Review: Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

fuzzy-nation01Fuzzy Nation
by John Scalzi
Narrated by Wil Wheaton
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Tor, 2011
Audiobook, Purchased
303 pages
7 hrs., 19 min.
Grade: B+
Narrator Grade: B-
Synopsis: Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.

“You’re an interesting person, Jack.” Sullivan said. “I wish I could figure out what you were thinking when you punched Stern and turned on Isabel.”

“Well, I think that’s the thing.” Holloway said. “I think it’s clear that sometimes I just don’t think.”

“I think you do.” Sullivan said. “It’s just you think about you first. The not thinking part comes right after that.”

Cheers

  • A short and enjoyable book.
  • Jack is a complex character. You never quite know where you are with him!
  • Jack is a disbarred attorney and hearing about why he was disbarred is instructive! He does things which seem straightforward, but when looked at carefully has several hidden meanings. He seems very selfish much of the time–but self-aware and unapologetic about his character flaws!
  • The fuzzys seem like only smart animals at first. The fact they look cute and something like cats also makes us think of them as animals.
  • I like all the characters. They’re funny and human–except for the Fuzzies who are also funny and sentient!
  • The book has an old-fashioned feel to it. The story is straightforward, simple and optimistic.

Jeers

  • ZaraCorps is stereotypical “bad.”
  • I like Wil Wheaton, but I don’t like some of his narration. His voice doesn’t change very much from character to character. When different characters are speaking there are lots of “Holloway said”, “Isabel said”, “Sullivan said.” That took me out of the story, was sometimes confusing and annoying.

And a few thoughts

  • H. Beam Piper wrote the original book–Little Fuzzies–this is based on in 1962. The book was nominated for the 1963 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
  • John Scalzi originally wrote this book for his own amusement. His agent felt it could be published.
  • The names of several characters are the same, but the character of Jack is different.
  • John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors after reading three of his books! I’ve enjoyed all his books so far!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

I’m participating in the following reading challenges for this book: