by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Foxhunt!, by Rich Hanes. [2nd edition]
Everett, WA, Arkham Bridge Publishing, January 2014, trade paperback $19.95 (337 pages), Kindle $6.99.
This is the 2nd edition. The first edition was published by Arkham Bridge Publishing in June 2009 with the same cover illustration by Minna Sundberg. I don’t know how the two editions may differ.
This is furry space opera, the first novel in the Wildstar Universe of genetically-engineered human-like animals. (According to Amazon, Hanes only has one other Wildstar Universe work so far, and it’s just a 15-page short story, “Duel of Honor: The Way of the Wolf Warrior”, published in April 2015. Hanes has asked for comments on his works-in-progress on the Furry Writers’ Group forum, although he is not a member.)
The interstellar peoples of the galaxy are all modified Earth mammals based upon dogs, foxes, raccoons, wolves, and more, although humans do exist. And the animals don’t like each other. Interstellar warfare is strictly regulated through a Mercenary Command, and restricted to small mercenary companies rather than large national armies. Captain Sebastian Valentino, a humanoid fox, is the leader of the Star Rangers, the most successful mercenary company in the galaxy; 300+ mostly canids such as his Senior Lieutenant Corey Delzano, a jackal, and Junior Lieutenant Patricia Darling, a painted dog. The Star Rangers usually are hired by the government of Valentino’s own Star Alliance, and their target is usually the Alliance’s traditional rival, the Canis Dominion.
All this is background that the reader will pick up in the first thirty or forty pages. The story is that Captain Sebastian Valentino is having an extremely bad day. Or bad week. Or bad months. First, his Assistant Captain and best friend Adrian Miller is killed in a botched raid that Sebastian blames himself for. Second, Adrian’s extremely formal Rite of Passage (funeral) is also botched, which Sebastian (who is having a brief nervous breakdown) also blames himself for. Sebastian’s new Assistant Captain, Corey Delzano, talks him out of it, incidentally giving the reader a smooth background course in Volpa history, language, and religion.