Review: ‘Furry! The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction Ever!’, edited by Fred Patten

By Bill Keiffer

I read this back in 2006; it was a present from a friend who I swapped books with. I had forgotten that I had a detailed review of the stories on Bookcrossing.com.

I’m sharing old news, sure, but the book’s still available in many formats and you’ll enjoy it.

It makes me smile thinking how in 2006, I didn’t know any of these Furries, and thanks to the Furry Writers’ Guild I know many of them. At least virtually so.

This collection [available on Amazon] was divided into three sections:

Living Together: Furries and Humans
Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
Living Within: Transformation
Section One – Living Together: Furries and Humans
“To The Magic Born” by Brian W. Antoine: a short story in the not shared universe of a wedded Human Mage and a Velan (fox like alien). I think I’ve read a few stories in that setting and, if I’m correct, they kinda stunk. This does not. Part of the stinkiness was everything was first person present tense and seemed droning because of that. Perhaps this has been rewritten to repair that. Or, of course, I could be mistaken.

“Foxy Lady” by Lawrence Watts-Evans: another short, but I’m not sure it’s a universe setting. It’s just a generic few years in the future setting. With only changing the name(s) of the evil corporation, this is the same setting a 1000 or so other Furry stories are set in.

Almost all Furry writers write this story eventually, but this is a good version for showcasing what Furry means beyond the fur. We are born into a world not of our own making, and there are Expectations and Agendas out there and everything does run smoother when those Expectations and Agendas are not disturbed. But being different is not a crime, and while disturbing the agendas and expectations of those other than yourself (or even including yourself) is upsetting… most of it will eventually die down. Understanding and patience shall or should win the day. The Furry community is all about Tolerance (although sometimes we resort to Tolerance in Moderation or Moderated Tolerance). Our Hero wins the girl by letting her go and come back to him.

It is also no coincidence that many Furries can be passive-aggressive

“The Colour of Rain” by Gene Breshears: Takes place, sorta, in the Tai-Pan Universe. This is a good Hard Science story, with an evil corporation/local government. The only problem I have is the supervisor who must, understandably, be shown as a jerk… but does he have to know about the denial of colonization request? It makes me question how secure the email system is, which actually an important aspect to how that story ends.

“Crucible” by Kim Liu: Slightly less hard-science than the previous story, and less a generic universe than Foxy Lady’s, but still needing the evil corporation/local government. I liked it very much. Another writer might have tried to punch things up with a little sex or romance, but I’m glad the author avoided this cheap pitfall.

“How George Miles Almost Saved The World” by Watts Martin: ah, more discreet sex with Furries. Very low key, nothing vulgar. A nice change because the Corp isn’t the bad guy, but the world is in much more danger than Senator Miles can suspect.

“Canis Major” by Michael H. Payne: A good mystery story, SF style. Sorta a cross between the Dread Pirate Rodgers and a Comedy of Errors.

“Wings” by Todd G. Sutherland: Cute, emotional, but a little predictable.

“The Boar Goes North” by Matt Posner: Was possibly the best of the Furs as “Other”, living side by side with Humans section. Almost all the other sections had the Furs as victims, even as a “prey” animal that this horse is; I can’t tell you how fast that gets old. The Boar is nobody’s victim, even when betrayed.

“Respect The Sea” by Jeff Eddy: A decent hard SF story. There should be more of those.

Section Two – Living Apart: Alternate Furry Worlds
These tales presented more variety than the first section and, as a collection, did not drag each other down. They are stronger allegories, too, since one level they might as well be humans with strange (or not so strange) social quirks, mores, and/or restrictions, while on another level, the remove to Not-Human allows us to look past things “as we know them.”

“Rat’s Reputation” by Michael H. Payne: the closest to a children’s allegorical world… constructed buildings and tree stump town halls co-mingle without apology in a world where a bobcat is invited to a young mouse’s birthday party without a second thought. Rat is wonderful, although I, too, would chafe at such an unfair burden. [Published in expanded form last year.]

“Whimper’s Law” by Craig Hilton: A no-tech version of a crime scene investigation. But when you’re tiny and have a great nose, as well as a law degree, who needs tech? My only complaint is that, not being familiar with this world, I have no idea how big an Anthro mouse is supposed to be.

“Mercy To The Cubs” by Chas. P. A. Melville: The kind of story I might have written, only I might have had a bit of deviant sex in it. It’s a dark tale that ends in light, a story of temptation and self-justification.

There are others, but writing all these titles and giving story descriptions without spoilers is surprisingly hard work.

Section Three – Living Within: Transformation (ah… my favorite Furry/Horror mix)
It’s been too long ago for me to attempt to recall the stories in that last section. But I loved them all; and a tip of the hat to Phil Geusz, whom I used to co-mingle with on two or three mailing lists.

And here my entry ends. I went to Shore Leave 2006 the next week after that last entry. I left it on the “free table.” It was the same weekend as Anthrocon, so it’s unlikely it ended up in Furry hands. Maybe I’ll get another copy someday.

Fred Patten

What Literature and Art Got Me Into Furry? by White Fox

As originally posted on the Rabbit Valley Blog

Fox here with an off topic post about my involvement in the furry fandom. It was a co-worker during my dish washing days at McManus who introduced me to the UseNet News Groups, in particular the furry themed groups which introduced me to Furry MUCK. From there it was just a hop & leap to where furry artwork and stories where stored, mostly on BBS servers.

Some of the first furry published works I enjoyed include Takes of the Tai Pan Universe, Yarf!, Wild Life, and more. Some of these titles from the 1990s are still available for purchase at Rabbit Valley® Comics.

Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe – Founded in 1988 as an artist’ and writers’ cooperative, the Tai-Pan Literary & Arts project has benefited from the talents of many contributors over the years. The project has published a wide range of stories from space opera to hard science fiction and from mystery to romance. The project’s publication was recognized twice as Best Anthropomorphic Fanzine of the Year by the Ursa Major Awards. While Individual stories stand on their own, contributors have taken advantage of the shared nature of the universe to write stories that build on a theme or character arch started by another writer. Tai-Pan’s first issues were published in the winter of 1991-1992 introducing the trader ship Tai-Pan, and laying groundwork for concepts and characters that are still be written about today.

Yarf! – The Journal of Applied Anthropomorphics was started by Jeff Ferris in January 1990 and ran through 2003. YARF! was one of the most popular and well-known furry print ‘zines for many years. Other people involved editorially during its early years were Lance Rund, Dave Bryant and Kris Kreutzman. It published comics, book reviews, text stories and pin-ups from dozens of artists.

Wild Life and Wildlifers – a humorous slice-of-life anthology edited by Elin Winkler (who runs Radio Comix producing Genus, Genus Male, and Furlough) which ran February 1993-April 1995 for twelve issues. Included Joe Rosales’ Wildlifers and John Nunnemacher’s Buffalo Wings.

Tall Tails – Tall Tails was published by Golden Realm Unlimited from 1993 to 1995 for 3 issues. Tall Tails: Thieves’ Quest were published by Vision Comics for 4 issues starting in 1998, and #5-13 were published by Dream Weaver Press. For 1999 to 2002, it ran in Radio Comix’s Furlough (Issues #78 – 109) as a monthly serial. Tall Tails was originally intended to be a parody of Monty Python’s Holy Grail using Disney-ish Robin Hood characters.

Furkinde Prozine – A collection of artwork from 1996-1998 by many talented fandom artists.

Associated Student Bodies – Abbreviated as ASB, was a series of eight adult comic books produced by Lance Rund and Chris McKinley in the 1990’s. It has become a staple comic of the Furry fandom and most every furry art aficionado is familiar with it on some level.

The story of ASB revolves around a young lion, Daniel, who goes off to college to share a dorm with a wolf, Marcus, and an entire floor of predominantly homosexual roommates of various species. The series accounts Daniel’s discovery of his own same-sex feelings for Marcus, dealing with being gay in a hostile environment, and reconciling his feelings with his family and faith.

There are other comics, magazines, fanzines, graphic novels, and more from the 90s that I enjoyed that are not available anymore, yes I still have my copies.

The American Journal of Anthropomorphics was a series of furry art books edited by Darrell Benvenuto and published by his Med Systems Company, with four issues released between 1993 and 1997. The mainstay of the series were its artist sections, typically a half dozen pages each of illustrations by various artists. The intent of the Journal was to present furry artists in as professional a light as possible, and for it to be used as a talent catalogue for publishers seeking artists in the field of anthropomorphics or funny animals.

Tales of Beatrix – 1996 – 1998, Vision Comics. The story of Beatrix Farmer, an ordinary rabbit girl in the wrong place, at the wrong time when she was fatally wounded in from a drive-by shooting. Rescued by omnipotent beings only she can see, they ensure her future safety by wrapping her in a suit that confers invulnerability. Only later does she discover it is also completely safe from bodily needs — food, drink, sleep, sex, and in fact she has no sense of touch, taste, or smell. Forced into the role of superhero for hire, Beatrix yearns to be ordinary again or at least have the option of removing the suit when desired.

Xanadu is a fantasy comic book created by cartoonist Vicky Wyman which first appeared in 1988.