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Heat #1

edited by Jeff Eddy, Tim Susman, Alopex, and J Scott Rogers

(Sofawolf Press, 2003.)

Long-awaited, long-delayed, here at last is Heat #1 from cover scanSofawolf 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.

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