Sometimes I think that there are just certain ideas floating around in the ambience that come in waves, waiting for an author, movie producer or song writer to pick them up. Suddenly you have a flurry of stories about dragons, young magicians or vampires. For some writers and singers, the idea blossoms to become a best seller or hit parade song, while for others the idea withers on the vine because of various reasons. Timing, other commitments, distractions, competition.
Not that long ago it was endangered species and the environment. You do remember global warming, don’t you? The movie “Avatar?” Al Gore? The world coming to an end because of automobiles and clear cutting?
It was a hot topic.
“Fuzzy Nation” by John Scalzi uses this theme and, like the movie “Avatar”, the bad guys, Zaracorp, are mining the planet Zarathustra and destroying the ecology. But, Zaracorp’s entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet is based on being able to certify to authorities on Earth that the planet is not home to a sentient species.
Meet Jack Halloway, disbarred lawyer, smart ass surveyor and greedy prospector. Into his life drops, or should I say, sneaks through the dog door of his tree house, an adorable catlike furry creature that begins to show alarming traces of sentience.
Scalzi weaves a fun story around the situation, leaning heavily on legal legerdemain and witty banter. Interaction between Jack and his ex girlfriend, and her new corporate lawyer boyfriend, provides great dialog and interesting character development.
The story becomes more than the message and is filled with legal twists and turns. I thought it a fun light read. As usual, Scalzi puts his characters into situations where the best and worse of human nature rises humorously to the top.
So what is the current trending topic? Vampires are getting long in the tooth, and well, dragons are dragging. The web, gaming, and A1 intelligence looks promising. Going with this idea, I have in hand for next week “Ready, Player One.” By Ernest Cline.