Fuzzy Nation – John Scalzi

About the Book
It’s a classic case of good news, bad news. Independent contractor Jack Holloway helps cause a cliff collapse, which gets him fired from his partnership; but the accident reveals a vein of valuable jewels, which gets him rehired and promises to make him rich. Of course, there’s a catch: To maintain the claim on his newfound wealth, the partners must be able to certify that the planet is not inhabited by any sentient beings—and that, of course, is the cue for the small, lovable, furry little creatures to appear. A superbly plotted spin across the fantasy floor by the author of Old Man’s War.
304 pages (hardcover)
Published on: May 10, 2011
Published by: Tor
Author’s webpage
Thanks to Tor for sending me an ARC (and hardcover) copy of this book.
I have tried to write this review no fewer than four times. I’d get two paragraphs in and have to stop. It’s not Scalzi’s fault I haven’t been able to review his book. It’s my stupid allergies causing these amazing headaches that have done it. So, forgive me, dear reader. I meant to get this review posted last Thursday and my head felt like it was going to explode until today. So, here is my review of Fuzzy Nation, albeit, a bit late.
Fuzzy Nation, on the surface, is a somewhat stereotypical tale of one man set against a gigantic evil corporation. However, under Scalzi’s sarcasm and the typical surface-level story is a deeper theme where the author toys with what makes humans, human and what exactly sentience is, as well as a nice byplay of environmental rights. Thus, Fuzzy Nation is a multi-faceted and rather deep book for those who enjoy plunging to the depths. For those who don’t, Fuzzy Nation is also a great surface-level tale wrought with humor and compelling characters.
While this is only my second Scalzi novel, I learned early on during my Scalzi reading that he is an easy author to love for those who enjoy a break from sentimentality. Fuzzy Nation is no exception. While the characters and situations are easy to sympathize with, Scalzi seems to avoid any real attachment between characters, or any sentimentality like the plague. Thus, the drama in Fuzzy Nation was very one-track with no budding romances or burgeoning friendships to waylay the book’s progress.
Fuzzy Nation is an incredibly fast read. The plot becomes fairly obvious in the first chapter and Scalzi keeps it progressing with the speed of a jetliner, never once sidetracking, or waylaying it with pointless side plots or tantalizing dramas. Fuzzy Nation is one of those rare books that is exactly what it should be without any frills or lace. Scalzi’s signature wit is the icing on this fast paced cake and really pushes the plot and development of Fuzzy Nation over the edge.
The plot is also easily accessible, even to those who may be strangers to science fiction. Much of the politics and environmental issues present in Fuzzy Nation are obviously influenced by modern times and the problems we are facing in this day and age. Despite the fact that this takes place in the future on another planet with interesting creatures, Fuzzy Nation should be fairly easy for those new to the genre to understand and a welcome addition to any Scalzi fan’s collection.
Fuzzy Nation is clearly divided into two separate sections. The first two-thirds is where Scalzi develops the plot and shows the main protagonist, Jack Holloway, doing various mental tap-dance exercises as the lines are clearly drawn between “the man” and “the corporation.” The last third of the book is mostly a courtroom drama. While some readers may expect the plot to lag a bit during the courtroom scenes, it doesn’t. Scalzi keeps his wit intact and keeps the reader hanging on through several interesting twists which he handles incredibly nicely. It is hard for me to determine if one section is better than the other. They are both incredibly different, but also incredibly Scalzi and flow together perfectly.
The characterization may be the only part of Fuzzy Nation where I have a minor complaint. Jack Holloway is an incredibly interesting character with an obviously fluid sense of morality, knife-like humor and an out-for-himself mentality. While Holloway is an incredibly easy character for readers to follow through the book and grow attached to, and his humor is, quite honestly, wonderful, I found him to be a bit too cookie-cutter. He’s a little too smart, too mysterious with his intelligence and has everything a bit too figured out. Holloway is a man that doesn’t seem to make any mistakes and while he’s a huge boon to the book and is the perfect character to capture Fuzzy Nation’s limelight, I was a bit disappointed with how “perfect” he seemed, regardless of the situation he was thrust into.
Fuzzy Nation is an incredibly fast read, and may be too short for those who really get into it. It’s a fairly straightforward story with many underlying layers for those who wish to discover them. Jack Holloway is an incredibly attention-grabbing character whose wit and intelligence light up the fast-paced and fairly one-track plot. Fuzzy Nation, while being science fiction, is highly accessible to those who may not be quite as familiar or comfortable with scifi. All in all, Fuzzy Nation will be an incredibly welcome addition to any Scalzi collection earning a comfortable spot, in many opinions, right next to Old Man’s War.
4.5/5 stars
A side note for fellow Utah residents:
Tomorrow (May 18) John Scalzi will be at Sam Weller’s Bookstore which is located at 254 South Main Street in Salt Lake City at 6:00pm. To find more information, go here. For those who aren’t familiar with the area (which probably isn’t any native), I suggest riding Trax. Parking downtown sucks and the Trax stop is literally right across the street from the bookstore.
I’ll be there. Look for the massively pregnant redhead and say hello to me. 

One Responses

  • Conor

    I have been meaning to read Scalzi's stuff. It sounds like this would be a great book to start with.

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