John Scalzi is a Fuzzy

John Scalzi is a giant fan of H Beam Piper's classic science fiction novel Little Fuzzy (as am I -- it's the first sf novel I bought for myself, from the used shelf at Bakka Books in Toronto, on recommendation from the writer Tanya Huff, who was working behind the counter then!). Such a huge fan that he's written a novel in the Fuzzy universe. He could do this because Little Fuzzy is in the public domain, so he doesn't need to clear copyrights. But having written the book -- which is a loving tribute to Piper -- he decided to have his agent show it to the Piper estate, who gave it their official blessing, making it part of the Fuzzy canon forever.

Color me impressed. And jealous. But mostly impressed. Go, John, go!

Little Fuzzy itself is in the public domain, but its sequels are still under copyright. While it might have been technically possible to write Fuzzy Nation without the permission of the Piper estate, because of the status of the sequels there were enough (forgive the pun) fuzzy legal areas that I didn't want to have to deal with them. Beyond this, because Fuzzy Nation is in many ways meant to be a tribute to Little Fuzzy and to Piper himself, I wanted the blessing, so to speak, of the Piper estate.

So, after I wrote Fuzzy Nation, my super-invaluable and incredibly awesome agent Ethan Ellenberg approached the rights holders to the Piper estate and started talking to them about it. The discussions took, well, a long time. But we reached agreement on it, and I'm happy to say Fuzzy Nation is an authorized work.

The Super Secret Thing That I Cannot Tell You About, Revealed: Introducing Fuzzy Nation


  1. I never understood the Fuzzy appeal myself . . . though I enjoyed other of Piper’s books.

    That said, it’s cool that A) the setting was available, and B) the family was agreeable. Everyone wins.

  2. little fuzzy is one of my first sci-fi purchases, too. love it to this very day. in fact, it’s on my bookshelf right now, and on my ipad. i wish more people knew about h. beam piper. i look forward to reading this “reboot”, but i also feel it’s kind of like heresy.

  3. In the early 60s a school psychologist took this book away from me and told me it was trash. I love this trash.

  4. I haven’t read Little Fuzzy, but when I read the synopsis it made me remember a book with a similar plot that I read maybe 20 years ago. In that novel, instead of fuzzy little things that are the intelligent beings, it is huge quadrupedal cat like creatures that in their strife to develop the perfect jump have developed math more advanced than anything humans could ever imagine. Other than that the plots seems similar.

    Really good stuff and to my surprice the novell “Det gyllene språnget” (The Golden Leap) by Bertil Mårtensson is available for free on the web in Swedish.

    It has propably never been translated to English, or at least not published in English speaking countries, as most non-English literature never get published in English. Most 1980’s Swedish SF-literature got published in at least German, French and a bunch of Eastern European languages, but I can’t find any translations at all of this author. At least this novel may perhaps have been to controversial to the large Christian groups inside France and Germany, and to the, then, Communist rulers in Eastern Europe.

    Here is a link to a description (in Swedish)
    and here is one directly to the pdf.

  5. I haven’t had enough coffee today, because I initially read the headline as “John Scalzi is a Furry”.

  6. I hadn’t heard of this book before now, and will try to get around to reading it soon. I read the Wikipedia page on H Beam Piper and it just made me so sad to read about his suicide. I wish he had been around to see the success of his books. (assuming that would have helped, of course.)

  7. Reading this article reminded me of a children’s science fiction novel I read in grade school eons ago. Probably from the 50s, about a little girl named Virginia, who lived in a colony on Venus, and befriended a little creature with whom only she could communicate. Sound familiar to anyone?

  8. Unlike Cory, Little Fuzzy wasn’t one of the first sf books I bought, but I did happen to find a first edition copy of the 1962 paperback about 12 years ago that I picked up for very little cash (<$10 in a mylar bag). I still have it and love it, but may be willing to sell it for substantially more today, if anyone is interested.

  9. making it part of the Fuzzy canon forever.

    I’m not sure about that. This is a reboot, not an addition to cannon as I understand the term. It’s an official accepted reboot, for sure. But cannon? Depends on how you define that.

    Scalzi sez:

    , I took the original plot and characters of Little Fuzzy and wrote an entirely new story from and with them. The novel doesn’t follow on from the events of Little Fuzzy; it’s a new interpretation of that first story and a break from the continuity that H. Beam Piper established in Little Fuzzy and its sequels.

    So I interpret that as not-cannon.

    Not that it isn’t an awesome thing, and you’re a great guy for the signal boost and all. I’m just a nit picker sometimes. Hope it’s not annoying.

  10. I’m both curious about and dreading this. Mostly dreading: I know Scalzi’s a hell of a writer, and a big fan, but this was a really personal book for Piper. He wrote it after his marriage imploded, and if you read LITTLE FUZZY knowing that — in particular, reread the section early on where Little Fuzzy has temporarily abandoned Jack’s home. Piper writes about Jack, “Once he, too, had lived in a pleasant place, where he’d had fun, and could have been happy if he hadn’t thought there was something he’d had to do. So he had gone away, leaving grieved people behind him. Maybe that was how it was with Little Fuzzy. Maybe he didn’t realize how much of a place he had made for himself here, or how empty he was leaving it.” — the whole book falls into place: Piper was deeply lonely and was missing his little family, so he sat down and wrote himself one.

    Piper is an author I feel unreasonably close to; I own Piper’s own (very foxed, but signed) copy of LITTLE FUZZY. So some of this is just reflex on my part. But I’m surprisingly uncomfortable about this, and wonder if any Jane Austen fans felt this way about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES.

  11. I bought the book ‘The Fuzzy Pages’ at a local used book store for $1.98 to read on a long trip I was taking and just loved the Little Fuzzy (1962) & The Other Human Race (151) stories inside. Also very impressed and jealous, :) I am happy to see that John’s book will make it into the official Fuzzy canon. In the words of Cory.. “Go, John, go!” and Oh yeah… Can’t Wait to Read It!

  12. Just wanted to say that after your post ‘Little Fuzzy’ made it to the top 100 downloads at Project Gutenberg. I had never read it before and finally did. I thought the story was wonderful, a bit idealistic perhaps, but making a lot of good points in an entertaining way.
    Thank you Boingboingers.

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