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David Hines [userpic]

the Scalzi remakes LITTLE FUZZY thing

April 7th, 2010 (11:24 pm)

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.

Originally posted on my DW. | comment count unavailable people have commented there. | Do so yourself, if you like.

Comments

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: April 8th, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)

Sorry you're having a crap day; but now I have two things on the list of things I want to read/watch someday...

Posted by: Mara (marag)
Posted at: April 8th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
Blue Beetle O_o

I...::wince:: This is the first I've heard of this, but I gotta second you on the FUCK TO THE NO response. Maybe this will be good, but I don't know if I can bring myself to read it.

Posted by: ibmiller (ibmiller)
Posted at: April 15th, 2010 03:39 am (UTC)
Jane Bennet 1995

Er, no idea about Piper, honestly. I do like John Scalzi in a "He writes a great equivalent of a Big Mac SciFi novel" way. Fast, extremely competent, not terribly filling, but oddly moving.

But what I'm really here for is this: Oh yes, this Jane Austen fan (male, I'll have the interwebs know) most certainly felt, at the very least, deeply uncomfortable about the whole Zombies mash-up thing (not to mention the idiocy that's piled up afterwards with sea monsters, mummies, and werewolves). In fact, I'd go so far that though I have a ludicrous antipathy towards even writing on books, I have swore a blood oath to burn any copy of THAT ZOMBIE BOOK that any ignorant soul gives me (no doubt thinking "Oh, he likes Austen, this looks funny, he'll love it" - WRONG).

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