the Shaolin style [of Kung Fu] had become popular, gaining great respect and power within the martial arts world.” (p. 14) This is the story of how the betrayed Shaolin monks went underground and continued to teach their style, told with anthro animals: The Bengal tiger, snow leopard, and clouded leopard clans, disguised as traveling performers; their meeting the fragile-appearing cranes; marriage resulting despite official disapproval (“‘The Manchu do not look kindly on cross breed relationships, let along cross clan.’” –p. 20); betrayal and death; and the children, foster brothers Hoong Man Ting (crane) and Wu Ah Phieu (tiger), despite their own families’ anthropomorphic disapproval (“‘A crane couldn’t use tiger style because they lack paws with strong digits and claws; conversely a tiger cannot use crane style because he lacks a beak and the stance would be completely unnatural.’” –pgs. 29-30), leading to the climax showing how the two styles were merged.

“The Frog Who Swallowed the Moon” by Renee Carter Hall, tells how Frog used to have the most beautiful voice in the swamp; until one night when he swallowed a bucketful of water that had the full moon shining in it, and everything went dark. He learns what he must do to replace the moon, but that is why his voice has never been the same.

Hall paints an unforgettable word-picture of the pond in the dark night, except when Frog opens his mouth to talk and blinding moonbeams shoot out. This legend is an ethereal example of poetic writing:

“It didn’t seem to be the pond he’d known as a tadpole. In the stark light of his moonbeam, the pale stones led him across an expanse of water larger than he’d ever seen before. Soon there were no more marsh-reeds or cattails at the edges of his sight. There was only darkness and the moonpath, and when Frog dared to look up, even the stars had disappeared. He didn’t look up again after that, keeping his light and his eyes focused on the stones just ahead.” (p. 53)

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