Pepper Thorn's Reviews > Little Fuzzy

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
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's review
Jun 19, 2011

really liked it
Read on June 18, 2011 , read count: 1

First I'd like to say that this isn't really a review of Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. It's a comparison of Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation and Piper's original Little Fuzzy. I came to both of these books clean, with no previous knowledge or biases. Although, in honor of full disclosure, I have read the majority of Sclzi's previous work and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is my first exposure to Piper but I plan to seek out more of his work as a result of this book.

I really enjoyed both books and if pressed I don't think I could choose a favorite between them. In many, many ways they are nearly the same and completely equal. No shock there since one is a reboot of the other. But in others they are very different. Scalzi's Fuzzy planet is a much more dangerous place than Piper's. This adds tension in some key places and makes both the evolution of the Fuzzies and the fact that they haven't been discovered earlier make more sense. Facts and situations in general seem better thought out in Scalzi's version. On the other hand, Piper's soft hearted space cowboy is a much nicer person and an easier character to identify with. Scalzi's Jack Holloway is, in his own words, not a good man but he is more interesting for it as are his relationships with the rest of the scaled down cast. Piper fits an amazing host of characters in such a short novel.

Piper's Little Fuzzy exudes an almost literal haze of the late 50's and early 60's. This is where Scalzi has an advantage and is the reason for his reboot. Sure people write in paper diaries, watch film strips on actual projectors and record on tape recorders but it's not just about the tech. The characters in Piper's novel drink like fish and smoke like chimneys. Many of them would, by today's standards, be considered alcoholics but it's expected behavior here. There is only a single female character among a sea of males and the first of the two times we see from her viewpoint it says, "She ought to have known this would happen. It always did. A smart girl, in the business, never got involved with any one man; she always got herself four or five boyfriends, on all possible sides, and played them off against one another." Sorry, that just doesn't cut it today. And then there's the treatment of the Fuzzies. Even though they spend the book trying to prove that the creatures are sentient, they treat them like they're somewhere between a mentally retarded child and a well trained dog. That, I think bothered me the most.

That's not to say that Piper doesn't have some points over Scalzi. Little Fuzzy has a more richly complex plot that makes it feel like it's the longer book (it's not) and left me feeling more replete. It gave the satisfaction of a complete meal where Fuzzy Nation left me wanting dessert.

Overall, they are both excellent book and both worth the read. Scalzi does a great job of piquing interest in Piper's work, fuzzy and not fuzzy. For fresh readers, especially ones who didn't experience the 50's and 60's personally, I world recommend starting with Scalzi's reboot. This perspective, I think, would allow them to appreciate Piper's work for what it is instead of what it is not.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Sara (new)

Sara "Even though they spend the book trying to prove that the creatures are sentient, they treat them like they're somewhere between a mentally retarded child and a well trained dog."

I agree completely. They talked about how intelligent the Fuzzies are, yet the descriptions and interactions are so unrelentingly saccharine. The whole thing felt geared toward making you feel warm and fuzzy about the Fuzzies but that undermined the arguments that they should be treated as (well as) people. The book had a lot of other, well done points but this just disturbed me.

Jared Millet I was kind of put off by the end by the idea that Holloway was going to start Fuzzy "adoption agencies" - even though he'd proved their sapience, people were still going to use them as pets.

 Marla I haven't read Little Fuzzy in 30 years, but I thoroughly liked Fuzzy Nation that I read this week. Thank you for the well thought out high level comparison of the 2 books.

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