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(Sofawolf Press, 2003.)
Long-awaited, long-delayed, here at last is Heat #1 from Sofawolf
Press. This magazine has been on the back burner for a few years, and
let me tell you, it's worth the wait! It has a high-gloss cover with
colorful illustrations front and back, printed on good white paper inside.
As the title suggests, this is a magazine of anthropomorphic romance
and erotica, aimed at adult readers with more discerning tastes than
the usual run of furry fiction and artwork. Heat lives up to
its publisher's well-earned reputation for edgy, dramatic stories. However,
it also features some hilarious lighter material. The editors thoughtfully
provide a spice guide in the table of contents so that you can read
what you like and skip what you don't.
"Pearl" by Lars Hellberg is a homosexual love story so sweet you could
spread it on an English muffin and eat it for breakfast. The relationship
between wolf and stag develops slowly and ends on a satisfying note.
Malin's one-page cartoon "Might I Suggest ... " makes a whimsical but
valid point about the benefits of homosexuality. On the heterosexual
side, "Government Issue" tells a tense, bittersweet story whose whiplash
ending reminds me of another Sofawolf gem, the New Tibet setting. This
isn't that, but the disturbing and dramatic tone of this rabbit romance
hits the same level of literary excellence. It also features my favorite
illustrations in this issue; stark, expressive pictures by Aura Moser.
Marrok Alexander Wolf's poem "The Quandary" weighs human and animal
worldviews against each other. Stop to admire the precision in this
one; its structure resembles some of the Celtic forms, full of near-rhymes,
sneaky assonance, and other echo effects. "Closet Coon," a much lighter
two-page cartoon spread by Jeff Kun, features two study partners getting
friendly. "The Prisoner's Release" (part one of two, to conclude in
Heat #2) by Kyell Gold takes place in a dungeon, fox and wolf
meeting against a backdrop of political activism. I'm glad to see longer
fiction getting a fair shake here; it's hard to sell if you're a writer
and hard to find if you like reading it. The editorial, amusingly titled
"Afterglow," appears at the end of the magazine; and the very last page
is a silly yet spicy collection of short poems called "Animal Magnetism"
in a layout styled after the magnetic poetry tiles.
Heat #1 lives up to the promise of its advance publicity, with
room to grow as the magazine matures. If you like the "yiffy" stuff
-- anthropomorphic erotica -- but wish it had more substance, this is
the place to come.
Review by Sheela Ardrian.