Little Fuzzy Mass Market Paperback – May 1983
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|Mass Market Paperback, May 1983||
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From Publishers Weekly
The extra-solar world of Zarathustra is devoid of intelligent life, or at least it was thought to be until prospector Jack Holloway discovers a race of Ewok-like Fuzzies. But the company that has been exploiting the planet for its resources will lose its charter if sapient life is discovered, so Holloway must find a way to keep the Fuzzies from being foundin order to keep the charter. Holsopple reads in a pleasant, sonorous tone, using one unadorned voice for narration and a series of others for character dialogue. The vocal shifts are subtle but effective, and make the dialogue sound rather like real conversation, rather than simply words being read from a page. Some of the dialogue is a bit silly (Holloway constantly refers to himself as "Pappy Jack" when talking to the Fuzzies), but Holsopple manages to pull it off. The end result is a faithful adaptation of Piper's beloved 1962 classic (a Best Novel Hugo Award nominee) that fans both new and old should enjoy. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Henry Beam Piper (March 23, 1904 – c. November 6, 1964) was an American science fiction author. He wrote many short stories and several novels. He is best known for his extensive Terro-Human Future History series of stories and a shorter series of "Paratime" alternate history tales. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This book is a classic and the first in a series of Fuzzy books written by H. Beam Piper and others. A good tale in its own right, "Little Fuzzy" also explores the overlapping boundaries of practical, scientific, legal and emotional definitions of intelligence. As a sometime psychology instructor, I have encouraged students to read this fairly brief book to stimulate discussion of how psychologists define intelligence. Such discussion also prepares students to understand how scientific psychology and the law have different conceptions of insanity and personal responsibility.
I read this book years ago and recently re-enjoyed it as an audio download. The audio experience highlighted the large number of supporting characters that crowd into the latter half of the story. It seems harder to track and distinguish between them in the audio version. This does not interfere with enjoyment of the story, but is slightly unsettling. I'd advise reading rather than listening for this one.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the Federation, there really isn't a legal definition of sapience, just a handy criterion of talk-and-build-a-fire intended to keep greedy speculators, sadists, and other lowlifes from claiming they couldn't tell that an obviously inhabited planet *was* inhabited. Zarathustra is legally a Class-III planet with no native intelligent species, so the Chartered Zarathustra Company essentially owns it outright, and makes a *lot* of money on its resulting monopoly on sunstones, not to mention a long list of assorted exports the CZC extracts from Zarathustra's virgin ecology.
Then one day Jack Holloway, a freelance sunstone prospector, comes home to find his door open - and a tiny creature, no more than two feet tall and covered in golden fur, in his shower stall. Being an independent-minded bachelor of a certain age doesn't mean one can't get lonely, and Jack's inclined to let the gutsy little guy hang around. Jack names him "Little Fuzzy", and quickly notices that his new friend is bright. So bright that he doesn't need to be shown things twice. So bright that he can generalize.
So bright that he can not only use tools Jack makes for him, but brought some of his own with him.
He and the rest of his hunter-gatherer family just don't seem to be able to talk, and they haven't mastered fire yet. The scientists working for the CZC are soon tasked quietly with "proving" that Fuzzies aren't sapient, and when one group tries to "confiscate" the little family living with Jack, there's a tragedy: Leonard Kellogg stomps one of the female Fuzzies to death, and Jack shoots another of the invaders dead.
The main conflict, though, isn't the shootout but the subsequent pair of criminal cases, which the chief justice of the planet opts to try together almost in the form of a lawsuit since the resolution of either would prejudice the verdict of the other: Leonard Kellogg's trial for the murder of a sapient being, and Jack's trial (where his defence is that he was attempting to prevent someone else's murder). As Jack's lawyer Gus Brannhard puts it, this *is* a lawsuit, in a way, with the CZC's charter hanging in the balance.
Really great story, with a crackerjack legal circus at the end and a lot of Fuzzies throughout (who're much better at having fun than humans are, for all that they're little guys in a very big dangerous world).
IRRELEVANT NOTE: Michael Whelan's Fuzzy cover paintings are famous. However, one point that's sometimes overlooked is that the only human in the group on the cover of *this* book - "Pappy" Jack Holloway - has been depicted by Whelan as a likeness of Piper himself.
Zarathustra is a planet classed as uninhabited, which means the entire planet can be owned by a corporation, which it is, by the Zarathustra Company, which enjoys a high profit by mining the resources-rich planet. One day gem prospector Jack Holloway comes across a member of a previously undocumented species - a tiny, golden-furred little biped who he dubs 'Little Fuzzy', and shortly thereafter encounters Little Fuzzy's family. The fuzzies are cute, adorable, and often hilarious, and they're also quite socially advanced, including in the use of tools they themselves make. Holloway is convinced, and soon some of his human friends are too, that the Fuzzies are fully sentient and entitled to all the rights of any other sentient species.
Which means the Fuzzies would be the owners of their own planet, and the Zarathustra Company's deed would be automatically null and void.
The unscrupulous Zarathustra Company is determined not to see that happen, at any costs.
And thus we enter into a meeting of the science fiction novel, the legal courtroom drama, and an indepth examination of ethics. The book skillfully tackles these subjects seriously without forsaking the fun, playful side of its other main facet, represented so well by the gregarious Fuzzies themselves. I would say that there's heavy corporate satire at work in much of the book, but I belive satire is supposed to be an exxageration of the 'real' world, and sadly, I can see a corporation behaving this way if this kind of thing were to happen some day off in the future. Although the book is often a ride of wonder and fun, things can get very heavy and dark at times, including a plot thread dealing with the death of a Fuzzy. The courtroom scenes are a pinnacle of their type, not just for science fiction but for any novel.
An excellent tale; extremely recommended.
I don't know whether Piper himself was a smoker, nor do I know what were his personal thoughts about tobacco. But certainly many of his characters smoke. I suspect that it was simply a matter of characterization. What his characters smoked and how they smoked dramatised whether they were young or old, insecure or calm, laid-back or aggressive. In the same vein, shaving habits or table manners can reveal something about a fictional character.
In any event, _Little Fuzzy_ is hands down Piper's best novel, and the secret is not hard to find. It lies in the delightful characterization of his little natives of Zarathustra that immediately have you rooting for them from the very begining. Of course, we understand the motives of the Zarathustra Mining Company. They began operations believing that there was no native intelligent life on the planet. Once the Fuzzies have been discovered by Pappy Jack, the company is in danger of losing its charter. So it is in its best interests to get the Fuzzies declared non-intelligent and to quickly exterminate them.
The scenes between the Fuzzies and Pappy Jack are marvelous, and there are some dandy courtroom scenes in which lawyers for both sides draw on an arsenal of dirty tricks. _Little Fuzzy_ probes the question, "What is human?" I am reminded of a story by Robert A. Heinlein called "Jerry Was a Man" that deals with the same theme. Heinlein's story is blatently sentimental. Piper's novel is less so. But I think both authors intended us to see that what makes somebody "human" is something that goes beyond the courtroom arguments, something emotional, something elusive... but nevertheless, something real for all that. If you pass this novel over, you will be cheating yourself.