In John Scalzi's re-imagining of H. Beam Piper's 1962 sci-fi classic Little Fuzzy, written with the full cooperation of the Piper Estate, Jack Holloway works alone for reasons he doesn't care to talk about. On the distant planet Zarathustra, Jack is content as an independent contractor for ZaraCorp, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that's not up for discussion.
Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.
But there's another wrinkle to ZaraCorp's relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species. Then a small furry biped - trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute - shows up at Jack's outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp's claim to a planet's worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the fuzzys before their existence becomes more widely known.
©2011 John Scalzi (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
“[Scalzi’s] style and skill make it a highly entertaining read. It succeeds both as a new novel from a talented writer and as a tribute and gateway to Piper’s work.” (Wired)
"It’s a wonderful book.... [T]he way that Scalzi puts that wonderful novel of Piper’s into a fresher context is cynically lovely.... Year’s best? Yeah, one of them." (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
“A perfectly executed plot clicks its way to a stunning courtroom showdown in a cathartic finish that will thrill Fuzzy fans old and new.” (Publishers Weekly)
I'm a voracious audiobibliophile, mainly interested in speculative fiction, with the occasional mimetic fiction or non-fiction title sneaking in.
The story sets up in a quite classic mode: fuzzy creatures are discovered on a planet being strip-mined for its resources. Are they sentient? If so, the corporations (and independent contractor surveyors) are out of jobs and minerals. In (now classic?) Scalzi mode, the characters are warm, deep, sarcastic, funny, and give great quips on cue, and the plot flies along at an easy pace, never slow, not too fast to leave the listener behind. Wheaton's narration here is nicely paced as well, not a long, drawn-out affair, nor one with heavy characterizations on the voices (when it comes, it's very nice -- but that's in spoiler territory). The fuzzies are cute -- but not unbearably, and there are a few laugh out loud moments here, and (our main character, the independent contractor) Jack's interactions with his dog, Carl, are wonderful.
It is, however, over a bit too easily -- and unexpectedly quickly. Fuzzy Nation comes in at a little over 7 hours, with download "Part 2" being a Peter Ganim narration of the original H. Beam Piper novel Little Fuzzy which runs about 6 and a half hours. So don't be fooled into thinking you're approaching halfway through the story as part one comes to a close, or you'll be regretting (as I did) that we have to leave Zara XXIII so soon. On the other hand, that's certainly a packaging and marketing artifact, and the 7 "Fuzzy Nation" hours of this audiobook were a good, enjoyable story, showing off what Scalzi can do with good characters: take us on a fun trip through another place, make us laugh, make us cry, and give us a little bit of what it means to be human -- even if we see it reflected in the eyes of someone much smaller and furrier.
On Ganim's narration of "Little Fuzzy", it was definitely interesting to compare the setup, characters, and storyline of the original novel to the reboot's, and Ganim is as-always quite competent. His reading is a bit slower-paced, which adds a bit more to the era contrast between the books.
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.
I don't normally involve myself in writing reviews, as what I like, isn't necessarily what you like, but in this case I feel compelled to. This book was in a word AWESOME!!!!! No I have not read the 1960's version, and maybe that is good or bad don't know. This book was so well written. I listened to the entire thing today. I laughed the entire way through. He wasn't just a writer confusing himself with a comedian. The way he slid the humor in almost imperceptibly was wild. You didn't know it was funny till you caught yourself laughing. No I am not a literary genius or giant, but I am above average for intelligence, although I am so tired I did have to use spell check twice. Seriously, this is the first book by John Scalzi I have read, but will not be the last. No not an original idea, but how many publishing company give permission for rewrites on a book. Cant be too many. Maybe one day there will be a sequel. If you want a good old fashioned read. GET THIS BOOK!!!! Enough of my rambling. Happy reading all.
Author of The Zochtil, Read by Nick Sullivan
I first read Little Fuzzy when I was thirteen, and I loved it. I went on to read the other Fuzzy books Piper. So naturally when I first saw this I was a little upset. Why would any rewrite such an awesome book? Because I was so skeptical I didn't actually get the book for a couple of months after it was published, my loss, now though it is one of my favorite books and I have listened to it probably about five times now. The story line is VERY different from Little Fuzzy, but it is still really good. There are some great court room scenes in this book and some really great character development. John Scalzi did a great job of bringing Little Fuzzy back and in a way that someone in the twenty first century can enjoy.
Blood and Gore:
There are some violent scenes in this book, but the blood is very minimal. PG.
There is quite a bit of swearing in this book, which was not in the original Little Fuzzy.
None, though it is mentioned a couple of times.
This is a great story. If you liked Little Fuzzy give this book a try, and if you never ready Little Fuzzy then I highly recommend it. This is a great book.
The first part is Fuzzy Nation and the second file is Little Fuzzy so this is a short book, about eight hours.
This is Scalzi at his storytelling best. In many ways it reminds me of a Heinlein "juvenile", that is to say there is nothing childish about this book. You can comfortably share this with a bright young person who will enjoy it with you. It's a straightforward retelling of a somewhat familiar tale - but Scalzi has fun with it and that fun is contagious. The characters are vibrant and well drawn. While there is little "world building", the universe is familiar and well defined. Wil Wheaton was a brilliant choice for the narration and it is my sincere hope that other collaborations will follow.
Thank you Audible Frontiers for bringing us this stellar performance!
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is not deep, but is nicely written, nicely narrated, and fun. The characters are irreverent and the legal scenes are funny and interesting. This starts kind of slowly, with a main character that is somewhat annoying, but as the story develops it becomes both interesting and funny. Carl the dog is excellent. Wheaton???s narration is excellent.
This is a reboot of H. Beam Piper's book "Little Fuzzy". You do not need to read / listen to the original (included as the 2nd part of this audiobook) to enjoy Scalzi's new book. In fact, comparing it to the original the whole time you are listening / reading may put you in a different frame of mind, which could change your enjoyment.
For those of you who have read the original, here are the main differences.
The main character in the original is an octogenarian, long time prospector, a gruff old man who is immediately protective of the fuzzies. Scalzi's Jack Holloway is a disbarred lawyer turned prospector who's first inclination is to protect his claim and is more sarcastic than gruff.
The fuzzies are different. I don't want to give too many spoilers but you will immediately notice that they don't do any hunting in Scalzi's book.
The federation base on the moon is gone leaving a single judge the planet's only federation representative. The planet including the city are completely under corporate control and the villains are diabolical rather than just callous and greedy. The wildlife is more dangerous too.
It's a good book, a twisty tale up to Scalzi's usual high standards. If you like his other books, you'll like this one too. The theme and feel of this new book is completely different than Piper's original. It's a bit like a liberally adjusted movie adaptation. I did feel a bit of “that's nothing like the original!” but I enjoyed it.
The story takes place on a planet 150 light years from Earth. We meet Jack, a prospector for the mining corporation that holds exclusive rights to exploit the uninhabited planet's resources. The day the story starts is a busy day for Jack: he discovers a rich vein of valuable minerals, and later discovers a new type of creature trapped in his house.
This book is an engaging remake of a classic story. It's the sci fi we loved as kids (new planets, amusing creatures, cool gadgets), modernized (how was it that none of the classic sci fi ever really got the idea of modern computers or the internet?).
However, if the old style sci fi was often called "cowboys in space" due to the shoot-'em-up frontier town attitudes of the main characters, this modernization brings in the current craze for courtroom dramas: call it "lawyers in space"? So, if you hate John Grisham novels, you'll dislike a good chunk of this book.
Also, there are times when you're wondering how the characters could be so stupid as to not see what is plainly obvious, so it's the experience of knowing ahead of time what the characters are taking their time discovering.
Finally, understand that the novel is only 7 hours long (7:19). At the end of Part 1, the novel is finished. Part 2 is actually the novel that this one was based on. I haven't listened to that one yet. If you're not the type who would go watch earlier versions of modern re-make movies, then you may not be into listening to what is (probably) nearly the same story twice, so if you've budgeted for 14 hours of listening, please understand that you're actually getting only half of that.
This is a touching story with a modern twist to it. It'd make a good movie.
I like Scalzi's books. I'm not sure what kind of license he had with this remake so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. This book was interesting but predictable. The court room stuff at the end should have been the home run run but it sorta fell in to "you're seen it before' predictability. I like I'll listen to the original next.
I laughed, I cried, I threw up in my mouth a little bit (there were a few icky bits). I always enjoy pokes at corporate greed and John Scalzi uses a pretty big stick in this story, The protagonist, Jack Holloway, is a selfish, arrogant, greedy S.O.B. - or is he? He manages to at the very least annoy and at worst to drive to homicide everyone he encounters; he says and does things many of us would like to say and do, but don't because we're chicken (or maybe too responsible or nice - nah, we're chicken) The other characters are interesting and Karl and the Fuzzies are adorable. When the story wasn't making me laugh out loud - literally - a bit embarrassing on public transit, by the way, it was making me unspeakably sad or violently enraged. Wil Wheaton brought the characters to life, using just the right inflections and injecting just the right quality and intensity of emotion for each character in each situation. His delivery was understated and he never overdid it. It was easy to distinguish between characters throughout the book. I LOVE this audiobook and definitely recommend it!
"As delightful as the original"
I remember being so busy reading the original Little Fuzzy that I missed a train. This was just as enjoyable.
The storyline was excellent and, having read the book it was based on, I was pleased with how well John Scalzi adapted his story.
The part when Fuzzy spoke was done so well by the narrator that I could almost see him stood there.
The fact that John Scalzi wrote the story before asking H Beam Piper's estate if he could publish it. I also liked the fact that the narrator and author were friends so I knew the narration was done the way the author would have wanted.
It made me laugh and cry and gasp aloud and I was very emotionally involved throughout.
"Feel good book"
I have not read this book or its progenitor, which is good since I had preconceived ideas. So no wonder I loved this book from the go. Wil Wheaton's narration style fits Scalzi's books perfectly - it's an easy going, enjoyable listen. Scalzi doesn't write descriptions, just great dialogues and story - I think this is a perfect format for audiobook.
All in all it's a nice story full of twists and humor, and for me the addition of original book 'Little Fuzzy' by H. Beam Piper was a great bonus.
"Good straight forward science fiction"
I've never read the original (or, to be honest, heard of it). However this was an easy listen with a satisfying progression through the story. Good science fiction - not overplaying the technology or differences between our time and theirs. A story which tells itself straight - and well read by Wil Wheaton. Made me laugh in a few places too - and I wish the characters could be in further stories (generally a good indicator of a story enjoyed).
"I love Scalzi's SciFi works"
As already said in the title, I love Scalzi's SciFi works. So was it also with Fuzzy nation. It was very well thought through, very lively and immaginable. It gave a lot to thing about also afterwards. Yes, on many occasions probability seemed overruled, but it was still very much enjoyable. After all, isn't playing with What Ifs the idea of books?
After I finished Fuzzy nation and started Piper's Little fuzzy, every time I managed to listen to only about 10-15 minutes and then fell asleep. Even when awake, my mind start to wander around. It is interesting though, but not as much as Scalzi's part.
The most interesting part in listening both versions is to see, how a new author can change it. In this case Scalzi gave a much better feeling and substance to the same idea and made it work for me. So I have to say, that I loved it a lot.
This book is punchy, well told and has a lovely anti-corperate message. It's got a good structure to it and moves on at a brisk pace. The characters are very likable as well. I can't really fault it...
"Another brilliant book.."
I only found John Scalzi last year and think his writing and books are brilliant. This is no exception. A re-write of a book from the sixties, which you get free and I'm still working my way through, called Little Fuzzy. Fuzzy Nation is compelling, funny and tragic - I actually got a tear in my eye. Will Wheaton is exceptional as the narrator. Can't recommend highly enough and you don't have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this.
"Caught by surprise."
I was unaware of H Beam Piper's book that inspired this delightful surprise read. I had no expectations and was caught from the first by its convoluted and almost sneaky charm. Little fuzzies are adorable (I want to meet one) but I have to say that John Scalzi has caught the humanesque essence of dogness without anthropomorphicism (is that a real word?? LOL) and I was immediately sucked in (no, dogs are not the primary focus of the story, Carl was the bait on the hook for me). I was also tangled in the surprise twists and turns in the plot which resolved very satisfactorily. I was sorry to reach the end. A good deal of the pleasure was enhanced by the narrator. Some narrators have such vocal ability that its almost like listening to a whole cast of actors, Will Wheaton managed this without without changing his voice much yet neverthless was able to create distinct and separate qualities to the individual characters in the story so there was no confusion as to who was "talking". I really enjoyed both the style of writing, the words constructing this story and the way it was told. Very highly recommended. I already look forward to hearing it again!
A good book doesn't necessarily make a good audiobook. Fuzzy Nation however is perfect. Fantastic narration by Wil Wheaton. You can tell he has given a lot of thought beforehand but he's also one of those people who just has a pleasant voice you enjoy listening to. I found Fuzzy Nation fun, involving with plenty of hooks to keep me interested. As a bonus the original Little Fuzzy is thrown in which is the icing on the cake.
"An Excellent Reworking"
I love John Scalzi; I'd waited a while for his latest work and I wasn't disappointed. Scalzi always tells a great story and is witty when doing so.
This is a massive complement from me but he reminds me of the great Douglas Adams. Please live a long and productive life Mr Scalzi.
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