John Scalzi can do no wrong. I’ve read eight of his books so far, and the worst among them was Zoe’s Tale, which in and of itself isn’t a bad book – I just found it wholly unnecessary, and was disappointed in the fact that it retells a story from a previous book, only from a different perspective. I haven’t read all of his books, but he’s made the shortlist of writers whom I will faithfully give a chance to any new publication.
So when narfna listed Fuzzy Nation as her favorite Scalzi book, I immediately found myself a copy and devoured it.
I’ve learned many times before that an unqualified endorsement by a Cannonballer is usually worth checking out. Fuzzy Nation reaffirms this lesson.
As is typical of John Scalzi, the book follows a roguish smartass, Jack Holloway, as he accidentally discovers a large vein of a rare gem on an extrasolar planet called Zarathustra. This highly prized gem is not only set to make Holloway a great deal of money, but the company he works for is set to become stratospherically wealthy. The catch is that any planet with resource extraction taking place has to adhere to environmental guidelines, especially when a sentient native species is found. Holloway encounters a species of small, furry, cat-like creatures that may fit this description. This sets up a conflict between Holloway and the company he works for over the very resource that is going to make them both fabulously wealthy.
This was a reboot of a 1962 novel named Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper (written with the permission of his estate), updated to “reflect a 21st century mindset” (and, presumably, to insert the droll humor of Scalzi). But you can’t really tell this isn’t a Scalzi original. It has the great world-building and lovable rogues that typically populate his books.
I’ve started the original novel (which is now in the public domain), but think I need a bit more distance between the two before reading it. From what I could tell, the stories follow tree sane basic plot.
I really, really enjoyed this book. As I’ve said, I’ve liked all his books – but there’s something about this one that has stuck with me. Maybe that the books I’ve been reading have been largely forgettable (even when I’ve enjoyed them). Maybe it’s that a world populated by small cat-like creatures is irredeemably appealing to me. Maybe stories about the nature of personhood always appeal to me. Maybe it’s just that John Scalzi is a fun writer to read. Whatever the case, reading this book has made it difficult to read more challenging, or at least less purely enjoyable, books.
And I’m perfectly okay with that, because this was simply too much fun. Jack Holloway would be insufferable in real life – but he had just the right amount of smartass to a pleasure to read.
Reviewed previously in CBR4 by narfna (she gave it 4 stars).