Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Fuzzy NationJack Holloway is an off planet miner looking for the strike that will make him rich. Anything that makes him rich, though, will make his contract employer much richer. Why should a little thing like a new sentient species interfere with making money?
Jack Holloway is mining on Zara XXIII as a contract for ZaraCorp (Zarathustra Corporation). He is a smart aleck who doesn’t follow rules. That’s why he’s not a lawyer on Earth any more. As he is in trouble with ZaraCorp again, he strikes the richest seam of sunstone ever found. Even though his percentage is small, he will become very wealth as ZaraCorp strips the planet of its minerals.
Then the fuzzy cat-like creatures appear. Jack has not seen them before but accept them into his home. He invites his ex-girlfriend, a biologist, to come study them. She believes there is a possibility that these creatures are actually sentient, a new race in the universe. But if that’s true, under intergalactic law, ZaraCorp’s and Jack’s claims are no longer theirs, but belong to the people of the planet. Does Jack follow the money or his conscience?
Fuzzy Nation was inspired by H. Beam Piper’s story, “Little Fuzzy”. John Scalzi then makes the story his own.
Jack Holloway is a smart aleck hero who is almost an anti-hero. He has to consider long and hard before taking his final action on Zara XXIII. The reader doesn’t get a full sense of his decision process, but it is readily accepted to make Fuzzy Nation work. The reader has fun with this book. Hopefully Scalzi did while writing it, as well. It is humorous as well as delivering a strong message. Scalzi writes his characters in broad strokes. ZaraCorp is ruthless and money hungry. Jack never loses his sarcastic wit and overcomes extreme odds when his life is threatened. The lawyer working for ZaraCorp sees the error of his ways and comes to Jack’s aid. And the woman, Isobel, left Jack because he holds a loose grip on the truth. She sees how Jack’s scheming may just be the saving of Zara XXIII.
Fuzzy Nation is a fun book and an easy read. It has a culture friendly moral that is obvious (don’t commit genocide). It’s fairly short and good escape. Welcome to Zara XXIII – and watch out for the fauna if you don’t want to be something’s lunch.