Section 1: Overview of furry fandom, anthropomorphics, shared universes, and fanzines
What is furry (anthropomorphics)?
Furry can be summed up in one of three ways, 1) a non-human being possessing a combination of animal and human characteristics, or 2) someone who is a fan of stories, movies, comics or other media which prominently feature creatures as described in part 1, or 3) a person who identifies strongly with a non-human creature such that they act like the animal in question and/or describe themselves as being such a creature.
What a constitutes a furry is basically an anthropomorphized animal. In other words, an animal given human-like attributes, such as intelligence, and the ability to speak. Or the reverse could as easily be true. That is, a human with distinct animal-like characteristics. Appearance isn't the only characteristic in question. Usually the personality, temperaments, or social behaviors of the animal in question manifest in the furry.
Other terms for furry are "anthropomorphic", "morph", "anthro", or "zoomorph". Two closely related terms are "funny animal" and "plushie". Since fans are also known as furries it can become a bit confusing.
Loosely speaking, furry fandom is the collection of people who are fans of various furry publications, movies, television series, et cetera. In a broader sense, the term refers to the general furry scene, such as the creation and collection of publications devoted to anthropomorphics, furry conventions, and furry news groups and other online interest groups devoted to anthropomorphics.
What is a funny animal?
A "funny animal", is an anthropomorphized animal, usually within a cartoony milieu. The classic example is Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Warner Bros animated characters. When people use the term "funny animal" there's usually a narrower definition than for "furry." The character or his/her world diverges from our reality in cartoony ways.
These anthropomorphic creatures do not necessarily have to have fur to be considered furry. They can just as easily be based on birds or reptiles, and therefore having feathers, scales, or what have you. Although most furries are based upon real-life animals, there is no reason why legendary or mythical creatures, which usually possess some animal-like features, cannot be considered furry as well. These would include centaurs, satyrs, manticores, harpies, unicorns, griffins, or dragons.
What is a fanzine?
A fanzine is a usually small-press publication catering to fans of a particular genre or specific creation within a genre. The word comes from the conflation of the words "fan" and "magazine." A fanzine is usually produced by fans; the editoral staff and contributors volunteer their time and creativity to the project.
A related concept is the APA (Amatuer Publishiner Association). This is a limited-circulation 'zine in which a collection of artists/writers share their work with each other. Usually each contributor pays his share of the production and mailing costs and copies of the collected publication are only circulated among the contributors. A variation on this is the APA'zine, which is an APA that non-contributors can also subscribe to.
What is a shared-universe?
Stories and/or novels written by different people but sharing a similar setting and history. They are usually published as contributions to an original anthology series edited by the original creator(s) of the shared setting. The editor usually controls the "bible" - which is the collection of rules that control the setting and define the actors, venues, genres, plots, and significance of any story written within the world.
In fannish circles there is usually a central idea for the universe with a common back-story or historical timeline agreed upon in advance, and individual contributors create characters and situations to fit into that setting in collaboration with each other.