Lost Archive: Fracture – Review by Fred Patten

Following from the archival of Fred Patten’s lost review of my first book, this is his review of Fracture. Unfortunate circumstances caused the original to be removed from the web, but thankfully an archive exists. This is mostly for my own purposes, but also to help document the complete work of someone instrumental to Furry’s propagation and current standing. To lose something of personal significance to either myself or Fred would be a great shame, and any missing part of someone’s work, no matter how small, is an incomplete story of their life.

The review is transcribed in its entirety, with no changes except where WordPress forces a formatting alteration from its original layout.

Be warned, spoilers for Legacy follow! Read that first if you want to follow along and be surprised!



Fracture, by Hugo Jackson. Map.


Derby, England, UK, Inspired Quill Publishing, September 2016, trade paperback $12.99 (ix + 327 pages), Kindle $3.99.

Fracture is Book 2 of The Resonance Tetralogy. I opened my review of Legacy, Book 1, with the statement: “The map of Eeres on pages iv and v shows only a few land masses amidst many oceans and seas; the result of a prehistoric cataclysm 2,500 years earlier. Millions were killed, the whole world was reshaped, and the few survivors were too desperately trying to survive to keep any civilization or record of the past. All that remained, when a new civilization began to come together centuries later, were legends of a glorious, hardly believable past, and of the unknown disaster that had destroyed it. And a name – Nazreal – of the only city from that forgotten past known (or believed) to have existed for sure.” The map is on pages viii and ix in Fracture, but otherwise it’s still good background.

Full disclosure: my review of Legacy is quoted in “Praise for Hugo Jackson”: “Legacy is very satisfying. Jackson brings a complex and colorful anthro world to life. His descriptions are full of lush detail.”

Fracture begins shortly after Legacy’s end, and while the Prologue is very dramatic, you really should read Legacy first. (Fortunately, it’s still available.) The walled multi-animal city/state/kingdom (Jackson uses the obsolete term “sovereign”) of Xayall, besieged and almost completely destroyed by the evil reptiles of Dhraka, is rebuilding. Xayall’s fox Emperor Aidan is dead, and his young daughter Faria, the on-the-run protagonist of Legacy, is in its hospital recovering. Chapter One is somber:

“Xayall itself […] still held hints of the vibrant life it harboured before its ordeal under Dhrakan claws. Teams of soldiers and civilians worked diligently to clear the streets, and many smaller buildings were already mostly healed of their wounds. The once bright sandstone walls, although still riddled with scorch and pock marks where the Dhrakan bombs had spent their wrath, were patrolled by dedicated troops eager to defend against any unwanted raids. The biggest change in the city’s visage, however, had been made to the central tower. Formerly the city’s glimmering pinnacle, the Tor’s severed column now virtually disappeared against the blanket of clouds, while the wing structures previously cradling the sky had shattered at its base when they fell, and were now solemnly being used to rebuild vital structures still suffering from damage.” (p. 4)

A serious problem is that Emperor Aidan was killed before revealing his long-range plans for Xayall’s eventual victory. The adolescent princess Faria, now “‘Empress’ (by itself an obsolete and criticised honorific)”, must create her orders for Xayall’s political and military rebuilding from her hospital bed, largely by guess.

With Faria and her loyal cyborg raccoon Tierenan hospitalized, and other supporting characters in Legacy busy offstage, Fracture features a new protagonist and cast at first. Bayer Kanjita, ocelot, and Kier, fox, are two young officers in Xayall’s hierarchy, the former guardians of Princess Faria and now her representatives from the hospital to Xayall’s government. Kier has just become a Counsellor of Xayall. The sovereign’s near destruction by Dhraka has made Xayall dependent on its allies for food and help rebuilding, mostly northern Andarn, the largest sovereign on the continent of Cadon (see the map):

“‘This is wrong,’ Bayer scowled. ‘We shouldn’t be dependent on them for help. We’ll be under their thumb soon. You can’t just sell us out to Andarn like this – they’ll never let go of the debt. Xayall needs to rebuild its strength from within.’

Kier stepped toward him, trying to keep covert. ‘I am not selling out. Our debt is a fate we and Andarn shared on the battlefield. We’re only alive because they defended us. At the very least Alaris [the representative of Andarn’s government to Xayall but hamstrung by Andarn’s feuding politics and Cadon’s continent-wide Senate] recognizes how close not just we, but all of Eeres, came to being destroyed. They’re not doing this to usurp our land or control us, they’re –’” (p. 26)

Captain Alaris Hiryu, pangolin, is the commander of the troops of Andarn assigned to help Xayall. The murder of an important Councillor of Andarn, at a time of tensions between Andarn and neighboring Tremaine, has resulted in Cadon’s Senate calling Alaris home. Bayer, who has grown tired of Xayall’s politics, offers to escort him to get out of Xayall for a few weeks. Captain Rowan Ibarruri (meerkat) of Tremaine’s army, a jovial friend of Alaris’, joins them. (The three ride reptilian mounts. “His [Bayer’s] steed, a tall, slim, dinosaur creature not unlike an ostrich, called an Anserisaur, reacted to his tension and would uneasily flick its head as they walked.” – p. 55.)

Bayer is shocked to find that Andarn’s politics are much more deadly than Xayall’s; and that Alaris, who he distrusted at first, may be one of the best foreign friends that Xayall has. When Rowan has to return to Tremaine, and Alaris looks to be in danger of being murdered, Bayer offers to continue escorting him on a mission that will take both of them out of Andarn to the occupied neighboring sovereign of Kyrryk to look for missing troops and supplies.

Fracture switches back and forth between what Bayer and Alaris find in Kyrryk, and unexpected dangers to Faria in Xayall. To give away one spoiler, there are villains who move about in the different uniforms of the sovereigns of Cadon, committing assassinations and other sabotage to cause the sovereigns to mistrust each other and destroy the continent’s Senate. The resonance power that saved Xayall from Dhaka in Legacy reappears dramatically in the last half of the novel:

“Defeated, [spoiler] turned to flee just as an arrow from [spoiler’s] bow shot through the air and pierced the back of his thigh. He collapsed to his knees with a yelp. A low boom echoed in the corridor, followed by a rush of air, and before anyone could tell what had happened, [spoiler] was holding his sword at [spoiler’s] neck, standing on the [spoiler’s] legs to prevent his escape. The [spoiler] growled fiercely.” (p. 177)

“Quickly the two went inside, moving past the heavy curtain that concealed the cave’s entrance. But far from being the cragged, tiny opening they were expecting, what met them past the threshold was more sinister than darkness.” (p. 189)

resonance_tetralogy___fracture_by_katiehofgard-dafexik-png

As with Legacy, Fracture (wraparound cover by Katie Hofgard) comes to a satisfactory conclusion; but without leaving any doubt that it is only Book 2 in the tetralogy. Book 3, Ruin’s Dawn, is next.

Fracture is enjoyable funny-animal melodrama. Jackson has some acknowledged unusual animals in his cast, such as Alaris the pangolin, who needs custom-made armour since pangolins are so rare. (Still, real pangolins aren’t nearly as large as the giant shown on Hofgard’s cover.) Jackson is still prone to adjectives and adverbs that imply sentience to objects and emotions: “bombs had spent their wrath”, “vital structures still suffering from damage”. He also likes really obsolete terminology. Besides calling nations sovereigns, there are “Slowly, unnoticed by the squabbling parties, he slid one of his bardiches from its ring on his belt.” (p. 31), and “He knelt beside her, his jinbaori rippling in the breeze.” (p. 149). But generally, meanings are clear enough from the context.

If you haven’t read Legacy, you’ll want to after reading Fracture; but this Book 2 does stand on its own nicely. It does come to a satisfactory ending – but wow! does it have a great grabber for Book 3!

–Fred Patten


TRUKK NOT MUNKY Omnibus: Parts 2 and 3

Well… almost exactly three years since my last post is atrocious, and while I could say ‘life’ is my excuse, part of my life has always been writing, so unfortunately that ‘life’ section has been devoid of one of my major passions for the most part. Oh, except…

LEGACY WAS PUBLISHED IN PAPERBACK OH GOOD LORD.

This is definitely an announcement I should have made at the time, but things were crazy busy. Inspired Quill Publishing took me up, mostly thanks to the amazing communicative skills and passion of the editor-in-chief Sara-Jayne Slack, who deserves amazing props for the business she’s masterminding. I have a real respect and awe for her work and the publisher’s mission, which, after having vowed to only self-publish, is why I have dedicated my loyalty and writing to their front lines.

Now I need to dedicate myself a little more *pulls socks up, but not too high because it’s hot and humid here*

This is the Amazon.com paperback link. It’s re-edited, reformatted, and reinvigorated me to no end. The new edition is also available on Kindle, and both separately from the Amazon UK store too.

So, in the spirit of reinvention and improving efforts to fulfil my passions, I’m actually writing a blog post, something which has been on my to-do list for the aforementioned three years. It’s a long time to have a psychological debate sitting in your head, and I’m hoping that getting it out will make room for more creative endeavours. Like finishing Fracture, which is almost four years in the making.

But it is almost done already. The first draft, anyway.

TRUKK NOT MUNKY Part 2: Steampunk

Steampunk is kind of the British Empire of fandoms. It’s invasive; it can be considered elitist to outsiders; it’s silly in a posh sort of way; it’s difficult to explain to someone who has no idea what it’s like, and it can make everything more versatile with the addition of its unique but varied accents. I’m not considering that anyone currently reading the blog doesn’t know what Steampunk is, but the most succinct definition I can give is: a genre of science-fiction (or fantasy) as seen from a Victorian or pre-Victorian point of view, typically embellished with steam power, clockwork and brass.

To recap from the last entry, the first experience I had Steampunking was at one of the London Expos and I received compliments about my costume, and in some of the same breaths, disparaging comments about furries. I’ve been trying to come to terms with where I am in the fandoms and wondering how safe it is to have feet planted firmly in both whilst not associating with the elements I’m not personally comfortable with in either.

I’m glad to have had more experience in fandoms since then, and for me, this has developed into an entirely different argument than what I was expecting over the last three years.

The experiences I’ve had with Steampunk have been excellent, mainly. The fans are passionate, silly, and incredibly talented (which, admittedly, is where I considered some of the elitism to be simply because some of the costumes require such intricate mechanics and constructive processes. This is also the case with furries though- I could never make a fursuit as amazing as some of the ones I’ve seen online, and nor could I make a decent, working hydraulic thingummy that lights up a la Hellboy II like other Steampunks have). Part of the launch parade for Legacy involved sitting at the Inspired Quill table with my book at the Lincoln Asylum, a city-wide Steampunk convention in northern England which has a reputation as one of the best Steampunk events to go to in Eurpoe. I was really nervous. My book has Steampunk elements to it (Tierenan, for one, and the Gargantua for another), but ostensibly it’s a fantasy, and a furry fantasy. I was terrified that I’d be getting stink eyes from everyone who passed and was ready for a real fight if someone decided to get bitchy, so I steeled myself and stayed determined to have a good time despite my misgivings.

Welcome to the Asylum… Oh, it’s you.

It’s a self-compounding issue with paranoia that it heightens your sensitivity to expressions and actions that may mean nothing at all if you were completely calm. You can’t be objective, and, in your mind, everyone sways between either consciously ignoring you or talking about you out of sight, when in reality you probably barely even registered on their radar. A large part of my time was spent smiling at people and making general happy comments, and directing people to my fellow author Craig Hallam‘s Steampunk book Greaveburn, as, you know, Steampunk.

Having said that, I tried hard not to act on my assumptions that I’d be chased out of town with a variety of interesting, ornate, and fragile weapons and fought myself into accepting my book as a fantasy that people can enjoy as genre fantasy. I can be proud to tell people it’s not got any sex in it, and no, not all furry stuff is like that anyway. True enough, there were people looking at it with genuine interest. They’d pick up the book and read the blurb and nod and smile, and I sold a few too. There was one lady who came round about three times trying to decide on it, eventually picking it up at the end of the weekend. The people who bought it looked genuinely interested and passionate, and it was a wonderful feeling.

Inevitably, I did come across those moments I’d been fearing, although they were more subtle and sparse than I had anticipated. There was a man with his family who picked it up and said he didn’t like ‘furry stuff’. I told him that I never wrote sex because I found it objectionable, especially in young adult fiction, but he was still fairly dismissive of it even though his daughter seemed to like the artwork. There were people who raised eyebrows, and at least one who made a comment along the lines of ‘Hah, no!’ when he saw it. Recently, utterances like that really frustrate me, to criticise someone’s passion like that. Even if it had been The Furry’s Ultimate Book of Disgusting Porny Porn, someone really cares about that and its freedom of expression. I wouldn’t ever buy it, but I also wouldn’t scorn the author who wrote it or the fans who’d pick it up.

We’re All Mad Here

Moving back to the States, and the subsequent ability to sell my book to coworkers, and discuss my stories in interviews, has helped boost confidence in my abilities, my passion, and my stories to the point where I’ve met more people on both Steampunk and Furry sides who share the same passions, and actually, I’m beginning to see less of a difference between fandoms, and more between individuals. Everyone has their own standpoints on infinite issues, and while people who gravitate towards certain interests may have certain personality traits, there’s no uniformity across any of it.

When I started this blog rant, I was assuming there would only be aesthetic differences between the two, but considering the mindsets, that it would be a hard slog trying to bring two fandoms together in a weird niche market. But as Furry and Steampunk are colours that any genre can be painted with, the potential already exists. There’s probably more Steampunk in Furry art than the other way round, currently, but Steampunk is a technological tweak rather than a fantasy race, so lends itself more to the accessory than the subject. But overall, five things came to mind:

Prejudice is universal. Across all fandoms, people will be prejudiced against others, with no necessary indication or reason. And with prejudice comes conflict. This can be curbed through meaningful and respectful discussion.

Sexuality is universal. Arguing that furries are more sexually inclined than other fandoms is incorrect. The sexualisation in anime, movies, and comics is rampant, but major publications keep things barely within the modesty line for it to be acceptable. And it’s humans, so that means it’s normal, right? Right.

(Sexism is a whole ‘nuther rant, by the way, and one I’ve become very passionate about recently)

Creativity is universal. It knows no boundaries. Mash-ups are awesome.

Passion is universal. In every fandom you will find someone for whom this is the best thing in the world, bar none. There will be no greater thrill or love for them.

Acceptance is universal. Among the minefield of treading your dreams, there’ll be people who’ve never heard of you or your interests who’ll still be blown away by the scope of your accomplishments, or at the very least, give you all the encouragement in the world, simply because they know they have the same level desires that you do, even for something completely unknown to you.

I learnt a lot over three years.