hradzka: SF writer H. Beam Piper. (H. Beam Piper)
[personal profile] hradzka
Acclaimed SF writer John Scalzi has written and will be publishing a remix/reboot of H. Beam Piper's acclaimed, beloved, Hugo-nominated SF novel LITTLE FUZZY. I am, as y'all know, JUST SLIGHTLY IN THE TANK for H. Beam Piper, and so roughly half the people I know dropped me a line about this and asked for my reaction.

My initial reaction to this news is visible at 2:37 (video).

I'm slightly calmer now, enough to have left a polite I WANT TO LIKE YOU PLEASE PLEASE DON'T FUCK THIS UP note in Scalzi's comments. But I just can't hop on the bandwagon about this, because it makes me deeply uncomfortable. I wonder if any Austen fans felt like this about PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES. It's not a fair comparison; if anything, Scalzi's picked LITTLE FUZZY as his subject for a Remix challenge, not as a prop for cheap gags. And, y'know, Piper can't kick, because he's going on fifty years dead. Fair enough.

But -- y'know, on thinking about it, my reaction is still FUCK TO THE NO.

I know Scalzi loves the original and wants to do a take on it that shows his love, but I'm sorry, I'm too close to the original and I'm too close to H. Beam Piper to feel sanguine about this. Piper and I are similar men, in some ways, which accounts for some of the closeness I feel to him. He was reticent about himself, and wrote intellectually, rather than emotionally; when he did put himself on the page, he showed his brain or his spleen. But what I'd never realized, until I read John Carr's biography, was just how much LITTLE FUZZY involved Piper, arguably for the first time in his career as a writer, pretty much carving off a chunk of his heart and slamming it up on the page. Piper wrote that book after his marriage had fallen apart; he'd married late in life, and for the first time he'd had a life of his own with a wife, and a dog, and general domesticity, and then everything had fallen apart. It was his fault for being a colossal ass, and he knew it. He was remembering what he'd had, and didn't have any more, and so he wrote:

[Jack] ate alone—after all the years he had been doing that contentedly, it had suddenly become intolerable—and in the evening he dialed through his micro-film library, finding only books he had read and reread a dozen times, or books he kept for reference. Several times he thought he heard the little door open, but each time he was mistaken. Finally he went to bed.

As soon as he woke, he looked across at the folded blanket, but the wood chisel was still lying athwart it. He put down more Extee Three and changed the water in the bowl before leaving for the diggings. That day he found three more sunstones, and put them in the bag mechanically and without pleasure. He quit work early and spent over an hour spiraling around the camp, but saw nothing. The Extee Three in the kitchen was untouched.

Maybe the little fellow ran into something too big for him, even with his fine new weapon—a hobthrush, or a bush-goblin, or another harpy. Or maybe he’d just gotten tired staying in one place, and had moved on.

No; he’d liked it here. He’d had fun, and been happy. He shook his head sadly. Once he, too, had lived in a pleasant place, where he’d had fun, and could have been happy if he hadn’t thought there was something he’d had to do. So he had gone away, leaving grieved people behind him. Maybe that was how it was with Little Fuzzy. Maybe he didn’t realize how much of a place he had made for himself here, or how empty he was leaving it.

One of my favorite lines of dialogue in anything, ever, is from BABYLON 5, where Londo Mollari says, "There comes a time when you look into the mirror and know that what you see is all that you will ever be. Then you accept it, or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking into mirrors." H. Beam Piper tried to accept it; and then he couldn't accept it, and so he killed himself. Because he was stone broke, and he was starving, and he couldn't stop looking into mirrors.

LITTLE FUZZY is a novel about adorable aliens, and what makes a sentient being, and prospecting and space adventure and all that stuff. It's also a novel about H. Beam Piper's loneliness; it's a deeply personal book by a man I never knew but have come to care quite a lot for, and so, no, I'm really not happy about the idea of it getting remixed, because *I love the people and things I love,* and I love Beam Piper and I don't love John Scalzi.

Also today: I discovered that one of my favorite comedies of all time, Francis Veber's LE DINER DE CONS (English title: THE DINNER GAME) has been remade as DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS. I knew this was in the works a few years ago with Sascha Baron Cohen attached; they made it with Paul Rudd and Steve Carell. The original is one of the tightest, most glorious scripts I've ever seen; no subtitled YouTube clips, alas, but if you speak French, here you go. It is a great, great movie, full of laughs and great moments and statements about the human condition. Rent it. Then go watch the remake's trailer. You will want to take a crowbar to the legs of everybody involved.

It's now half an hour to midnight where I am. I'm just hoping I can get through the day without learning of another personal fannish horror.

Date: 2010-04-08 04:18 am (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
I have actually never read Little Fuzzy. Going to go download it and put it on my reader.

After that commentary, I'm not even clicking on the link for the trailer for Dinner for Schmucks. My French ain't what it used to be but I laughed my ass off at the original.

Date: 2010-04-08 04:59 am (UTC)
niqaeli: cat with arizona flag in the background (my kitty brethren)
From: [personal profile] niqaeli

I just. No. No no, fucking hells to the no.

I don't really have an opinion on Scalzi. Piper and Little Fuzzy, however, are incredibly fucking dear to me. And I'll cop that I am even very fond of the non-Piper sequel, Fuzzy Bones.

And yet, no.

I don't care if Scalzi's a fan. Fuck you, NO.

Thinking about it, I would... be much more okay with this if it were within the context of fanfiction and the methods of publishing used by most writers of fanfiction. But it's not; Scalzi's not only a published author, but he is publishing this story professonally. It's getting a Stamp Of Approval, as opposed to being one fan's interpretation put out there.

Ugh. So much Do Not Want.

Date: 2010-04-08 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mendori
Man. Just No.

I recently reread Little Fuzzy for the first time in years, and was really surprised by how much I remembered, and how much I had forgotten. And the passage you quoted above was one of the ones I remembered vividly, but now I had so much more context and knowledge of Piper's life that rereading it was ... more heartbreaking than ever.

There's also a bit towards the end that to this day makes me cringe, and thinking about it now in terms of the context of Piper's life makes me vividly aware of some of the thoughts he must have been having. I recognize those thoughts, of looking at every day objects and going "Could I use this and just...?" and it makes my stomach turn.

However, on the flip side, maybe this will bring another generation into the original Little Fuzzy, and by proxy into the rest of Piper's works? I can only think that this might, the same way the first season of TNG did, make many young people realize hey, there's something in this old stuff I should be looking at.

And as someone who is about to track down a copy of Uller Uprising to give to a history prof who specializes in British India, I can only hope that it is not so bad it turns people off from Piper.

Date: 2010-04-08 02:20 pm (UTC)
blueswan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blueswan
I've learned to ignore the books based on so-and-so's world/series/universe, but I never considered the possibility of a remix of a classic like Little Fuzzy. Out of hand, I want to reject the very idea because it's Little Fuzzy dammit. That, and I'm not at all familiar with Scalzi's work. But, I've never forgotten Robinson's short Melancholy Elephants; it's stayed with me since I first read it in Analog. So, I'm a little torn because NO and then BUT... *hands* (Not at all the same situation, but I own an as yet unread copy of Variable Star.)

Date: 2010-04-08 05:44 pm (UTC)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
From: [personal profile] cofax7
It's funny how much more strongly we react to something like this when it happens in the professional context. As if being approved for sale makes it more important or meaningful, somehow. When in reality my (admittedly faint) recollection of Little Fuzzy will be no more affected by Scalzi's book than by any piece of Piper fanwork hosted at AO3.

Interesting. Money and approval are somehow enormous signifiers, even if they have no actual effect.

What if Scalzi breaches the firewall?

Date: 2010-04-11 03:55 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The Fuzzies and Paratime, in the same novel?


hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)

November 2014




The collected poems from my descent into madness year spent writing daily poems are now available from Lulu as the cheapest 330-page book they would let me make ($16.20). If that's too pricey, you can also get it from Lulu as a free download, or just click on the "a poem every day" tag to read them here. But if you did buy one, that'd be awesome.

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