Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fuzzy Nation

Fuzzy Nation is a remake, or a reboot of an old 60's novel, written by H. Beam Piper, titled Little Fuzzy.  For this reason, I was very hesitant about trying FN.  Remakes of movies and t.v. series are bad enough, but a novel?  Come on.  Thanks be to sales on Audible, because their little scheme got my to pay $8 for an audiobook I would have otherwise ignored.

John Scalzi wrote the remake.  You may have heard of him... if you pay attention to science fiction, anyway.  He wrote the Hugo nominated Old Man's War, and its subsequent sequels: Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and Zoe's Tale.  I've read OMW and GB, so FN wasn't my first Scalzi read.

Fuzzy Nation isn't anything like Scalzi's other books--at least when it comes to genre.  Yeah, it's sci fi, but all of his other books I've read are  military/space opera.  The best sub-genre I could use to describe FN is off-world courtroom.  (Let it be known I've coined a new genre.)  And I've got to say that I enjoyed it very much.

I am surprised at how close this story is to James Cameron's Avatar--only because Avatar was so huge and so recent.  Let's be honest: Cameron stole all of his ideas from better sci fi stories than what he could come up with on his own.  That's what writers and movie directors do--steal from things that have come before.   I haven't read the original by Piper, but Scalzi's rendition is set up the exact same way as Avatar.  Humans go to planet, do terrible things to planet, strip mine planet, and kill local inhabitants.  The only reason we were ever there was to get filthy rich, and to laugh our asses off at the poor alien critters we squashed under our boots.  You've seen this story a thousand times.  I get sick of capitalism getting demonized so much in entertainment, but the fact is, humans are greedy all too often, and corporations do get out of hand sometimes.  Even though FN is very similar to Avatar, it is written so much better than that lousy flick.  I got over the similarities pretty fast, and got caught up in the story Scalzi was telling me.

Where Avatar has mindless action scenes, Fuzzy Nation has courtroom proceedings.  Only one gun is fired in the book, and it happens off screen.  There are a few bar fights and other brief bouts of violence, but for the most part, FN is action free.  Luckily, Scalzi is a master of dialogue, so it is pure pleasure just listening to the characters spar with one another through entertaining conversations.  The protagonist is a likable fellow, despite claiming at the end of the book to be a bad man.  He seems very realistic to me as a person--something Scalzi always pulls off with his characters.

I haven't told you much of the plot, but it isn't important for me to.  Think Avatar, but written well, not full of naked blue people, and without the big battle at the end.  Instead, the aliens are cat-like, small fuzzies, the protagonist doesn't have sex with any of them, and all the fighting is done in front of a judge.

Fuzzy Nation gets 4 out of 5 stars, for its entertaining dialogue, well-rounded characters, and great court scenes.  Oh, and for the cute, huggable fuzzy things.  Pick it up if you're in the mood for some enjoyable scifi light.

(I don't know if this is true with the print version, but the audio version includes the original novel, Little Fuzzy.  Nice little bonus there.)

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