When I first heard that a "reboot" of H. Beam Piper's book Little Fuzzy was coming out, my first thought was "Why?" I first read Piper's Fuzzy stories as a young teenager and have come back to them over and over. Yes, the human society they take place in reflects the early 1960s when Piper was writing -- women are nearly all secretaries and nearly everyone smokes. (You get used to that kind of thing when reading a lot of science fiction classics.) But I think characters such as sunstone miner Jack Holloway, and the beings he discovers on the planet Zarathustra and names "Fuzzies" are timeless. At least one review I read compared Holloway to an old West prospector, and I can see a lot of parallels between human exploitation of other planets in these books and colonial exploitation of places inhabited by people with less technology and different skin colors.
Piper himself wrote a second book (Fuzzy Sapiens, originally published as "The Other Human Race") and a third manuscript at the time of his death, which was eventually published in 1984 as Fuzzies and Other People. (All three are now available in one volume, The Complete Fuzzy.) However, before his manuscript was found, Ace Books had published two other authors' works on the Fuzzies: William Tuning's 1981 Fuzzy Bones and Ardath Mayhar's 1982 Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey. Both of those worked with what had been stated in the first two Piper books but not the third. And then there were two more sequels (which I haven't read yet) by Wolfgang Diehr: 2011's Fuzzy Ergo Sum and 2012's Caveat Fuzzy.
So there were 7 Fuzzy novels, though the timeline sort of divides in two after Fuzzy Sapiens. It seemed really pointless to start from the beginning again, and I didn't think I'd bother to read John Scalzi's 2011 Fuzzy Nation when I first heard of its existence. I hadn't read any of Scalzi's work before, so I didn't originally have an interest in seeing how yet another author would handle the story. This changed a bit after I read bits of Scalzi's blog, specifically entries that some of my Facebook friends linked to in discussions about sexism in science fiction. After that, I felt positively enough about Scalzi that I was willing to try Fuzzy Nation when I happened across it in a library.
It's pretty good. Not as good as Piper's, but I'm aware that I may be taking off mental points for just trying to tell a version of the Fuzzy discovery narrative that isn't Piper's. Still, there were times when I kept the book open against my chest so I could read it while web pages loaded, because I was just that interested in what was happening. I don't like Scalzi's version of Jack Holloway as much as Piper's, but I can see how he's a more complex character in some ways and some readers will prefer that. The basic events are the same; the company exploiting the planet Zara XXIII is still willing to do almost anything to keep the discovery of the Fuzzies from interfering with their profits, but I think the Fuzzies actually come off as more intelligent in Scalzi's version, at least if you're only comparing with Little Fuzzy and not the parts of the sequels that delve into the Fuzzies' points of view. Piper spends more time developing other people besides Holloway, and I prefer that kind of detail, but Scalzi's version is equally readable. I am reasonably pleased to be proved wrong in my original opinion that there was no benefit to this reboot; it was both entertaining and brought me back to the previous Fuzzy stories, a good thing itself.