Book Review: Fuzzy Nation, By John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked up this book not because of the plot, but because of the concept. It’s actually a literary reboot, the first I’ve run across in some time (not counting, you know, Shakespeare and the like). Scalzi took the story-arc of the 1962 Hugo-nominated novel by H. Beam Piper, Little Fuzzy, and gave it a contemporary voice. Not that he wanted to replace the original, but rather give it a new life, one which Scalzi hopes will inspire readers to seek out Piper’s work (or so he says in the Author’s Note).
The novel has some surprisingly contemporary themes, as it deals with corporate exploitation of natural resources. It also revolves around a Western-style company coming into conflict with an indigenous population, in this case the Fuzzys. These small creatures, which seem to be somewhere between cats and monkeys in appearance, become the central question of the book. Specifically at issue is whether or not the Fuzzy’s are sentient, thus having claims to the resources which the massive ZaraCorp is mining from the planet.
The novel quickly becomes more of a courtroom drama than a sci-fi adventure, and I found the story to be fairly predictable, the characters comfortably familiar. All the same, Scalzi’s writing is fluid and efficient, with a tight pacing that doesn’t try to over-inflate the plot into something it’s not. Even though I knew exactly where it would end, I still found the novel thoroughly satisfying.