Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi, is a remake of an earlier sci-fi novel by H. Beam Piper. It tells the story of Jack Holloway, a surveyor on the planet Zara XXIII, owned by Zaracorp. He is your classic case of a guy falling upwards. He worked as an attorney and got himself fired by punching a client. He got himself a large settlement from the company that wanted him to get the case to a mistrial. He is smart, but he clearly knows it. He’s also arrogant, and is always acting in his best interest. At the start of the novel, he discovers a large seem of sunstones. The author makes them sound like the diamond market, tightly controlled and valuable. The owners of the seams of sunstones drive up the value. Jack is poised to become very rich.
The Jack meets the fuzzies, cat like creatures he believes are very intelligent. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend Isabel. Isabel believes the fuzzies are sapient. This would force Zaracorp to leave the planet to the fuzzies, and Jack would no longer get rich from the sunstones. What follows is two trials, a trial to determine the future of the fuzzies and Zaracorp, and a trial when Jack’s cabin is burned by one of Zaracorp’s security officers.
This book was a charming surprise. I really didn’t think Jack would take the actions he does. We are introduced to Isabel’s boyfriend, Mark, who seems like a good guy and a much better fit for her. I was happy to see that Mark, even though he works for big evil Zaracorp, stays a good guy throughout. Jack’s contract manager does the same. I listened to this on audio book, narrated by Wil Wheaton. Scalzi names the head of Zaracorp Wheaton Aubrey VII, and it’s clear that Wheaton relishes the asshole role that is his namesake. He also does a great job making Jack seem like a guy with warts who evolves. I really enjoyed this book, I believe it was recommended by a fellow Cannonballer, and I look forward to reading more books by John Scalzi.