Saturday, June 04, 2011

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

It doesn't hurt to mention the Author's Note in John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. Scalzi was inspired by a 1962 Hugo-nominated novel, Little Fuzzy, by H. Beam Piper. Scalzi used the general story arc, as well as characters names and plot elements, weaving in his own elements and events to bring the story up-to-date. Not having read the earlier science fiction book, I can only say John Scalzi succeeded in creating one of the funniest, most thoughtful, science fiction stories I've ever read. And, a friend referred to Jack Holloway, the main character, as "A slightly less hard-edged Han Solo." She said Jack Holloway is, "The opportunistic rogue with a heart of gold (which he vehemently denies having)." Perfect description of a character it's hard to resist.

Those who know Holloway, though, don't have a problem resisting him.  He's a disbarred attorney who has been working as a mining contractor on the planet Zarathustra, spending most of his time only with his dog, Carl. He works for the ZaraCorp, a company that is only interested in exploring and exploiting planets for the minerals. When Jack and Carl set off an explosion, they accidentally uncover a seam of valuable jewels. And, Jack thinks his future and fortune is made after he pressures the company into recognizing his claim, giving him a share of the profits.

There's one kink in the plans for the future, though. When Jack returns home, he finds his small place invaded by a creature. When that fuzzy, cat-like creature returns with a small "family" group, Jack sends video to a friend, a biologist he used to date. And, her conclusions that the fuzzy group might be sentient, another race of people, could ruin ZaraCorp's plans to exploit the planet and mine for sunstones. And, a corporation with ruined plans can turn very nasty. ZaraCorp just doesn't realize how nasty Jack Holloway can get.

Fuzzy Nation has some of the funniest scenes I've ever read. Holloway and Carl's early interactions with the fuzzys made me laugh aloud. It's hard to resist the fuzzys, although there are a couple scenes that will break your heart. However, Jack Holloway, a wonderful anti-hero, will make the reader cheer. It takes an anti-hero with his own motivation, to take on a powerful corporation. If anyone can tackle ZaraCorp, it's a disbarred attorney with very little to lose.

If you don't think of yourself as a science fiction reader, think again. Anyone who appreciates great characters, a story with a message, and an excellent trial, will appreciate John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. The science fiction community discovered Scalzi over ten years ago. He shares his wit and thoughts on his popular blog, Whatever. It's time the rest of us discovered him. Try Fuzzy Nation.

John Scalzi's blog is

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi. Tom Doherty Associates (Tor). ©2011. ISBN 9780765328540 (hardcover), 304p.

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1 comment:

BPL Ref said...

I read and loved the original Little Fuzzy books, including a sequel done years later by Ardyth Mayhar (can't remember the spelling of her name.) Also there was a glorious picture book along the way. Anyway, it sounds as if this will be a treat. I like science fiction to a point, but I'm not into "hard science," i.e. more characters and less hardware for me. Leesa, have you ever read the Hoka books by Poul Anderson? I think you'd find them a treat as well.