Purrfect Tails, Edited by Tarl Hoch – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Purrfect Tails, edited by Tarl Hoch.
Calgary, AB, Armoured Fox Press, February 2018, trade paperback, US$11.95 (164 pages).
Tarl Hoch’s Armoured Fox Press in Calgary, Alberta, is both a furry specialty press and an anime specialty press*. Its first book, published in 2018, emphasizes both specialties: it’s an anthology of nine cat-people stories, ranging from anime “nekos” with cat ears and tails but who look human otherwise, to full anthro cat people.
“Milk and Brass” by Madison Keller is set in a steampunk Victorian London with animal-hybrids. Carla is a cat-hybrid type neko, bred for lowest-class labor. Nellie Hanson is a pampered swan-hybrid bred to her rich father’s order, with delicate feathers on her arms and decorative but useless wings on her back. When Carla flees the London slum workhouses and docks, she is found and hidden by Nellie, who faces a loveless marriage at her father’s order. Carla urges that the two girls escape together to America and the Wild West, but Nellie is reluctant to abandon her duties and responsibilities. A Dramatic Event forces their hand.
In “Following the Tail” by Dark End, Jacqyl is bored and depressed in a society where almost everyone is mind-connected to the Internet and lets their bodies go. Then she sees The Tail:
“Everyone else [on the train] was jacked in, heads forward, drooling all over themselves as their brain played in the depths of the net. A few were on private servers, and Jacqyl amused herself by guessing what type of Sense-Scape they were in by the way their puppet-like bodies twitched. By the way their hips flexed, more than half of them were in erotic ones. Even the train’s conductor appeared to be in one – not like her job was that hard anyway.
The train jerked to a stop, causing several dull thumps as a few bodies, so limp while jacked in, smacked hard against walls or railings. A few people woke from the trance of their systems and made their way out.
And that’s when Jacqyl saw him – or rather, a fragment of him: a tail, an actual goddamn tail, flitting in the air as he stepped off. She jumped out of her seat and pressed her face against the window, but whoever he was, whoever he had been, was lost in the drab gray monotony of the mingling throng on the station platform.” (pgs. 16-17)
Jacqyl seeks the man with the tail for months. Why? What does she find? The description of what Jacqyl sees of society as she goes is so zany that I’m not sure whether “Following the Tail” is a comedy or a horror story about what to expect in the future.
In “Cat Toy” by Royce Day, the Nekos are extraterrestrials who look like cat-people, on their own world:
“Okay, I’ll admit they do try to warn you about this sort of thing. My own damned fault I didn’t listen.
Felecia’s inhabitants were feline-analogs, mammalian aliens that looked for all the world like walking, talking wild cats. Xenobiologists mutter ‘Parallel Evolution’ a lot when this happens. Me? I always figured God had a sense of humor.
Anyway, my freighter had dropped off a load of machine parts at their primary space port, I had gotten my pay, and I was feeling pretty good. I was manning station at a bar stool in a downside pub when I caught sight of one of the natives entering. She was about my height, looking for all the world like an upright black panther with bright golden eyes, wearing maintenance coveralls, three golden earrings running down her right ear.” (p. 34)
She leads him to her apartment. They have much sex together. (Is this anthology Adult-rated?) That she says to call her Princess and she calls him Toy will tell you which is the dom and which is the sub. He likes it, so much that he returns to her whenever his spaceship visits Felecia.
“Schematic for a Purrfect Artefact” by Hazuko Sionnach features a fox woman and a cat boy. They are anime-type nekos, whatever animal-people species they are. Yuka, the fox woman, hires Akiko, the cat boy (19 years old), as a mechanic in her factory that repairs airships and other vehicles:
“‘I — I’m not a boy… I’m a man…’
‘Sure. We are nearly home.’ The steam-car pulls up to an asphalt driveway leading to a mansion with an adjoined airfield. The size of the mansion could easily fit a hundred of the auto-shop he used to work for, and that was just the front half of the large home. Several flying machines and a few steam-cars lined open garages, various naked mechanics tinkering on them. Several are humans and a few others have various animal parts like him. A couple women are working on a small biplane with a busted propeller and a wing with shreds torn into it.
‘Why is everyone naked? Isn’t that dangerous while working with steam?’
‘Not at all. This is home to Naked Creations. Everyone here is specially trained for safety and endurance. We have the best safety record of anyone.’
‘We’ll get you settled into your room and your training shall commence right away.’ Yuka moves aside as a human greets them. ‘This is one of our butlers. He will take care of your needs.’
Akiko glances at the human, but asks a question burning on his mind, ‘What kind of … training?’
‘Fun training. You will enjoy it very well.’” (pgs. 47-48)
Sex training. Put an easily embarrassed 19-year-old in a factory where everyone is naked and sexually uninhibited and be prepared for lots of X-rated “cute”. Akiko and Krista, a squirrel-girl, soon become an item. Then Cindy, a wolf-girl saboteur actually working for Naked Creations’ main rival, targets Akiko as an easy conquest…
“Enter the Garden” by James Pyke features two anime-style nekos, Priscille (female) and Cryo (male), who awaken without pasts or clothes in a Garden of Eden. She says “nya” a lot. They are watched over by a Goddess:
“From Her domain, she espied all that happened in the garden. Her Garden, Her land, and now … The lost one would be the salvation, the mother of Her new people, Her new worshippers who would spread Her name throughout the lands. She shook Her ethereal head at the fortune that chance had taken to bring the lost one here. From what bare glimpse She had into her mind… What darkness had befallen her? Her eyes were wet with Her pity, and Her tears filled the waterfall with Her mercy. Her image, as one could now see, was that of a great cat on two legs. A white and gold robed dress draped Her form, and an exquisite crown of gold, lapis lazuli, and silver was upon Her head. Her fur was that of a grey cat, with expressive blue eyes.
But I can change My form… Her feline mouth turned a smile as She assumed a more familiar form. Now, She was as She had once been depicted, a cat-headed humanoid. Her skin, before the fur of Her neck, was that of sun-kissed, dark bronze. The robed dress now seemed to flow and ebb around Her form, and She floated down the waterfall to examine Her Garden. She smiled, and Her feet touched the ground. Where She stepped, light shone. Her domain may have been once the moon, and indeed, She still had a fondness for it, but She could also appreciate the sun too.” (pgs. 90-91)
The world beyond the Garden is a ruined wasteland:
“A great, limitless landscape. Grey and ashen were the lands that stretched forth, and glints could be seen, here and there. The land looked… ravaged, broken, in despair. Her form shimmered, changing to look more like the nekos; a woman with a cat’s head. Those feline eyes turned toward the two, Cryo of the Garden, and Priscille the Lost, now Found.” (p. 96)
It is implied that humanity has ruined the earth, and the Goddess is replacing them with nekos. She tells Cryo and Priscille to go forth, and multiply. She doesn’t tell them how to go about it, but they sure have a lot of fun experimenting.
“Leather Boots” by Thurston Howl doesn’t have any women. Just Jonas, a drunken Canadian businessman visiting Japan, and “Puss in Boots”, a man wearing magic leather boots that turn him into a neko – a cat man with cat ears and tail and claws sharp enough to kill. Jonas doesn’t care about that, however. He’s gay, and the cat man looks hot enough to kill for …
“The Good Girl” by E. S. Lapso features two characters; Samson, a human, and Sora, a demi-human neko. Sora is a cat-boy, but Samson makes him dress as a girl – a French maid:
“Blushing scarlet red, Sora stood and undid the button above his tail on his boxers. ‘P… pervert. This is so stupid, mew.’ Sliding them down, the petite neko crossed his legs as he tried to ignore the swelling of his shaft; the slight chub reminding him just how much at least one small part of him was loving this. Hissing inwardly, he threw the boxers at his master’s face before hurrying to pull the panties up his thighs. He had to adjust his cock a bit to fit easier which left a damning bulge in the front. ‘There! Happy, mew?’” (p. 109)
Okay; this is definitely Adult. Don’t worry; Samson and Sora are both adults. They’re gay lovers who trade off.
“Lacuna Vice” by Searska GreyRaven starts with Gan, a cyberneko hedonist at the Purgatory nightclub:
“Gan examined his reflection in the mirror behind the bar for the fifth time that night, fussing with the lay of stray hairs along his bleach-blond mohawk. A trickle of light flowed down the pair of tear-streak nanotats on his face while he fidgeted. Vanity, thy name is Ganymede, he thought. He finally gave up and returned to people-watching.
Across from the hookah bar, Purgatory’s dance floor writhed with new blood. Spliced chimeras danced, raved, and dazzled under blacklight, expressing a rainbow of modification from simple fangs or pointed ears to full body morphs. Gan watched as a canine-spliced woman led a lovely young man into the fray. In another time and place, she would have been called a werewolf. Soft grey fur, digitigrade legs, and a long, sly muzzle. A fluffy tail swished from beneath a short red skirt as she bounded onto the dance floor. The human, on the other hand, looked perfectly normal. Aside from the smart-cloth shirt and pants in a garish shade of neon green, he didn’t appear to have a scrap of tech or gene mod in him.” (pgs. 118-119)
Nobody is what they seem. In more than one way. “Lacuna Vice” gets my vote as both the most spectacular and the cleverest tale in this anthology.
“Pussy Perfect” by Kandrel is spelled Pussy Purrfect in the story:
Spoken from ten smiling mouths simultaneously, the generic greeting took on a rather unsettling tone. Lee wasn’t sure what it originally meant. He wasn’t sure anyone really knew, but every asian [sic.] store had someone inside who shouted it – sometimes constantly. Even this far from Tokyo, Nestled [sic.] in between the VR Pleasure Palace and a neuropharmacy that advertised performance enhancing brainware, was a slim storefront. ‘Pussy Purrfect’ glared in garish pink script, next to a winking cat face. Just inside the door was a throng of the shop’s one and only product: cat girls. They stood alert and perfect in every way. In other stores, the goods were at least in some way obfuscated from view, so that the nervous shopper could pretend that they had found their way there by accident. ‘Oh dear! I seem to have turned into this store looking for a new pair of shoes. My mistake.’ But in Pussy Purrfect, the neko girls were blatantly naked, goods clearly on display.” (pgs. 137-138)
Lee and three friends – two English girls and two boys visiting Japan – decide to go in for a lark. They’ll be sorry — or will they?
Purrfect Tails (cover by Monori Rogue) is a fun beginning for a new furry (and anime) specialty publisher. Buy it, and help them publish more.
*Armoured Fox Press is also a bookshop at Canadian furry conventions, to import and sell the furry books of the U.S. furry publishers that don’t go into Canada. AFP has first appeared at Fur-Eh! 2018 in Edmondton, AB on 14-17 June.
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Seems to be just direct quotes and summaries than a review.
As I said, this anthology is a fun beginning for a new furry specialty press. I don’t expect any of the stories to win any furry literary awards, except maybe “Lacuna Vice”, but I enjoyed them all and I don’t feel that I wasted my time reading this book. But I have forgotten most of the stories already.