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The Complete Fuzzy    by H. Beam Piper order for
Complete Fuzzy
by H. Beam Piper
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 1998 (1962)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jack Holloway is an old prospector on Zarathustra, mining for sunstones and used to his own company. He's wondered about the crushed land-prawn shells close to his camp as they are supposed to have no natural enemies. Victor Grego runs the Zarathustra Company, its charter dependent on the planet's having no intelligent species of its own. Nick Emmert is the Federation's resident-general and a large stockholder in the Company. The stage is set and so begins the saga of the Fuzzies.

Jack had left his cabin door open and returns to find something that says Yeeeek inside his shower stall ... 'two wide eyes staring up at him out of a ball of golden fur ... it had a round head and big ears and a vaguely humanoid face with a little snub nose'. Little Fuzzy, as Pappy Jack names him, is smart enough to stick around. He finds Jack's field rations delicious and uses tools to dispose of a land prawn. Jack is entranced and sad when his little friend disappears ... to return with an entire family of Fuzzies.

Of course Jack's discovery makes the Company very nervous and they carry out all kinds of nefarious actions to prove that the Fuzzies are nothing but fur-bearing animals - from kidnapping to court action and murder. But Jack and his Fuzzies find their own allies and a David versus Goliath battle begins, with a climactic ending to the first story. Fuzzy adventures continue in the two subsequent tales, addressing issues of communication and the problem with their low birth rate.

What is the Fuzzy appeal? It helps that they are terminally cute. In fact I suspect that the Star Wars Ewoks owe a great deal to Fuzzies. Any pet lover would like to live with one, and would immediately suspect the hidden depths that Jack slowly uncovers. But Piper also spins a good yarn, with interesting characters, a credible and complex world and a variety of motivations and conflict.

Little Fuzzy ends with a Fuzzy perspective on humans: 'And they would pay the Big Ones back. First they would give their love and make them happy. Later, when they learned how, they would give their help, too.' If you have a sentimental bone in your body, then dig out a copy of Piper's book. Fuzzies are charmers and their story is classic SF at its best and one of my own all time favorites.

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