John Scalzi, Franchise Pirate?

Posted By SandChigger on February 24, 2011

A while back I saw a new, upcoming book by John Scalzi listed among my recommendations on Amazon: Fuzzy Nation. I had a quick look at the blurb and added it to my wish list, because differences in opinion on his friend & best-selling McDune hack Kevin J. Anderson notwithstanding, I really did enjoy his Old Man’s War trilogy and think he’s an excellent [read: REAL] writer. As opposed to dictahiking-gimmick man Anderson, who’s as close to talent-free as you can get and still have a modicum of the stuff. (Anderson’s one talent, by the way, besides untiring self-promotion … and always being able to stick his foot in it on Twitter … is his uncanny ability to almost always have an adjective ready to modify any noun he meets!)

Anyway, I was trawling around the Amazon discussion threads last night (well, early this morning, actually) and I noticed a new one on the book in question (which is due out in May) entitled “fuzzy nation ? who gets credit?”

I’m not familiar with H. Beam Piper and his Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Sapiens books. But I was rather disappointed to see a writer like Scalzi following in the footprints of Anderson and “rebooting” another writer’s universe. (One of the commenters in the thread quotes Scalzi as having said, “I took the original plot and characters of Little Fuzzy and wrote an entirely new story from and with them. The novel doesn’t follow on from the events of Little Fuzzy; it’s a new interpretation of that first story and a break from the continuity that H. Beam Piper established in Little Fuzzy and its sequels.” [Unsourced in the thread, it's from his blog here.])

Taking the setting and characters of another author and writing a completely new story full of new interpretation that breaks from the continuity established in the original works, all with the blessing of the author’s estate… isn’t that the essence of the bullshit hackwork that is Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert’s McDune?

Bully for you, John Scalzi!

About The Author

I am a bug.


11 Responses to “John Scalzi, Franchise Pirate?”

  1. rojse says:

    I love reading your blog, Sandchigger, but on this matter I must disagree with you. I haven’t read “Fuzzy Nation” by H. Beam Piper, so I can’t talk about its quality, but if Scalzi was going to pick a series of novels to base a new book on, he could have picked a far more popular (and therefore lucrative) venture than this series. Instead, he’s picked an obscure work like this, which at least says that he enjoys the world he is writing in. Certainly, there might be a few sales generated by people who enjoyed the original series and want to read a retread, but the vast majority of sales, I suspect, are going to be based on either Scalzi’s reputation as a writer and blogger and the quality of the book itself.

    On the other hand, Anderson has picked one of, if not the most popular and well-respected science fiction series’ ever written, and has messily inserted himself all around and in between the books of the original series, with no respect or understanding of any element or aspect of the original series. From what I can see, the only thing that Anderson loves about the Dune series is the royalty checks he gets sent for the “books” he has managed to get published.

    I’ll give Scalzi the benefit of the doubt on this until I read Fuzzz Nation, at least, and I have more respect for Scalzi’s rebooting than Anderson’s love of sequels, prequels, and inquels.

  2. SandChigger says:

    Hi. We’ll just have to wait and see, I guess.

    I haven’t decided whether I’ll still read it or not. I haven’t read the originals, and what I’ve read about them so far hasn’t interested me, so this basically means nothing to me. I’m not even, at the moment, particularly interested in why Scalzi did it. (I didn’t bother reading his blog post about it. Was he approached and asked to do it by the Piper estate/family? Did he come up with and pitch the idea to them? Are they just more parasites like the Herbert/Merritts, hoping to cash in on a literary legacy, even if it’s not as big as Dune?)

    It seems a waste of time & energy to me. But it’s his time & energy, so whatever. :)

  3. Robspierre says:

    Fuzzy Nation is actually in public domain Chig. Scalzi went and wrote the novel, didn’t tell anyone about it, then showed it, after he had finished it, to the Piper Estate who gave it their blessing. He pursued it as a labor of love for a work that he cares a lot about. He did not have to approach the estate since what he did was based off the public domain work, the sequels are still copyrighted.

    Scalzi wanted to do right by the Piper Estate even though there was no legal obligation to do so.

  4. SandChigger says:

    OK. Thanks for clarifying things, Rob.

    Scalzi as a class act… just makes his friendship with that slime Anderson even harder to understand.

    (Why is the book in the public domain? Did the family/estate not apply to extend the copyrights then? Wow… yet another group of people that shows what a bunch of parasites the Herbert/Merritts are!)

  5. Serkanner says:

    Any friend of andershit is my enemy and I will NOT touch a single book by them. No Sanderson no Scalzi for me … my loss you say? With the many many thousands of great books written in history I will never be able to read them all in the first place … unless I’m immortal of course (which hasn’t been disproved yet).

  6. SandChigger says:

    Well, I’m not into fantasy and had never read any of Sanderson to begin with, so it’s no problem to just write him off (especially after hearing him gushing like a schoolgirl over KJA in that interview the other day!), but I’m not quite ready to go that far with Scalzi yet, but I am completely fucked off with the whole bullshit “reboot” fad.

    Meh. This one’s fanfic.

  7. Robspierre says:

    Piper committed suicide in 1964. He had no direct heirs and so the copyrights lapsed. At the moment there are only two works of his, I believe, that are are under current copyright. Scalzi states that he first wrote it for himself, then approached the rights holders of Piper’s Estate and they eventually came to an agreement. Basically Scalzi did a writing exercise that wound up getting published. Let’s see the hack pull that one off!

  8. Greg Tidwell says:

    I am looking forward to this one. I really liked the first Fuzzy book, and in fact did a legal analysis of it here:

    It’ll probably work out well for Scalzi, as he is definitely capable of improving on the original concept. I always thought that is why he picked this story. He wisely eschewed things like Dune, which nobody should ever have tackled.

  9. TerokNor says:

    Hey Chigger, have you read this?

    I’m not a fan of the new Dune novels at all, largely because Herbert fils and Anderson have a combined writing style that is just all too underwhelming for the Dune universe; Frank Herbert’s writing had a sort of stentorian majesty to it, and that style richly permeated the Dune universe just as much as the melange spice. Herbert/Anderson’s prose is like a stick of Big Red by comparison, and continues to be so here. This makes me sad, as I’ve enjoyed Anderson’s writing in other settings, but I wish they’d found a writer whose writing style would have been more appropriate for what had come before (A China Mieville Dune novel — now that would be fun).

    I wonder if they are really “friends” if Scalzi apparently prefers one of the “critical darlings” to Anderson.

  10. TerokNor says:

    Whoops, seems you have, and posted about it, too, two years ago. Note to self: search first, reply later.

  11. SandChigger says:

    Hi! No problem. Always good to be reminded of things like that. :)

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