Not every story and reader keep me fully engaged. These did. Probably shouldn't have been listening and driving....
First, I have not read “Little Fuzzy” of which this book is an updated version. Second, this is the first John Scalzi book I have read. Third, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to sci-fi fans with one reservation.
My reservation is that this is yet another sci-fi tale with a hard-bitten, anti-hero main character. Yup, the main character is a grizzled veteran of court-room battles who uses his superior intellect and knowledge to flummox the bad guys. And, of course, he isn’t afraid to throw a manly punch when needed.
To John Scalzi’s credit, the fact that the main character is an antihero actually is relevant to the plot. At least at the very end. Okay, that’s good. But, still, I’m very tired of the macho outsider main characters that are almost standard in sci-fi, crime novels, and the like. I hope he does not use that sort of main character in all his books. Maybe he just inherited this character from Little Fuzzy, right? Otherwise, I guess I’m done with his books.
A final thought. Little Fuzzy was published in the early 60s and you have to wonder if it was George Lucas’s inspiration for the Ewoks battling the empire and the basic plot elements in James Cameron’s Avatar.
This is a cute story with unlikeable characters and unlikely situations.
Wil Wheaton is not a professional narrator. When I listen to him, I spend part of my time feeling like some regular Joe is reading the book outloud and I happen to be in the area. The rest of the time, I hear a faint whisper of Dr. Sheldon Cooper's voice as he tells me how amazing Wil Wheaton is. To be fair, I think Wil Wheaton is a great choice for the story. I listened to him read the Red Shirts and felt the same way - he's an offbeat, sci-fi-ish voice that brings Scalzi books to life.
There are a number of things that made buying this book an interesting idea. First, the idea of two novels written by two authors based on the same basic idea. I wondered exactly how different the stories would be, how interesting the second would be after reading the first and how dated the earlier version of this story might be. Second, any novel by John Scalzi seems worth at least some investigation as I have not read anything by him that I have not considered to be worth the time spent. Third, Wil Wheaton does a good enough job narrating a book that his narration made the purchase even easier. So, how are the two different stories?
Fuzzy Nation (approximately 7 hours, 20 minutes)
Simply put, this book is a gold mine and, at the same time, a roller coaster ride. It is one of the few books I have read where I could say I really did not know how it was going to turn out. Of course you have a general idea that things will turn out for the best, but this book has so many ins and outs, so many legal turns and so many unexpected developments that I was unable to figure out precisely what would happen.
At the same time this novel is just plain fun. There are laugh-out-loud moments when my wife just looked at me as if perhaps I needed to see a doctor, suspenseful moments when I did not want to stop listening and just plain interesting moments when time seemed to fly past. I have not had this much fun listening to a book is quite some time. In particular I had no idea how the courtroom drama at the end of the novel would turn out, who would win, who would lose and how all of the lose ends would get tied up. In the end Mr Scalzi did a neat job of closing all of the loose ends and answering all of the questions and in a way that caught me completely by surprise. This is not a simple book and the plot is quite involved, but also quite satisfying at the end.
The narration, of course, is first class. The writing is first class. The story is first class. The first novel in the book is worth the purchase price alone. Five stars.
Little Fuzzy (approximately 6 hours, 25 minutes)
I had such a good time with Fuzzy Nation that I was actually reluctant to start listening to Little Fizzy. It was hard for me to see how the story could match John Scalzi's re-writing of it and the narration by Peter Ganim sounded harsh and uninviting by comparison. I actually waited for a day before I even began listening and, after 20 minutes or so, stopped listening and waited another day before getting back into the novel. I should not have worried.
The main character, Jack Holloway, exists in both books but is a completely different type of person in each. He is an independent mineral prospector on the same planet in both novels, but that is the extent to which the characters match. In Little Fuzzy he sounds like an older grizzled loner as compared to the young ex-lawyer in Fuzzy Nation. His views and opinions are much more dated and altruistic in Little Fuzzy, but he is still a main character worth spending time with in both stories. He is open and welcoming to the fuzzies when he finds and makes a home for them.
Little Fuzzy is a much simpler book than Fuzzy Nation. The plot is fairly straight-forward, the characters are mostly what you expect them to be and the “bad guys” seem to be operating with a much simpler set of goals. However the story is also interesting in its own way with what turns out to be a parallel, although somewhat clearer, set of plot lines. Still, the characters are interesting, there is a good deal of uncertainty as to what will happen to the fuzzies themselves and the courtroom drama at the end is, in its own way, as interesting as the first book.
This is, in many way, a very different book from Fuzzy Nation, but is worth reading on its own. While the narration is, in my opinion, not as polished as that of Fuzzy Nation, it is still well done. Four stars.
Both books are worth spending the time. Fuzzy Nation seemed to me to be a much more sophisticated novel with deeper character development, a more nuanced story and a more satisfying ending. Little Fuzzy, which I think is worth the time on its own, seemed more superficial by comparison with a much simpler story line, more straight-forward characters and has a more paternalistic feel than Fuzzy Nation. I believe the narration of Fuzzy Nation to be better than that of Little Fuzzy, but both are good. I have rated the combined book at 5 stars since I cannot give 4 ½ stars which would be the average of the two novel ratings.
An interesting question is how my views might have changed if I had read the stores in the reverse order. Having finished both books I clearly cannot do that but readers might want to think about which one to listen to first. Regardless, I recommend this combined book to those who like science fiction and are looking for a light read.
The narration was rushed and the repetitive use of the attributives - he said...she said...he siad.....she said, was like having a splinter stuck in you hand and not able to get it out. I enjoyed the original text and narration so much more.
Between this title and a few other recent purchases, I have started to shy away from a long term love affair with science fiction. If others hadn't rated it so high I may not have been disappointed quite so much.
I am not a fan of Wil Weaton as a narrator
I would recommend that this novel was not re-released. The original was definitely dated but the rewrite did not warrant the effort.
I had never read the original novel (which is included in part two of this purchase) so had nothing on which to base my expectations. I thought it was good fun and enjoyed the flawed hero, the sense of humor of the author, and the happy ending. I found myself smiling throughout and engaged from beginning to end. I highly recommend Fuzzy Nation.
I was not familiar with the original "Little Fuzzy" story that inspired the new Fuzzy Nation, nor with author John Scalzi. What a happy experience it has been to discover not just one, but two books that I enjoy and another author to explore further.
While the initial premise and the main character's name are the same, the two stories are different and each is enjoyable in its own way. Once I finished Fuzzy Nation, I was a little concerned that Little Fuzzy might not be as interesting because it was written back in the 60's. Even though the characters in Little Fuzzy had communication devices with image screens, they were still taking movies and developing film, which gave me a chuckle. No worries; it was more innocent and idealistic but still holds your interest all the way through.
The Fuzzies are fascinating little creatures that force humans to search for a definition of what it means to be sapient. Are they just cute, intelligent animals or are they people who should remain free to evolve and determine their own future? Each book ends with a glimpse into a possible future for how the Fuzzies and humans will adapt to living on the same planet. I hope Scalzi will write a sequel to Fuzzy Nation one day and show us what life is like there a few decades or centuries later.
It was a faithful adaptation of H. Beam Pipers "Little Fuzzy". In the forward, Scalzi talks about how he was trying to re-write Little fuzzy with more modern sensibilities. He succeeded. And in many ways, I expect this version to stand the test of time as well as the original. Wil Wheaton is a fantastic narrator.
The dog. Without ruining anything, the dog.
He (Wil Wheaton) brought life into the characters, even to the point that there was no doubt who was speaking as who. His voice as the narrator was fantastic, and that of the main character was good enough to make you sympathise with him.
Well done John Scalzi. I am not a fan of most work put out in a universe from a dead creator, (Sorry Brandon), but this was done well. It does not attempt to be the original story, but reuses so many of the same elements is such a different way that still pays tribute. I would recommend this to anyone who wanted an introduction to Scalzi and his work.
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I suppose that we will attempt to dominate extra-planetary life much as the Europeans conquered the "New World." What a depressing thought. We don't stray from our DNA, do we?
Fuzzy Nation is sci-fi right up my alley. I am not a devotee of the genre; I read it every now and then when something strikes my fancy and really prefer it to be rather tame on the graphic violence (because it is really hard to simply skim over those paragraphs when you listen on audio). So, what I have read so far by Scalzi has been perfect.
Thank you, John for choosing to update a well told tale and thank you Wil for the excellent narration.