A Decade of Gold: A retrospective of the works of Kyell Gold, by Thurston Howl.
by Patch O'Furr
Thanks to Howl, of Thurston Howl Publications, for his guest post. I’m told it was approved by Kyell. Enjoy.
Few authors have captivated the mainstream furry audience as famously as Kyell Gold. From his 2004 short story publication, “The Prisoner’s Release” to his upcoming novella, The Time He Desires (Dec 2016), Gold’s works have been award-winning pieces of fiction that have even attracted the attention of non-furry readers. Throughout the past twelve years, Gold has gone through a multitude of genres and such unique characters. Below, I hope to detail many of his milestones over the past almost-decade as well as provide a primer on Gold’s work.
Gold’s debut to fiction was his Renaissance-era novel series set in the fictional universe of Argaea. While it technically started with his “The Prisoner’s Release,” which was published in Heat #1, it later became a novel series, starting with Volle (2005). The series follows a red fox, titularly named Volle, as he undergoes a spy mission, pretending to be a lord of a small area participating in negotiations in the kingdom’s political mecca. The catch is that Volle is a hypersexual fox who struggles to keep his sex life separate from his political life, neither of which allow him to use his true identity. This series is a prime example of how Gold can meld genres. In this case, historical fiction meets homosexual furry erotic romance in a way that is both believable and evocative. The Argaea series has received stellar reviews and widespread reception. So far, the Argaea series includes the following titles: Volle, Pendant of Fortune (2006), The Prisoner’s Release and Other Stories (2007), Shadows of the Father (2010), and Weasel Presents (2011). While not all of these stories follow Volle, they are all set in the same universe. All except for Weasel Presents (which was published by Furplanet Productions) were published by Sofawolf Press, with Sara Palmer being the primary illustrator for most of these.
The next milestone in Gold’s career has been his young adult furry novel Waterways (2008). Based on a previous short story he had written, the novel follows a young otter who has grown up in a conservative, religious household, only to find out in his teens that he is attracted to a male fox from a different school. Although this is a coming-out tale, it’s anything but unoriginal. Gold breaks the story down into three parts: coming out to oneself, coming out to family, and coming out to the general public. The otter Kory deals with tremendous intersectionalities throughout his journey: homelessness, poverty, religious differences, physical abuse, and, of course, relationship trouble. Quite different from that Argaea series, Waterways is set in an entirely modern context, and it deals with current social issues. In this book, Gold makes very strong political and social claims, setting him apart as a very polemical writer, and not just an entertaining one. This sets him apart from other LGBT fiction writers, as he demonstrates he is able to be completely serious with his fiction, using a gay couple to reflect on current issues through their connections with others who are suffering, rather than making the gay couple a symbol for all current issues. This novel was his debut to modern fiction in the fandom, and I know I have taught this book twice: once in a college composition class, and once as a guest lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University for an LGBT literature course—and yes, the book was required for purchase at the university bookstore.
However, Gold’s biggest claim to fame was his next novel series, set in the Forester Universe. The first book, Out of Position (2009), follows football athlete Devlin Miski and his unintentional romance with English major Lee Farrel. While Dev struggles to fight his homosexual feelings toward Lee, the fox Lee tries to advocate for equal rights, often at a risk to Dev’s career. Yet, the two complement each other and help each other to grow, both in their professions and in their personal lives. This series concluded early in 2016 with the book Over Time, the fifth installment. This time, Gold’s secondary genre is sports fiction. And many furries, myself included, despite our aversion to sports, have found ourselves enraptured by the species-based intricacies of Gold’s football. We stand in the crowd, cheering with Lee. We root for our own athletes. Still on sale sporadically, but I have seen athletic jerseys for sale based on Gold’s fictional teams. If Waterways showed Gold’s political side, this series shows his activist side. Personally, I have read most of the major award-winning mainstream LGBT fiction, and none of it has captured the political situation of LGBT people and potential solutions as thoughtfully and as evocatively as Gold has in this series.
His last major milestone has been his Dangerous Spirits series, which started with the 2012 book Green Fairy. This series is much more experimental, emulating the shifting voices and perspectives in postmodernist novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This series starts with the 1901 Moulin Rouge, as well as modern times. The books progress into the late 1800s Russia and the early 20th century in New Orleans. This series is not as erotic or as adult as his earlier works, yet it still deals heavily with LGBT contemporary issues and ways to deal with them. Like his other works, it creates a very believable world that is a safe space for LGBT readers, letting them know they are not alone and that it’s important to keep fighting.
Over the past twelve years, Gold has written numerous other pieces as well, including In the Doghouse of Justice (2011) and The Silver Circle (2012). Gold also edited a 2009 anthology based on the Ten Commandments, aptly called X. Along with multiple short stories in Heat and Fang, he also had an essay published in the 2015 nonfiction study on furries, Furries Among Us. In this, he wrote about his views on furry erotica: where it has been, where it is, and how it will likely continue. His other nonfiction includes a comic, drawn by Keovi, in Erika Moen’s Oh Joy Sex Toy; and a piece on the furry fandom in Uncanny Magazine in 2016.
I have had the opportunity to work with Gold on numerous occasions: from an interview I conducted for my class lecture to editing his essay for Furries Among Us. And I have always been delighted with his attention to the craft of writing and his dedication to the furry fandom. He has been an influential figure in the furry writing community as a driving force for slice-of-life fiction and using furry fiction to make social commentary. Now that we are in the start of a second decade since his first major publication, I am confident that I speak for the furry community in general when I say that we look forward to the next ten years of Gold’s fiction. He has inspired both readers and writers.
Ever onward, fellow furs.