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69 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile Update to a Classic Story
Firstly, this is an update to the H. Beam Piper "Fuzzy" series of books. It's been nearly 50 years since Little Fuzzy hit the shelves and in that time the universe Piper created has aged technologically but Piper used solid ideas and fully formed characters and a concept we've seen utilized since War of the Worlds, technology has consequences, sometimes unintended, so...
Published on May 10, 2011 by Jonathan C. Moore

versus
104 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like Old Man's War, but worth reading
Other reviews speak to how good of a reboot this book is to the "Fuzzy" story by H. Beam Piper. To me that's irrelevant. How good of a book is this in and of itself?

Good if you're looking for: plot twists, political intrigue, long complicated plans you don't see at first all coming together in the end, and courtroom drama

Bad if you're looking for:...
Published on May 11, 2011 by Some Average Guy


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104 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like Old Man's War, but worth reading, May 11, 2011
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This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
Other reviews speak to how good of a reboot this book is to the "Fuzzy" story by H. Beam Piper. To me that's irrelevant. How good of a book is this in and of itself?

Good if you're looking for: plot twists, political intrigue, long complicated plans you don't see at first all coming together in the end, and courtroom drama

Bad if you're looking for: Combat/battles, honor & glory, a powerful/epic underlying meaning, some unique take on first contact

This is a book you can read in a few hours even if you're a slow reader. It has a very long comprehensive ending not typical of most books these days, almost to the point of being disney-esque (happy ever after and all that). If you're desperate for more old man's war, this ain't it and you need to look elsewhere.

The book is a quick feel good story that is probably best for a young teen audience that haven't been exposed to a lot of sci-fi. The limited pages/material prevents creation of rich characters like those in multi-book arcs, so you're stuck with stereotypes like brainy scientist chick, loveable rogue main character, and arrogant corporate boss. The complicated plot gives away too much too soon via obvious clues if you've read tons of stories (the clues kind of stick out like sore thumbs... you find yourself stopping for a minute to say "That's odd, why did the author include that observation in the story? Oh, duh, it's an obvious clue he's beating me over the head with."

All being said, I don't regret the hours spent reading this story. It was a good one for the amount of time I had to invest, and Scalzi's writing is good considering the tale he was spinning. Given the book's length, it's probably perfect for a read during a flight. Just enough to start on the departure and finish on the return trip.

Lastly, if for some reason you haven't had the fortune to read Scalzi's "Old Man's War"... do so immediately. That is a story that's powerful enough for you to remember decades later.
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67 of 76 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good book but has none of hte heart of the original, June 29, 2011
This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
I read "Little Fuzzy" years ago and absolutely loved it from the beginning. I couldn't get enough of the fuzzys and the people who grew to love them and protect them. I was excited when I saw this reboot because it gave me a chance to read about the world again and perhaps have more books afterward. This book is okay. I have to admit there were parts where I thoroughly enjoyed it but it didn't seem to have much depth and seemed rushed. I felt like there was much more "meat" to Piper's work even though it was shorter. My biggest problem with this book is the fuzzys and their relationship with humans. The fun of seeing humans start to interact with the fuzzys and learn about them and learn to love them was the amazing part of the book. Watching the fuzzys learn and adapt with their new humans was my favorite part. In this book the fuzzys just don't get talked about much until the end. They are a side note to an arrogant Jack Holloway, corporations and the legal process. Don't look for any extended writing about any of the humans interacting with fuzzys, it just doesn't happen. It's missing all the "heart" of the original. I was even disappointed that the names of the fuzzys have changed. You'll like this book if you've never read the original because you won't know what you're missing but if you enjoyed the original you'll be very disappointed.
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69 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile Update to a Classic Story, May 10, 2011
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This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
Firstly, this is an update to the H. Beam Piper "Fuzzy" series of books. It's been nearly 50 years since Little Fuzzy hit the shelves and in that time the universe Piper created has aged technologically but Piper used solid ideas and fully formed characters and a concept we've seen utilized since War of the Worlds, technology has consequences, sometimes unintended, so the story was ripe to be retold.

Mr. Scalzi indicates he started this project as a writing exercise out of respect for the ideas Piper created and in this book there is an acknowledgement to Piper. Some people have been less than pleasant in their questioning of Mr. Scalzi's motivation but the proof is, as they say, in the steak tartar. Okay, no one but me says that. But I found Mr. Scalzi's effort to be both worthwhile and enjoyable. It was not Piper, but then, that's not a surprise since Piper's been dead for some time now.

Regardless, on the whole, I enjoyed this book. Most of the characters from the original story are gone in both name and motivation and replaced by a polyglot of merged identities and personalities that maintain the general feel of the story fairly well. Folks who have never read Piper will never miss Victor Hugo and Leslie Combes and Gus Brannhard and I will freely admit, including them would have clouded an already difficult task.

There are three substantial changes in this re-work of the Fuzzy story:

1) Jack Holloway
2) The Fuzzies
3) Society

Technology is markedly different, of course, but as with Piper, Mr. Scalzi uses technology in this story without the need to over "gee-whiz!" it and so it fades into the background as it should.

And, for the most part, all of the noted changes work and support the story through its conclusion. Granted, I was not always overly happy about the changes, but they were internally consistent and never a surprise based on the context in which they were presented.

If I had to pick one thing out about this book that bothers me it's that it felt rushed. On page count it is over twice the length of the original, yet I felt the entire thing was both compressed and hurried. Major transitions happened a bit too quickly and character development was missing some of the depth I expect in a Piper universe, and I am still unclear about the structure of society, but, as I indicated from the start, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others with a clear conscience.

It's a solid story with defined characters and not magic "gotcha" moments. Nothing in the book feels as if it were created out of thin air. Even the one large and most surprising development has it's roots firmly established long before the revelation is made. It becomes an "ah" moment rather than "really?" and, given the state of modern fiction, I appreciated the effort.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars careful if you like the original, July 1, 2011
This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Kindle Edition)
Skalzi is a talented writer, but he misses the mark on Fuzzies. I liked his Old Man's War, but not this one. He re-tells the first contact story in our new century style, but without the affection and warmth of the original. I prefer the characters and emotions of the original books by H. Beam Piper.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's not just Piper fans that have issues...., September 17, 2011
This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
The first line of dialog in the book is "I can't believe we have to go through this again". I concur. In the end this seems one of the more aggressively pointless works, largely due to its reboot qualiteis. In the introduction to the piece Scalzi tries to present it as all things to all people--it's a new version of the story to bring the main themes up to date, it's an autonomous story that happens to use some of the same characters, it's an homage to the original that can bring more attention and readers to a past classic. The result is to make me quite unsure on why Scalzi actually settled on this project.

My own connection to the original franchise is minimal, I've heard it mentioned a few places and read the last volume a long time ago. I don't feel that it's a betrayal to revive it again, and am not as critical as if it were, say, another butchering of the Foundation Universe. I don't much like the practice of taking over abandoned genre sand-boxes, and it's hard to fight the impression that Scalzi is doing this as a way of provoking more discussion and a sense of newness over his writing while at the same time is explicitly becoming less original.

All that aside, what emerges from the story is quite generic, even if it were rebranded enough to have no relation to the original series I'd still feel safe calling it heavily derivative. There's dynamics of colonization, alien contact, a bit of corporate intrigue, and a protracted high-impact legal battle. The story isn't terrible, but it doesn't do very much with any of these elements, or do more than slightly warm over the stock SF narrative of past decades. Scalzi has in the past brought a lot more humor and energy to proceedings that can push through his employment of cliches, here the plot is slow enough and the dialog labored such that it settles into mediocrity early, and only pushes past that in brief flashes across the book. For all that we were laboriously told about the impact of the proceedings on the planetary ecology, on the characters' finances and ideals, on indeed on the larger colonial economy, it was very hard to feel that there were real stakes at any point. I've read worse books from 2011, and even books less distinguished, but this had a sense of controlled mediocrity that felt particularly frustrating, like Scalzi was consistently hitting safe groundballs to push forward his story, and in the process draining it of real interest.

I gobbled down the Old Man War trilogy, a fun ride with a fair bit of substance below the surface, particularly in worldbuilding. Since then I've felt a deep sense of diminishing returns, Scalzi's contribution to the 2008 Hugo Shortlist meltdown with the breezy, inconsequential tie-in Zoe's Tale, the deeply inert God Engines, and in the 'real world' his own insistence on defending fandom against the whiners and critics--which is to say defending it as a zero-challenge exercise in mediocrity, among other things. I guess given that it shows an avoidance of hypocrisy to carry that into his own writing, in which the very reboot format declares his intention to boldly chart a story of change and revolution in an echo of past forms, staying strongly within a particular box. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, and I'm sure a lot of people will be pleased by Fuzzy Nation, but I'm not pleased by the way things seem to have gone. I think I'll add Scalzi to the category of Dropped Authors (with Stross, Sawyer, Martin, Bear and Haldeman) authors that I had followed pretty regularly, but are not delivering at a level to reward that attention, whom I'll avoid in the future unless I encounter a review or other reason to suggest things have significantly changed.

Similar to and better than: God Engines by John Scalzi

Similar to and worse than: Newton's Wake by Ken Macleod
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but was this "homage", a "reboot" as Scalzi calls it, or closer to a "hijack?", June 11, 2011
This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
I have read many of the works written by H. Beam Piper, and I read "Little Fuzzy" when it first came out in the early 1960s, and it stuck in my head over the years, and I came back and read it again, so it is safe to say that I liked it. I have also read and liked some of contemporary SF author Scalzi's books as well, books like "Old Man's War," "The Ghost Brigades, " and "The Last Colony."

"Little Fuzzy" was not only a fun read back in 1962, but it was also an important book for the issues it raised, at that point in time and in that 1960s mental atmosphere, about the intersection and conflicts between the definition of intelligence, the law, morality, and corporate culture, although the formulaic "boogey man" and whipping boy of the greedy, immoral businessman, figuratively twirling his mustachios as he counts his "ill-gotten gains" and cackles and sneers in derision at all the "little people," the ordinary folk he has stepped on to get that loot, vs. the moral, noble "scientist" and the noble "Law," while it might have been more palatable back then in the 60s, is now in 2011, in my view and with all the developments that have occurred since, far less convincing.

I thought that "Fuzzy Nation" was well done, was interesting and I liked it but, for me, the more important question that hung over this book as I read it was the idea of Scalzi doing what he called "rebooting" "Little Fuzzy," by re-imagining what happened using some of the characters and the basic plot that the late H. Beam Piper published in 1962, shortly before he died in 1964.

I am not very comfortable with this. According to the Wiki bio on H. Beam Piper, H. Beam Piper's estate has given its "blessing" for "Fuzzy Nation," but I believe that a note to this effect should have been included in the front matter of "Fuzzy Nation" to clarify things.

You may call "Fuzzy Nation" a "homage" to H. Beam Piper and his "Little Fuzzy," but nonetheless, "blessing" or not, for me "Fuzzy Nation" seems more of a "hijack" than just merely a "reboot," and I think that Scalzi should have been inventive enough to have created his own particular characters and situation rather than working off those created by H. Beam Piper because, as I look at it, "Fuzzy Nation" was way too close to the original to be similar to, say, those works that you sometimes see by other authors writing stories "in the Universe" that another author originally created.

It also seems to me that this is part of the lamentable trend in the "entertainment industry" of taking something that was a hit and just basically cloning it, as some have done again and again, a rubber signature stamp that gets fuzzier and more illegible the more you use it, until the original, very distinct signature gets blurred almost to the point of illegibility; the interminable and increasingly dreadful "Rocky" series comes immediately to mind.

Even though it is listed as a "young adult" book, a more masterful take on this theme, of an intelligent but vulnerable race just discovered on a newly settled planet, is David Weber's just released "A Beautiful Friendship." which is apparently the first book of a planned series that will be prequels to Weber's very good Honor Harrington series.

P.S.--I wonder if anyone has thought, just yet, about how good a movie "Little Fuzzy," or even "Fuzzy Nation" for that matter, might make, now that CGI techniques have gotten so good? After all, the necessary CGI/animation work for the Fuzzies shouldn't be anywhere near as demanding, for instance, as it was in "Lord of the Rings." So, provided they didn't go too cutesy, I'd expect that a collaboration like, say, Director Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic, just might clean up.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing, but the story lacks motivation, June 8, 2011
By 
Amazon Customer (Longview, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Kindle Edition)
"Fuzzy Nation" is, sort of, a retelling of the book "Little Fuzzy" by H. Beam Piper. Actually, Scalzi just copied one a few names and a very brief plot synopsis from Piper. It bears no other resemblance to the original Piper story (which I highly recommend reading, I think it's much better overall than this "remake").

However, the Scalzi story is an enjoyable read. In some ways Scalzi is just as good a writer as Piper. I actually enjoyed his writing style a bit more than Piper, the story was nicely updated from the original 1960's version and I nominate Scalzi story for best use of a dog as supporting character.

But Scalzi falls completely flat in the area of motivation. In Piper's story, everyone who meets the Fuzzies is quickly convinced that they are People (they just don't know how to prove it). The Good Guys desire to protect the Fuzzies simply because it's the right thing to do. The Bad Guys have a vested interest in proving Fuzzies are not people, because they'll lose a fortune if Fuzzies turn out to legally own the planet. Piper resorts to one slightly gimmicky plot device at the end to resolve his story. But there is a sense of triumph, as Truth wins and the Innocent are protected.

In Scalzi's story, everybody is a lying SOB who's only interested in how the situation will put money in their pocket. The only people whose primary motivation is not Greed are the few scientists, and even they are more concerned with their reputation than they are with the truth of what they discovered. The hero spends most of the book NOT believing that Fuzzies are people, and having no clear motivation for what he does. Even at the end of the story, he can't give a coherent explanation of why he gave up the money he would have made if he hadn't defended the Fuzzies. All this leads Scalzi into having to use multiple plot devices at the end of his story in a not very successful attempt to tie up all the loose ends he created. But if everyone was motivated solely by Greed, and all they had to do to become fabulously wealthy was to keep their mouth shut about the Fuzzies being sentient, then why didn't everyone just accept the tremendous bribes they were all offered and walk away from a pile of dead Fuzzies? No explanation is offered.

For several thousand years, stories have had a Conflict and a Resolution. The conflict might be external (how do we protect these helpless Fuzzies?) or internal (if I admit the Fuzzies really are people, then how will I be forced to relate to them?). Some modern writers, like Scalzi, seem determined to remove any hint of Morality or Ethics from their stories. But in doing so, they also remove their character's motivation, the Conflict & Resolution, and any reason for the reader to care about how the story ends.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks depth, but an easy, entertaining read, November 1, 2011
This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
Had I known it was based on H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, I probably would have read it prior to reading John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. That, however, is not what happened, so I went into Fuzzy Nation with no preconceptions of what the book would be like, who it was about, or what would happen. With that out of the way, Fuzzy Nation was an enjoyable, if not familiar, read.

Like most of his previous works, Scalzi provides another entertaining experience. However, also like his previous works, Scalzi concludes the story a little too neatly, bow tied nicely so that everything worked out in the end with an unexpected trump card. One of the most surprising things in Fuzzy Nation was the lack of swearing. Scalzi has a knack for flagrant swearing, and while Fuzzy Nation did include some, it was nowhere near the amount of his previous works (something I appreciated). The fuzzys and their interaction with Holloway and his dog, Jack, were, in typical Scalzi fashion, fun to read. Fuzzy Nation is not an amazing read, but the political intrigue and straight forward characters, on top of entertainment provided by Holloway's wit and the fuzzys, made reading this a breeze to read.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Passable as a stand-alone book..., August 8, 2011
By 
C. Elliott "implet" (Falls Church, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
but awful as a "reboot" of _Little Fuzzy_.

After reading _Little Fuzzy_, I felt like I'd been wrapped in Piper's warmth and been allowed to witness a precious moment. I felt enlarged, allowed to witness a moment where imperfect people did their best, stretched themselves and made a part of their universe better.

After reading _Old Man's War_, _Zoe's Tale_ and _The Last Colony_, I felt similar things, combined with a poignancy evoked by the way Scalzi gives us readers moments of intense emotional nakedness in his characters.

After reading _Fuzzy Nation_, I only felt diminished. Holloway, besides not being believable as a frontiersman, is opaque, even to himself. I felt like my brain was stuffed with fuzz and spun about. I derived no delight. While the well-crafted words and paragraphs kept me reading, at the end, I felt like my time was taken away and I wanted it back.

This book is Scalzi's weakest effort and, sadly, doesn't approach the excellence of the rest of his body of work.

Save your money. If you have to read it, go borrow it from the library.
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37 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why didn't the author just write his own story?, July 13, 2011
By 
SRA (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fuzzy Nation (Hardcover)
Why appropriate existing characters and an existing setting and then write a different story that undoes Piper's work? The author did not need to bring Piper's creation into this. Why did he feel compelled to take Piper's characters and turn them into something else? Why make Holloway a jerk? Write your own jerk Mr. Scalzi, don't take another author's decent main character and modify him.

There are lots of corporate entity vs sentient aliens stories in science fiction. Go ahead and write your own if you want. Don't mangle a famous author's story and call it a "reboot". Little Fuzzy did not require any reboot.

I checked this book out of the library because I thought someone had continued the story along the Piper thread and was curious. Not so, the author just wrote a story and instead of coming up with names and settings on his own, stuck Piper's in there. I believe him when he claims he admired Piper's work, but I surely don't understand what he thought he was doing by essentially unmaking it. I hope Piper's name wasn't brought into it just to help sell the book.

Piper's books were excellent. I own Piper's books. This book, had it been written without using the names from Piper's work, would have been ok. Not worth buying, but ok.
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