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on 14 March 2013
I came at Fuzzy Nation as a writer interested in how a published writer would rework an old classic and reboot it for a modern audience. I have to say on finishing that I have a certain sympathy for both sides of the controversy this reboot has caused.
So I started this book by reading the original, Little Fuzzy by H Beam Piper. I'm grateful to Scalzi for somewhat backhandedly recommending me a really great book, that I devoured in a day or two and really enjoyed. The sentience question is dealt with well, but overall the book seemed to miss out on a few of the better legal related things it could have done with the plot. Fantastic concept, of which the closest comparison I can think of is Avatar.
I started Fuzzy Nation eager to see what Scalzi would do with this fantastic source material. But apart from Carl the dog's antics I didn't warm to it. I wondered why Scalzi had bothered. But then I started to appreciate the things he was doing better than Piper, the ex-lawyer was a better fit, the high range audio infused throughout the story, the smaller cast. Reading the books the way I did you couldn't help but compare. I spent more than two thirds of the novel slowly liking it more and more.

And by the end it was clear that Scalzi had taken source material of a charming but slightly flawed novel, and made it into a fantastic novel. By this point I was full of appreciation for just how clever and intricate and downright satisfying this book is throughout. I love it, I unreservedly love it. I rarely give out the perfect score for a story. I think I've done it maybe 10-15 times in more than 500 books. I didn't get there with Old Man's War (although `The Last Colony' wasn't far off) but this is something else. Taken on its merits alone, I'm tempted to actually give it a 10.

But then I come to my sympathy for the other side. As a writer, the fact that this book is not original is a big deal. Nothing is really original in science fiction, or at least very little. Everyone steals little things and big things from everywhere, and have done for the last 40 years. But to do it like this so obviously! An author, a good author, is not just a hack. They make up the plot, dialogue and characters and one other rather important thing - the concept. Scalzi didn't make up the thing that in my opinion is the hardest to get down as perfectly as Piper did - the concept. Fuzzies on an exploited colony planet, sf courtroom drama for their very sentience. It's perfect. But it's Piper's not Scalzi's. Maybe this doesn't matter to some, but I wonder about stories I've written and how I'd feel if someone had the audacity to redo it, whether they could do better or not.

In the end I have to remain honest to my gut reaction, rather than my intellectual property rights brain. Fuzzy Nation outdoes Little Fuzzy in almost every respect and to an incredible and honed standard. It has something only the very best stories have - that self-contained world, tiny cast, pitch perfect prose and up-all-night plot. And Holloway. Scalzi's new Holloway is quite possibly the most interesting character I've read in months. Holloway is a wonderfully flawed lead, with more facets and motives to his character than most authors manage from their entire cast. Even when his morals and motives are exposed I still think there were reasons and motives underneath.
I can't recommend it enough and it so off the beaten track with respect to the bulk of the current SF shelf.
And yes, I really am going to give it a 10. As a writer I dream of concept as perfect as this and then pulling it off even better than the original author is an incredible achievement.
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on 16 December 2014
Fuzzy Nation was a fun read.

The story revolves around Jack Holloway, a mining surveyor on an alien planet. The narrative style is easy to read and is a little comical at times, though I can't be certain if this was the author's full intent.

Holloway is a likeable character, in that he embodies a lot of cliched and overused character traits, such as cracking one-liners and generally not taking things too seriously (think cliche Hollywood action hero) that made this piece quite fun to read and often made me grin.

The book is good overall, with an interesting story, entertaining characters and a somewhat goofy ending. It's not full-on comedy, but it's not full-on realistic, either. That is the best description I can give for the feel of it. This is far from being a literary masterpiece, but it clearly isn't intended to be. It's fun read and that will make you grin now and then.

Personally, I haven't read the original story that this is apparently based off, so this review evaluates the book on its own merit.

It's not amazing, but it's not bad, either. The one thing that really grinded my gears about the writing, though, was that the author (or the editor, perhaps) seems to have a fetish with dialogue tags. Literally, after every single piece of dialogue, there was a he/she said tag, even when there were only two characters talking and the conversion was well-established, so the reader already knew who was saying what. It was totally unnecessary and got to the point where I genuinely wondered whether it was an attempt at filling out the word count, as the piece is long enough to be a full-length novel, though didn't really feel like it to me.

I am going to be quite wary of this author and will not be reading any of his other works if I find this trend is the same elsewhere.

In short, a decent book, but nothing special.
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on 21 September 2012
Having read John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" and the rest in the series it dawns on the reader that perhaps a writer can be great at battle novels and characterisation but what about taking on someone else's vision, in this case a reboot of H Beam Piper's 1962 novel Liitle Fuzzy. Heck, if Star Trek can reboot and Spiderman can reboot why not an old novel?
The central character creatures of the novel are the 'Fuzzies', inhabitants of a world being plundered and ravaged by the Zarathrustra prospecting corporation. The world is up for grabs by this Corporation as long as there is no sentient species of the world that can stop the claim. Are the fuzzies the world's sentient species?. Jack Holloway is the lead prospector working for the Corporation and is the other central character human who just gets pulled in to the fight for wealth when he discovers how rich he can be with his percentage of a claim to a masive discovery of valuable jewels, which might just have to be sorted out by legal means... or perhaps by other more nefarious means. Can Jack come out of this with integrity (if he has any) or will he be just a caualty of Corporate greed and nasty tricks.
The novel is well written, intruiging and Scalzi can really do more than War, he can do legal drama. Is there nothing Scalzi cannot do? I look forward to his take on the world of disposable 'Star Trek' crew members in Redshirts.
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on 22 December 2012
Many years ago H. Beam Piper wrote "Little Fuzzy", a fine tale that has now, along with its sequels and its author, slipped into relative obscurity.

Last year John Scalzi, with the blessings of Piper's heirs, released this "reboot", in which he tells broadly the same story with just a few little tweaks for a modern audience. There is more corporate wrong-doing and less government in Scalzi's version, for example, and more of people figuring out stuff on their own instead of government scientists.

Scalzi's re-telling of the story is a fine piece of work, as I expected from reading some of his previous stories, and I recommend it to you.
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on 26 July 2016
Fuzzy Nation is one of those books that makes you wish Amazon had a "half star" you could add to your rating. Funny, well written and engaging, Fuzzy Nation had me gripped from start to finish. The final scene is wonderfully satisfying, having me (mentally) cheering in the audience. I've given it 4 stars not because it isn't great fun - it is - but because when I compare it to other Scalzi novels I've read (particularly the excellent Lock In) I think those deserve the higher praise! But I will certainly be recommending this,and continuing to read more Scalzi soon
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on 23 January 2018
This was a bit different because you're not meant to really like the main character, but he still manages to be engaging and the story is great!
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on 17 March 2017
Excellent book. I really like John Scalzi's other books but the story in this was putting me off for some reason. Having read it and enjoyed it thoroughly I am now sorry I did not buy it sooner. Great read and I highly recommend it.
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on 10 October 2017
Interesting ideas that are relevant to our lives, explored in a fun story. Loved it. Love this author. I want more!
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on 16 June 2013
...but none the worse for that. This is an ultimately 'heartwarming' SF written with Scalzi's usual good humour and wit. Nothing heavy about this, and not one for those who want testosterone zone shoot'em-up space opera... ...rather for those who want present day allegory without prevention.
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on 17 December 2012
John Scalzi has a knack for creating charaters whom you like in spite of yourself. The story itself illustrates the greed which mankind takes with him to the stars, and the need to examine even more carefully, his impact on the environment around him. Mr Sclazi expanded on a theme and, with his usual flair, created a story that both amuses and admonishes; entertains and challenges his readers. An excellent read!
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