Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2254th Distribution,
LASFS Meeting No. 3702, July 24, 2008.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
|Denvention 3 in 2008!||Anticipation in 2009!||Salamander Press #2738|
My thanks to Dan Goodman for forwarding this comment from LiveJournal to APA-LASFS. No, I am not on LiveJournal and would have missed it.
If you don't read LiveJournal, you won't have seen this:
Reviewariffic! Anthrozine has Fred Patten's review of The Aphorisms of Kherishdar and it is lovely! Thanks, Fred! http://haikujaguar.livejournal.com/539520.html
My review is in Anthro #18, the July-August issue, which may be the last to have a complete set of eight of my new reviews. We will see what the future brings. Anthro #18 also has an excellent interview with the publishers of Sofawolf Press, Jeff Eddy and Tim Susman, which clarifies that it is the bankruptcy tieup with iBooks that is keeping Sofawolf from bringing out a new printing of my Best in Show anthology. Read it for some well-thought comments on whether Furry literature is a genre or not.
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Last Friday, Charlie Jackson visited my sister Sherrill's apartment to see my s-f art collection. Sherry says he was there from about 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Will tours of my art collection become popular?
I am glad that my old reviews are so popular. Here is another old review by me:
Little Fuzzy, by H. Beam Piper. NYC, Ace Books, January 1976, 174 pages, $1.25; SBN; 441-48490.
The terms "classic" and "cult following" are often overused by ad copy writers, but in the case of Little Fuzzy they are certainly deserved. The book was an immediate favorite when it appeared in a paperback edition in 1962 and wound up among the Hugo finalists for best novel of that year. Piper committed suicide in 1964, and subsequent litigation over his estate discouraged the reprinting of his works. As a result Little Fuzzy soon became extremely scarce despite its popularity. A s-f specialty bookshop near UCLA has been selling copies of the disintegrating 1962 40¢ paperback for $10 when they can be found, and has had a long waiting list for them. Ace's new edition is therefore extremely good news.
The novel is a good blend of physical and cerebral action, with a number of likeable characters. The expanding human race has colonized Zarathustra, a world of broad plains and thick forests, about a generation earlier. Exploration is still being conducted at the same time a frontier society is spreading out. The planet is dominated economically by the Chartered Zarathustra Company, a monopoly analogous to the British East India Company.
Jack Holloway, an old prospector, is the first to meet what he names 'fuzzies', friendly creatures rather like giant tailless marmosets. The find is of only academic interest until the Company learns that Holloway treats them as 'little people' rather than as pets, and that an eminent zoologist is preparing a report on their unusually high intelligence level. The CZC charter is for a Class III uninhabited planet only - if the fuzzies are smart enough to be defined as people, the Company's rights to develop Zarathustra's resources will be voided. The Company sends in its own scientific team to 'prove' that fuzzies are no more than clever animals, and in the resulting clash a fuzzy and one of the Company's men are killed.
Holloway's defense against a murder charge is that he was acting to prevent the murder of an intelligent Zarathustran native. The fuzzies become a cause celebre as all who wish to see the Company's monopoly ended rally to their support, while the Company's legal staff devises courtroom arguments against them, and some executives plot a more final solution to rid themselves of the cuddly danger. And Judge Pendarvis wonders how he will rule when forced to set a legal demarcation between sapience and non-sapience.
There are no real villains in this novel. All the characters are really responding to forces outside their control. Holloway is a scrappy fighter but he doesn't go out of his way to support Causes; he just wants to make sure his little friends don't get hurt. The Company is an ordinarily benevolent saurian bureaucracy, bewilderedly stirred to battle for its existence, liable to crush innocent bystanders as it thrashes about. The fuzzies, who have the approximate intelligence of human eight-year-olds, don't want to threaten anybody and haven't the least understanding of all the commotion.
The stars of the book are the fuzzies, lively and curious two-foot-tall humanoids covered in silky gold or silver fur, who act like perpetually well-behaved young children. There's Little Fuzzy himself, Mama Fuzzy, and the rest of their family, and eventually a whole race of fuzzies discovered in the forests. How will they react to humans? How will humans react to them? Some want to hunt them for their pelts while others want to adopt them as though they were human children. Should they be isolated from humans for their own protection? Should they be allowed the benefits of human civilization despite what culture shock might do to their society?
Piper's story is a clever construction, but it is light adventure rather than serious philosophy. Most of the questions raised are treated simplistically. The characters are vivid but essentially one-dimensional. Probably the most memorable is the principal heavy, Victor Grego, the Company's manager-in-chief, because he is the only one to undergo any development during the novel. Holloway's case is improved more than once by Company bureaucrats making stupid mistakes at just the right times. The key question of the fuzzies' legal sapience is resolved by a minor deus ex machina rather than by any real answer.
But these quibbles barely affect Little Fuzzy's charm. It is zestful and humorous, with touches of drama, romance, and pathos, all leading to an obviously happy ending. (So obviously, in fact, that Grego is the first to privately concede it - but the Company has been his whole life and he can't see it disintegrate without resisting.) The novel's popularity is proof that the fuzzies' attraction is as irresistible to readers as it is to Holloway and his friends. This is one book that really does deserve an "s-f classic" hardcover edition. But since it doesn't have one, libraries had better buy Ace's new paperback in half-dozen lots. Copies will get worn out very quickly, especially in view of Ace's eye-catching and appealing cover.
Delap's F&SF Review #11, February 1976, pages 20-21.
I have a later review of the 1977 hardcover The Fuzzy Papers that I will probably reprint next week.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Cover - (DeChancie) Delivery system to where? London?
De Jueves #1592 - (Moffatts) I thought the spelling of Minski looked suspicious, but I did not have time to check it. ## Yes, I meant Super Science Stories. I hope that I have not been making that error in all of my comments on the LASFS coat of arms history. ## I have been missing something by not trying any hibiscus-flavored teas, then. ## One of the episodes of the anime s-f series Cowboy Bebop set in the late 21st century involved the heroes getting an old video cassette with important information on it and spending the whole episode looking for an ancient cassette player. They did not know the difference between VHS and Betamax. ## I defer to Ky Moffet on the color of the golden poppies in her fields, but I still say that photograph looked scarlet. When I lived with my parents, we had a few opium poppies in our flowerbed. They were pretty and easy to grow.
Vanamonde #790 - (Hertz) Yes, Jarritos is a Mexican soft drink brand with several flavors. Horchata is sometimes served by the Mexican chefs at my nursing home with a little cinnamon.
I Emailed Venus - (Gold) When I had the LASFS coat of arms made into paperweights umpty years ago, I was authorized to figure out what colors it should be instead of just black & white. The paperweight was too small to show the coat of arms in the full colors, but my colors were approved. Tim Merrigan and others made their own variations without bothering to follow the approved colors exactly. The crest is in the Science Fiction League colors, which can be checked on Wonder Stories. The Weird Tales Club logo is in green & brown. Everything else is in black & gold. The spaceship's flames in red may be prettier but it is not what the club approved. ## My sister Sherrill says she had already sent you the list of all my medications by the time your request appeared in Apa L. But the nursing home is always changing my medications, so I do not know for how long that list will be current.