Dubiously Canon, by Rukis – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Dubiously Canon, by Rukis
Dallas, TX, FurPlanet Productions, June 2017, trade paperback, $19.95 (199 pages), e-book $9.95.
This is a mature content book. Please ensure that you are of legal age to purchase this material in your state or region. (publisher’s advisory)
“Synopsis: Tales from Red Lantern (that may or may not have happened)
A collection of stories chronicling the lives of characters in the Red Lantern universe, and their sexy misadventures.”
This collection contains five stories that originally appeared online. Four were written by reader demand to introduce two popular characters from throughout Rukis’ Red Lantern cartoon-art universe to each other, whether or not such a meeting would be possible by the story logic of this universe. So the stories are “dubiously canon”.
The four are “Language Barrier”, “Sinful Behavior”, “By Touch”, and “Ship to Ship”. All are narrated in the first person by one of the characters, most of whom are strangers to each other. Almost no names are mentioned. For readers familiar with Rukis’ Red Lantern art pages and her other novels, the descriptions of the characters will make it obvious who they are. In “Sinful Behavior”, for example, the wolfhound is Johannes Cuthbert from Red Lantern and Heretic and the bobcat is Shivah from the Off the Beaten Path trilogy. (That’s Shivah on the ship’s cannon on Rukis’ cover.) If you’re not familiar with Rukis’ Red Lantern universe – Mataa’s rocky coast in Legacy, the colony of Serwich in The Long Road Home, and so on – the locales and the characters won’t matter. All that really matters is that two healthy individuals come together, and erotic nature takes its course. M/m and m/f. Each of the four stories has a full-page NSFW illustration.
In “Language Barrier” it’s two males. A Mataa aardwolf desert estate guard on leave on Mataa’s coast helps a young Amurescan castaway dog sailor – a German shepherd or coyote, by Rukis’ illustration — who doesn’t speak the local language, to get home, for a share in his hidden alcohol.
“‘I know where the recent rum shipment went,’ he said, patting the crate next to him. ‘Twenty-two more like this. The Captain cached them down the coast a-ways, to get around paying the outrageous taxes to the local clans. I relocated the cache, after…’ He paused at that, clearing his throat. ‘Well, we had a falling out.’
‘You and your Captain?’ I ask, amused.
‘More me and my whole ship,’ he said with a frown.” (p. 9)
The two become homosexually involved. After their m/m tryst, they remain locked by the dog’s penis knot.
“He’d knotted me, like a son of a bitch, and I knew canines well enough to know we’d be stuck for a time.
‘You’re a bastard,’ I muttered, using the Huudari word that would best fit the insult.
‘I knew my father, thank you,’ he grumbled from behind me.
‘It means you’re an ass,’ I sighed. ‘Speaking of. How long until you can get off of me?’
‘I… honestly don’t know. It’s different every time.’” (pgs. 32-33)
In “Sinful Behavior”, the Amurescan Navy is hastily evacuating its untenable colony of Serwich in the humid Dark Continent. The young Carvecian Native bobcat woman (Shivah), who has gotten involved with them and brought to Serwich, is trailing the second-most high-ranking officer in the colony, unsure of whether she will assassinate him or not.
“The tall, wiry-furred, grey canine stood in the doorway and waited for me. He seemed dressed down, or at least dressed-down by his people’s standards. He was without his coat, his cravat and spats, and even his dark leather vest, but he still wore his ever-present chest harness over a simple white shirt, which meant, I knew, that he was still armed. No gun, though. No crossbow… no sword. Just the knives strapped to his back and chest. I wondered vaguely if he slept in the thing.” (p. 40)
They become emotionally involved enough to go to bed together, but it’s as a gentle older man to a young woman who is used to being abused, and whose first real lover has been recently murdered. There is sex, but there is also quiet pillow talk.
“‘Someday.’ I said quietly, ‘I will love again. Maybe… a lover, I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I’m not certain I want to be romantically in love, again. Maybe I’ll have another child, I… I don’t know.’ I gave a soft sigh, then, forcing a chuckle through a suddenly dense throat, murmured, ‘I promise you this much. It won’t be Grayson. That man is, at his best moments, amusing. But that’s all, I promise you. He’s too in love with his boat… and himself… to love anyone else, anyway.’” (p. 73)
The two characters in “By Touch” are the cattle dog Luther Denholme, Admiral of the Amurescan fleet evacuating Serwich, and a Carvecian shaman blind fox (obviously Puck, to those familiar with the Off the Beaten Path trilogy). Both are homosexual. Luther is a self-assured seaman on shipboard, but unsure how to treat a fox who is much smaller than he is, and blind as well, in a bedroom situation.
“Did you have any trouble finding your way here?’
‘No,’ he says with a quiet confidence that astonishes me. ‘May I come in?’
‘Absolutely,’ I say a little too enthusiastically, and remind myself to dial it back as he steps gingerly through the threshold. I watch him take small, silent steps inside, forever amazed with how fox tails just seem to glide effortlessly a few inches over the floor. It’s mesmerizing. He navigates his way into the center of the main living room, only needing to tap his walking stick once against a chair I probably should have pushed closer to the table, and turns to regard me with his ears, his multicolored white and brown fur catching yellow at the edges in the warm candlelight. I find myself wishing I could see him in his winter coat before he leaves, but it’ll never grow in this weather.” (p. 130)
“Ship to Ship” features Shivah again, with Grayson, the wolf captain of the ship taking her to the Dark Continent. Ships in the Red Lantern universe do not take women on board, for reasons of custom and superstition. Shivah doesn’t know anything about that, and Grayson doesn’t care; but this means that there are no quarters for women aboard a wooden Privateer warship. Grayson’s solution is to have her share his cabin. And his bed.
“I’ve been digging my elbow into Grayson for about half an hour now, and slowly pushing. The end goal is to wedge the far heavier wolf onto his half of the bed, as per our long-standing agreement. I’d come to believe he only agreed to the rules I’d set forth because he fully intended to spend most of the time in our cabin = his really, but part of the agreement was that I could stay here so long as he got to tell his crew we were doing more than strictly sleeping next to one anther – unconscious and thus not accountable for his actions. And he was a snuggler in his sleep. Gods, was he a snuggler.” (p. 158)
Needless to say, they do more than sleep next to each other by the story’s end.
The fifth story, “Singh Gets Punched in the Face”, is only a three-page comedy; a fitting mood-piece to end the book.
Dubiously Canon has a lot of explicit sex in it, both homosexual and heterosexual, but all clean and between consenting adults. The emphasis in each story, however, is on the personality of the characters. You will get much more out of the book if you are already familiar with Red Lantern and with Off the Beaten Path, Lost On Dark Trails, and The Long Road Home, and you want to spend more time getting to know Luther Denholme, Shivah, Johannes Cuthbert, Puquanah, Grayson, and Rukis’ world of Red Lantern.
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