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.
The first thing you should know about Fuzzy Nation is that it is actually a reboot of H. Beam Piper’s Hugo-nominated Little Fuzzy. Scalzi has taken this world, and created a brand new novel, based on Beam’s Little Fuzzy world.
Now that you know that, the best way to describe Fuzzy Nation is to take one part science fiction, one part legal drama, and add in Scalzi’s humorous and engaging writing style and you get a sense of what Fuzzy Nation is.
Fuzzy Nation takes place on the planet Zarathustra (AKA Zara XXIII), where like many other planets, ZaraCorp is mining it for its minerals. Of course, Zara XXIII is just like any other planet until independent contractor, Jack Holloway, discovers a vein of jewels that would revolutionize the earnings potential of the company. While the company takes an obvious interests in this vein, Holloway also discovers a tribe of small fuzzy animals, which over time connects to, and dubs fuzzies. Of course this discovery means the end of ZaraCorp’s and Jack’s fortune, for if these fuzzies turn out to be sentient beings then that means they’ll have to stop mining of the site. With his friendships, wealth, and the future hanging in the balance, Jack’s decision could mean his personal fortune, or the death of an entire civilization, a decision ZaraCorp will do anything to make go their way.
Whether this synopsis grabbed your attention or not Fuzzy Nation is a great book. It is exciting, fast paced, and engaging. Not only that but Scalzi once again does a fantastic job creating endearing yet complex characters who readers will be sure to love.
While there were a few points that seemed a little much in the book (I would describe them, but they give away key points in the plot), Fuzzy Nation is ripe with humor and heart. Coupled with its great cast of characters and its captivating tone, Fuzzy Nation is a fantastic read that any Scalzi fan will certainly enjoy.
8.5 out of 10
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: May 10, 2011