Project Anthro, by Dallin Newell – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Project Anthro, by Dallin Newell
Raleigh, NC, Lulu Press, October 2017, hardcover $28.80 (264 pages), trade paperback $12.00, Kindle $9.00.
I am confused. This book says both that it is printed by Lulu Press and by CreateSpace in North Charleston, SC. It also says “First printing, 2017”, but the Barnes & Noble website shows it with a different cover (but the same blurb), published by Page Publishing, Inc. and dated December 2016. Newell has a Facebook page devoted to Project Anthro, where it is described as “A Book Series”. Newall says, “Project Anthro 2 is written and ready to go out to publishing,” and that it is a planned quartet.
Whatever. The premise as described in the blurb seems furrier and more exciting than the novel itself. “During the Cold War, a project that was introduced during WWI has been revived, which involves weaponizing and creating anthropomorphic animals to become operatives, known as anthros. Chance Logan is a red fox, standing at five eleven, born in Australia [Newell says on Facebook and in the novel that Logan was born in London and raised in Canberra], and worked for ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service). […]”
Chance learns that a high-placed American CIA executive, John Lance, has gone rogue and is planning to use America’s secret agentry “to completely obliterate the two world superpowers, the USSR and the USA.” Lance is also a human supremacist who believes that all anthros are bioengineered to “do nothing but kill.” Logan recruits “a whole team of anthros” to stop Lance and prove that anthros are more than killers dominated by their animal instincts.
That’s a great premise. Unfortunately, Newell develops it as a substandard Mission Impossible action thriller with funny animals. It’s wacky enough without wondering why funny animals? Chance Logan is introduced in the midst of a firefight with the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. He’s one of only two anthros (the other is a cougar) in a U.S. Army unit caught behind enemy lines. They don’t do anything that human soldiers (like John Rambo) couldn’t do, plus Chance gets his bushy fox tail caught and he has to be freed. Under what conditions is a bushy fox tail an asset in jungle warfare? This also makes the reader wonder if Chance is wearing a complete Army uniform with a tail hole, or (as the cover implies) only a helmet and Army jacket, and nothing below the waist?
Whoa! Here’s the answer. “‘By the way,’ he [a human lieutenant] said, ‘you guys may want to try on some pants when we get back to the States. Just try it.’
‘Nah,’ Kay [the cougar] said as he swiped the air with his paw. ‘We’ve got fur to cover our junk, right Chance?’
‘Yeah, right,’ I agreed with a forced chuckle.
All of us anthros never wore pants; it was a lot more comfortable to go without them. Even Katie [Chance’s girl friend, an Army nurse; also a red fox] wouldn’t wear them.” (p. 15)