FUZZY NATION by John Scalzi

Reviewing Fuzzy Nation was a bit troublesome for me. You see, I’ve always counted myself as a huge John Scalzi fan, but his latest novel (hitting store shelves soon) started to make me wonder if I wasn’t simply a fan of Old Man’s War (REVIEW), clinging on to his classic novel and hoping he could top it. I’ve enjoyed his subsequent novels (some quite a bit, even), but none of them have been able to recapture that magic, despite similar characters, settings and motifs. But, regardless, Fuzzy Nation is a fun, entertaining novel and a good palate-cleanser if you’re knee-deep into a long series, a turgid door-stopper or just looking for a quick diversion.

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 can read chapters one and two on Tor.com and chapters three and four on io9.com.

  • Jon May 18, 2011 at 5:32 am

    I’ve enjoyed Scalzi’s books, as well. Does he at least give a nod to the original Fuzzy chronicler, H. Beam Piper?