little-fuzzyMore than 20 years before George Lucas started his long, downhill slide with  Ewoks, H. Beam Piper gave us fuzzies or, by their appropriate scientific designation, Fuzzy fuzzy holloway zarathrustra. Little Fuzzy, a 1963 Hugo nominee for Best Novel, is terrific science fiction.  With its themes of corporate espionage, civil rights, and climate change, this book could have been written today rather than four decades earlier.

I’ve been a fan of this book since I was a kid, and due to the “cute” aliens the book is often marketed to children, branded as juvenile fiction.  It isn’t.  There are very mature themes in this book, such as greed, racism, and murder.

Fuzzies are a newly discovered race of humanoid creatures found on the distant, resource-rich world of Zarathrustra.  They are about a foot tall, covered in soft fur.  The question of their sapience (e.g. are they “people”) is central to the book.  How do we define intelligence?

I’ve loved this book for a long, long while.  ‘Read it several times and, in fact, I’m currently listening to the audiobook.  Everyone I know who’s read it, loves it.large_advolfzy

I’ve always wondered why someone hasn’t made Little Fuzzy into a movie.  The story is as family friendly as Old Yeller, The Yearling, or Where the Red Fern Grows. Plus, fuzzies?  Hello, merchandising!

Today, I learned that Little Fuzzy – and many of H. Beam Piper’s books – have slipped into the public domain.

Mind.  Blown.

I can’t believe that the rights were so mismanaged on this property.  But, yea us!

I’m already pondering the implications, and looking at other opportunities this provides.

For instance, all of Piper’s Federation books documenting the Terro-Human future history have gone public domain.  A role playing setting based on Uller Uprising, Space Viking, The Cosmic Computer, and Four-Day Planet would be awesome.  If somebody hasn’t beaten me to it before I finish This Empire Earth, I’m totally doing it!

While the Paratime novels (think time cops from a parallel Earth safeguarding time at the same time co-opting resources in questionable fashion) remain under copyright, the Paratime short stories Time Crime, Temple Trouble, Last Enemy, and Police Operation are all in the public domain.

My playground has suddenly gotten larger.

You can read Little Fuzzy for free.

You can listen to it, too (please note: I originally had an embedded player here, but it didn’t work…  go straight to the site to download).