Monday, May 16, 2011

First, an apology

Sorry, folks, but I can't write what would be a normal blog post today. I have to write a letter to the author of a book I finished reading last night. But if you're curious as to what it's about, you're in luck, as I'm putting it right here.

To John Scalzi;

Thank you for taking some of the best science fiction I've read and turning it into complete trash. Your idea of rebooting Little Fuzzy was an exciting idea. Allow me to quote what you wrote at the start of the book. "...Fuzzy Nation appropriates the general story arc of Little Fuzzy, as well as character names and plot elements, and weds them to entirely new elements, characters, and events. Think of this as a "reboot" of the Fuzzy universe, not unlike the recent J. J. Abrams "reboot" of the Star Trek film series (but hopefully with better science)." Like I said, an excellent idea. Except that the foundations of Star Trek and its characters were still in the new movie, and you did no such thing with your book.

But let's look at what you did, just to be sure.

The names that followed over from the original to your book are "Jack Holloway," "Mama Fuzzy," and "Baby Fuzzy." That was it. Zarathustra's name was circumcised to ZaraTwenty-Three. Was there something wrong with the names with which H. Beam Piper came up? Victor Grego was synonymous with "evil" in the first book, and I confess you made a much better bad guys in your novel...

But then there weren't many good guys, were there? Jack, tough old timer and overall likeable guy was turned into a con man, plain and simple. I was amused at the start when you gave him a dog. Then I learned that the dog was "of use" to him, and that was that. Everyone was of use to Jack Holloway in your book. If anyone liked him in your book, it was in spite of their instincts.

You know, by the time he experienced that first attempt on his life, I was looking at the book almost as though it were a movie. Your Jack would get killed, and the old one would come on scene with a rapid apology. "Sorry I was late. Some son of a Khooghra was after my sunstones again." But your version also had a dextrous mind, and was able to escape. Too bad for the reader, eh?

Ben Rainsford...? Gone. Gus Branhard...? Gone. Gerd van Riebeek...? Gone. Ruth Ortheris...? Gone. Leonard Kellog...? Gone. Juan Jimenez...? Gone. Ernst Mallin...? Also gone. That's quite a body count, but let's not forget that you eliminated an entire species, the less-than-loved land prawns. But they served an excellent purpose in Piper's book. A purpose that was eliminated in yours. Nice going.

Then there were the Fuzzies, themselves. They weren't cute unless you were telling us they were cute. Beyond that, they were simply a plot device. Not very loveable at all. You even dared to introduce us to something of a Fuzzy culture, but never explained why unisex creatures would need mates. Nice move, Ex-lax.

Oh...and thanks for eliminating veridicators. In Piper's courtroom, lying is IMPOSSIBLE. In yours, it's an episode of Law & Order. We had 20 years of that show, and you just had to bring it to one of my favorite sci-fi stories in order to make Jack...what? A good guy? He was NEVER a good guy.

It's not all complaints. You update the technology, so that "taking a tape at 60 speed" was no longer a silly concept. You made the Fuzzies unisex, and married them to the actual planet. You also gave the story one excellent line: "Get off my planet, you son of a bitch." So...yeah. Those three things.

I still read Fuzzy Papers from time to time. It's an excellent story told by a master. Your reboot, however, will likely be placed on a shelf to collect dust or, if I can find a place, resold in the hopes of getting my money back on the garbage you wrote. When a reader is praying for the main character to die by any means, it's a bad sign. I actually wanted most of your characters dead by the time I had hit the middle of the book. (Isabel Wangai could live, just as long as she vanished so as not to be little more than another plot device.) How you got the blessings of the Piper estate is beyond me.

So that's that. Please don't try to reboot anymore classic sci-fi, as you might do what you've done to Little Fuzzy. Stick to "original" ideas, of which I will read none, as this shining example of your writing has turned me away from ever buying another of your books.

Your in disgust,
Rob Meadows

This was a lot shorter than I would have liked, but then my foot doesn't allow for me to sit for days, griping in detail. Besides, one of you just might get curious and want to read this thing. Just do me a favor and try to get it used, as this guy might get royalties for your purchase...and this wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Be well, and DFTBA!

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