Fuzzy Nation is a science fiction novel set in the far future on another planet.
Jack Holloway is a prospector on Zarathustra, searching the jungle planet for valuable jewels and other minerals. Shortly after a find that will make him rich, some curious cat-like animals wander into his home. He dubs them ‘fuzzys’ and they soon make friends with him and his dog. Eventually he realizes they’re intelligent and has to choose between getting rich and protecting them from the company that’s mining the jewels he just discovered.
All we ever see of Zarathustra is a giant forest. Think Endor, but with velociraptors instead of stormtroopers. The setting is necessary, but this book is actually about the people.
We pretty rapidly realize that Jack Holloway is an irresponsible asshole. He trains his dog to hit the detonate button on his mining explosives. He lied about it and got his girlfriend in trouble when the authorities found out. He’s manipulative and unscrupulous.
If he wasn’t such an asshole, this wouldn’t be such a good book. Him being an asshole means you don’t know for sure what he’s going to do about the fuzzys. He might take the money and run. He might lose his temper and completely blow it.
Scalzi gives us a real person with real temptations and weaknesses.
Fuzzy Nation is told in third person limited. You’re pretty much locked down to Holloway’s point of view, but you don’t get his thoughts or ideas. Occasionally you get to see something that he didn’t witness, but that’s not all that common.
Ever read something about a group of scrappy underdogs who come together with all their unique talents to save the day? Yeah. This is that plot. It’s masterfully done with excellent twists and turns. Scalzi does a great job of keeping it from being predictable. I was pretty sure the good guys were going to win, but there was always some doubt and I really didn’t expect them to win the way they did.
I tore through this book in a couple days. I didn’t notice any slow spots, and I kept getting pulled back in to see what would happen next. Perfect.
Fuzzy Nation is a beautifully crafted gem of a book. The language is tight, the plot moves well, and the ending ties everything up with a nice bow and leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling. That kind of happy ending is not something you can do when you’re writing series and it made for a really nice change. I’m sure I’ll be going back and re-reading Fuzzy Nation again some day.
Fuzzy Nation is a re-telling of Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. I haven’t read the original, but it is available for free on Amazon.