A fascinating SciFi story by Creator/HBeamPiper about what truly makes a creature sapient.

Jack Holloway, an elderly, individualistic sunstone miner, lives a solitary life in a wilderness area of planet Zarathustra. The planet is basically "owned" by the Chartered Zarathustra Corporation (under Victor Grego), which installed basic services and colonial outposts initially, and now reaps the benefits of new discoveries, such as the valuable sunstones.

One day, Holloway returns to his cabin to discover a tiny humanoid, covered in golden fur. The creature has armed itself with a chisel from his workbench, but is peaceful and mostly unafraid. The miner gives the little fuzzy some Extee-Three, a kind of canned emergency ration cake, and the fuzzy devours it greedily. It is soon apparent that the creature is highly intelligent, and he soon brings his family band to join "Pappy Jack" at the shack.

Victor Grego soon tries to intervene, claiming that the Fuzzies are just animals, not sapients. If ruled sapient, the entire planet would be declared a protected aboriginal zone, and the Chartered Zarathustra Company would lose its exclusive rights to the resources there. Leonard Kellogg, one of Grego's staff, kills a fuzzy and this leads to a court case which hinges on whether the fuzzies are animals or sapients.

After much discussion of what it means to be "sapient" (speech and fire use being one definition), the matter goes to court. In the midst of the proceedings, the Terran Navy commander reveals that his people have been studying Fuzzies, and that they can indeed speak. The tiny people use ultrasonic frequencies, which to human ears sound like "yeek." When processed with the proper electronics, the sounds are rendered as a complex language. The Navy experiments prove that Fuzzies have at least the mental capacity of a ten-year-old human, and are therefore protected under Terran law. Judge Pendarvis declares them to be aborigines, and the Charter of the Zarathustra Company is immediately invalidated.

[[http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18137 Enjoy it courtesy of Project Gutenberg.]]

Piper wrote two sequels, ''Fuzzy Sapiens'' and ''Fuzzies and Other People''; the latter was thought lost after Piper's suicide, but a manuscript eventually turned up in his papers. Prior to this discovery, two sequels to the first two books were written by other authors (''Fuzzy Bones'' by William Tuning and ''Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey'' by Ardath Mayhar). It is also the subject of a ContinuityReboot by Creator/JohnScalzi (licensed by the Creator/HBeamPiper estate), called ''FuzzyNation''.

A new sequel ''Fuzzy Ergo Sum'' written by Wolfgang Diehr was published in 2011. (T V Tropes page pending)

!!Tropes used in ''Little Fuzzy'':
* AirVentPassageway: In ''Fuzzy Sapiens'', the bad guys send Fuzzies through the CZC's ventilation system to steal sunstones.
* AlternateTimeline: ''Fuzzies and Other People'' and ''Fuzzy Bones'' are mutually exclusive sequels to ''Fuzzy Sapiens''.
* AlternativeNumberSystem: The fuzzies initially use a modified form of base 5. 1, 2, 3, 4, one hand. By 125, they've reached a hand of hands. It then goes to many, and many many. They soon adopt the human's base 10 system.
* ArtificialGravity: Played straight with the "contragravity generator" and the "Abott Lift and Drive".
* BadassGrandpa: Jack Holloway is well into his ''seventies''.
* {{BFG}}: Jack's 12.7mm Double Express rifle. For perspective, cartridges for this artillery piece are described as being approximately thumb sized in diameter and as long as his hand. The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M2_Browning M2 Browning .50 cal MG]] is also a 12.7mm of sorts.
* CallASmeerpARabbit[=/=]CallARabbitASmeerp: Zarabunnies get mentioned plenty but are never really described. Goofers are described as being rodent-like, so... But we do get a very clear mental image of a zebralope in spite of not being described. At all.
* CallBack: The start of the {{Xenofiction}} arc of ''Fuzzies and Other People'' picks up at the beginning of a minor scene in the middle of ''Fuzzy Sapiens''.
* CannotTellALie: Fuzzies just don't get the concept of saying things that aren't true, which leads to a major legal problem in ''Fuzzies and Other People'': it has to be proven that the veridicator works on Fuzzies before they can testify in court, and the veridicator can't be tested without a false statement to detect. [[spoiler: It's resolved when they encounter a Fuzzy who resorted to a lie in desperation.]]
* CourtroomAntics: The murder trial of Jack Holloway and Leonard Kellogg. The antics start even before the trial begins, with the two murder cases being combined into a single trial, the appointment of the defense attorneys as special prosecutors, and key witnesses being seized as "evidence." It goes on to mutate from a civilian trial into a court-martial and an academic seminar, with two flavors of surprise witnesses, and the continued prosecution of a dead man after one of the defendants commits suicide. And there are in-universe precedents for most of this: "You could find a precedent for almost anything in colonial law."
* DueToTheDead: The Fuzzies bury their dead, which is what convinces the police that arresting Kellogg for murder is justified.
* EverybodySmokes: They also all drink.
** Even the Fuzzies smoke, although they don't drink.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: Due to their small size, this is one of the Fuzzies' biggest problems.
* FunWithAcronyms: To avoid the expense of changing all those [=CZC=] logos on everything from buildings to stationery, Grego renames the Chartered Zarathustra Company to the Charter''less'' Zarathustra Company.
* HeelFaceTurn: Grego in ''Fuzzy Sapiens''
* HeadPet: Baby Fuzzy
* HeelRealization: Kellogg [[spoiler:breaks down and [[DrivenToSuicide commits suicide]] after admitting to himself that he murdered a sapient being.]]
* InTheLocalTongue: Discussed. Some of the names of alien animals and plants are... strange.
-->You pointed to something and asked a native, and hed gargle a mouthful of syllables at you, which might only mean, "Whaddaya wanna know for?" and you took it down in phonetic alphabet and the whatzit had a name.
* KarmaHoudini: Hugo Ingermann escapes the planet with a fortune in sunstones in ''Fuzzies and Other People''.
* LargeAndInCharge: Gustavus Brannard is described as being a large man. Also quite hairy, to Baby Fuzzy's delight.
* LargeHam: Gus Brannhard. Also Ben Rainsford, but he's kind of overshadowed by Gus.
* LawProcedural: Not only does the critical scene in the first book take place in a courtroom, the roles of the various court officers, the legal motions, rules of evidence, and even the shortcuts the court officers and lawyers take are important plot elements.
* LieDetector: The veridicator is an infallible one, and consequently a vital part of the legal system. It works so well, that it even detects a lie that the speaker himself has forgotten that he lied about.
* LoopholeAbuse: Played painfully straight by Hugo Ingermann. [[ZigzaggingTrope Zig-zagged]] all over the place by other cast members, including the legal system:
-->In colonial law, you can find a precedent for almost anything.
** There's even a precedent for putting a dead person on trial.[[note]]People of the Colony of Baphomet versus Jamshar Singh, Deceased, charge of arson and sabotage, A.E. 604[[/note]]
** And an (averted) precedent for justifying ''the murder of a human infant'' via LoopholeAbuse (on the grounds it couldn't talk or build a fire).
* MarryThemAll: Fuzzy sisters Goldilocks and Cinderella briefly squabble over Ko-Ko before deciding to share him.
* MegaCorp: The CZC.
* MoralityPet: Diamond, for Grego.
* OneNationUnderCopyright: Zarathustra is essentially a planet sized CompanyTown. The whole thing is owned and administered by the Chartered Zarathusta Company, with oversight provided by a Terran Federation Navy Base on one of the moons.
* POVSequel: The lateer chapters of ''Golden Dream'' is ''Little Fuzzy'' from the Fuzzies' point of view. The first 3/4 of the book represents 50 to 100 years worth of backstory for the Fuzzies.
* ReverseMole: [[spoiler:Ruth Ortheris]] is secretly a Navy spy.
* RidiculouslyCuteCritter: One word - "Yeek".
* RunningGag: You can find a precedent for anything in colonial law.
** Baby constantly tries to sit on people's heads.
* StrawVulcan: Hoenveld in book two. Other characters go so far as to point out that his overly narrow and unimaginative outlook makes him a pretty crappy scientist.
-->'''Mallin''': He has an encyclopediac grasp on his subject, an infallible memory, and an infinite capacity for taking pains.
-->'''Grego''': ...A computer has all that, to a much higher degree, and a computer couldn't make an original scientific discovery in a hundred million years. A computer has no imagination, and neither has Hoenveld.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: Jack Holloway records the activities of the Fuzzies, then has to spend hours developing the film. Written a few decades before digital photography became common.
* ThemeNaming: Many groups of Fuzzies "adopted" by humans promptly get tagged with these. A naturalist names two "Flora" and "Fauna"; a psychologist names four more "Id", "Ego", "Complex", and "Syndrome"...
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: Extee Three, a poundcake-like ration food, for the Fuzzies. Humans tend to hate having to eat the stuff. [[spoiler: Extee Three contains trace amounts of titanium, a byproduct of the manufacturing process that happens to be an essential nutrient for the Fuzzies.]]
* WhamLine: [[spoiler:"Lieutenant J.G. Ruth Ortheris, TFN Reserve."]]
** [[spoiler:"Your Honors, I am ashamed to have to report that the defendant, Leonard Kellog, cannot be produced in court. He is dead; he committed suicide in his cell last night."]]
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: The point of the whole book.
* {{Xenofiction}}: ''Golden Dream'' is written from the Fuzzies' viewpoint. Portions of ''Fuzzies and Other People'' were also written from a Fuzzy perspective.