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Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Fuzzy Nation (edition 2012)

by John Scalzi

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7567512,276 (3.9)45
Title:Fuzzy Nation
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2012), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, SF, owned, alien

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Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi


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Summary: Jack Holloway is an ex-lawyer who now makes a living as a mining surveyor for Zaracorp, currently living on the planet Zara XXIII. When a cliff that he is surveying collapses, he's in trouble - Zaracorp has to protect its image against the concerns of the environmentalists - but when he discovers a rich seam of incredibly valuable sunstones is discovered in the cliff, his bosses are willing to overlook his eccentricities (like letting his dog, Carl, detonate the explosives Jack uses). Shortly thereafter, Jack returns home to find that his house has been broken into, by a formerly unknown species that looks something like a bipedal cat but have the intelligence at least of a monkey. Jack asks his former girlfriend, Zaracorp's planetary biologist for Zara XXIII, to examine the species (five of which have now semi-permanently taken up residence with Jack and Carl). She decides that the Fuzzies, as Jack has dubbed them, are not only intelligent, they're actually sapient. But if that's proven to be true, Zaracorp will have to leave the planet, including the massive sunstone seam, immediately, so there are powerful people that have a vested interest in making sure the Fuzzies are proven to be animals - or exterminated before a decision can be made. Jack's not exactly disinterested himself - his finder's fee will net him a massive profit from the sunstones - but he might be the only ally the Fuzzies have.

Review: This book is a reboot of H. Beam Piper's 1962 novel Little Fuzzy (which I have not read, nor even heard of prior to reading this book) - same characters and storyline, but updated to a modern sensibility. I went into it not knowing hardly anything about the plot (other than the Ewok-esque creature on the cover), and expecting something with the same level of snarky humor as Redshirts or Old Man's War. So initially I was a little disappointed - there are definitely funny scenes and good one-liners, and Jack's a snarky bastard, but overall I didn't find it as funny as most other of Scalzi's books that I've read. It's also filled throughout with a bunch of corporate contract negotiations and legal maneuvering, which take up a lot of the initial scenes and didn't really hook me in. But as I got more and more into it, I became more invested in the characters, and Jack's legal maneuvering became something to cheer for, not just sit through. As much as I normally dislike situations where good people (or at least people trying to do the right thing) are stuck powerless in terrible situations against opponents who are holding all the cards, in this case, it was fun to watch them play the one card they do have, especially when it winds up being exactly the one right card. (There may have been fist-pumping involved as I was listening. More than once. At least I wasn't in public!)

So, as the plot maneuvers through its twists and turns, almost all of which managed to totally surprise me and yet fit into the plot perfectly, I wound up being totally won over, and eventually I remembered that Scalzi also has books like Zoe's Tale, and this book is just as full of heart, with the same occasional touches of heartbreak. I wound up really enjoying this book - it had the right pace, the right level of complexity, and a great blend of action and humor and cleverness and emotion. (And also Carl - I'm always a fan of good dog characters in my stories.) 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This book was a little bit of a slow start for me, but I wound up enjoying the heck out of it. Recommended for fans of Scalzi's, or science fiction, or anyone who's thought about xenobiology, and how our current societal attitudes would really affect the way we deal with alien life. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Sep 22, 2014 |
Scalzi is funny in the right places, morally concerned in the right places, critical in the right places, and I'm really pleased that the Little Fuzzy reboot is full of this appropriate sense of timing and a light touch with his social commentary.

The best things about Fuzzy Nation, in my reading (listening) of it were the smart ass lawyer passages and Holloway's slow reveal of his character.

Also worth noting are the light touch that Scalzi has with his moral commentary. Holloway begins as and remains a financially motivated exploiter of natural resources. He doesn't give up on his project of getting rich, he just sorts out his priorities. Also, I really, really like the way Holloway's non-apology is resolved. This is an excellent model for why apologies can ring hollow and how to eventually do it correctly.

Wil Wheaton is, of course, the ideal narrator for this story. Holloway is the sort of character he has been playing on shows like Eureka and Leverage in recent years. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Jack Holloway is a contractor who's on the cusp of becoming a billionaire after an unfortunate mishap with a collapsing cliff. But when a question comes up about sentience on this particular planet, money and life are in danger of big corporation schemes. Fuzzy Nation is a lawyer meets crusader-for-a-species type of book.

I really enjoyed this book. What drives this book is plot. We're quickly inserted into this new world and learn about the laws that surround contracting and world mining and such. And then the introduction of the fuzzys are quite adorable and perfectly timed.

The courtroom scenes are done rather well because they are imaginable. Tension and voices and objections are bright in my mind when I read Scalzi's words.

I love the romance - or rather, the lack thereof. It's great to see a book not concentrate on the tangles of love (especially in a sort of crime-scene lawyer type book) but still have aspects of human interactions and bantering for us to enjoy.

The only thing I am not sold on is Holloway's personality. He gives a ton of monologues about his goals and aims and what drives him to do certain things, but I don't quite believe him.

Overall, a book worth 4 stars. I wish this were a series because I would read all of the sequels. Highly recommended for people who like fast paced action. Perhaps Dresden fans would find this most amusing. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
This is a re-imagining of H. Beam Piper's Fuzzy Sapiens. I thought it was well done.
  RapidCityPubLib | Sep 6, 2014 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Scalziprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Jack Holloway set the simmer to HOVER, swiveled his seat around, and looked at Carl.
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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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