(pb; 1962: first book in the Fuzzy Sapiens series)
From the back cover:
“Zarathustra was a Class-III uninhabited planet, and the chartered Zarathustra Company owned it lock, stock and barrel. They developed it, exploited it and reaped huge profits without any interference from the Colonial Government.
“But then, out of nowhere, came Jack Holloway – with a family of Fuzzies and a great deal of evidence that they were more than just cute little animals.
“If the Fuzzies were a race of intelligent beings, than Zarathustra would automatically become a Class-IV inhabited planet, and the Company’s charter and privileges would be over.
“The chartered Zarathustra Company wasn’t going to allow that to happen...”
Description of the Fuzzies, taken from the third Fuzzy book, Fuzzies and Other People: “erect bipeds, two feet tall... their bodies were covered with silky golden fur. They had five-fingered hands with opposable thumbs, large eyes set close enough together for stereoscopic vision, and vaguely humanoid features.”
Part science-fiction nature book, part courtroom drama, author Piper keeps the tone of this book gentle, except when the bad guys (employees of the Zarathustra company) are doing bad things. Even then it’s PG- rated, alarming in a Bambi’s-mom-got-shot kind of way.
Piper manages to keep it interesting and complex, despite the relative gentleness of the story; he also manages to avoid become too cutesy, which is easy to do when dealing with creatures as adorable as Fuzzies.
This is a good read for science fiction and animal lovers, if they can deal with a couple of heartbreaking scenes. The ending naturally lends itself to a sequel, Fuzzy Sapiens.