I’ve been not at all surprised to see a wide range of reaction to the announcement of Fuzzy Nation, both here and elsewhere online, and ranging from squeeful enthusiasm to “WTF?”-level confusion and irritation. When you decide to write another version of a work that’s firmly secured in the science fiction literary canon, you should be ready for the response to be all over the board. This is one of the reasons I took the rather substantial amount of time required to get the sign-off of the right holders of the Fuzzy books still under copyright; I wanted to be sure that on that fundamental level, I wasn’t seen as an interloper.
Of course, fans are rights holders in a different way, and will have their individual positions on the matter, as they should, and do. I expect this wide range of opinion on the value/wisdom of Fuzzy Nation will continue well past the point of the book’s publication. I think this is good thing, personally, and as the writer of Nation I think what I’ve written is in itself good enough to handle intense fan scrutiny, positive and negative both.
One thing I should make clear, however, is what Fuzzy Nation is not. It is not a “respectful” retelling of the Fuzzy tale, for values of “respectful” meaning “overly cautious.” Nation retains some characters, elements and the overall plot of Piper’s book, but after that, things change, and sometimes they’ve changed quite a lot. Which is as I think it should be; there’s already one Little Fuzzy out there, and there’s no point going over it note for note. There have to be variations of the theme, and Nation needs to find (and I think, does find) the balance between being evocative of the original while bringing new things to the telling. It’s an interesting challenge, from a writing point of view.
Likewise, Fuzzy Nation is not my attempt to channel H. Beam Piper; that would be stupid of me. I think Piper and I share some points of style, in no small part due to the fact that I admire how he writes and as a young writer held up his writing as a guidepost for how I’d want my own style to be. But any similarities in our style are balanced by our overall differences as people and writers, and the fact that 2010 and 1962 are, shall we say, rather different years in all sorts of ways. I could have tried to write like Piper, but that would be a parlor trick, not one I’d be interested in sustaining over the course of a novel, nor one I think anyone would have been interested in reading.
So if these are things Fuzzy Nation are not, then what is Fuzzy Nation? Simply put: My version of a story I love, done as my own talents allow. Whether it’s an awesome cover version or simply literary karaoke will be for others to decide. But this is a story that bears more than one telling, and I’m happy with the version I’ve told. I can’t wait for you to read it.