I just finished Fuzzy Bones, and started Golden Dreams, so you’ll get my analysis of that one, too, as soon as I finish it.
Ace contracted William Tuning to write Fuzzy Bones to either coincide with, or ride the success of, the re-release of the first two Piper books. I find it sort of odd that the book written in the 80s is FAR more sexist than the books written in the 60s. All of the established female characters are there, since Tuning wrote it as a continuation of the storyline begun in Fuzzy Sapiens. But Tuning diminishes their importance and involvement as professionals, and emphasizes their domestic roles, choosing to play up stereotyped and cliched male/female interaction. It’s kind of painfully like watching an episode of Donna Reed.
That said, I do like this book, just not as much as the Piper or Mayhar books. It’s much longer, the villains are stock, cliched and two-dimensional. And his depiction of Little Fuzzy is way off the mark. That said, I love his Upland Fuzzies, especially Stargazer. “What make do, Cobra Eyes?” is still my favorite quote. Sorry, but if you want context you’ll have to read the book. Which is not quite as painful as I make it sound. Just skim over the Victor Grego/Christianna Stone storyline parts, and the Hugo Ingerman parts, and focus on the mystery of the Upland Fuzzies and you’ll be fine.
I think Tuning felt that “more is better” in the drama/antagonist department, as there are several plotlines occurring concurrently. The Victor Grego falling in love with Christianna Stone who had gone to Zarathustra to be a prostitute and failed, and her trying to hide that from him, making her blackmailable by the villains. The crooked attorney Hugo Ingerman and his crazed (completely out of character as established in Fuzzy Sapiens) hunger for sunstones and attempts to rile up the populace while the priest, Rev, tries to hold things together. And the discovery of the Upland Fuzzies and their secret. Honestly, he really should have just picked one plot, preferably the Upland Fuzzies, and stuck with it.
I read it out of a sense of completeness, but like I said above, if you skim the Ingerman and Victor/Christianna stuff, the Upland Fuzzy storyline is excellent. Although the fact that he felt the need to provide Jack Holloway a love interest at the end of the book as a happy ending tack-on is more than a little annoying, and again, sexist as this Sociologist (female character, so of course a “soft science”) who came out to study Fuzzy society suddenly decides to drop everything to take care of him after he’s shot in one of the climaxes of the book. Barf.
My friend Chris and I discussed the parts of this book I found problematic tonight, and he said that he wasn’t at all surprised that Tuning’s book was the more sexist of the two. For starters, Piper imagined a world where we would have moved away from the sexism of his era, and Tuning probably decided that he’d have to play up the sexism to realistically mimic the writing of someone from the late 50s early 60s. Citing more recent works in the Conan world, he explained that when more recent authors try to write in the style of an author from an earlier period, they often wind up creating more of a charicature than a true reproduction because they try too hard. Also, the 80s really weren’t all that less sexist and horrible than the 60s. They were sexist in a different way with the backlash against Feminism really coming into it’s own with the election of Ronald Reagan and his criminal gang, to paraphrase George Carlin.
So, yeah, there it is. Not a bad read, a little bloated by the extraneous plotlines, more sexist. I really would have liked him to have focused more on the Upland Fuzzies and their “mystery” as well as the legal repercussions, but I don’t know that he could have convincingly pulled off the legal stuff. But the Upland Fuzzy stuff is great.