[Originally published April 4, 2006]
So you thought all the current furry stuff was being published to the web? Wrong, pal. Let’s take a look at Furry! The World’s Best Anthropomorphic Fiction, edited by Fred Patten. This hefty (445 pages) paperback is currently available through Amazon and other booksellers, and is a 2006 reissue of the textual content (not the illustrations, alas) of Best in Show: Fifteen Years of Outstanding Furry Fiction.
The original was published in 2003, but it doesn’t matter which edition you get your paws on. This book contains top-notch material by such furry writers as Brian W. Antoine, Gene Breshears, Michael H. Payne, Elizabeth McCoy, Robert K. Carspecken, and many more than I can list here. Carefully edited, it is divided into three sections: “Furries and Humans,” “Furry Alternate Worlds,” and “Transformation.” These groupings each include forewords by Tim Susman, Gene Breshears, and Phil Geusz respectively.
A worthy bonus is Fred Patten’s afterword, which includes a bibliography and recommended reading list. You couldn’t ask for a better guide to the current state of furry fiction than this book, and the admission price is very reasonable too.
So what does it include? How about “The Color of Rain,” by Gene Breshears, which gives some very early (2,000 years early) background to the Tai-Pan Universe familiar to many of his readers? Or Elizabeth McCoy’s “Recruiting,” a story about her Kintarans, a felinoid space-faring race with a distinctly non-human culture and society who suddenly must deal with humans and their prejudices?
“Whimper’s Law” by Vicky M. Wyman deals in part with furry caste structures in a society vaguely resembling 18th century France. The Nobles, made up of mythological beasts, are at the top of the heap, while the Domestiques, servants and laborers typified by dogs, cats, horses, and cattle, are at the bottom. Sandwiched into the middle we find the Freeborn, feral species such as lions, wolves, and deer. Complexity is added by the Vermin, who are classed as Domestiques by the two upper classes but consider themselves to be Freeborn and not servants.
“Beneath the Crystal Sea” by Brock Hoagland is like one of Robert E. Howard‘s swashbuckling barbarian tales, but with a furry cast. It stars Perissa, a fiercely ambitious leopardess, and was the winner of the first Ursa Major award for the best anthropomorphic short story.
Obviously, I can’t describe all 26 of these stories here, but perhaps that’s enough to whet your interest. If you want to sample a wide variety of current work that isn’t just “rabbits in waistcoats,” there could be no better starting place than this fine anthology. Kudos to Fred Patten and his contributors, and thanks especially for telling us where to look for more from the contributing authors we particularly enjoy.
Furry! The World’s Best Anthropomorphic Fiction!
Fred Patten, Editor
ibooks, inc., 2006 ISBN 1-59687-319-1 $12.95 (softcover)