This download is two books for the price of one. Part I is John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation; Part Two is the 1960's "inspiration" for the more recent book (Little Fuzzy by H.Beam Piper).
While both books have a similar theme - saving the (little people) Fuzzies from the machinations of big business and thoroughly nasty associated characters via a courtroom drama - the books differ in the way that the plot develops and the case that is made for "sentience".
The earlier book is actually far more sophisticated in its account of the psychology-philosophy of consciousness and the criteria for sentience (Weiskrantz's formally developed thesis that consciousness consists of higher-order thoughts is brilliantly anticipated here). John Scalzi's book is more contemporary in its feel (e.g., nobody smokes a pipe and the Fuzzies are not immediately recruited as pets). Scalzi also makes much of the lawyerly argument and the rebel-with-a-cause character of the main human protagonist.
I thought it was a shame that the critical evidence for language was identical in both books, and that it was so far anticipated in John Scalzi's version as to be utterly and completely obvious by it was revealed. This evidence comes as a greater surprise in the earlier version of the tale - it is presented almost as an afterthought in the middle of complex plot twists.
That said, there are enough differences between the two books to make it worthwhile hearing the story twice and enjoying the changes that have happened in our culture over the past 50 years. John Scalzi is to be congratulated in re-animating and presenting a story that would probably have been lost - and for his creation of some lovely and loveable characters.
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