Review: Little Fuzzy by Henry Beam Piper

The chartered Zarathustra Company had it all their way. Their charter was for a Class III uninhabited planet, which Zarathustra was, and it meant they owned the planet lock stock and barrel. They exploited it, developed it, and reaped the huge profits from it without interference from the Colonial Government. Then Jack Holloway, a sunstone prospector, appeared on the scene with his family of Fuzzies and the passionate conviction that they were not cute animals but little people…

Review

Little Fuzzy is an interesting book. It’s something of an oxymoron. From a modern perspective, it could be described as an oddly relevant out-dated science fiction novel. Written in the sixties, it features quite a few concepts and ideas which are now gaining popularity once more such as environmentalism and climate change. It also has some quite odd ideology which many modern readers would doubtless be puzzled and even horrified by.

Little Fuzzy deals with the discovery of a prospector, Jack Holloway. He returns from hunting rare gems one day to discover a strange, undocumented alien life form in his cabin. The creature is remarkably intelligent, and John soon learns to live with and train it, calling it Little Fuzzy. Little Fuzzy is soon joined by some other Fuzzies, as Holloway calls the race.

Holloway suspects that the Fuzzies may be sapient. That presents problems for the Zarathustra Corporation, which will lose exclusive exploitation rights to the planet, should sapient indigenous life be discovered. A legal battle soon takes place, with attendant dirty tricks and wranglings by both the corporation and the supporters of the Fuzzies.

Perhaps the strangest part of the story involves what would happen to the natives of the planet should their sapience be proven; the planed would be ceded to the control of the human’s colonial government, and would be opened up for all to move in an exploit. The Fuzzies themselves would have no representation or government, and little legal standing. There are references to two other races which had been encountered previously. They seemed to have undergone a similar treatment.

Women are also rather under represented; the one woman who has any importance at all suffers a bizarre fate. She is a scientist with a potentially promising career owing to her assistance in discovering and studying the Fuzzies, but ends up abandoning her work to become someone’s wife. There are also numerous references to smoking (which is largely not doe these days), and frequent visits to the cocktail bar.

There is quite a good story beneath the layer of anachronism. It’s a story about human greed and capitalism, and the horrible things that people do to each other and the things they view as inferior to themselves. It’s also about the kindness of people and the extent that they will go to in order to protect the weak and the innocent. It’s a story about discovering strange new worlds – both figurative and literal. It’s also an interesting look at the culture of a previous generation.

Little Fuzzy is a short book, as many of the science fiction books written in the sixties are wont to be. If you have a few hours to spare, it’s worth picking up and having a read through. It’s not a high adrenaline block-buster adventure novel, but more of a thoughtful and mildly humorous examination of human nature.

  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Demographic: Young Adult and up
  • Rating Out of Five: 4
  • Format: Paperback
  • Find At: The Book Depository
  • Published: 1962

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