A Man and his dog and Fuzzies
It is a book about a disbarred Lawyer who meets a family of cute little fuzzy aliens and saves them from the clutches of the Big Bad Mining Company ZaraCorp. Jack Holloway is the kind of unwilling hero you love to read about. At first he blows up half a mountainside prospecting for the Company and hit the big one, gets fired for the destruction and rehired straight afterwards when his favorite enemy prospector liaison learns what he found. Relationships like that is something I like reading about. They drive one another crazy but there is respect between them. In the brief time Jack is unemployed he claims the find and bring in the ZaraCorp as his partner to help extract the find.
When he arrives home at his tree house (Yeah that’s right) he finds a fuzzy little animal inside his cabin. Carl ,his well-trained dog (well he can set of explosives) takes offence at the intruder and chases it up a bookshelf. Jack has never seen anything like the cute little catlike biped before so he put Carl outside and offers fruit to win its trust before it leaves for the jungle. That is basically first contact for you.
What follows is immersive and fun. Jack involves a former girlfriend who happens to be a biologist to look at the creatures. She has moved on to a new fiancé which makes for interesting chemistry, maybe not what you expect though. The Company is very excited about the new find but they are only allowed on the planet because it has no sentient specie. They would do anything to stop the Fuzzies from being declared sentient including exterminating them.
Jack is at first convinced they are just animals and I guess the money he would lose if ZaraCorp weren’t allowed to mine the find of rare jewels he made also helps. But he is also a lawyer and uses that to his advantage. His relationship with the former girlfriend continues to deteriorate as she is convinced they are. She is idealistic and he is self-serving.
There is action but most of the decisions in this novel take place in the court room. It is funny how enjoyable the whole experience is. Never in a thousand years would I have guessed I would enjoy a story about lawyers so much.
Fuzzy Nation is an homage to H. Beam Piper and his Hugo award-winning novel Little Fuzzy.
Heineken doesn’t do science fiction, but if they did it would be something like Fuzzy Nation to paraphrase their promo. John Scalzi is a brilliant scoundrel and Fuzzy Nation is the most brilliant fan fiction I ever read. I so hope there will be more books in this universe.
Excerpt: Chapter 1-4
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.