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Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Fuzzy Nation (edition 2012)

by John Scalzi

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6847013,672 (3.9)38
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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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original plotline, but his novel got bogged down in long repetitive discussions about sapience which included some outdated ideas about the nature of consciousness.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 |
This story, about a rogue with a golden heart who suddenly finds both his fortunes and role reversed overnight, is equal parts courtroom drama and light sitcom. Aside from the setting- a vaguely described backwater jungle planet, and the newly discovered alien which resembles Spielberg’s Mogwai, there isn’t an awful lot of Science Fiction in the novel. Hollywood could substitute a remarkably intelligent species of primate from a faraway jungle and film the movie on the cheap. Nonetheless, the witty dialog and legal twists are entertaining enough to hold the reader’s attention through to the end. There’s a fair amount of wish fulfillment as Scalzi sets up the pins of his unlikable villain characters, only to knock them all down in the end with their deserved comeuppances. One personal pet peeve was the overuse of the dialog denoting words “He/She said”. I would have found it less distracting and more descriptive if the verb choice was more varied. This is most noticeable during rapid exchanges, and when experiencing the story in audiobook form. Wil Wheaton, incidentally, does a terrific job narrating and his performance absolutely drips with snark. Overall, I enjoyed the story quite a bit, but would recommend Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” series to those seeking thicker SF concepts, or “Redshirts” to those who want a good laugh at the genre’s many clichés. ( )
  SciFi-Kindle | Mar 1, 2014 |
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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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