H. Piper Beam’s science fiction novel Little Fuzzy has been ‘rebooted’ by John Scalzi (see here and here). Scalzi is still shopping for a publisher for Fuzzy Nation, as his novel is called. It is not entirely clear what the difference is between a reboot and a re-imagination.
I read Little Fuzzy a couple of years ago and wasn’t much impressed. The novel does seem to be a favourite for a lot of science fiction fans. Its story revolves largely about an arcane legal point, namely “When does a species qualify as sapient enough to not have its planet colonized?”
For me this news is interesting because it shows the sort of creativity that we could see a lot more of if current copyright laws weren’t so insanely long lasting and far reaching. Piper Beam committed suicide in 1964, and never got around to renewing copyrights on a number of his works, including the original Little Fuzzy novel.
Although Scalzi did not have to do so, he still asked permission to publish his book from ‘the Piper estate’ (presumable publisher Ace). Tim Wu once discussed reasons one might have for such a strategy. Scalzi himself says: “Being able to say Â«no, there are no possible legal land mines around this novelÂ» is worth being able to say to an interested publisher.”
See also at Teleread:
- From Project Gutenberg e-text to PDF-based e-book for your Iliad (using Little Fuzzy as an example)
- Recent English sci-fi at Project Gutenberg