All posts by Jakebe

About Jakebe

Jakebe is a jackalope who's been traveling around furry world since 1996, since has settled down in the technological wilds of Silicon Valley. He is happily married to a dragon, and they write fiction and non-fiction of various types in a cozy little den. His blog touches on storytelling, furry topics du jour, movie reviews and short fiction.

Introducing The Furry Canon

There is a long and rich tradition of furries in fiction. From the classics of Aesop’s Fables to the latest and greatest in sci-fi/fantasy novels, comics and movies, we’ve seen countless stories featuring anthropomorphic creatures. Many of those stories are fine for what they are—morality tales or pieces of fizzy entertainment that allow us to escape into a different world for a time. Some of them, however, touch us so deeply, that they become landmarks for our personal development. When we find ourselves in the company of like-minded individuals, we find that many of us share the same landmarks; entire communities have developed on the backs of this shared connection.

JM (editor horse-in-chief of [a][s]) and I were talking about Fred Patten’s article “What The Well-Read Furry Should Read,” which features what Fred considers to be the top ten classics of the fandom. It’s not a bad list, but we had a number of questions. How on Earth did he manage to narrow down hundreds of years of furry fiction down to a ten best list? What was the criteria to make something truly great? How did Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Animal Farm make the list, but Maus and The Wind in the Willows did not?

I know how subjective terms like “greatest” can turn an innocuous list into a flashpoint of debate, and we here at [a][s] love our opinions and classifications as much as the next data-wonk. So we thought—why not create our own list of novels and stories that we believe serve as cultural touchstones for the furry community? If you wanted to give someone a list of four or five novels that explained the furry aesthetic and the community’s fundamental love of anthropomorphic animals, what would you include?

Thus, the idea for “The Furry Canon” was born. We’d like to introduce an ongoing, occasional set of articles that digs into a book or set of stories, reviews them on their own merits and then determines whether they should be added to a list of stories we feel represent the “idea/aesthetic” of furry as a whole.

This is a delicate operation. Who the hell are we to determine what gets added and what doesn’t? Well, we’re enthusiastic readers, just like you. To hold ourselves to an objective (or at least transparent) standard, we thought we’d make a list of criteria that would help determine whether or not a work should be added to the list.

QUALITY. Obviously, we wouldn’t add just any book or story to the Furry Canon. If we’re going to suggest these works the curious or uninitiated, at the very least they should be excellent books to read. Is the work strong enough that, even without the elements we’re most interested in, we’d be inclined to read it?

LONGEVITY. This is a little trickier, but there are a lot of stories that set the world on fire for a year or two, then mysteriously and suddenly fade away. Does the work still hold up, even across the gulf of time and the changes society has undergone since it was published? Is it a perfect encapsulation of a point in time of the furry community or the broader world? Is there something in the work that’s still relevant and vital?

RELEVANCY. Does the story capture a central aesthetic, idea or emotion that’s quintessentially furry? Does it serve as a cultural signpost for the community, something that we can know and understand? What is it about the work that serves as an excellent representation for our fandom?

Obviously, our decisions on what gets included and what does not won’t work for everyone—but we’re hoping that over time, we can cultivate a list of our own that works well as a literary representation of our community.

So, what do you think, [a][s] readers? What novels or collections would you put forward as candidates?

Self-Care and Conventions

Originally posted on Jakebe’s blog here.

Further Confusion 2016 will begin tomorrow, and for most of us furries we’re just counting down the hours until we can head to San Jose to immerse ourselves in fandom for four glorious days. I know I’m itching to get there myself. But one of the things that rarely gets talked about at these conventions is how big a disruption they are to our daily lives, and what that disruption can do for those of us coping with mental illness. While the potential is there for a brilliant weekend, the craziness of the convention alone can throw us off-kilter.

For many of us, FC 2016 is one of our only chances to be with people we feel truly understand us; for four days we can put aside the problems of our regular lives and enjoy company and kinship in a way we rarely get to experience. We become so attached to the promise of a non-stop great time that any disappointment or gap in pleasure can send us spiraling into dark places. Unfortunately, downtime and disappointment are both facts of life; we can do ourselves a huge favor by learning to roll with them.

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Fur Affinity and the Realities of Capitalism

Around the end of last month, Fur Affinity updated its advertising policy to include “mature” ads on pages that included adult art and writing. The backlash came immediately, which is par for the course whenever FA rolls out something new. Some users and artists distanced themselves from the site—if they didn’t leave outright—and more than a few furs tweeted their displeasure. The Fur Affinity staff responded by rolling back the ads to retool the mechanism that serves ads, and eventually dropping the program entirely. I think this is a good thing; it’s very unlikely they would ever get the community on board with hard-core porn banners with explicit language.

It’s fascinating to me that after all this time, most websites still haven’t found a better way to make money with their content than ad revenue. I have a ton of sympathy for websites struggling to be profitable, but I also have absolutely no interest in being forced to see a bunch of advertisements for stuff I have no intention of buying. This goes double for ads that include flashing bright colors, sound that can’t be turned off, motion or any other mechanism they can think of to force me to pay attention to them instead of the content I’m trying to view in the first place.

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When Your Mind Betrays You

When I was asked to become a regular contributor to [adjective][species], I couldn’t have been more excited. I had been following the site for quite some time, and I thought its approach to discussing the furry fandom was something interesting, unique and long overdue. Thinking about this fandom as a society, a segment of the population the same as any other, elevates the way we think about ourselves, legitimizes our little section of the Internet, encourages us to take ourselves a bit more seriously than we do. I was excited to be a part of that conversation.

So I sat down and thought up a good post that would serve as an icebreaker between us. This was right around Thanksgiving, so I thought using an anecdote I had heard about the first time the Native Americans had encountered the Europeans would work. It would segue into a rumination on perspective, and how we only find the things in the world that we look for. There were some kinks to work out, but I thought it would be a good thing to open our relationship with. With you in mind, dear reader, I opened up a new document and started writing.

Continue reading When Your Mind Betrays You