Fuzzy NationFuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Looked at by itself, “Fuzzy Nation” is really fun. Scalzi writes with the easy-to-read style and roguish insolence we’ve missed since we lost Robert Heinlein. Its head is in the right place, too, sticking up for the rights of the defenseless against corporate greed.

I read “Fuzzy Nation” because my reading group selected it to be read together with H. Beam Piper’s “Little Fuzzy”. Having already given “Little Fuzzy” a thumbs-up review, it’s impossible to discuss “Fuzzy Nation” without comparing them, which raises the question: why re-write a story someone else has already written and written well?

Scalzi himself calls “Fuzzy Nation” a re-imagination of Piper’s story. But why do that unless you plan to bring something new to the table? Perhaps to update its message in a more modern context?

If you saw my review of “Little Fuzzy” (https://marylanddreamweavers.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=473&action=edit) you know that my only real complaint, and it was a mild one, was that Piper, in allegorizing the civil rights movement of the 1960s, inexplicably treated women much as previous generations had represented the very minorities he was indirectly supporting. Scalzi corrected that omission, handsomely. The women in “Fuzzy Nation” aren’t all nice, but they’re all very much the equals of the men in the story. So the incongruency that troubled me in “Little Fuzzy” wasn’t there in “Fuzzy Nation”. Scalzi also made the main character, Jack Holloway, more of an asshole (Scalzi’s word, not mine) than he was in “Little Fuzzy”. I’m not sure that was necessary — I actually didn’t like him as well in “Fuzzy Nation”. But Jack’s swashbuckling approach to life gave the story the endearing character of a fairy tale, since we all know that characters like Jack only win in our dreams and fantasies.

As far as the Fuzzies are concerned, Scalzi didn’t do anything that Piper didn’t do. Both stories are cleverly wrought, and both get their basic message across. So the best I can say to anyone who is interested, is read both books. They’re both worth some time.

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