H. Beam Piper: Fuzzy sapiens (1964, Ace Books) 4 stars

Interesting sequel exploring how the colony and human/fuzzy relations change

4 stars

When I first heard of Little Fuzzy, long before I read the first book, I had no idea there were any sequels. I think I may have also gotten them mixed up with the Hokas (with perhaps good reason). After reading Piper's original and Scalzi's reboot, I got curious about how Piper continued the original story.

There's a loose plot following a kidnapping investigation, but it's mostly there as a framework to explore the human/fuzzy relationship and how the colony is changing. With the question of sapience established, it gets into the politics of shifting from a company town to an eventual democracy, the ethics of human colonization and native relations with the Fuzzies, and biology, considering where the Fuzzies fit in the planet's food web and why they're so fond of a particular prey animal and a particular brand of human-made emergency rations.

Many of the original characters return, but shifted into new roles and new alliances. Jack Holloway is an official liaison between humans and Fuzzies. Victor Grego, the corporate boss who fought so hard to keep the Fuzzies from being recognized as people, has adapted to the new normal and discovered that he actually quite likes their newly-contacted neighbors. People of both species are picking up the others' language, and factories are gearing up to mass-produce devices to shift the Fuzzies' voices into human-audible range.

It's still very much the Mad Men approach to ecological space colonization: All the humans smoke, cocktail hour is a sacrosanct ritual, most of the active, in-charge people are men, and even the good guys treat the Fuzzies like children. But at least they're trying to work on the Fuzzies' behalf, unlike the traffickers and opportunists. And there's a female scientist who shows up her egotistical boss quite well. But within that context, it's an interesting read.

(Cross-posted from my website.)