In 2012, Scalzi's novel received the Audie Award for the Best Science Fiction Audiobook and it was narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Scalzi's novel, authorized by the estate of H. Beam Piper, was not intended to be a sequel, unlike the books by authors such as William Tuning and Ardath Mayhar. It was originally written as an exercise following negotiations regarding another Scalzi novel and, when completed, Scalzi's agent approached the Piper estate for permission to publish the novel. It uses the original plot and characters to tell an original story in a different continuity. Scalzi, a fan of Piper's work, said that he aimed to make the story approachable to readers unfamiliar with the original while directing fans to Piper's books.
Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn't care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp's headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation's headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor. As for his past, that's not up for discussion.
Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.
But there's another wrinkle to ZaraCorp's relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra? is home to no sentient species.
Then a small furry biped―trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute―shows up at Jack's outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp's claim to a planet's worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the "fuzzys" before their existence becomes more widely known.