John Scalzi talks about how he did a “reboot” of the classic H. Beam Piper novel “Little Fuzzy." Same story with many of the same characters, Scalzi just wrote his own version of it

“Little Fuzzy” (both the 1962 version by H. Beam Piper and Scalzi’s version in 2010) is the story about a prospector on another planet who finds a race of cute, furry childlike aliens (I think the Ewoks in Star Wars were lifted from Piper’s Fuzzies). The prospector takes it on himself to fight a legal battle to get the Fuzzies declared as people – the equivalent of humans – with all the rights attached thereto. Both the Scalzi and Piper novels are terrific, although the Piper, at least, is problematic because it echoes the White Man’s Burden justification for racism, which lives on in American exceptionalism today, the premise that other races are like children and white people are like their parents, with a responsibility to guide those childlike brown-skinned people into adulthood. Which is a load of crap.

Still, I re-read the Piper Little Fuzzy relatively recently, and I quite enjoyed it; the aliens in that novel really ARE like children. And the Scalzi novel was very good too.

One of my three unpublished novels is a reboot, in its own way, of one of my favorite series of novels, the Cities in Flight series by James Blish. Written in the 1940s-50s, Blish’s premise is the invention in the early 21st Century of a device called a “spindizzy,” which combines a faster-than-light starship drive, artificial gravity, and a force field that can hold in air and keep out radiation. Whole cities on Earth are put in spindizzy globes and flung into space; “gone Okie,” in the jargon of the stories. The hero of the series is John Amalfi, Mayor of New York, New York, which is now a trading ship flying between the stars, with a bridge on top of the Empire State Building. Like all the Okie citizens, Amalfi has had immortality treatments, so he’s hundreds of years old. The series is great fun! But also badly dated, and not one I’d necessarily recommend to new readers today.

In my reboot of the series, I did not make the setting New York or any terrestrial city, both for copyright purposes and because then I’d have to do research and stuff. Instead, I made up a city, Nighthawk, built into an asteroid and converted into a starship. In my story, Nighthawk has fallen on hard times, trapped in orbit around a planet, and the hero is somebody from the bowels of the city, an honest street cop on a corrupt force. I had fun writing it.