Hands up, everyone who read this and considered giving it an extra star just because of Carl the dog? Come on, be honest.
Carl is a truly great character, and I don't even like dogs. On the
other hand, most of the characters in this book are entertaining, but
Carl stands out.
Fuzzy Nation, a retelling of H. Beam Piper's classic Little Fuzzy,
is a quick and fairly easy read, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I
would sit down, and fifty pages would fly by faster than it seemed they
possibly could. Here is not dense narrative prose. This is
straightforward, moves along well, and is often funny and always
Holloway is a surveyor on a distant planet, about
to become extraordinarily rich due to a recent claim and a confusion of
contracts. Under law, however, if a sentient species is found on a
planet, the corporation exploiting its resources is required to close up
shop and leave the planet immediately. Of course, this gives them a
vested interest in not discovering a sentient species.
little creature, fuzzies, show up on Holloway's doorstep, eat his
sandwiches, train his dog, and watch his computer screens. Holloway's
old squeeze, a biologist who is still pissed off that Holloway betrayed
her during a disciplinary hearing, is convinced that these aren't just
really intelligent pets. They qualify as sentient. Joe is skeptical, not
least because of that large amount of money he won't be making.
the corporation in question acts about the way we'd expect a
corporation faced with losing vast profits would act, with intimidation,
veiled and open bribes, and finally, outright violence. Holloway has to
decide where he stands - and if he doesn't stand with the fuzzies, who
The fuzzies themselves are delightful characters, Holloway
is interestingly self-interested, the biologist honest, and her new
lawyer boyfriend not a jackass.
I truly love a good courtroom smackdown scene. I really do. And Fuzzy Nation
has a doozy. There's something incredibly pleasurable about reading
about a person, group of people, or company, who think they can buy and
sell justice the way they buy and sell everything else gets
systematically and legally eviscerated. It's part of why I found the
third book in Stieg Larsson's series so deeply satisfying.
Nation is not going to set the world on fire with its prose. But it is
witty, amusing, easy to read, and lingers in the memory. Scalzi creates
great, memorable characters and has them do intelligent, interesting
things. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but it's not.