When I was 10 years old, my brothers and I went to spend the weekend with my parent's friends, the Worthingtons. Mr. Worthington, knowing I was a voracious reader, gave me a paper grocery sack full of pulp science fiction from the 1960s. The funny thing is I don't remember much about the books I read that weekend, except that I enjoyed them immensely. What I most remember is the ad for H. Beam Piper's Fuzzy Sapiens which was in the back of one of the books. The Fuzzies looked so cute, that I just had to find the book!!
Unfortunately for me, Fuzzy Sapiens was published in 1964, 3 years before I was born, and although classified at the time in the same genre as The Hobbit, never took on the same cult status as Tolkien's highly successful start of the Middle Earth saga. So for 35 years, my yearning for Fuzzies was limited to my dreams.
Then, last November, I was visiting Art at school in Oregon and we stopped at a used bookstore to peruse the aisles. I am a huge Kindle fan, but there is still much to be said for a good and worn used book. The musty smell, the notes in the margins, the browning or yellowing of the dog-eared pages - all of these indicators give me some idea of how much the previous owner (or owners) enjoyed the book.
Anyway, as I wandered the science fiction section (my favorite), what popped out at me but the entire Fuzzy trilogy!!! I didn't even know there was a trilogy. Little Fuzzy is the first book and the one I read for this review.
Parts of this book were very pulpy and fun, like watching the original Star Trek and wondering how they could have such "advanced" technology but no one had invented seatbelts? In Fuzzy Sapiens all video data is transmitted by super fast reel to reel tape. Seriously? How many of my readers even remember reel to reel tapes? Yeah, that's what I thought.
The best part of this book is Jack Holloway, the crusty old prospector who takes to "his" Fuzzies, the way that Grandfather took to Heidi. The Fuzzies are cute and cuddly and not at all Gremlin-like. The majority of the story revolves around whether or not the Fuzzies can be classified as sapient beings or "people". There is a definite tinge of xenophobia in this book, as even those who believe the Fuzzies can think and reason tend to treat the little people more like pets or small children than peers. Since this book was written in 1962, I give the author some credit for his forward thinking and excuse his lack of prescience in civil rights.