It’s time to go old-school! We’re talking 1962. H. Beam Piper. Little Fuzzy. Classic sci-fi. Oh, yeah!
A story of galactic settlement. A story of corporate greed. A story of environmental consequences. A story about assumptions, scientific proof, and the fuzzy gray line between what we know, what we assume, and what we feel in our gut.
Jack Holloway is a prospector searching for jewels on a planet wholly owned and wholly controlled by the Chartered Zarathustra Company. It’s a Class III planet, habitable by humans with no indigenous sapient life of its own. The Chartered Zarathustra Company drains a swamp. This affects the rainfall over an entire continent. Land prawns—little nuisancy creatures with no known natural predators—scurry down south in a wave of peskiness.
Then, one day, Jack comes home and he’s not as alone as he should be. He finds—well, he’s not sure what he finds, so he calls it a fuzzy, a little fuzzy—a small, friendly, furry mammal. A mammal that kills and eats land prawns with a handmade tool. They become friends and the little fuzzy eases a loneliness Jack didn’t even know he felt—but that he feels keenly when Little Fuzzy leaves. Then, Little Fuzzy comes back, this time with his family—and Jack gets his own family of fuzzies.
Jack brings Ben Rainsford, a naturalist, in on the discovery. And what a discovery it turns out to be! It doesn’t take them long to realize that these little fuzzies are a sapient race, or at least on the cusp of being sapient. They seem to be pre-verbal, because they don’t seem to talk. They eat their land prawns raw, too, so they don’t use fire. Yet they make their own tools and they make art for the pure pleasure of it. It’s an awesome discovery!
Except Victor Grego, the head of the Chartered Zarathustra Company, doesn’t think so. If it’s true, if fuzzies are sapient, then the company’s charter is invalid. They’ll lose control of the planet!
When Jack finally realizes what’s at stake and what the company is willing to do to keep fuzzies from being declared sapient, it becomes a life-and-death struggle. A human and a fuzzy are the first casualties. But will there be more?
To find out you’ll have to go old-school and read this fantastic sci-fi adventure…the way sci-fi used to be!