1962 Avon edition cover
|Author||H. Beam Piper|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Followed by||Fuzzy Sapiens|
Little Fuzzy is the name of a 1962 science fiction novel by H. Beam Piper, and is now in public domain. It is generally seen as a work of juvenile fiction. It was nominated for the 1963 Hugo Award for Best Novel.
During a book signing at Strand Book Store, Piper alleged that the Little Fuzzy series was inspired by an acquaintance named Kevin "Fuzzy" Sheffield, whom Piper first met in a literary club in central Oregon. When asked about Sheffield, Piper described him as "a bizarre character, capable of writing little more than a couple of vaguely-legible remarks in each letter. While I'm sure he's full of insight and great ideas, it seems impossible to effectively communicate with him on a conventional human level...terribly nice fellow however."
The book was followed by a sequel, Fuzzy Sapiens (original title The Other Human Race) published in 1964, the same year that Piper committed suicide in November.
In the wake of Piper's suicide, rumor spread of a lost "second sequel"; at the behest of Ace Books, William Tuning produced the critically acclaimed Fuzzy Bones. Later, Piper's lost manuscript was discovered, and published as Fuzzies and Other People. Ace also hired Ardath Mayhar to write Golden Dreams: A Fuzzy Odyssey, which tells the events of Little Fuzzy from the viewpoint of the Fuzzies (or Gashta, as they call themselves).
In 2011, John Scalzi published Fuzzy Nation, which he described as a "reboot" of Piper's original.
- Jack Holloway – Protagonist: Sunstone prospector who discovers the Fuzzies.
- Ben Rainsford – Xenobiologist, first scientist to meet the Fuzzies.
- Gerd van Riebeek – Company Xenobiologist. Quits company to join Jack.
- Ruth Ortheris – Company psychologist and Federation spy.
- George Lunt – Constabulary lieutenant.
- Victor Grego – Chartered Zarathustra Company C.E.O.
- Juan Jimenez – Company naturalist.
- Gustavus Adolphus "Gus" Brannhard – Lawyer and hunter. Defended Jack for murder.
- Leonard Kellogg – Killed the Fuzzy known as Goldilocks. Charged with murder.
- Leslie Coombes – Chartered Zarathrustra Company lawyer. Defended Kellogg.
- Ernst Mallin – Chief company psychologist.
- Little Fuzzy – the first Fuzzy discovered.
- Mamma Fuzzy
- Baby Fuzzy
- Diamond – Fuzzy attached to Grego.
Protagonist Jack Holloway lives a solitary life in a wilderness of planet Zarathustra, itself "owned" by the Chartered Zarathustra Corporation (under Victor Grego), which installed basic services and colonial outposts initially, and now reaps the benefits of new discoveries, such as the valuable 'sunstones' mined by Holloway until he befriends a tiny, golden-furred humanoid that he names 'Little Fuzzy.' Little Fuzzy brings his family/tribe to meet Holloway and the lot of them promptly adopt Holloway as well. Upon discovery that the Fuzzies intelligence may qualify them as a sapient species, the Company moves against them. The reason for such an action, which if carried through to conclusion would be genocide, is that such a discovery would turn the planet a protected aboriginal zone, install a proper government there, and deprive the Chartered Zarathustra Company of its complete control of the resources there. Leonard Kellogg, one of Grego's staff, kills a Fuzzy and provokes a court case to decide whether the Fuzzies are sapient. In the midst of the proceedings, the Terran Navy commander reveals that his people have been studying Fuzzies, and prove that Fuzzies have at least the mental capacity of a ten-year-old human child. They also show that the "yeek" noises made by the Fuzzies are merely the human-audible edge of the Fuzzies' voices and that their normal speaking range is in the ultrasonic; and tell the court that they have developed an elementary Fuzzy grammar and dictionary. As a result, the charter of the Zarathustra Company is invalidated, and Kellogg commits suicide in his cell. Chief Justice Frederic Pendarvis officially rules that the Fuzzies are sapient beings, and Holloway is reunited with his Fuzzy family.
The second book, Fuzzy Sapiens, deals with the newly 'Charterless Zarathustra Company' and its gradual cooperation with the planet's new governor to ensure control over the planet, while the Fuzzies attach themselves to individual human guardians including the Company's staff. Victor Grego, one of the villains of the first book and the manager of the CZC, finds a Fuzzy in his private apartment in the Company tower, adopts him, names him Diamond, and become a firm supporter of the Fuzzies. This enables the Company to cooperate with the new planetary government headed up by naturalist Ben Rainsford and work with the Native Affairs Commission headed up by Jack Holloway. It becomes clear that criminals are using the irregular status of the government and of the Company to attack it and steal sunstones. With the help of the Fuzzies, the thieves are thwarted. There is also further exploration into the biology of the Fuzzies, and it is established that the Fuzzies may be in a biological dead end, doomed to extinction without aid from the humans.
The third book, Fuzzy Bones by William Tuning, suggests that the remarkable liking by all Fuzzies for the survival ration 'Extraterrestrial Type Three' (aka 'Extee 3' or 'estefee,' meaning "wonderful food") does not coincide with the composition of Zarathustran soil. A third significant Fuzzy character is developed called Starwatcher. Little Fuzzy, Diamond, and Starwatcher become the clear leaders in working with humans. Among other things, an alien spaceship is discovered on Beta Continent, and evidence that the Fuzzies are not in fact native to Zarathustra emerges, which raises a variety of legal and philosophical questions. Tuning introduces a number of memorable characters, including Christiana Stone, Grego's Fuzzy-Sitter-in-Chief; Reverend Thomas Aquinas Gordon, aka "The Rev;" Master Gunnery Sergeant Philip Helton, TFMC; and Liana Bell, a CZC scientist invited by the researchers of Holloway's Fuzzy Institute to join them in their research.
Golden Dream by Ardath Mayhar fits with these three books in terms of the general plot and relationships. Essentially, it is Little Fuzzy told from the point of view of the Fuzzies rather than that of the humans.
After these two official sequels, the original third book by Piper himself, Fuzzies and Other People, offers an alternative future wherein Little Fuzzy himself is separated from Jack Holloway and introduces a band of wild Fuzzies to the combined society. It explores the deepening relationships between the characters already introduced in Piper's first two books, and shows how the Fuzzies fit in with the humans on Zarathustra.
On April 7, 2010, John Scalzi announced the pending release of a reboot, authorized by the Piper estate, with the prospective title Fuzzy Nation. Fuzzy Nation was released by Tor Books on May 10, 2011.
- "The Super Secret Thing That I Cannot Tell You About, Revealed: Introducing Fuzzy Nation", post on Scalzi's blog "Whatever", April 7, 2010