Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi, Narrated by Wil Wheaton

I’ve never had the pleasure of reading Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper, the 1962 science fiction novel that John Scalzi’s reimagined with Fuzzy Nation. Knowing Scalzi’s work and that the Piper estate approved of this reinterpretation of the material, I suspect he managed to capture the most important elements of the original novel while making it definitively his own by adding his particular brand of irreverent wit and snappy dialogue.
Jack Holloway, disbarred lawyer and independent surveyor for the ZaraCorp, is an antagonistic, impulsive, and peculiarly funny protagonist. When he stumbles upon what might be the largest seam of valuable sunstone on the planet when he allows his dog to detonate explosives yet again, Holloway maneuvers himself into a position to become far more wealthy than he’d ever imagined. Of course, everything changes when Holloway discovers an intruder in his remote cabin.
Appearing to be something in between a cat and a monkey, the intruder quickly ingratiates itself with Holloway, and it’s not alone. Encountering the previously unknown animals he decides to call Fuzzys, Holloway has no way of knowing how much upheaval he’s about to create when he shares the discovery with his ex-girlfriend, a biologist working for ZaraCorp.
Entertaining, heartwarming, and heartbreaking at different points, Scalzi’s reimagining of the introduction to the Fuzzys is a scathing commentary on capitalist predation, an evaluation of our humanity, and an exploration of the nature and presentation of sentience.
Wil Wheaton was the perfect choice for the narrator of this audiobook edition of the story. He captures the sarcasm and wit better than anyone else likely would have. His narration is captivating, articulate, and all-around fantastic.

Murder By Other Means by John Scalzi: Narrated by Zachary Quinto

Few authors could successfully pack as much intrigue, mystery, and suspense into a novella as John Scalzi. Murder By Other Means is a prime example of Scalzi at his fast-paced best. At the heart of this story is a question, “How do you successfully assassinate people when 99.99% of murder victims reappear–unharmed–in their homes, only moments later?”
We return to the world of Tony Valdez, the titular Dispatcher of the previous story in this sequence, not too long after we left him at the end of The Dispatcher. Legitimate work has dried up for him and the city of Chicago is on an austerity budget that prohibits him from finding many side gigs on the up-and-up. This is where we meet up with him again, as he enters a law firm for a less than legal utilization of his skills.
From there it’s a dizzying spiral of international corporate intrigue, organized crime, suicide, and survival…with a healthy dose of police procedural and noir-ish detective story providing the framework. This is a better story than The Dispatcher, which was a pretty high bar to clear.
Zachary Quinto again provides narration for the story, and there’s probably no need for me to point out that he’s beyond excellent in all respects. I can’t imagine Tony with a different voice.

The Dispatcher by John Scalzi: Narrated by Zachary Quinto

The Dispatcher introduces us to John Scalzi’s exploration into a future where the dead don’t always stay dead…as long as the deceased happens to be murdered. If someone dies by accident or by their own hand, well, for whatever reason, they stay dead. If someone murders you, there’s only a chance of 1 in 1,000 that you’ll remain dead. Those other 999 times, you’ll wake up naked in your bed, uninjured, and with full recall of the event that led to your demise.
What might you do if you found yourself living in this future of inexplicable miracles?
Would you participate in vicious, violent bloodsports? Would you challenge those who anger you to duels? Would you perhaps accept a job as a Dispatcher, one who performs the killing for those who are soon to die in hospitals when surgical procedures go wrong?
That’s precisely the choice our protagonist made, to become a Dispatcher. Tony Valdez has a certain psychological makeup that allows him to perform the duties associated with his role without guilt or self-recrimination–without any real self-examination of any kind.
When one of his colleagues disappears, an intrepid detective thinks there’s something sinister going on, directly related to his occupation, and Tony finds himself caught up in a mystery that leads him into the expanding gray area surrounding underworld activities where a Dispatcher’s skills are required.
Zachary Quinto’s narration of this novella is spectacular. His voice is so distinct and perfectly suited for the cool detachment of Tony’s character. I’m pleased to see that he also narrates the sequel novella that came out last year.