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Little Fuzzy Book Series


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hbeamp1per.jpg.9dfcb33eda548bddf2e53938d0818d92.jpg I always felt bad for H. Beam Piper (1904 - 1964).

 

I discovered his work when I was in college; a friend of mine had the omnibus edition of Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Sapiens, two science fiction novels that explored precisely where the line between "sapience" and "nonsapience" might be put upon discovery of an alien species. I was weirdly amused to discover that the second half of the first book is a courtroom drama, as opposed to a science fiction shootemup. Furthermore, it's GOOD courtroom drama, and aside from the fact that everybody smokes cigarettes, it still holds up today! Even to the point of getting a "reimagining" by John Scalzi.

I wasn't crazy about the IDEA of John Scalzi "rebooting" a perfectly good novel, but he didn't do a bad job, and he did a wonderful job with the big twist partway through the story. And in Scalzi's story, no one smokes.

H. Beam Piper was one of those guys who was scared to quit his day job to pursue his writing, but when he did, he did pretty well. He pumped out a LOT of short stories and seems to have paid the bills doing just that; his Paratime series of books is really nothing but short stories set in the same universe threaded together. Around 1960, he began publishing novels, all of which are still in print, and seem to have been quite influential. 

They include Space Viking, which on the surface is a science fiction shootemup, but is actually an examination of trends in human behavior, politics, and war. He continued this trend with Uller Uprising, which basically retells the story of the Sepoy Mutiny and makes a point of how human behavior can cause history to repeat itself. Little Fuzzy and its sequel, which I described above, apparently changed a LOT about the depiction of sapient aliens in science fiction. And his short story, "A Planet For Texans," manages to be hilarious AND thought provoking, because on New Texas, when one shoots a politician, the trial to determine guilt is immediately followed by another inquiry to determine if the politician in question needed to be shot... and his Paratime series, about a law enforcement agency that travels between parallel universes keeping order, influenced every parallel universe story from there up to Rick and Morty.

He's also remembered for his "Terro-Human Future History," into which most of the stories mentioned above (and most of his other work) falls. It forms the setting for said stories, and provides an interesting canvas for his views on history and human behavior. 

Regrettably, by 1964, Piper's personal situation was looking fairly grim. He had financial woes, some health problems, and what I understand to be a vicious divorce of the very worst sort. And so Piper cancelled his life insurance policy (to spite his ex wife), named a relative as his legal executor, and shot himself in his home, having laid out dropcloths to prevent as much of a mess as possible. His suicide note simply read, "I don't like to leave messes when I go away, but if I could clean up any of this mess, I wouldn't be going away. H. Beam Piper."

According to his diary, he was mainly depressed because of his dismal financial state. What he didn't know was that his agent had successfully sold his recent novels, and that a check was literally in the mail. If he'd held off the trigger until Monday, the rest of his career might have been decidedly different; the amount of money in just the FIRST check would have polished off most of his debt and put him on his feet again. 

There's a moral in there somewhere, but I leave it to the interested student to figure it out.

1440152.jpg.64cce12daa75776d886017ae54d24f46.jpgFor decades, rumors of a third Fuzzy novel kicked around; people who knew him said he'd been working on it shortly before his death, but was presumed to have tossed it out before his suicide. It finally turned up in a trunk... in 1984. By that time, at least two OTHER Fuzzy novels had been published by other authors. 

He died thinking he was a failure. Everything he wrote is still in print, and can be had on Amazon.

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Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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Interestingly enough, during his lifetime, H. Beam Piper published Little Fuzzy, and its sequel, Fuzzy Sapiens

After his death, the publisher reissued both, and solicited new Fuzzy titles, resulting in Fuzzy Bones, by William Tuning, and Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey, by Ardath Mayhar. If you enjoyed the Fuzzy books, they're good reads.

And then, Piper's last novel was found and published as Fuzzies (and Other People.)

Weird thing? All three of Piper's novels are still in print. The two others are not only out of print, but sort of hard to find in used bookstores... I had a bear of a time tracking down a paperback Fuzzy Bones.

But Little Fuzzy can be had for free on Amazon, if you's got a Kindle.

2056963464_51uQMH15GnL._SX311_BO1204203200_.jpg.3eff17968cad96bd6a6873f23172ab7f.jpg
 

Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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1 hour ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

After his death, the publisher reissued both, and solicited new Fuzzy titles, resulting in Fuzzy Bones, by William Tuning, and Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey, by Ardath Mayhar. If you enjoyed the Fuzzy books, they're good reads.

 

I’ve long enjoyed the original Little Fuzzy stories. I did not know about those done by new authors. So now I have something to track down. Thanks!

 

Here’s my two books. The Fuzzy Papers contains the original two stories:F5BC3014-B849-453E-9AB0-F0E5135C030C.thumb.jpeg.7d341b56cf16fd5d416ce12ab1322a99.jpeg

Argent included for scale.

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2 hours ago, Darsc Zacal said:

 

I’ve long enjoyed the original Little Fuzzy stories. I did not know about those done by new authors. So now I have something to track down. Thanks!

 

Here’s my two books. The Fuzzy Papers contains the original two stories:F5BC3014-B849-453E-9AB0-F0E5135C030C.thumb.jpeg.7d341b56cf16fd5d416ce12ab1322a99.jpeg

Argent included for scale.

 

Fuzzy Papers! THAT'S the omnibus edition I mentioned back in the original post!

 

Hadn't seen that one in years.

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5 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

 

Fuzzy Papers! THAT'S the omnibus edition I mentioned back in the original post!

 

Hadn't seen that one in years.

 

I recognise the cover of the book on the left, which I THINK is illustrated by someone called Michael Whelan. Does anyone know who drew the versions that include the white-haired man with the rifle?

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9 minutes ago, paintybeard said:

 

I recognise the cover of the book on the left, which I THINK is illustrated by someone called Michael Whelan. Does anyone know who drew the versions that include the white-haired man with the rifle?

 

I think they're all Whelan covers. I need to go do stuff now but I could research this later.

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1 hour ago, paintybeard said:

Sorry, I'm not properly awake yet, I meant the book on the RIGHT is a Whelan illustration, it's the one on the left that I think is by someone else.

 

It's definitely Whelan. That's one of his various signature logos at the bottom right. Looks a little like a gothic "M" colliding with a gothic "W."

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Amazon reports it's a Whelan, who originated the "big cat eyes" style of Fuzzy. Old Ace edition, it looked more like your Aunt Fanny's yarn basket.

220px-LittleFuzzy.jpg.d0b69be768dbfcb4c12bf173b3c10b66.jpg When the books were reissued by Ace in the seventies, they got Whelan to do the covers, including the omnibus edition that Darsc has (which was apparently put out by the Science Fiction Book Club in the eighties) and he came back for the first printing of Fuzzies And Other People. 

 

Trivia point: Piper's original title for Fuzzy Sapiens was The Other Human Race. Ace changed it to make it fit better with its predecessor.

 

Another trivia point: for some reason, cover artists tend to draw fuzzies smaller than they are in the books; Piper describes Fuzzies as being as much as two feet tall, when fully grown, and usually around a foot and a half. For some reason, cover artists tend to make them around a foot tall.

 

the-fuzzy-papers.jpg.04da6354f4e05f6bcd45f10224376f0c.jpg ...except on the cover of The Fuzzy Papers, where the fuzzies are more or less in line with their description in the books (we may assume the small fuzzy in Pappy Jack's arms is Baby Fuzzy, a character in the story who is fairly small, being a toddler in human terms.) Also pictured is a pretty good visualization of a Damnthing, a local predator described as "an ungulate herbivore that developed a taste for meat when it can get it." Funny thing? In the third and fourth novels written by authors other than Piper, the fuzzies call it a "so-shi-fazzu," or literally "run like crazy" in Lingua Fuzzy, whereas in the long lost third book, Piper refers to it as a "hesh-nazza," for which he offers no Fuzzy translation.

Little Fuzzy's main question is "where do you draw the line between sapience and nonsapience?" Sunstone miner Jack Holloway encounters a cute tool using little alien, and names him "Little Fuzzy." Little Fuzzy, upon accepting Jack's benign benevolence, goes and collects his family, and they begin to get to know humans.

 

Jack is convinced Fuzzies are sapient, but the planet is owned outright by the Chartered Zarathustra Company, which stands to lose its charter, its ownership, and a lot of money if a sapient race is discovered to have been living there; the Company's invested a LOT in this planet. Fortunately, the Terran Navy and the incorruptible Jack Holloway are ready to stand up for the Fuzzies... but the poor creatures live at a low paleolithic level of society, they don't make or use fire, and they don't seem to have a language, beyond the single word "yeek."

Sapient or not? Piper spends the first half of the book establishing his characters and situation, and the second half of the book is largely courtroom drama that's on a par with Perry Mason, as we attempt to determine, one way or the other, the Fuzzies' legal status as people or animals. Spoiler alert: they're sapient.

Fuzzy Sapiens follows this up and deals with the conflict and attempt to reconcile between human society... and a low paleolithic tribal society that never quite got the handle on "lying." That, and the fact that the fuzzies are facing extinction due to a biochemical quirk, unless the humans can figure it out and fix it. Oh, yeah, and the machinations of evil humans who seek to use the fuzzies for their own low ends.

And for a decade or so, that's all the fuzzies you got. Ace did quite well with paperback reprints, and the SFBC apparently made reasonable bank on the omnibus edition, and so Ace solicited ANOTHER couple of fuzzy books: Fuzzy Bones, by William Tuning, in which we discover that the fuzzies are in fact descendants of a race of spacefarers, which explains their biochemical quirk; the planet lacks a mineral their bodies require. Fuzzy Bones is a pretty good read, but has been rendered un-canon due to the later discovery of Fuzzies And Other People.

Ardath Mayhar's Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey is a series of short stories chronicling the history of fuzzies on the planet Zarathustra after their spaceship crashed, including a previously unchronicled first contact between fuzzies and humans (up until now, we thought that this had been with Jack Holloway in Little Fuzzy) and a variety of vignettes, concluding with a retelling of Little Fuzzy ... but from the title character's point of view.

...and this was followed by the discovery and publication of Fuzzies And Other People, Piper's final novel, in which it becomes painfully clear that Piper never intended the fuzzies to be anything other than Zarathustran aborigines. (Nonhuman sapient aliens exist in Piper's universe, but none had gotten out of the Stone Age before first contact with humans; the legendary stupidity of "khoogras" is a plot point, because it took humans forever to figure out if they were sapient. Humans finally gave them the benefit of the doubt, because they'd mastered fire use and had a language. Eighty whole words long).

I conclude what I personally have read with Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi (2011) which is best described as a "reboot." It essentially reworks Little Fuzzy's events and characters into a similar but surprisingly different story which is perhaps more palatable to a more modern audience (although I'd read the originals first). It's not bad; I didn't want to like it, but Scalzi manages a deft turn of phrase and handles the subject material well.

Surprisingly, all six books aren't bad reading. Due to Piper's death in the early sixties and someone's failure to file copyright extension, the first book is in the public domain (hence free on Amazon and Project Gutenberg) and there's a surprising amount of semiprofessional fanfic for sale out there that carries on the story of the fuzzies and their human friends... but not having read them, I can't comment.

Apparently, Michael Whelan enjoyed doing Fuzzy artwork.

 

61iImooTtQL.jpg.104b2001b379cc22322aa1164bc15087.jpgCaveatFuzzyCover.jpg.3b1306270a45e3cdd790d97852906e32.jpgFuzzy_Cover_FINAL.jpg.3da3a7027b59217a662a96f838bfeeb0.jpg

 

 

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Michael Whelan, back when he still did genre illustration*, was renowned for reading the manuscript he was going to illustrate and illustrating it as accurately as possible.

 

I don’t know how he got away with it. From what I hear most publishers did not bother giving the cover artists anything of the writing they were to illustrate. But for whatever reason, Michael Whelan made certain he got his hands on the actual fiction he was supposed to be representing.

 

It helps that he is an excellent draughtsman and colorist with a good sense of composition. His earlier work might be a little clunky here and there, but he improved quickly to a very high standard.

 

 

 

*He made enough off it to be able to retire and focus on his chief love, deeply symbolic realist paintings.

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8 minutes ago, Pezler the Polychromatic said:

After reading all of this about fuzzies, I can't help but think that ewoks were patterned after them.

 

You and about a hundred thousand literary Sf fans in 1983 - the ones who didn’t subscribe to the notion that they were originally supposed to be Wookies, that is.

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2 hours ago, Pingo said:

Michael Whelan, back when he still did genre illustration*, was renowned for reading the manuscript he was going to illustrate and illustrating it as accurately as possible.

 

That is rare. How many books have I read that the cover had almost zero to do with what was inside? 

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1 minute ago, Zink said:

 

That is rare. How many books have I read that the cover had almost zero to do with what was inside? 

 

The common industry practice (in the old days - I have no idea about now) was for the publisher to tell the artists what they wanted and that they wanted it last week, cheap. It was the lucky artist who got a sneak peek at the manuscript. 

 

The Good Show Sir website remains one of the finest online collections of truly awful sff cover art:

http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/

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