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Beautiful World: Fast, Fun, Evocative Read

Beautiful World by Kristina Tracer is a near-future sci-fi erotic suspense novel.

Here, a company has created Irokai, a virtual-reality world that's a cross between the Matrix and Second Life. It's very reminiscent of Snow Crash's metaverse, except that Irokai is self-contained system; if you want to access it, you have to go to one of the company's buildings and hook up. While in the real world everyone is a human, for some reason in Irokai everyone is an anthropomorphic animal. Also inside Irokai, there are AI programs who self-develop - they aren't programmed so much as grown, so they operate on an independent level, unaware of their code.

The story follows Johnathan, an artist who is in love with one of the AI programs inside Irokai. He has gotten a job with the company to design a new area in-world. There is a process that allows Johnathan to actually be permanently uploaded into the Irokai database - his body dies but his personality, memories, etc are uploaded into Irokai, making him a permanent resident. This way John can live with his love.

Yet all is not well in the land of Irokai. Because this is a private company running the show, everything costs money. Want to teleport instead of walk? That's a charge. Want to design a mod for your avatar? That's a charge. Want to eat something? That's a charge. Included in the charges are things like the Residents of Irokai (those AI programs and the people who have uploaded themselves) have to pay rent in order to be kept online. If they don't, they are just backed up and turned off. This is causing some issues of civil rights, of being taxed to live, and there's a revolution afoot.

Once the big events get underway, the story takes off. When the other shoe drops, it's like a hole blown in an airplane, sucking you out under its power. I felt a real "Uh oh" when we see what's really going on, and the final stretch had a solid urgency that left me turning the pages as quickly as I could.

One thing about the novel is that like many other books in the Fandom (Out of Position, Shadow of the Father, Thousand Leaves), each chapter is from the perspective of one of our cast of characters. We see from the perspective of every relevant character to our plot.

As far as the writing is concerned, the author does a good job with her prose. I never had a problem, I saw no real errors, and everything that is described is evocative and visible without too much detail spent on it. The author's demonstration of the world is nice. It feels like another world, and there is continual consistency throughout. Furthermore, the manner that Irokai's parent company milks customers for every dime feels very realistic.

A pleasant surprise to me was that actual transsexual issues came up. This is one of the first novels that I've seen that even bothers to acknowledge TG, much less have a compelling character with those issues.

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Animorphs

here's a series that i'm surprised nobody has reviewed.
Animorphs
author: k.a. applegate (and ghostwriters)
rating: 5 stars out of 5

the animorphs series is about a group of kids who are dragged into the middle of an intergalactic war, taking place right here on earth. they cut through a construction site one night, only to be the unsuspecting witness to the death of an alien warrior. before he died, he gave these children the power to morph into any animal that they can touch. spanning more than 60 novels, this series follows the adventures of these children as they fight against the alien invasion, and how the decisions they make while fighting this war affect them. watch as these characters confront issues of morality versus expediency, and how the death of both friend and enemy will change how they see the world. this series is extremely well written, showing how different people from different backgrounds deal with stresses in different ways. the reluctant leader, the warrior, the caring heart, the comedian, and the loner face the world together, grow together, and grow apart, all in a believable background. this was one of my favorite series as a kid, and is probably most directly responsible for me finding the fandom in the first place. see kids just like you used to be face their own dark side, and learn that the world is full of shades of grey. will they even survive?

Basecraft Cirrostratus

Basecraft Cirrostratus
Justin Lamar
FurPlanet

Even by themselves, the terms “amateur,” “adult,” and “furry” can all give one pause when it comes to fiction; when all three apply to the same work, there can be even more reason for hesitation. Still, when it's only a mere ten bucks to see whether someone's debut novella is any good, it can be worth it to gamble from time to time, and in this case, for the most part, that gamble has paid off.

Basecraft Cirrostratus tells the story of Elor Kaya, an esteemed professor who is wanted for sedition and indoctrination against a totalitarian regime. Fleeing the country with the secret police hot on his tail, he escapes into self-imposed exile aboard the titular Basecraft Cirrostratus, a massive flying machine that operates in international airspace. Once there, he seeks out the only connection he has left: Vinz, his ex-lover from a decade prior.

Problem is, Vinz doesn't want anything to do with Elor anymore, having moved on both personally as well as romantically. Instead, Elor is forced to turn to the organized crime syndicate that acts as the true power within the decks of the Basecraft Cirrostratus, which, as it turns out, is home to many a political refugee aside from Elor.

The plot itself is actually quite solid and very breezy. The pacing is good, with events never dragging and the story never going off the rails. Lamar clearly has a good handle on the setting, and the political backdrop and behind-the-scenes machinations play very well into the events of the book as they unfold. Things get a little heavy-handed at some points, but only very occasionally, and it's never bad enough to induce eye-rolling. The ending lacks some emotional punch simply because the emotional framework didn't have time to develop thoroughly enough during the course of the plot, but the plot itself does have an arc (as do the characters, to be fair). On two notable instances, dumb luck sees things through where it would have been preferable to have direct action on the characters' part, but for the most part, the plot itself stays together fairly well.

When it comes to amateur writers, one of the biggest pitfalls one usually comes across is the author belaboring points too much, or taking too long to say what needs to be said. Here, though, I had the opposite problem: much of the time, I wanted the author to slow down and take some more time to build on things, especially as they related to the characters and their relationships. For example, there's a love triangle that serves as an emotional focus for much of the story; I definitely bought into one of the relationships, but not the other—we're told that they're in love, but it never really comes across on the page. A bit of a textbook example for the caution of “show, don't tell,” which might have been avoided if more time were taken to develop things.

This is also an adult story, with the erotic aspects being entirely male/male. Sex, though, happens on page as something that's important between the characters, and (with one marked exception near the very end) it's never gratuitous, and it serves itself as part of the story and not a goal of it. Most of the sex scenes are actually pretty tasteful, and, like much of the rest of the book, never slow things down at the expense of the plot.

The best thing I can say about the book is that it's very cinematic. With the right special effects (and maybe a little less on-screen sex), this would actually make a fairly decent action thriller flick, the kind you watch with a big tub of popcorn without needing the story to shatter and rewrite your world.

In the end, Basecraft Cirrostratus bears some hallmarks of amateur writing, but when taken as a whole, it does more things right than it does wrong. It's good—not great, but certainly not bad, and Lamar certainly shows promise for future offerings. If it were maybe half again as long, with some more time spent making some of the character relationships a little more believable, and if the point of view were a bit tighter (it gets kind of loose in some points), Basecraft Cirrostratus could have been better. Still, as-is, if you're the kind of person looking for a dieselpunk action thriller and don't mind some gay sex and relationship drama thrown in along the way, you could do worse than check this book out.

"Clan Ground" by Clare Bell

I had the good fortune to meet Clare Bell at Further Confusion. I'd read "Ratha's Creature" a long time ago and so I knew her by reputation only, but she proved to be a delightful person and a very savvy author. We did a panel on making worlds furry and had a great time doing it. And she wanted to read one of my books! *swoon* So it seemed only fair that I return the favor.

"Clan Ground" is the second in the "Named" series about a tribe of intelligent jungle cats (fully feline, not anthropomorphic in any way other than speech and thought). Ratha, having brought fire back to her tribe and, by her mastery of it, assumed leadership of the tribe, is now faced with the problem of how to integrate this new power into the life of her clan. Certain clan-members are designated Fire-Keepers, set to tend the fire and guard the perimeter of the clan ground. Others are herders, keeping the tribe's domesticated food supply in line. This division seems to be working pretty well until an outsider comes into the tribe, seeking shelter. The clan takes him in, and soon he is working with the Fire-Keepers, seeming to have a good feel for how to work with fire.

Meanwhile, Thakur, one of the herders Ratha is close to has taken to exploring, and has befriended a small tree-climber, which seems to be a lemur-type critter. He brings it back to the clan and discovers that its hands are very useful for tending fire. The idea of letting a tree-creature near the fire is uncomfortable for many, so he trains it in secret.

Things heat up--ha ha--as the new clan member begins to be more aggressive. The division between the Fire-Keepers and the herders becomes more pronounced. And Ratha needs to take the next step, from simply leading her clan to becoming a true leader.

The book is told alternately between Ratha's viewpoint and Thakur's, a narrative style I've become fond of recently. It serves in this case to highlight the changes the clan is going through, from the incorporation of fire to the acceptance of this outsider to the introduction of the tree-creatures. You get a very good sense from the story of a clan in turmoil, set loose from many of their traditions, and the struggle many of the cats go through in trying to deal with it. When you have no learning to guide you, you have to make your own path, and that is what Ratha turns out to be good at. (Though it wouldn't be as exciting a novel if she didn't make a few mistakes along the way.)

Bell builds personal stories into these philosophical ones as well: Ratha's uncertainty about her leadership, Thakur's search for companionship, the difficulty the clan has in maintaining the line between the Named and the outsiders, who have no intelligent thought. The main characters are all well-defined, and even the side characters are rendered well. I found myself quite engaged in the story, and even a couple weeks after finishing, I can remember the uncertain young Fire-Keeper Bira, the headstrong Fessran, the lonely and quick-witted Thakur.

The thing I found most admirable about the book, though, is the way Bell avoids the trap of absolute rights and wrongs. The outsider, Orange-Eyes, is neither good nor evil. Ratha herself makes mistakes. The book allows the characters to grow and learn, and the difference in the end is who can make the best decisions for the whole clan. That makes the whole thing feel more real, and like the best furry stories, it's a relevant, human story, even though the protagonists are jungle cats.

It was some fifteen years between reading the first and second books of the "Named" series. It won't be that long between the second and third, I can promise that.

Shadow of the Father Review

Well, it's later than I really hoped, but it's still the first review up on furrybookreview.

Kyell's new book, Shadow of the Father, released this January at Further Confusion. Fans of Kyell have been following production for quite some time, starting with daily updated word counts on kyellgold's livejournal during initial writing phases, and some bonus content in the form of journal entries written from the perspective of yilon, the main character. There's also been a pre-release review posted on Weasel Wordsmith by jakebe.

This gets a little lengthy, but no actual spoilersCollapse )

Tales of the Fur Side



Yes, I went to the fur side… and I liked it.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly suggest you check out Vixyy Fox's latest book, Tales of the Fur Side.

www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/tales-of-the-fur-side/5484498

It is a wonderful collection of short stories and poems by Vixyy, with beautiful artwork from one of the fandom’s most popular artists, Dark Natasha.  I was extremely excited to hear that ANTHRO made this collection available once again, and I made sure to snatch it up as soon as I could. And after reading it, I can’t wait for Vixyy’s next book to come out.

Before I start off this review, I must say that I consider Vixyy a friend and a colleague, but I also really enjoy her writing. Her stories have so much variety to them, and she has a remarkable ability to create lovable characters that make it easy for the reader to loss themselves in the vivid worlds she crafts. Part of what makes Tales of the Fur Side such a delight is Vixyy’s unique style of storytelling, which has all the ingredients needed to make reading a joy. It has a bit of comedy, a hint of tenderness, a pinch of suspense, and just the right amount of sensuality as only Vixyy can do.

My personal favorite from this collection is Puppy Love, the charming tale about a dog who thinks he’s a cat in a canine body. Everything about this story is fantastic, but there were so many other wonderful pieces in this book, including Toth(a story about Anubis’ son, the god of language), The Quiet One(a piece that deals with a touching reunion set in the backdrop of American Indian culture), Anuee of the Plains(the tale of a huntress who must bear enormous responsibility when tragedy befalls her tribe), and the beautiful poems Inter-Species and(my absolute favorite) Vixyy.

Plus, Vixyy manages to come up with one of the coolest ideas for a prologue I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It really sets up the entire premise of the book in a brilliant way, and it makes the stories easily accessible to people both inside and outside the fandom. I don’t want to spoil it though, so make sure you head on over to lulu.com, and be sure to pick up your copy of Tales of the Fur Side. You won’t be disappointed.

Seventh Chakra Book Review

Well, having come back from Fur Con with several hot new properties in my paws, it's time to start the cavalcade of reviews. I'm starting with Kevin Frane's new book The Seventh Chakra.
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Ratha's Creature is an absolute must read

It's been pretty quiet around here, so I figure this is as good a time as any to post a review.

(minor spoilers ahead)

As FC starts to inch closer and closer, it made me think of Further Confusion's guest of honor from last year, Clare Bell. It was my first opportunity to learn about rathacat and not only was I impressed with Clare when I had a chance to meet her at FC, but I was even more impressed after I read her book, "Ratha's Creature". "Ratha's Creature" is the first novel in the series of the Named, and it's about intelligent prehistoric big cats who have learned to tame and herd livestock. The main character of the story is Ratha, a young, strong-minded female who is learning the ins and outs of being a good herder, but when Ratha discovers and figures out how to handle fire, her world and the world of the Named undergo a drastically change.

Not only did Clare come up with a phenomenal idea for her novel, but the way she handled her intelligent, anthropomorphic cats was outstanding. Some of my favorite parts of the story were how Ratha began to not only learn about herself, but how she came to understand the world around her. Ratha's childlike curiosity toward her creature, the Red Tongue, was an absolute joy to read, and I thought the way Clare wrote some of her scenes was masterful. An example is when Ratha was trying to understand things that were happening to her physically, like coming into heat and giving birth. These parts of the story really shined, and it showed off Clare's incredible writing ability. "Ratha's Creature" is an absolute must read for any fan of anthropomorphic fiction, and I will definitely be reading the rest of her novels in the Named series.  
Ok, Those of you who have seen my numerous posts across many different forums will know that Im a collector of furry related fiction, so I started a mild hobby of hunting down knowledge of different furry books and conveying them into a list. The list has grown and is now to date, the largest list in existence and the most well reviewed one too. All books on my list have been discussed or someone has at least pulled a review before I submitted them to the list. Ive been quite careful to try and ensure that all books on the list meet at least one of four guidelines to be considered "furry" or anthropomorphic in some form.

To see the list, you will have to browse the raccoon's bookshelf at the planetfurry bbs. 7-8th posts on the following page
http://www.planetfurry.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9427&start=30&sid=14a9dd2186f5bd0f582ef35bcb8b6f99

I encourage anyone to sign up and post knowledge of any books you are positive fit one of the 4 guidelines ive mentioned. The reason Im doing this is because I would like to encourage furries to show an interest in novels and graphic novels instead of an almost exclusive interest in general art. Stories can entertain for days, if not weeks while a comic will be read in a matter of a single hour and cost likely twice as much. Im not saying comics are any easier to make than novels. Im just saying there is a big underappreciation in the written word among furs. Yes, im probably preaching to the choir as im betting a few of you are writers yourselves, but neverless, this is my hobby, and my first act since creation of this list will be to start reviewing the books as I read them.

If by any chance you all would prefer to stick to books printed and published for and by furries, then thats alright, but for starters, ill list three independent books that ive come across that I have read so far.

Im going to do this in groups of three or a group with all the books in the series, the current books that ive read will be reviewed as a list in alphabetical order for the most part.

1. "The Guardsman" by PJ Beese and Todd Hamilton
The story is told from the point of view of one Ki Lawwnum, a Lionman warrior who happens to be the primary guard of the emperor. The Lionman are a race of warriors that lost a war to an emperor many years before and to allow them to save face, the leader proposed that in return for allowing them to save honor and face, he would allow them to become his personal guard. The lionmen in the book all seem to be bound by this odd need to serve the empire and the emperor with an absolute attitude showing no restraint for the enemy. On the down side, the emperor sadly seems to be slipping slowly further and further into madness. Ki is bound by his code to serve the empire, but the leader of this empire is clearly not in his right mind. The question that comes up is "is serving the emperor serving the empire, or should he find another way" and better yet, if he chooses that other way, would that still be standing true to his code? or would he be considered treasonous? Personally I rather liked the story, but I will admit things were a smidgen on the predictable lane. The emperor was way to easy to hate, and its pretty easy to see where most of the story will be going. Granted, it does have a final bit of surprise at the end. I can guarantee you wont see the ending coming either. It has one of those satisfying endings that I enjoy so much. Not exactly happy, but still fairly short and satisfying. Ill give it a 6/10

2. "the Ophidian Conspiracy" by John Carr
OK, this book.... I really dont know where to begin, so Ill just start with a summary. The story consists of a sortof universal investigator is sent to a planet of snake people called Ophidians who are generally about as technically advanced as the wheel itself, where he is supposed to determine why a planet of technically backwards beings suddenly acquired a small fleet of battlecruisers. Apparently there is a treaty that says no technology will be shared with planets of a certain level of technology. I dont do spoilers, but I can say the story was fairly predictable. I think my biggest issue with this was the lines. I mean seriously, the lines were horribly cheezy. There were moments when the writer showed potential by employing a unique level of viewpoint into the mind of an anthro snake, but he quickly throws it away in favor of more humanoid behavior. Also, the main character suddenly develops a passionate sense of love for the woman who he is traveling with despite arguing with her constantly throughout the story and never seems to get along with her, but yet suddenly he finds himself all oogly eyed. I have my hunches of where that was supposed to have come from, but ill leave it up to you to figure that out. it aint too hard and if I say anything, it will ruin what little surprises the story has for the reader in the first place. My second complaint was with the writer's habit of fast forwarding through all kinds of stuff, like he was rushing to get the book done. I dont know if I should be feeling sorry for him for having to rush through it like this, or if I should slap him for letting anyone rush him. I think the book would be a good read for teenagers who not only could find a copy, but could also resist the urge to mangle it like most kids do with books. I will say it had potential, just seemed to be badly presented and poorly written. For being so damn predictable with a rather good concept and for rushing the story so hard, I have to give this book a 3/10.

"Wolf Moon" by Charles DeLint
OK, now heres one to talk about. The story was about a young traveler, haggard with sweat, running from some kind of monster, which is clearly trying to kill him. The book cover clearly shows a werewolf howling at the moon and we all know stories these days portray werewolves as horrific monsters, but suddenly you discover the monster is not the werewolf in this book, but instead, turns out to be whats trying to kill the werewolf(yes, for those of you who havent caught that, the man is the werewolf, running from some kind of monster). Through some odd turns of events(yes, this part happens pretty soon in the book, so im not really revealing anything by telling you), the man escapes and eventually finds himself in a town, where he is forced to stand up to an intruder and show what he really is. The only problem is, will the townsfolk see him as the monster instead of the monster that is actually killing them. I will say that this was a fantastic story, never mind the short mentioning of werewolf boners, which seemed like an odd addition to a teenage level of read, but hey, who am I to complain. The author does an exceptional job of visualizing every detail of the story, the characters, and the environment they are in. The concept behind the story was unique for once, and instead of a monster werewolf ravaging the countryside, it turns out to be the complete and utter opposite situation. Ive already given away too much because I want every surprise to leap out at you if you choose to pick this one up. I give this one a 9/10

My final act in this post will be to shamelessly plug a site that has helped me greatly in getting ahold of books that I want. The site works by mailing books you have and want to get rid of in trade for books you want to read. You mail your books to other members, those members notify the website of the book's arrival, and then you request books from other members. Its a cycle that works quite well despite some of the obvious concerns. I hear a lot of people wondering how everyone stays honest on the site. Well, for one thing, if you fail to notify the site after a month that your book has arrived so that the sender can be credited, the website seeks legal charges from the person. Ive never had a single book go unaccounted for and ive been a member for almost a year so far. Ive hunted down comment after comment on this site and I havent heard a single negative one, so I gotta say.... TRY IT!!!! Also, if you post 10 books, they give you a couple freeby points to request random books and get you started.
http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php?n=2&r_by=cjkrythos

and now, my shameless plug is done, I return you all to your regularly scheduled.... whatever it is thats going on around here :P

thanks for reading.
incase you didn't know or you been living in a gutter for a while, Kyell Gold and K.M. Hirosaki started a little Podcats on I tunes. I know this is mostly for book reviews, but I'm still absorbing "X" and the Heathen city Comic finally arrived today (dumb postal workers ><). that and I figured it be kinda cool to be the first one to do a review there first podcast ^.^. so, trying not to reveal too much so I don't spoil a good podcast for those who haven't heard it and as K.M. says the most boreing Blowjob conversation ever, here's the stuff. (SPOILER ALERT)

 for the first half of the podcast,  they mostly talked about how Anthrocon was for Hirosaki-san's first oficial appearance at one as an otter (as Kyell quoted). and he mentioned things about X getting good publicity,  and on a good note Hirosaki might make an apperance at "rain furrest" so hope he does. and MFF too. they also talk about other releases at anthrocon like Heat #6, Heaten city issue 2. and the downside is he hasn't read them yet because of work and a few other things, which is understandable. also, this is news to me, but apperently there's a new furry Table top RPG called Shards (I beleive that's the correct spelling). news to me though and I'll post why on my LJ in a bit. Anyway they had talked that and a few other things too.
 
the other half  was spent talking about projects(future books or stories) there working on. like Hirosaki-san working on a project that's been touch and go according to him.  and is being a tease in not saying anymore about it and we can hope it will be finished  sometime in the future, and shout a big YAY when it's done. As for Kyell he of course he's working on "Shadow Of The Father"  which everyone knows takes place 15-16 years after pedant of fortune. Which of course about Volle's son and the mischief he get's into. and sooner or later he might be writting a draft of the sequal of Out of Position. and they also mention other things but I rather let the other people listen to it and have there own laughs.

and of course if anyone has any Questions for them or coments feel free to email them like they also mentioned. and I can't wait until there next Podcast, to Hirosaki-san and Kyell, I enjoyed it and it was good listening to your guy's perspectives.