by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Tales of the Firebirds, by Kyell Gold. Illustrated by Tess Garman.
Mountain View, CA, 24 Carat Words, June 2018, trade paperback, $14.95 (167 [+ 1] pages), eBook $6.99.
Kyell Gold is the author of the five mega-popular “Dev and Lee” novels, published by Sofawolf Press between 2009 and 2016, featuring the homosexual lovers Devlin Miski (tiger), a football star for the Chevali Firebirds, and Wiley Farrel (fox), a gay rights activist and football talent scout: Out of Position, Isolation Play, Divisions, Uncovered, and Over Time. Tales of the Firebirds is Gold’s own collection of twelve short stories about Dev, Lee, and their friends (mostly Dev’s Firebirds teammates), written to answer readers’ questions and to fill out their personalities.
Gold says in his Introduction, “Spending a decade in the Out of Position world inevitably led to me thinking about things that might have happened off the stage of the novels, first to the main characters Lee and Dev, and later to a number of the side characters. Many of the stories in this collection were published elsewhere; some were written just to explore certain characters, and one was written to round out the collection about a character who won a Twitter poll.” (p. ) Most were published somewhere, some appeared only on Gold’s website, and a couple is original.
Three of the stories feature Dev or Lee, mostly before they met each other. The other nine focus upon one of their friends, enemies, Lee’s father, or Coach Samuelson: Jay Cornwall (stag football player), Colin Smith (fox religious bigot), Gerrard Marvell (older coyote football player), and so on.
Since the Dev and Lee novels are about both gay relationships and football, those are the main themes of these stories. From “Halftime Entertainment” featuring Jay Cornwell:
“Later, after the game, there’ll be a quiet dinner in Crystal City’s gay neighborhood, where a big coyote and stag blend in pretty well with the rest of the gym rats from the beach. There’ll be a few drinks in a bar, maybe dancing in a club where the lights stay low and we can bump and shove without football pads between us. There’ll be time to undress slowly at his apartment, to look at each other and touch each other, to make comments on workouts and the injuries of the season, my sore shoulders, his sore knee. And there’ll be, maybe, a little time tomorrow morning before my team’s plane leaves. This moment here is all about the game and the sex, the need and the release, the here and the now, but it doesn’t stop me thinkin’ about the other stuff while I’m getting’ my hands on him.” (p. 24)
From “Heart” with Hal Kinnel (fox sports reporter):
“Chevali’s quarterback – Aston, the wolf – is not top-five. But he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot and he’s got a good arm. He’s not accurate, but his misses are usually low or out of bounds, not the kind of misses that turn into picks. The wolverine at running back gets compared unfairly to Gateway’s wolverine (Bixon, the one Lee was talking about), which is kind of like comparing me to the star of that new vampire movie because we’re both swift foxes. But Jaws is better than average, and when you factor in his durability, he’s probably top-five in the league. Maybe number six, depending on if you count Yerba’s tandem as one.
Aston marches them down the field and then the drive stalls. But they punt with good field position and pin the Pilots back inside their ten, and it’s on that series that Miski gets to make a play.
It’s second and four, and the quarterback zips the ball to the tight end. The rabbit grabs it cleanly and turns to run upfield –
–and Miski is right there, wraps him up and drives him down to the ground. There’s a hiss from near the front; I look up and see Lee at the end of a fist-pump, and realize that the hiss was the end of him saying ‘Yes!’
He catches my eye and grins, and I can’t help but grin back. His eyes sparkle and he walks over. ‘If you want to make another easy twenty,’ he says in a fox-whisper, ‘go lay some more money on the Firebirds. We’re gonna win.’” (p. 106)