Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi

Now that I have an extended commute I am always on the lookout for good audiobooks. Fuzzy Nation came up on Audible at a steep discount and so I grabbed it.

In John Scalzi’s re-imagining of H. Beam Piper’s 1962 sci-fi classic Little Fuzzy, written with the full cooperation of the Piper Estate, Jack Holloway works alone for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. On the distant planet Zarathustra, Jack is content as an independent contractor for ZaraCorp, 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.

It turned out to be an entertaining listen. It took me a while to get used to a protagonist who is a first class jerk. But the futuristic set-up, supporting characters, and numerous plot twists kept me listening and held my interest.

I know nothing of the book this is based on and/or an update to but this is the third audiobook from Scalzi that I have enjoyed. Will Wheaton does a nice job with the narration which may or may not add to the fun depending on your opinions and/or interests.

The politics seems to me a little too easy in some ways, giant greedy corporation that doesn’t care about the environment or anyone who gets in the way of profits, lawyers as soulless tools of that corporation, wealthy jerk about to become head of said corporation, etc.

But that doesn’t really get in the way of enjoying the story. As I say, he sets up the futuristic scenario in a believable and entertaining way and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. The lead character may be a serious jerk but he is an interesting one.

Scalzi may bring me back to science fiction.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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