Justine Larbalestier on Why She Loves Bad Reviews

It’s here.

Personally, I don’t love bad reviews, but I also define “bad review” not as “a negative review,” but as “a review by someone who clearly did not read the same book I wrote,” or “a review by someone who has personal issues to work out, and attempted to do so on my poor, innocent book,” or possibly “a review written by someone who hates me, but boringly.” Sometimes it’s a combination of two of these, and if you hit the jackpot, all three. In the cases where it is all three, however, I do kinda love those reviews, for these same reason I like looking at Cake Wrecks.

I’m fine with negative reviews. If you’re a writer, you should learn to be too. You will get them. And sometimes they will be correct about your book. Deal with it.

Some Useful Clarifications About Fuzzy Nation

I’ve been alerted that in various places online people are — one assumes by lack of actual information than by genuine malice — spreading misinformation about both me and my upcoming novel Fuzzy Nation. In order that I and others can have something to point to when and if this misinformation pops up again, here’s a quick page for that.


Yes, Fuzzy Nation is a book that is a reimagining of story and events of Little Fuzzy, written by H. Beam Piper (and nominated for the Best Hugo Novel in 1962).

Yes, it is authorized — after I wrote the novel I sent it to the rights-holders of the Piper estate and asked permission to try to get it published. They agreed. Little Fuzzy itself is in the public domain; however, both morally and practically speaking I thought it essential to seek permission, because I didn’t want anyone to think I was doing this without the full awareness and participation of the Piper estate and its rights holders.

Yes, the relationship of Fuzzy Nation and Little Fuzzy is made clear in the upcoming book — there’s an author’s note at the beginning of the book detailing the relationship, plus (if the proofs I’ve seen are accurate) a note in the jacket copy of the book. Additionally, the book is co-dedicated to Piper. There’s no attempt to sweep either Piper or Little Fuzzy under the carpet; indeed, I encourage people to read Little Fuzzy, both for its own sake and to note the different approaches to the same story both books feature.

Yes, I am the sole author of Fuzzy Nation — although the story of Fuzzy Nation is based on Little Fuzzy and includes characters and story elements from that novel, all the text is original, and the story in its details diverges in places significantly from Piper’s work. None of Piper’s own writing, published or unpublished, appears in the novel. There are a couple of places in the novel where my description of something is based on what Piper wrote (the description of the sunstones comes to mind), but no attempt was made to cut-and-paste Piper’s work. That being the case:

No, there is no plagiarism involved here. Even if I had borrowed Piper’s own writing, the novel was submitted to and approved by the Piper estate, so any borrowing would have been authorized (and thus not plagiarism).

No, I do not own the rights to any previous Fuzzy books, either those written by H. Beam Piper or those commissioned by Ace Books after the rights to the series came to them. I have a license to write a new story based on the characters and events of Little Fuzzy, and that’s it. As I understand it, Penguin (the corporate parent of Ace Books) owns the rights to all the previous Fuzzy works, save Little Fuzzy, which as mentioned is in the public domain. With that understood:

No, I am not republishing any of the previous Fuzzy books under my name. One, as mentioned, I don’t own the rights to the previous novels. Two, wow, that would be stupid of me, wouldn’t it — not only to be so disrespectful to Piper (and to William Tuning and Ardath Mayhar), but to assume people would buy the premise that I wrote books before I was actually alive, in the case of the Piper works, or before I was in high school, in the case of the others. The only Fuzzy books that will be published under my name are the ones I actually write (and at this point, there is only one of those).

Finally, no, I didn’t write Fuzzy Nation just for the money — I wrote it for myself and for fun, and as an exercise in retelling a particular story I enjoyed. Money didn’t enter into the writing. Once it was done, my agent approached the Piper estate and Penguin about getting their permission to try to sell the book. If they had said “no,” then I wouldn’t have released the book. Once I had permission, I sold the book to Tor, and I did indeed make money — and so did the Fuzzy rights holders, because they get a cut of what I make, which is, of course, both right and appropriate.

Hope that clears things up for folks.