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Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
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Fuzzy Nation (edition 2012)

by John Scalzi

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7397112,617 (3.9)40
Member:Phoenix42
Title:Fuzzy Nation
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2012), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, Audiobooks
Rating:****
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Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

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Scalzi's story is set in a distant future when corporations strip-mine entire planets if the Colonial Authority doesn’t stop them first, Jack Holloway discovers an unbelievably rich seam of sunstones on Zara XXIII, exquisite jewels found only on that planet. Holloway has a past as a disbarred lawyer and in his new career the claim he makes on the seam puts serious stress on his relationship with ZaraCorp, the company that runs Zara XXIII. And that’s before he discovers a race of native creatures whose potential sapience could nullify ZaraCorp’s mining rights on the planet. In his original novel, Piper presented issues including the meaning of sentience and the ethics of the mining companies who took advantage of the resources on vulnerable alien planets. Scalzi updates Piper's story and more importantly provides richer characters (both alien and human) who are believably real. Piper’s Jack Holloway is a crotchety prospector with the proverbial heart of gold; Scalzi’s Holloway is brilliant, but sometimes he makes the unwise moral choice as a way of railing against the universe. Scalzi also updates and expands upon the cynicism of the original to be more familiar to a contemporary audience: Piper’s corporation attempts to hide its frequent environmental depredations from notice (and also plans to wipe out the Fuzzies), while Scalzi’s has the corporation develop a public “eco-friendly” campaign. Scalzi ends up improving on Piper's novel with a richer and deeper story that still pays homage to the classic SF style of the fifties and sixties. Piper's novel seems somewhat juvenile in comparison. Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation is compact and readable with some great courtroom scenes.
His update is a worthy successor to the classic novel from the sixties that began our (especially those of us who were teens back then) fascination with the lovable aliens known as Fuzzies. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 20, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

When Jack Holloway??s dog blows up a cliff during a prospecting mission on the planet Zarathustra, Jack loses his contract with ZaraCorp. Fortunately, inside the cliff he discovers the biggest vein of precious gems that have ever been found on the planet and he gets to take a percentage of the profits as finderƒ??s fee. Things start to get complicated when Jack returns home to discover that his house has been invaded by a fuzzy mammal that seems a lot smarter than he should be on this planet that has no sapient creatures. When he calls in his ex-girlfriend, ZaraCorpƒ??s biologist, to have a look, they realize that there may be trouble ahead. A sapient race means that ZaraCorp will have to give up their rights to the planetƒ??s resources. Murder attempts and court cases ensue.

Fuzzy Nation is John Scalziƒ??s ƒ??rebootƒ? of H. Beam Piperƒ??s Little Fuzzy. I mostly enjoyed Piperƒ??s original plotline, but his novel got bogged down in long repetitive discussions about sapience which included some outdated ideas about the nature of consciousness. Not his fault, of course, since those ideas were trendy (though not empirically derived) back then, but they did make Little Fuzzy feel dated. In addition, the court proceedings were laughable and this is not likely to be dismissed by todayƒ??s readers who have grown up watching courtroom drama on TV.

In Fuzzy Nation, Scalzi has not only ditched the bad court procedures and old psychology (he replaced Freudƒ??s psychoanalytic theory with Theory of Mind), but he has also eliminated the dull sapience discussions, too. This is still a story about what it means to be sapient, but Scalzi manages to intelligently address the issue without making us watch his characters sit around and talk about it. He also does a better job of explaining why humans shouldnƒ??t be removing resources from planets with sapient races.

Scalziƒ??s characters are also more vibrant, especially Jack Holloway who, in Piperƒ??s version, addressed himself as ƒ??Pappy Jack.ƒ? In Scalziƒ??s version, Holloway is a young hot-head who doesnƒ??t seem to be able to open his mouth without spitting testosterone. Jackƒ??s dog Carl is a welcome addition and his interactions with the cute Fuzzies gives the book some warmth and humor. I also liked Jackƒ??s ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend who becomes Jackƒ??s lawyer. All of the men in Scalziƒ??s story are unrelievedly aggressive and sarcastic, and Iƒ??m tempted to assume this is some manifestation of John Scalziƒ??s own personality, but instead Iƒ??ll argue that those types of personalities are likely to be disproportionately found on a distant inhospitable planet thatƒ??s home to man-eating raptors.

I listened to the audiobook version of Fuzzy Nation which has been produced by Brilliance Audio and Audible Frontiers. Itƒ??s the same recording, but the Audible Frontiers version includes H. Beam Piperƒ??s Little Fuzzy. Fuzzy Nation is narrated by John Scalziƒ??s friend, actor Wil ƒ??Donƒ??t be a Dick!ƒ? Wheaton. He did a great job with all of the characters and he was especially perfect for the role of Jack Holloway. (I guess itƒ??s okay to be a dick if youƒ??re just acting).

Fuzzy Nation is a successful re-write of Piperƒ??s classic, and I can heartily recommend it. The audio version is especially rewarding. If you want to read Little Fuzzy first, you can download a free print version because itƒ??s in the public domain.


Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Fuzzy Nation is a reboot, or reimagining, of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. I have not read Piper’s work (yet) so I came into the story fresh. This book is everything I have come to expect from John Scalzi. The story was fast-paced, featured engaging characters and an interesting plot.

Fuzzy Nation is the story of Jack Holloway, a surveyor (and disbarred lawyer) on the distant planet Zara XXIII. He discovers an unbelievably rich deposit of a diamond-like mineral that will make him and the corporation mining the planet very wealthy. Shortly after that, his tree-top home is visited by a small, cute, furry and intelligent creature. If the creatures prove sentient, his wealth, and the corporation’s claim on the planet, could disappear.

This was a very fast read, mostly because there is no good place to stop and catch your breath. Jack Holloway is perhaps the most complicated character I’ve come across in a Scalzi novel. He is generally likeable even though he is incredible self-serving and of highly dubious morals. Every time you think he’s done a good deed, he reveals a selfish motive. This time though, the rights and lives of the fuzzies and the future of a planet rest on his shoulders. He’s learning about himself as much as you are learning about him. This complicated characterization makes him riveting and keeps the plot from becoming too predictable.

The supporting characters, good and bad, are well drawn. The fuzzies themselves are wildly entertaining, as is Carl the dog. The story wouldn’t work if you didn’t care about all of them. There are honest-to-goodness laugh out loud moments in this book, as well as deeply moving, poignant scenes. By the time you get to the last page, you’ll want to flip to the beginning and read it all over again. I hope he returns to this world, because I’d love to revisit these characters.

For my second time through the book, I listened to the audible version of it narrated by Wil Wheaton. The narration was brilliant and I think I enjoyed the book even more the second time. I'd forgotten how moving it was. Some of the most likeable characters I've ever come across. Merits multiple readings. Highly recommended. ( )
  tottman | Mar 28, 2014 |
I read this novel, without the influence of the original Fuzzy series by [a:H. Beam Piper|128647|H. Beam Piper|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1335650823p2/128647.jpg]. That said, it was a wonderful short page-turner. It felt more like a short story than a novel, probably because of linear structure, few characters, and down-to-earth language.

Fuzzy Nation examines some of the most complicated topics, such as when do animals stop being animals and become sentient beings, in a lighthearted manner that occasionally approaches comedy. It centers on the character of a disbarred lawyer who has become a mining prospector on another planet. The thrill comes mostly from ambivalence of this protagonist. We are continuously left wondering whether he is a hero or an antihero. Making him the character with the most depth in the novel. Unfortunately, other characters have been significantly neglected in comparison.

On the bad side, to enable this ambivalence to flourish, the novel employs a couple of deus ex machina moments, and, while the plot fits snugly together, it sometimes feels a bit forced. So there goes one star away, but still deserves four stars for the entertainment value. ( )
  leo8 | Mar 28, 2014 |
My favorite thing I read this month. The plot isn't very dissimilar from H. Beam Piper's version. Both revolve around issues of sentience and environmentalism. Both end in a lengthy courtroom drama. And both plots tie up with the same "deus ex" revelation. But Scalzi's version has all his fast-paced, snarky, quick wit. Although, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Piper's version takes its time to explain the issues they're facing -- why it's so hard to define sentience, how both parties plan to mount their defense. Scalzi's version has more action. It's plays like a movie, with interjected action sequences that could be lifted out without losing anything. Granted, it's a fine movie, but it lacks the depth of both the original material and Scalzi's previous works.

The main character is kind of a dick, and the stakes don't seem as important as before (constant negotiations for the gobs of money from his claim instead of how do you define a human vs. animal?). On the other hand, the main character is a dick a la Tony Stark, and it's damn funny to watch him outwit just about everyone who crosses him. He manages to be the kind of guy we want to be, but not be around. It's a beach read. ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 14, 2014 |
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John Scalziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Jack Holloway, prospecting on Zara XXIII for ZaraCorp, finds an immensely valuable stream of sunstone. But when he forwards footage of the planet's catlike, native "fuzzies" to a biologist friend --who believes the "fuzzies" are sentient--hired company thugs, murder, and arson soon follow to protect ZaraCorp's mining interests.… (more)

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