Avon: New York, 1962
Little Fuzzy is the first of three science fiction novels by H. Beam Piper that take place on the planet Zarathustra, which has been settled by a million humans so far. The planet is controlled by the Chartered Zarathustra Company.
One day Jack Holloway, an old prospector, finds something that looks like a small monkey with golden fur; it makes sounds like yeek. He aptly names this creature Little Fuzzy. This first Fuzzy is introduced in Chapter 2, and even before his kin are introduced in Chapter 3, we're on the side of the Fuzzies.
It's been the driest Spring in centuries on Zarathustra, and there is a record land-prawn population. The Fuzzies have been drawn south along with their food source. Holloway finds his missing wood chisel being used by Little Fuzzy. He watches the Fuzzy skillfully behead a land-prawn with the chisel.
Little Fuzzy and his family move in with Jack Holloway. Shortly the man shows the Fuzzy a canister with his colorful mineral collection:
The Fuzzies obviously are sapient. Why is this so important to human settlers on Zarathustra? — Because if the planet is inhabited by a sapient race, the Zarathustra Company will lose its charter and monopoly.
Almost from the beginning, the Fuzzies are sharing bravely and intelligently in the adventures:
The "good guys", Holloway and his biologist friends, have to learn as they go and often disagree among themselves as to what they're seeing:
The "bad guys", led by Victor Grego, head of the Zarathustra Company, act reasonably from their point of view. All the characters are well portrayed. While the basic issue seems clear early in the story, all of the characters have to go through a lot of learning, mistakes, and adjusting.
In the immediate sequel The Other Human Race (1964; later printed as Fuzzy Sapiens), Zarathustra Company executives are still trying to control the changed situation. I think this book is as good as the first one. A third Fuzzy novel, Fuzzies and Other People (1964; first published 1984), sadly was only in rough draft when Piper died. The Fuzzy novels are part of Piper's Terro-Human Future History series.
I enjoy these books and recommend them to anyone who likes science fiction dealing with good adventures on interesting planets, and extra-terrestrial humanoid beings.
© 2002 David H. Franson
The Fuzzy Papers
The Complete Fuzzy