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Tag: sci-fi

The Fuzzy Princess, Vol. 2, by Charles Brubaker – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Fuzzy Princess, vol. 2, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, February 2018, trade paperback, $10.99 (175 pages).

The Fuzzy Princess, volume 1, was reviewed here last September. These are the adventures of interstellar Princess Katrina of St. Paws and her bat (Chiro) and bear (Kuma) escorts, and the humans on Earth that she moves in with (Jackson, a boy wizard, & his older sister Jordan) and their friends (highschooler Gladdie, her little sister Tara, and Rick). Kat and her companions come to Earth in a flying box (cats love boxes) that has her large interdimensional room inside it. Kat has a detachable tail that can be magically turned into anything. Kat, Chiro, and Kuma use magic/alien technology to make other people see them as normal humans. Kat’s ongoing adversary is Krisa, a rat spy from Mousechester who is usually locked inside a birdcage.

The Fuzzy Princess is Charles Brubaker’s Internet humorous comic strip, in color (this reprint volume is only in black-&-white), updated three times a week. It’s not gag-a-day; there is an ongoing story line.

But! Brubaker also publishes The Fuzzy Princess as a series of independent comic books from 24 to 36 pages, printed on demand by IndyPlanet in Orlando, Florida. This volume 2 reprints the comics from #8 to #11, with some new material. These also appear on the Monday-Wednesday-Friday online strip.

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The War for the Planet of the Apes Novels – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The War for the Planet of the Apes novels.

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations, by Greg Keyes.
London, Titan Books, June 2017, paperback, $7.99 (336 pages), Kindle $7.99.

War for the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization, by Greg Cox.
London, Titan Books, July 2017, paperback, 7.99 (318 pages), Kindle $7.99.

Both novels are “Based on the screenplay written by Mark Bomback & Matt Reeves; based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver”. Revelations is advertised as “The Official Movie Prequel”. They were marketed to be released one month before, and upon the release of the movie on July 14, 2017.

It may seem pointless to review two movie tie-in novels months after the movie has come and gone, but the lasting value of literature is whether the novel is still worth reading after its movie is gone. These two War for the Planet of the Apes novels hold up well.

War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations is a bridge between the 2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie and the 2017 War for the Planet of the Apes movie – or between their novelizations.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization, ended ten years after the Simian Flu has killed almost all humans. The Ape Village of intelligent chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas that had escaped from San Francisco, under the leadership of Caesar, the chimp, is starting to expand just as the few human survivors in San Francisco are also starting to expand. Their discovery of each other leads to a tense confrontation. Both Caesar and Dreyfus, the human leader, want peace, but they are sabotaged by Carver, a human hothead, and betrayed by Koba, Caesar’s chimp lieutenant who hates all humans. Dawn ends with Dreyfus dead and Caesar barely surviving his fight-to-the-almost-death with Koba, while the Apes are trying to establish a new village while facing a new group of human soldiers coming from a military base with advanced weapons.

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Jackal, by Joel Gallay – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Jackal, by Joel Gallay
San Jose, CA, Gallanic Media, November 2017, trade paperback $12.00 (321 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Don’t be misled by the title. That is not a jackal on the cover but the narrator, Jobe Pungushe (pungushe is “dog” in Zulu), a battle-scarred dog-human hybrid soldier in late 21st-early 22nd-century warfare in southern Africa:

“‘And in local news,’ a newscaster proclaimed, somewhat dimmed by the white noise in my ears, and I went for my tinnitus meds in my wallet pocket. ‘A crime advisory is forecasted in Bulawayo’s northeast burrough given the influx of refugees from former South African states. As we know, officials in New Salisbury announced that they planned to accept the old South African Western Cape province’s offer to join Rhodesia. Offers made by Northern Cape, Free State and Lesotho are still pending. Rhodesian law enforcement predicts that, with the current, nearly anarchic state of the former South African provinces, that by taking in said provinces too quickly may result in adverse effects, from simple crime spikes to the reactivation of extremist cells and assorted loyalist violence, and thus must be undertaken carefully. The final lift on Martial Law in Western Cape is said to go into effect on September fifth. As we know, remnants of the International Kingdoms of Man, the racialist paramilitary group involved heavily during the Independence War, linger in various balkanized South African provinces, and many fear that they still receive support from their overseas comrades in the Greater Argentine Federation to operate as paramilitaries here in Rhodesia and in result, tensions in southern Rhodesia, such as Bulawayo and New Beitbridge, are on edge, especially with the horrors of the Independence War still fresh in many a Rhodesian and South African mind, human or hybrid. Local police urge residents to above all remain civil, and to report all suspicious behaviors to the police and not seek vigilantism or violent organization.’

A scowl met my face as I heard the name of the IKM once more, as my tinnitus subsided. I shuddered a little, despite the heat. My leg ached some more.” (p. 5)

Gallay says Jackal is set “in a world parallel to ours in the close future.” Jobe is a combat veteran, one of many returning to a civilian life in peacetime.

“‘Shit, Jobe.’ The foreman chuckled. ‘You were ready to slot that fucker, ain’tcha? Your fur’s all raised ‘n shit.” The foreman turned to look at me. ‘Kinda funny though. He kinda looked like you, didn’ he? You being a canid hybrid, I mean. Same color’a fur, spots ‘n all’” (p. 7)

But this prologue takes place about ten years before the main story. New Rhodesia has prospered since the war, and is more high-tech than the prologue makes it seem:

“Walking towards the convenience store, I brought up my holowatch, making a few motions with my opposite hand to bring up the display, haptic sensors spotting my movements. I brushed past the menus to my notes, seeing my shopping list. Carton of milk, smokes, dinner for the rest of the week. Frozen dinners were what I defaulted to. Maitabella pudding too, along with some cereal for breakfasts. I quickly paced my way inside, eager to get out of the coming rain. The store was manned by an older-aged draconic hybrid man with wrinkled red skin like dyed leather, wings drooping behind him as he eyed me with tired orange-yellow eyes. Draconics always seemed to draw my eyes, hard to be inconspicuous with those big wings of theirs stuck out like radar dishes.” (p. 8)

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Skeleton Crew, by Gre7g Luterman – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Skeleton Crew, by Gre7g Luterman. Illustrated by Rick Griffin.
Lansing, MI, Thurston Howl Publications, September 2017, trade paperback $11.99 (215 [+ 1] pages), Kindle $2.99.

The title page says Skeleton Crew. The cover says The Kanti Cycle: Skeleton Crew. The spine says The Kanti Cycle. 1 Skeleton Crew. Which is the definitive version?

Probably the latter. Skeleton Crew is the first book of Kanti’s adventures. There will be at least a trilogy.

I am more uneasy about calling this a “First Edition, 2017”. I reviewed Luterman’s CreateSpace edition a long time ago. This new version contains minor revisions and all new illustrations by Rick Griffin, so it may be a preferred version. Thurston Howl Publications’ smaller type size has reduced it from 259 pages to 215 pages. But it is not so different that the plot synopsis in my earlier review cannot serve for this edition as well.

“This is the first hard science-fiction novel I’ve ever read with absolutely no humans in it. The cover […] shows two of the main characters; Commissioner Sarsuk, a kraken, holding Kanti, a geroo. All of the other characters in the novel are geroo. There are […] full-page illustrations […] by Rick Griffin of Housepets! fame, showing such geroo characters as Kanti, Saina, Tish, Captain Ateri, Chendra, and more.

The geroo are unclothed, with thick tails and fur. There are frequent mentions in the text of twitching ears, tail rings, and the like. Kanti is called Shaggy for his unruly fur.

Skeleton Crew is set entirely on, or within, the huge generation exploratory starship White Flower II in interstellar space. […] Four centuries earlier, the krakun came to the primitive planet Gerootec and offered to hire thousands of the overpopulated 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. Technically, the White Flower II belongs to the krakuns’ Planetary Acquisitions, Incorporated, with a mission of finding new planets that can be colonized.

New planets for the krakun. Never for the geroo.

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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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Imperium Lupi, by Adam Browne – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Imperium Lupi, by Adam Browne. Illustrations, maps by the author.
Kent, England, U.K., Dayfly Publications, July 2017, trade paperback, £15.99, $20.99 (724 pages), Kindle £3.99, $5.99.

The book starts off with three complex full-page maps and several insignia. One map is of the walled city of Lupa, captioned “The capital of Wolfkind”. The insignia are of such things as “Buttle Skyways”, showing a dirigible, and “Lupan Laws”, the seal of the Lupan Republic’s government. There is also a ten-page lexicon at the rear of the book of terms used in the novel, such as:

Chakaa: The hyena answer to the Howlers, they are forbidden to use white-imperium by their beliefs, but unlike wolves they cope well with the psychotic side effects of purple-imperium. Even so, Chakaa are often unstable and are sidelined by the exacting standards set by noble-born hyena society, and only tolerated at all for their great strength and usefulness in battle.

The Politzi: Lupa’s police force, consisting largely of hogs, rats, rabbits and other lesser beasts who are for the most part unable to wield imperium directly.

Queens Town: Cat colony on the east coast, independent of Lupine Law. It was allowed to remain sovereign Felician territory as part of an ancient peace settlement between Felicia and Lupa. It is the first port of entry for any cats, or other beasts, coming to the Lupine Continent from across the Teich.

Imperium Lupi is set on the world of Erde. The first character that the reader meets in Part 1, Chapter 1 is Howler Rufus, a red-furred wolf, on a train:

“The pain subsiding, Rufus leant back into his seat, chest heaving beneath his cloak. He glanced around the dilapidated carriage; his fellow passengers diverted their curious gaze or hid behind newspapers. Little beasts mostly, mice, rats, rabbits, all the lesser races, who wouldn’t dare speak to Rufus without being spoken to.

The train slowed and the station panned into view, its fine marbled columns standing proud, each tarnished by the faintly spangled lustre of imperium ash. Rufus reached over and grabbed his helmet from the adjoining threadbare seat. He placed it over his brow; the padded metal hugging his sleek wolfen skull. It was black, save for the cheeks, which were white. Luminous red triangles were set beneath each eye-hole, like that found on Rufus’ brooch. Made of the wonder mineral imperium, they glowed even in the muted daylight, and against the helm’s white cheeks they resembled two bloodied fangs lying atop freshly fallen snow. The helm’s nose was covered by a grille punctured by a dozen round holes that enabled Rufus to breathe. Only his inquisitive green eyes and perky red ears remained visible, endowing him with menacing anonymity.” (p. 25)

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Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, Edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Planet of the Apes: Tales From the Forbidden Zone, edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard.
London, Titan Books, January 2017, paperback, $14.95 (421 pages), Kindle $9.99.

“The 1968 Planet of the Apes film has inspired generations of authors. Now a who’s who of modern writers produces sixteen all-new tales, exclusive to this volume, set in the world of the original films and television series.” (blurb)

Plus an Introduction by co-editor Rich Handley and an Afterword by co-editor Jim Beard. Handley explains that, while there have been Planet of the Apes movies, TV series, script novelizations, original novels, comic books, and so on, there have not been any Apes short stories before. Hence this book.

Seventeen authors (one story is a collaboration), most of whom are veteran s-f novelists or comic-book writers who have written some form of Apes fiction before, were invited to contribute a story to this anthology. All have had the creative freedom to explore their own ideas, without any editorial attempt to make the stories consistent. Since the first five Apes films established the concept that time travel is “a highway with infinite lanes leading from the past to the future” (p. 12), all stories are equally valid.

“Unfired” by Dan Abnett is set in the nuclear wasteland in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. A group of seven mutated, telepathic humans is making a pilgrimage through the Forbidden Zone to the subterranean city:

“They spent two weeks following the track through the craterland. By night, wild dogs barked in the distance, and Taul kept his rifle close. They skirted the rims of wide craters in the heat. The sun made the air buzz and click. Chemical lakes had formed in the basins of the craters, some vivid turquoise or blood-red. The wind stank of sulfur. Occasionally, they could see shapes down in the lakes: rusted, twisted, blackened masses half submerged, buckled metal leering at the sky, vague in the mists that lay across the toxic pools.” (p. 20)

Four turn back, or die, or are killed by the Third Race (the apes), one by one. The survivors’ goal is the the city under New York; the holy city of God — the doomsday bomb.

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The Star Justice Series, by Michael-Scott Earle – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

The Star Justice series

Eye of the Tiger: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, April 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (439 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Space Witch: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, May 2017, trade paperback, $15.99 (424 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Zeta Hack: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, June 2017, trade paperback, $16.99 (605 pages), Kindle $2.99.

Binary Pair: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, July 2017, trade paperback, $16.99 (568 pages), Kindle $4.99.

Burning Bright: A Paranormal Space Opera Adventure, by Michael-Scott Earle
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, August 2017, trade paperback, $16.99 (519 pages), Kindle $4.99.

These books should be readable quickly. The pages are in LARGE type. At an estimate, they contain only half or less of the wordage of most books; so I would guess that the 439 pages of Eye of the Tiger would be only about 220 pages in most books.

The five Star Justice novels are space opera s-f, not anthro animal fiction, but the main protagonist is a bioengineered seven-foot-tall were-tiger super-warrior. Amazon’s blurb is, “Star Justice is less military space opera and more of a ‘band of misfits in space’. Think Serenity, Farscape, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mass Effect, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star. If you liked those stories, you’ll love Star Justice.” That’s an American futuristic movie and a TV series, a Marvel superhero comic book (and the movies based on it), a video game, and two Japanese anime TV series. Guardians of the Galaxy and Outlaw Star have anthro animal characters among their “band of misfits in space”, and Cowboy Bebop has Ein, the corgi data dog. Readers certainly know what they’re getting into.

The setting is over 3,000 years in the future. Humanity has settled the galaxy. Civilization ranges from urbanized planets mostly controlled by megacorporations, to frontier worlds. The megacorporations engage in warlike rivalry with each other. Each of the five novels has a different setting – Mad Scientists’ lair, Western, urban crime – but each is in its own way a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” (Star Wars™) that the heroes have to escape.

Eye of the Tiger begins with one corporation’s airplane approaching its target. The plane carries a command staff about to launch into a mission with 31 enslaved prisoners. The prisoners are all criminals bioengineered to become tiger-men super-soldiers. One of them, “Adam”, so named because he is the first experimental super-soldier to survive the process, is the narrator. He hates his sadistic controllers.

“‘Adam, Adam, Adam,’ he [a scientist-controller] sighed. ‘Oh sorry, I mean Subject Two. This is your thirty-first sortie. I just can’t seem to kill you. Whatever shall I do? Oh, I know. You have point. Shotgun, pistol, knife, and how about a smoke grenade? That should do you fine.’” (Eye of the Tiger, pgs. 9-10)

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Fred Patten Interviews Rich Hanes – Author of Foxhunt!

by Pup Matthias

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

Back in April 2017, I reviewed Foxhunt! by Rich Hanes, a 2009 337-page science-fiction novel set in a largely-anthropomorphic “Wildstar Universe”. Foxhunt! is primarily about an interstellar nation of anthropomorphic foxes, but it refers to many other species. I was very favorably impressed by it, ending my review saying, Foxhunt! is superior both as space opera and as furry fiction. Don’t miss it!”

Rich Hanes, the author, e-mailed me to thank me for my review. I took the opportunity to ask him about Foxhunt! and his Wildstar Universe; how he came to write the novel in 2009 and why he hasn’t followed it with more Wildstar Universe stories. This has led to this interview, for anyone who is interested in anthro fox Captain Sebastian Valentino’s adventures in Foxhunt!; in Hanes’ larger Wildstar Universe; and in Rich Hanes himself.

FP: Let’s start with some basic information; date of birth, when & why you started writing, and so on.

RH: My name is Rich Hanes, which is my real name. I’m 32, born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, earned a degree in Computer Drafting from ITT Technical Institute in Canton, Michigan at the age of 23, then moved to Seattle to work for Boeing on the 787 Dreamliner for 6 years until being laid off. Now I live back with my parents in Detroit while searching for adequate employment, and earn money right now through writing and my YouTube channel,  L-1011 Widebody

FP: Your email address is richard.harlan.hanes, which I assume is your full name. How long has your YouTube channel been going? Is its main focus on your Wildstar Universe?

RH: No, it’s focused primarily on retro-gaming — a lot of it is doing Let’s Plays of games that I owned as a kid and still have the original CD for. But I do have two short videos there that I put together as an ‘introduction’ of sorts to my concept for Wildstar.  About 7 minutes in total. Perhaps that will help answer some basic questions, or if you want to link to the actual videos.

FP: Since this interview is mostly about your Foxhunt! and its whole Wildstar Universe, why don’t you tell us how you came to develop its galactic civilization and the Star Nation of anthro foxes?

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Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels – Book Review by Fred Patten

by Pup Matthias

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

Always Gray in Winter, by Mark J. Engels
Knoxville, TN, Thurston Howl Publications, August 2017, trade paperback, $12.99 (178 pages).

Always Gray in Winter is one of those novels that is deliberately mysterious at first, and only gradually reveals what is going on. To avoid my own spoiler, here is the blurb on the author’s website:

“The modern day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats is torn apart by militaries on three continents vying to exploit their deadly talents. Born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s escape from Cold War-era Poland, were-lynx Pawly flees underground to protect her loved ones after genetically-enhanced soldiers led by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy unit in the Gulf of Oman. Pawly’s family seeks her out in a desperate gambit to return [to] their ancestral homeland and reconcile with their estranged kinsmen. But when her human lover arrives to thwart Mawro’s plan to weaponize their feral bloodlust, Pawly must face a daunting choice:  preserve her family secrets and risk her lover’s life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.”

Pawly is Pawlina J. Katczynski, a mid-twenties Polish-American in love with Lennart “Lenny” Reintz, a mid-twenties German-American U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security specialist. However, Pawly has become a were-lynx vigilante superhero in combat against Mawro, another werecat who uses his shapeshifting powers for sinister and unethical purposes: he is the leader and head scientist of the North Korean “ailuranthropic” R&D program. Here is Pawly, in text and also an illustration by Amy Sun Hee “inspired by the novel”, on the author’s website:

“Her fangs bit into the fur below her lower lip. Pawly fell forward and thrust out her legs against the railing. Claws sprouted forth from the tips of her fingers with a flick of each wrist. She dove toward the car and yowled to goad the driver into turning her way. Her claws sank into the skin above the bridge of his nose as she slid across the car’s hood on her butt. With a grunt she yanked her hand free, tearing both of the man’s eyes free from their sockets. He screamed and crumpled to the pavement, cradling his ruined face, weapon all but forgotten. His partner whirled around with his shotgun in one hand, leaving his chest wide open. Before reaching the wall, Pawly raked the toe claws on both feet across the man’s abdomen. She pushed off with her legs and landed past the front bumper. When she spun around, the wide-eyed man stood before her, trembling as he stuffed his entrails back inside him with both hands. Pawly responded to his horrified whimper with but a shrug before he collapsed.” (p. 7)

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