Fuzzy Sapiens

By H. Beam Piper

Rating: 3 stars

This book takes up pretty much immediately after its predecessor, Little Fuzzy, finishes and continues the story of the (now legally protected as) sapient species Fuzzy Fuzzy Holloway on the colony world Zarathustra. The jacket blurb on my edition was actually misleading, hinting at an existential threat to the species that didn’t turn up until pretty late in the book, and was then resolved pretty quickly and without much drama.

I was somewhat bemused throughout the book by the treatment of the Fuzzies by the Humans. Despite repeatedly stating that they were sentient, they were often treated like pets, although I’m not sure if this is was deliberately done by the author to show confusion in the colonists’ minds or was an issue that Piper had.

One thing that I found quite quaint was the very mid-twentieth century attitudes on display, partially in the treatment of courting and women (not as bad as some, since it actually allowed women to work in serious jobs) and very much in the fact that everyone seemed to stop in the early evening for a cocktail hour. It somehow felt quite colonial, in the British Empire sense, and not really like a frontier colony world at all, but it was charming, in its own way.

Charming is a good word to describe the book as a whole, really. There’s little sense of threat and the whole thing just feels like an extended footnote to the previous volume. I still found it enjoyable though and one thing that I did like was how it rehabilitated the villains from the previous book. In that, the Company that ran the planet had a vested interest in proving the Fuzzies non-sapient, since otherwise they would lose their claim to the planet, but now that that has happened, the company brass shrug and just get on with dealing with the aftermath, and are portrayed much more sympathetically than before.

In summary, the book was enjoyable and fun, but by no means essential reading for fans of Little Fuzzy.

Book details

ISBN: 044126192x
Publisher: Ace
Year of publication: 1964

Little Fuzzy (Fuzzy Sapiens, #1)

By H. Beam Piper

Rating: 3 stars

On a newly colonised word on the edge of human space, Jack Holloway is a sun-stone prospector. Searching for the rare jewels that are worth a fortune back on Earth he finds a small, furry humanoid creature in his homestead that he soon makes friends with, and discovers can use tools and and has a family that he moves in as well. However, when he informs the Company that runs the colony that a sapient native species exists, that would invalidate the Company’s charter for the world so they try to first suppress the knowledge of the species, that Holloway has named ‘Fuzzies’. During a discussion between Holloway and Leonard Kellogg, a Company representative, he kills a Fuzzy, which leads to a trial, hinging on whether or not the Fuzzies are actually sapient.

This is quite a philosophical little book (available for free on Project Gutenberg) with discussions on intelligence and what sapience means. While the definitions in the early part of the book are quite simplistic (talking and making fire) by the end, much more complex definitions are proffered for what is, undoubtedly, a difficult subject.

Apart from Holloway, the characters in the book are mostly fairly two-dimensional, but it’s the philosophical debate about sapience that is the core of the book, the characters being mostly there to either support different points of view, or provide foils to debate with. Enjoyable if you take it for what it is.

Book details

ISBN: 9780843959116
Publisher: Cosmos Books
Year of publication: 1962

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