Fuzzy Nation

  • by John Scalzi
  • Narrated by Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi - introduction
  • 7 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say



Audie Award Winner, Science Fiction, 2012

“[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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Short, sweet, and satisfying storytelling.

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.
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- Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

Great escapism

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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- Rosaleen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-10-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios