Pile by Kandrel
Pile by Kandrel
Scott Beecham would have been the ideal soldier, if a little bit of bad luck hadn't left him dead before he'd even seen his first battlefield. Unfortunately for him, that was only the beginning of his story.
Now he's stuck in a body that's not his own, trying to get back to the life he left behind...
Customer's Reviews for Pile by Kandrel
Kandrel is one of the greatest furry authors in the community. Every story I’ve read from him has been a faptastic experience. Seriously. With each new story, he serves up something new and different. Most content creators are happy to stick themselves to a specific genre and they just stay there. They don’t really take the time to try something new and challenge themselves to do something different.
But Kandrel has the balls to always try something different with his writing with each new story. He’s constantly pushing himself to new horizons and genres and themes. And that is why I talk so positively about him all the time.
But I did feel that only having his short stories published in anthologies was limiting his skills. Well, he finally got his own solo publication titled Pile.
For the most part, as usual, I liked this novella. However, it has this dichotomy thing going for it where the first half is really engaging and interesting, and then the second half shifts tone.
The set up for the story is that a soldier, Scott, gets fatally wounded and rebuilt as an animal. HOLD UP. I know this sounds like something that has been overdone to hell, and I admit it has, but hear me out. This is Kandrel we’re talking about. So there’s going to be quite a bit of quality to it.
Scott doesn’t just wake up as a furry and it instantly becomes self-insertion and fantasy fulfillment. No, Kandrel actually takes the time to get in-depth with Scott and what it would be like to wake up in a completely different body. Scott has to learn how to speak using a canine muzzle, and how to balance himself on two paw pads, and filter in all the new sensory input from his nose and ears, and so on. And it just really gets into the meat and bones that makes it properly feel like science fiction.
And then once the physical obstacles are overcome, Kandrel builds the character even more by introducing emotional trauma. What about his family. Do they know? What about his girlfriend? He’ll never be able to go out in public ever again.
I’m serious, Kandrel took the time to flesh out a sympathetic character and illustrates that he isn’t really entirely thankful for this new life. It’s just, it’s beautiful. It brings a tear to my eye.
And then we learn that program has been going on for decades. Hell, even the doctor in charge turned herself into a furry. And get this; they work as a special ops team for top secret missions. This is the part of the story where it just sort of goes off.
The biggest problem I feel the second half of this novels suffers from is pacing and information overload. We get introduced to so much in a short amount of time, and the reader hardly has any time to process it before we move on to the next piece of information and it’s just HSGOPJDSLH.
We get introduced to the furry A-Team, and we hardly get to know them on a personal level, and before you know it, you learn the meaning behind the title of the story, and that is that each night, or when the team comes back from a mission, they all meet in this pit, and just cuddle. No lie, it is pretty much an accurate description of a furpile as featured in that one episode of CSI.
Now, to give Kandrel credit, he does attempt to justify this and explain it from a logical stand point. Kandrel goes into this psychological breakdown of how these are people in animal bodies, they still have those primal instincts. They have that herd mentality, if you will. And coming together in a pile like that, it builds up familiarity and reinforces the team spirit and how it is beneficial to group moral and performance. But the problem is that this plot device, this pile, is shoved into the reader’s attention way too fast, and we’re not really eased into it and given time to accept its existence and the purpose of it.
And it’s not like Scott is instantly cool with this thing. He freaks out, as he should. He’s still in that I’m human attitude. He’s not comfortable giving in to act more like an animal in that regard. And also, some guy was knocking at his backdoor, and he’s like, but my girlfriend is waiting for me, and then.
Okay, I should probably explain. Most of the team are bipedal animals, but one team member is a quadruped cheetah, but the same thing with the rest of the team. A human consciousness in an animal body, but for her, an actual animal.
So while some guy is entering Scott from behind, he’s getting frisky with a cheetah in front of him, and… Yeah, he loses it. And that’s what I liked. That’s what separates this story from a thought provoker and not some fantasy fulfillment. Kandrel does take the time to introduce some internal conflict on this, and challenges Scott to consider, what do I do? Am I still human, or an animal? What am I? And I thought that was brilliant.
But above the issues I had before, the biggest I have is how fast this conflict gets resolves. It’s like he gets over it in no time. He cools down for a while, comes to terms with some stuff, has sex with the cheetah, and I must admit that was a scene I could not bring myself to read, and, it basically comes down to pacing. Pile could have benefitted to be longer so it could slow down and stretch things out.
It starts off great and then it goes kinda ehhhhh. It brings up some great themes about humanity and animals, but it gets lost in the pacing. And if you get easily squicked from quadruped sex, you have been warned. I would say it’s worth reading, but you’re probably never going to pick it up again.
In the first five pages we found Scott has died and he's in a new, furred body and part of some secret organization. If that sentence intrigues you then you might be interested in Pile.
At first, I had no idea what the title had to do with anything in the book. And with a book that's so very, very thin, I was kinda hoping that it would come up pretty soon. But when it did, it seemed to make sense within why it was the title, as that was probably the biggest change for the protagonist, among a series of them.
The story opens with Scott Beecham, a soldier whose unit was ambushed, and he's severely injured in the ambush having never fired a shot. Scott wakes up considerably later in a hospital bed, and finds out that he's considerably different and been out of the world a while. At it's heart, it's a fish-out-of-water story where Scott finds himself recruited into some kind of para-military super-soldier outfit that pretty much recruits people that have passed their tests and from this earth.
I said earlier that the book was thin, and it is correct. The spine is perhaps too thin to even put the book's title and author on it. But note that I said thin. The pacing of the book and the story itself was quite full, and while I wasn't necessarily dissatisfied with the story itself it seems like there are a lot of stuff that could be expanded upon, perhaps in other books.
I think that's the crux of my criticism. Most things in the book with regard to Scott are explained pretty well (even though one of the sex scenes is... not to my tastes) and entirely plausible. It just seems to me that there's not enough explained but not necessarily to a detriment to the story. My major problem seems to be that I want to learn more about this rag tag team of troops and why they were brought back as they were brought back and for what purpose aside of some nebulous humantarian mission.
Basically, Pile's a quick read. And that annoys me because I wanted more.
As a self-proclaimed Furry reader expert (Not Really) I have to say Pile is a stunning good short book. The only down side, is what I just mentioned, it's short. It leaves you hungry, and wanting more. You turn the last page hoping to see "Chapter 2" to continue the journey. What's probably the most astounding part of the book is the characters. It's not often I find myself living through the main character so quickly, you feel his emotions, you understand every decision he makes and why. It's really delicious, it's how I would best describe it. Once I started this book, I could not put it down.
I can't really think of a way to describe some of the scenes without revealing much. But in the easiest terms I can manage...some scenes there are details omitted that I enjoy seeing, it adds realism to the piece. However, the scenes I am talking about, it's understandable that Kandral wanted to focus more on the emotions and characters, than the smaller obscure details
I highly recommend buying this book, after spending years of my early life wading through Yiffstar (Sofurry) hunting for good reads. This scores top marks and is definitely in my top 10. Maybe even ranked higher, considering I find that writing shorter books is harder than longer ones. You need to cram more meaning, and more detail into a shorter amount of space.
And cheers Kandral, please don't stop writing. I've been hungry for good furry books like this for a long time.
Purchased this book, Pile, at Anthrocon 2013. It's absolutely stunning. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. It's an incredible book. Short and small but still very well written. I could see everything, feel the pain and shock of the characters. And the ending! Wonderful. Any reader who is looking for a fantastical tale to submerge themselves in won't be disappointed. Kandrel is an incredibly talented writer, one whose work I will be following from now on. :3
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