Dan Schwent 's Reviews > Fuzzy Nation

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
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Aug 07, 11

bookshelves: funny, sf, 2011, the-scalz
Read from August 03 to 06, 2011

On Zara XXIII, disbarred lawyer and current mineral prospector Jack Holloway finds an unimaginably valuable seam of sunstones, one that will make him unbelievably rich. Shortly thereafter, Holloway meets some of the world's native life, catlike creatures he names Fuzzys. Unfortunately, the Fuzzys appear to be sentient, putting Jack's, and ZaraCorp's, claim on the trillion credit sunstone seam in jeopardy. What's a prospector to do?

The Scalz does it again. Fuzzy Nation is a hilarious re-imaginging (I feel dirty using that term and not good dirty) of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, a book I have not read.

First of all, Fuzzy Nation isn't as good as Old Man's War. I'll get that off my chest right now. But it's still good. It raises interesting questions about what it means to be sentient, the effects of mining on native life, and teaching dogs how to detonate explosives.

Holloway isn't a nice guy but I wound up liking him anyway. He's antagonistic and kind of slimy. He was, after all, formerly a lawyer. The supporting cast more than makes up for Holloway's flaws. As he says himself at one point, he was the right guy surrounded by good people. The rich supporting cast kept me from giving this book a three.

That's not to say Holloway doesn't rise to the occasion to defend the Fuzzys. Of course he does. It's just for a while, I wasn't sure how he was going to do it. His emotions toward the end of the story were well done.

The Fuzzys were cute but not nauseatingly so, like certain George Lucas creations that live on Endor that shall remain nameless. When the shit hit the fan, I was ready to charge in and give them a hand.

To sum up, The Scalz took a sf classic and made it funny. It's a good weekend morning read.

Topic for discussion: Is Scalzi's reimagining of an sf classic the forerunner of a new age where book execs go the route of Hollywood and commission people to rewrite old books instead of writing original ones? Discuss!
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Reading Progress

08/04/2011 page 48
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Anthony Chavez I have really been wanting to read this one, I keep hearing good things, your review as well as Wil Wheaton's were stellar. Like your nicknaming him The Scalz too, haha.


message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent The four books in the Old Man's War series are definitely worth your time. I think I stole The Scalz nickname from somewhere.


message 3: by Ben (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ben Babcock
Is Scalzi's reimagining of an sf classic the forerunner of a new age where book execs go the route of Hollywood and commission people to rewrite old books instead of writing original ones?


Dude. It's already happened. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, etc. The re-imagining of literature is alive and well, to mixed results. I don't mean to lump Fuzzy Nation in with these more mass-produced re-imaginings, but it's already happening.

The biggest difference between books and movies when it comes to remakes, other than the lack of special effects that must be updated, is that a book is still quintessentially a labour of love of the individual. There will always be authors writing original books because they have their own stories to tell, just as there are screenwriters who go the indie route. I do not think that commissioned books, whether they are remakes or original, will take over the traditional publishing industry the way Hollywood has dominated movies. And I doubt that commissioned remakes are ever going to be more than a fad.


message 4: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Ben wrote: "Is Scalzi's reimagining of an sf classic the forerunner of a new age where book execs go the route of Hollywood and commission people to rewrite old books instead of writing original ones?

Dude. I..."


You have a point about the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies thing.

I hope you're right. I was thinking more along the lines of bleak book future with things like Rendezvous with Rama rewritten with a lot of gunfights and a hot lady scientist, possibly penned by Kevin Anderson.


message 5: by Ben (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ben Babcock Hahaha. Kevin J. Anderson has enough to do writing crappy Dune novels and his own lacklustre series. (I like the Saga of Seven Suns well enough, but even that isn't as good as most SF series I've read.)


message 6: by Terence (new)

Terence I see that you haven't read any Piper himself (at least you haven't put any on your shelves). When I was a youth I liked Space Viking but not so much Uller Uprising and it quickly became apparent that H. Beam and I were ... um ... incompatible, philosophically speaking, so I never read any of the "Fuzzy" novels or "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen."

And - not to blow my own horn too much - I wrote a blog recently about the TOS episode "The Devil in the Dark" about native species and colonial exploitation.

As to the class topic, haven't we seen this sort of thing in works like John Gardner's Grendel or Philip Jose Farmer's The Other Log of Phileas Fogg? It seems to me we should judge these things on a case-by-case basis - some are going to be good, some (probably most) are going to be wastes of paper. But then no one is forcing you to read them (I hope).

And one more thing, can we make it a rule that no one can mention KJA's name?


message 7: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent I haven't read any more H. Beam books. I'd like to try Little Fuzzy at some point.

Good blog entry, btw.

I could definitely follow that rule after three or four crappy Star Wars novels I read back in the day with KJA's name on them.


message 8: by Bridget (new) - added it

Bridget I am all for recycling in real life but as a rule opposed to it in movies & books. Remakes are rarely needed as they generally fall short of the originals (see Tim Burtons sucky re-imaging of The Planet of the Apes). I prefer new, original material. That said Scalzi's a great writer & I'm still looking forward to reading this and I loved Old Man's War.


message 9: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Bridget wrote: "I am all for recycling in real life but as a rule opposed to it in movies & books. Remakes are rarely needed as they generally fall short of the originals (see Tim Burtons sucky re-imaging of The ..."

My brother and I were just talking about when we saw that crappy Tim Burton Planet of the Apes movie in the theater years ago.


message 10: by Bridget (new) - added it

Bridget I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes over the weekend & it was pretty decent. Last night Tim Burtons Planet of the Apes was on & after 15 minutes I realized it sucked even more than I remembered. I'll stick with the cheesy original goodness of the Heston version from now on since I love the nostalgia of it. Can't wait to see your review of Grossman's sequel to The Magicians.


message 11: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent The original Planet of the Apes is one of the movies I'll drop what I'm doing to watch, even though I've seen it many times already.

I'm excited about The Magician Kings too. I'll probably set Darwin's Blade aside to devour it when it arrives.


message 12: by Daniel (new)

Daniel "Is Scalzi's reimagining of an sf classic the forerunner of a new age where book execs go the route of Hollywood and commission people to rewrite old books instead of writing original ones? Discuss!"

Good question. I don't keep up with Scalzi, and I wonder: how the heck did this book happen to begin with? Did Scalzi pick up Piper and give it a read and say, "Hmm, I've got something here?"

Will this be a trend? Maybe not explicitly. But will publishers play things safe and invest heavily in books with an assured audience? Such are the days in which we live.


message 13: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent From what I've read, Scalzi had a book deal fall through and some time on his hands, so he started messing with Little Fuzzy for fun.


message 14: by Justin (new)

Justin I got a chance to meet Scalzi at ALA in June, and got a signed copy of Zoe's Tale. I picked up a copy of this at a panel he was at, too... I had no idea Little Fuzzy was remade, and was curious. It's sitting in my imminent to-read pile. =)


message 15: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Scalzi seems like he'd be a fun writer to meet.


message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin I told him I was thrilled to finally get a copy of one of his works, since I had heard about him through Wil Wheaton but had not yet read anything of his. He warned me that Wil would hunt me down if I didn't read his book. He then promised in his signature that I was officially in the loop, now.


message 17: by Serena (new)

Serena Dubois I never mind people writing NEW books in someone's universe if the writer is alive and doesn't mind or if the books are public domain. I am among those who prefer the Little Fuzzy books [both Piper's and Fuzzy Bones by Wm. Tunning] and Paratime books both Piper's and John F. Carr's. Given a choice I would rather see new stories than a rewrite or reimagining of a classic story. If you are interested in Piper and his works I recommend the Piperworlds Yahoo group. The group's moderator has also written Fuzzy books. See FUZZY ERGO SUM by Wolfgang Diehr in Kindle and EPub versions at various on line stores including Barnes and Noble.
SerenaDB


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