From New York Times bestseller and Hugo Award-winner John Scalzi, an extraordinary retelling of the SF classic Little Fuzzy
ZaraCorp holds the right to extract unlimited resources from the verdant planet Zarathustra—as long as the planet is certifiably free of native sentients. So when an outback prospector discovers a species of small, appealing bipeds who might well turn out to be intelligent, language-using beings, it's a race to stop the corporation from "eliminating the problem," which is to say, eliminating the Fuzzies—wide-eyed and ridiculously cute small, and furry—who are as much people as we are.
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About the Author
John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and his debut novel Old Man's War was a finalist for science fiction's Hugo Award. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Android's Dream and The Last Colony. He has won the Hugo Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science-fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. His weblog, Whatever, is one of the most widely-read web sites in modern SF. Born and raised in California, Scalzi studied at the University of Chicago. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.
John Scalzi won the 2006 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel for Redshirts, and his debut novel Old Man’s War was a finalist for Hugo Award as well. His other books include The Ghost Brigades, The Android’s Dream, The Last Colony and The Human Division. He has won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for science-fiction, the Seiun, The Kurd Lasswitz and the Geffen awards. His weblog, The Whatever, is one of the most widely-read web sites in modern SF. Born and raised in California, Scalzi studied at the University of Chicago. He lives in southern Ohio with his wife and daughter.
Read an Excerpt
By John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Tom Doherty Associates, LLCCopyright © 2011 John Scalzi
All rights reserved.
Jack Holloway set the skimmer to HOVER, swiveled his seat around, and looked at Carl. He shook his head sadly.
"I can't believe we have to go through this again," Holloway said. "It's not that I don't value you as part of this team, Carl. I do. Really, I do. But I can't help but think that in some way, I'm just not getting through to you. We've gone over this how many times now? A dozen? Two? And yet every time we come out here, it's like you forget everything you've been taught. It's really very discouraging. Tell me you get what I'm saying to you."
Carl stared up at Holloway and barked. He was a dog.
"Fine," Holloway said. "Then maybe this time it will stick." He reached down into a storage bin and hoisted a mound of putty in one hand. "This is acoustical blasting putty. What do we do with it?"
Carl cocked his head.
"Come on, Carl," Holloway said. "This is the first thing I taught you. We put it on the side of the cliff at strategic points," Holloway said. "Just like I already did earlier today. You remember. You were there." He pointed in the direction of Carl's Cliff, a massive outcropping of rock, two hundred meters high, with geological striations peeking out of the vegetation covering most of the rock face. Carl followed Holloway's finger with his eyes, more interested in the finger than in the cliff his master had named for him.
Holloway set down the putty and picked up another, smaller object. "And this is the remote-controlled blasting cap," he said. "Which we attach to the acoustical blasting putty, so we don't have to be near the acoustical blasting putty when we set it off. Because that's boom. How do we feel about boom, Carl?"
Carl got a concerned look on his doggy face. Boom was a word he knew. Carl was not fond of boom.
"Right," Holloway said. He set down the blasting cap, making sure it was nowhere near the blasting putty, and that the cap receiver was inactive. He picked up a third object.
"And this is the remote detonator," Holloway said. "You remember this, right, Carl?"
"What's that, Carl?" Holloway said. "You want to set off the acoustical blasting putty?"
Carl barked again.
"I don't know," Holloway said, doubtfully. "Technically it is a violation of Zarathustra Corporation safe labor practices to allow a nonsentient species member to set off high explosives."
Carl came up to Holloway and licked his face with a whine that said please please oh please.
"Oh, all right," Holloway said, fending off the dog. "But this is the last time. At least until you grasp all the fundamentals of the job. No more slacking off and leaving all the hard work to me. I'm paid to supervise. Are we clear?"
Carl barked once more and then backed off, tail wagging. He knew what was coming next.
Holloway glanced down at the detonator's image panel and checked, for the third time since he placed the charges earlier in the day, that the detonator was keyed specifically to the blasting caps placed into the charges. He pressed the panel to answer YES to each of the automated safety questions and waited while the detonator confirmed by geolocation that it was, in fact, safely outside the blast radius of any charges. This could be overridden, but it took some hacking, and anyway, Holloway preferred not to blow himself up whenever possible. And Carl was not so fond of boom.
CHARGES SET AND READY, read the detonator panel. PRESS PANEL TO DETONATE.
"Okay," Holloway said, and set the detonator on the skimmer floor between him and Carl. Carl looked up expectantly.
"Wait for it," Holloway said, and swiveled around in his chair to face the cliff. He could hear Carl's tail thumping excitedly against a crate.
"Wait for it," Holloway said again, and tried to spy the places on the cliff he had drilled into earlier in the day, using the skimmer as a platform while he inserted and secured the charges into the drill holes.
Carl gave a little whine.
"Fire!" Holloway said, and heard the dog scramble forward.
The cliff puffed out in four spots, spewing rock and dirt and hurling vegetation for meters. The cliff face darkened as the birds (which is to say, the local flying animal equivalent to birds) that had been nesting in the cliff face's vegetation took to the air, alarmed by the noise and sudden eruptions. A few seconds later, four closely spaced cracks snapped the air in the skimmer's open cockpit, the sound of the explosions finally reaching Holloway and Carl—loud, but without the Carl-worrying boom.
Holloway glanced over to his right, where his information panel lay, sonic imaging program up and running. The sonic probes he'd placed on and around the cliff were spewing their raw feed into the program, which was collating and combining the data, turning it into a three-dimensional representation of the internal structure of the cliff.
"All right," he said, and swiveled around to look at Carl, who still had his paw on the detonator, tongue lolling out of his mouth.
"Good boy!" Holloway said, and dug into the storage bin to pull out a zararaptor bone, still heavy with meat. He unwrapped it from its storage film and tossed it at Carl, who fell on it happily. That was the deal: Press the detonator, get a bone. It had taken Holloway more than a few tries to get Carl to press the detonator accurately, but it had been worth the effort. Carl had to come on the surveying trips anyway. Might as well have him be useful, or at least entertaining.
Now, it really was a violation of Zarathustra Corporation safe labor practices to let a dog blow things up. But Holloway and Carl worked alone, hundreds of kilometers from ZaraCorp's local headquarters on-planet and 178 light-years from its corporate headquarters on Earth. He wasn't technically a ZaraCorp employee anyway; he was a contractor, just like every other prospector/surveyor here on Zara XXIII. It was cheaper that way.
Holloway reached down and rubbed Carl's head affectionately. Carl, engrossed in the raptor bone, paid him not the slightest bit of mind.
An urgent beep came from Holloway's infopanel. He picked it up to see that the data feeds were suddenly spiking through their bandwidth.
A low rumble thrummed its way into the skimmer cockpit, getting louder the longer it lasted. Carl looked up from his bone and whined. This noise was perilously close to boom.
Holloway glanced up and saw a column of dust rising violently from the cliff wall, obscuring everything behind it.
"Oh, crap," he said to himself. He had a very bad, sinking feeling about this.
After a few minutes, the dust began to clear a bit, and his very bad, sinking feeling got worse. Through the indistinct haze, Holloway could see that a portion of the cliff wall had collapsed, the borders of the collapse roughly contiguous with where he had placed his explosive charges. Stark geological striations glared out from where vegetation had been before. Birds swooped into the area, looking for their nests, the remains of which were a couple hundred meters below them, the wreckage muddying and rerouting the river at the foot of the cliff.
"Oh, crap," Holloway said again, and reached for his binoculars.
ZaraCorp would be awfully pissed he'd just caused a cliff collapse. ZaraCorp had been working hard over the last few years to reverse the long-standing public image the company had as a rampant despoiler of nature—earned, to be sure, by actually despoiling nature on a number of planets it had operations on. The public was no longer buying the argument that uninhabited planets had higher ecological tolerances than inhabited ones, or that these ecosystems would quickly restore natural equilibriums once ZaraCorp had moved on. As far as they were concerned, strip-mining was strip-mining, regardless of whether you were doing it in the mountains of Pennsylvania or the hills of Zara XXIII.
Confronted with overwhelming public opposition to his company's ecological practices (or lack thereof), Wheaton Aubrey VI, Chairman and CEO of Zarathustra Corporation, said "fine" and ordered ZaraCorp and all its subsidiaries to exercise practices consistent with ecological guidelines suggested by the Colonial Environmental Protection Agency. It was all the same to Aubrey. He was no friend to the various ecologies of the planets his company was on, but ZaraCorp's Exploration & Exploitation charter with the Colonial Administration specified that the company would receive tax credits when conforming to CEPA guidelines, so long as the incurred business costs were above a meager cost-of-development baseline formulated decades before anyone cared about the ecological despoilage of worlds they would never actually set foot on.
ZaraCorp's ostentatious new regime of ecological best practices, in other words, helped drive the company's tax indebtedness to something close to zero, a neat trick for an organization whose size and income were a nontrivial fraction of that of the Colonial Administration itself.
But it also meant that events that tarnished ZaraCorp's new eco-friendly PR campaign were looked at rather harshly. For example, collapsing an entire cliff wall. The whole point of using acoustic charges was to minimize the invasiveness of geologic exploration. Holloway didn't intend to make half the cliff fall away, but given ZaraCorp's reputation, the company would have a hard time getting anyone to believe that. Holloway had played fast and loose with regulations before and had mostly gotten away with it, but this was just the sort of thing that would, in fact, get Holloway booted off the planet.
"Come on, come on," Holloway said, still peering through his binoculars. He was waiting for the haze to settle enough to make out details.
The communication circuit on Holloway's infopanel fired up, showing the ID of Chad Bourne, Holloway's ZaraCorp contractor rep. Holloway swore and slapped the AUDIO ONLY option.
"Hi, Chad," he said, and put the binoculars back to his eyes.
"Jack, the geeks in the data room tell me there's something really screwy with your feeds," Bourne said. "They say everything was coming in clear and then it was like someone turned the feeds up to eleven." Chad Bourne's voice came in crystal clear and enveloping, thanks to the skimmer's one true indulgence: a spectacular sound system. Holloway had it installed when he realized he'd be spending almost all his working life in the skimmer. It was a wonder in many ways, but it didn't make Bourne sound any less adenoidal.
"Huh," Holloway said.
"They say it's the sort of thing you see when there's an earthquake. Or a maybe a rock slide," Bourne said.
"Now that you mention it, I think I felt an earthquake," Holloway said.
"Really," Bourne said.
"Yes," Holloway said. "Just before it happened, Carl was acting all strange. They say animals are always the first to know about these things."
"So the fact that the data geeks just told me there was absolutely no seismic event of any magnitude in your part of the continent doesn't bother you any," Bourne said.
"Who are you going to believe," Holloway said. "I'm here. They're there."
"They're here with roughly twenty-five million credits' worth of equipment," Bourne said. "You've got an infopanel and a history of bad surveying practices."
"Alleged bad surveying practices," Holloway said.
"Jack, you let your dog blow shit up," Bourne said.
"I do not," Holloway said. The dust at the cliff wall had finally begun to clear. "That's just a rumor."
"We have an eyewitness," Bourne said.
"She's unreliable," Holloway said.
"She's a trusted employee," Bourne said. "Unlike some people I could name."
"She had a personal agenda," Holloway said. "Trust me."
"Well, that's just the thing, isn't it, Jack?" Bourne said. "You have to earn that trust. And right now, you've got not so much of it with me. But I'll tell you what. I have a surveying satellite that's coming up over the horizon in about six minutes. When it gets there, I'm going to have it look at that cliff wall you probably just blew up. If it looks like it's supposed to, then the next time you get into Aubreytown, I'll buy you a steak at Ruby's and apologize. But if it looks like I know it's going to look like, I'm going to revoke your contract and send some security agents to bring you in. And not the ones you go drinking with, Jack. The ones who don't like you. I know, I'll send Joe DeLise. He'll be delighted to see you."
"Good luck getting him off his barstool," Holloway said.
"For you, I think he'd do it," Bourne said. "What do you think about that?"
Holloway didn't respond. He'd stopped listening several seconds earlier, because in his binoculars was a thin stratum of rock, sandwiched between two much larger striations. The stratum he was focused on was dark as coal.
"Yes," Holloway said.
"Yes, what?" Bourne said. "Jack, are you even listening to what I'm telling you?"
"Sorry, Chad, you're breaking up," Holloway said. "Interference. Sunspots."
"Jesus, Jack, you're not even trying anymore," Bourne said. "Enjoy your next five minutes. I've already called up your contract on my infopanel. As soon as I get that satellite image, I'm pressing the delete button." Bourne broke contact.
Holloway looked over at Carl and picked up the detonator panel. "Crate," he said to the dog. Carl barked, picked up his bone, and headed for his crate, which would immobilize him in case of a skimmer crash. Holloway dropped the detonator into the storage bin, secured his infopanel, and strapped himself into his chair.
"Come on, Carl," he said, and goosed the skimmer forward. "We've got five minutes to keep ourselves from getting kicked off the planet."CHAPTER 2
Five minutes thirty seconds later Holloway slapped open the communication circuit on his infopanel, sound only. "I suppose you're going to tell me my contract is deleted," he said to Bourne.
"It is so very deleted," Bourne said. "And I'm keying in the security retrieval order right now. Just stay where you are and someone will be along to pick you up in about an hour. They'll take you directly to the beanstalk. Pack light."
"No chance I can convince you otherwise," Holloway said.
"No way," Bourne said. "I've got six dozen contractors I supervise, Jack. Six dozen. Not one of them is as much of a pain in my ass as you are. I'm about to make my life that much easier."
"You're sure your satellite image is showing you what you need to see?" Holloway asked.
"The satellite takes images at a centimeter resolution, Jack," Bourne said. "Live images. I am at this very moment staring at the cliff wall you just blew up, and seeing you and your dog sitting on a ledge that up until a few moments ago was inside the cliff. Say hello to Carl for me."
Holloway turned to Carl. "Chad says hello." Carl blinked and lay down to rest.
"Carl's a nice dog," Bourne said. "Too bad he's yours."
"That's been noted before," Holloway said. "Chad, if the satellite can resolve to a centimeter, you should look at my hand."
"You're giving me the middle finger," Bourne said, after a second. "Nice. Have you always been twelve years old, or is this new?"
"Glad you noticed, but not that hand," Holloway said. "The other hand."
There was a moment's pause. Then, "Bullshit," said Bourne.
"No," Holloway said. "Sunstone."
"Bullshit!" Bourne said again.
"Big one, too," Holloway said. "This one's the size of the proverbial baby's fist. And there are three more just this big here on this ledge with me. I pulled them out of the seam like they were apples off a tree. This was the original jellyfish burial ground, my friend."
"Infopanel," Bourne said. "High-resolution imager. Now."
Holloway smiled and reached for his infopanel.
Zara XXIII was in most respects an unremarkable Class III planet: roughly Earth sized, roughly Earth mass, winging around its star in the "Goldilocks zone" that made liquid water possible and life therefore an inevitability. It lacked native sentient life, but most Class III planets did, otherwise they'd be Class IIIa and ZaraCorp's E & E charter would be void, the planet and its resources held in trust for the thinking creatures who lived on it. Because Zara XXIII lacked creatures with forebrains (or the forebrain equivalent), however, ZaraCorp was free to explore and exploit it, mining the metals and plunging depths for the petroleum that humans had long ago exhausted on their own world.
Excerpted from Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2011 John Scalzi. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
John Scalzi has set a very high bar for himself. While I've never read the H. Beam Piper book upon which "Fuzzy Nation" is based, I've read a lot of John Scalzi, and his other tremendous work which form the basis of my opinion on his latest short novel. Make no mistake; ANYTHING from Scalzi is better than 90% of what's being produced today. The story of the discovery of a new alien species is deliberately light-weight, fun and funny. The fuzzys, small cat-like beings who have a mysterious intelligence about them, are wonderfully written. Scalzi's at his absolute best in piecing together interactions between fuzzys and humans and fuzzys amongst themselves. It's a given that Scalzi's stories will be well-written, have solid characters, good science, and great dialogue. His "Old Man's War" series combine all of that with a deep multi-layered plot which, in total, delivers the best science fiction being written today. "Fuzzy Nation", however, falls short of the standard he's set for himself. The characters, with a few exceptions, aren't as vibrant, the plot is more predictable, and the multi-layered threads of the story are thinner. Scalzi always writes very smooth and witty dialogue. The protagonist, Jack Halloway, is purposefully only sort of likable. Every interaction he has is laced with snide, biting dialogue - funny in spurts, but frustratingly unrelenting throughout. It becomes clear, early on in "Fuzzy Nation", who wears white hats and who wears black. The baddies are too clichéd. I'm usually pretty dense when it comes to predicting plot routes and destinations, but they're fairly obvious here. Despite those shortcomings, I highly recommend this book and am considering having my 6th grader read it as well. It¿s a short simple story, with clear themes of good v. bad, smart environmentalism, with a story arc that concludes satisfactorily (if not unexpectedly). If you consider Scalzi's "Old Man's War" as movie-grade entertainment with large scale, cross-universe, sweeping scifi themes, then consider "Fuzzy Nation" as a high quality TV Movie or Mini Series.
This book is a revisiting of the H. Beam Piper novel Little Fuzzy. It is inferior to that book. In the original book the Zarathrustra Corp was much more real. It had people trying to convince themselves that the fuzzies were not people, not just greedily killing them off. Corporations frequently do evil by blinding themselves first(think the recent mortgage bubble), they almost never go beyond that. Secondly, the protaganist was much more likable in the Piper story, and more believable as well. Mr. Scalzi is writing for a more cynical time, but it does not improve the story.
First I must say that I have never read the original, so this is a book which for me is standing on its own. This book was everything I look for in a fun novel - witty, sarcastic, an easy read, and a story which presents a neat idea. John Scalzi's characters tend to be extremely sarcastic - a trait which I appreciate. Furthermore, his sci-fi novels are easy reads set it novel universes. I would highly recommend this to you if you enjoy any of Scalzi's other works (AKA: enjoy neat universes and sarcastic characters ).
I didn't thing I would like this book,since i grew up with the H Beam Piper version,Although the story started out slow,I got to the point where I couldn't put it down. I recommend reading the three H.Beam Piper books before reading this one.
before I read Fuzzy Nation I read "Little Fuzzy". They both are engaging but approach the same topic and basic premise differently. As with all of Scalzi's books I have read so far, he brings his own imagination and spin to this classic story about a newly discovered species and the conflict around determining whether they are sapient. You won't regret buying this book.
Fuzzy Nation is a fast, easy read (a serious reader can sit down and finish it in one afternoon). Not a whole lot of action, but not boring either. All in all, a pretty good book!
I enjoyed Fuzzy Nation. Good story, good setting, and well told....with just a touch of legal suspense novel thrown in.
this is the one that started me on sci-fi all those years ago. I actually cried in a couple of places so that my mom took away the book. (which brought on bigger tears) she read the book at my insistance and soon my dad and both older brothers did also.
This one's a keeper... Yeah, it's a "reboot" of oldie by H. Beam Piper, but so what??? It's a good tale well told with an anti-hero facing ethical conflicts (again), some good folks, some corporate villains, an interesting new-found sentient species, and a damned good dog... It's hard to go wrong with a damned good dog to go along with all the rest... As per usual, Scalzi hits the mark...
This book was written by H. Beam Piper! What nonsense is this?
A must read for any age.
This is a reboot of the 1960's novel "Little Fuzzy" by H. Beam Piper. The original story is one of my favorites. Mr. Scalzi's reboot is very good. He updated the story and added some depth that many newer readers would find lacking. I recommend this to anyone looking for a quick enjoyable read.
A fine homage to H. Beam Piper!
What is it that so many movies, TV shows and now books are re-treads of earlier works? Do the writers lack the imagination and creativity to do something new? Are the publishers simply so cowardly that they will only select books that are already proven money-makers? Whatever the reason, this is a terrible way to sell science fiction. I've always loved H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy stories and I read this book with the hopes that someone was attempting to take up where Piper left off. I was wrong! This book is nothing but a rip-off, - an inferior rip-off at that. Save your money and get a copy of the original Little Fuzzy instead.
After Old Man's War. I bought into everything i've read of Scalzi's. (Fuzzy Nation the latest.) However stringing out the chapters was annoying. Keep it going John.
This is a “reboot” of Little Fuzzy (1962) by H. Beam Piper with which it shares the basic premise, the main human character, and the courtroom drama-style plot. Jack Holloway is not only younger and a disbarred lawyer in Scalzi’s version, but he also has some serious character flaws and a checkered history. Scalzi also goes more into the biology of the Fuzzies and integrates the sunstones more into the story line, but he follows Piper in that the plot is driven by the process of determining whether or not the Fuzzies are sapient. Also like the original, the villains are all affiliated with the corporation exploiting the mineral wealth of the Fuzzy planet. However, I found Piper’s villains to be more like real people, but Scalzi’s seemed liked caricatures. The cover blurb compares the book to the “reboots” of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek. Of course, comparing Piper’s book to the original Battlestar Galactica is an insult to Piper and comparing Scalzi’s version to the new Star Trek is an insult to Scalzi. Scalzi said that he originally wrote it as a piece of fan fiction, and his agent contacted the Piper estate to get the rights. I found it to be entertaining, but completely unnecessary.
Read this one in three days, just could not put it down. I hope that John will soon put out a sequel to it as it did kind of left me hanging at the end. Just wanted more.
Characters:YURIKO KORIKAWA. Age:11. Height:3'11". Description:short,slightly muscular,with bright orange hair and blue eyes. Hes passionate,energetic,and slightly talkative. JADON MASAMOTO Age:13. Height:5'11" Descrip:Tall,thin,with blue shaggy hair and pale green eyes. Hes cool,calm,smart,and very attractive. NATSUYA TOMOSHI Age:13. Height:5'9". Descrip:tall,attractive,and mysterious. She has black hair,black eyes,and spectacles. Some say shes a witch;some dont believe in magic. However,theres no mistaking that shes mysterious. YUU PAKUJI:Yurikos childhood friend. An extra charecter,not very important. MIKI FURUHASA:Yurikos newest friend from The Hero's Club. Another extra.
This book was amazing. Scalzi is truly a great writer!
Entertaining but not a must finish now book.
Why is it necessary to rewrite a beautifully written story? But, having decided that it is, at least keep up the quality!
Another fun read by John Scalzi, Fuzzy Nation is Sci-fi but a bit different than his other work. It takes place on a new planet in deep space but that’s about where the similarities end. Instead of battling alien life forms the main character ends up battling other humans on behalf of aliens. The interaction between Jack and the Fuzzies and his fellow man make this a fun book. A must read for any sci-fi loving lawyers out there!