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1. Betrayer of Worlds
2. Destroyer of Worlds
3. Fleet of Worlds
4. Stars and Gods
5. Juggler of Worlds
6. The Draco Tavern
7. Inferno
8. Flatlander
9. Protector
10. Ringworld's Children
11. The Integral Trees and The Smoke
12. Dream Park
13. Ringworld
14. The Ringworld Throne
15. A World Out of Time
16. N-Space
17. Beowulf's Children
18. Lucifer's Hammer
19. Footfall

1. Betrayer of Worlds
by Larry Niven, Edward M. Lerner
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2010-10-12)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$13.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765326086
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Fleeing the supernova chain reaction at the galactic core, the cowardly Puppeteers of the Fleet of Worlds have---just barely---survived. They’ve stumbled from one crisis to the next: The rebellion of their human slaves. The relentless questing of the species of Known Space. The spectacular rise of the starfish-like Gw’oth. The onslaught of the genocidal Pak. 

Catastrophe looms again as past crises return---and converge. Who can possibly save the Fleet of Worlds from its greatest peril yet?

Louis Wu? Trapped in the Wunderland civil war, all he wants is to go home---but the only possible escape will plunge him into unknowable danger. 

Ol’t’ro? The Gw’oth ensemble mind fled across the stars to establish a colony world free from tyranny. But some problems cannot be left behind, and other problems---like the Fleet of Worlds itself---are racing straight at them. 

Achilles? Despite past disgrace, the charismatic Puppeteer politician knows he is destined for greatness. He will do anything to seize power---and to take his revenge on everyone who ever stood in his way.

Nessus? The insane Puppeteer scout is out of ideas, out of resources, with only desperation left to guide him.  

Their hopes and fears, dreams and ambitions are about to collide. And the winner takes . . . worlds.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars strong complicated entry
The Puppeteers sort of lead the mass exodus of the "Fleet of Worlds" away from the supernova spreading increasingly wider at an accelerating speed from the galaxy's core.Even in flight, some choose fight.Achilles though humiliated with his failed machinations proving embarrassing still believes he is destined to rule the Puppeteer worlds.

The feral genocidal Pak also flees the core; they willingly stop to attack other species especially the weak Fleet of Worlds running for their lives.The Gw'oth whose technological advances in the past two centuries (local time) is impossible yet continues to exponentially grow; they stand in the way of the fleeing Fleet of Worlds.Finally, the rebellious pathetic humans on Nature Preserve Four embarrass the cowardly Puppeteers as these apes are barely out of the caves.Desperation breeds strange bedfellows as insane Puppeteer scout Nessus recruits pill addicted human prisoner Wu and joins with megalomaniac Achilles to forge a partnership to end the war of all wars between three diverse alien races at a time when everyone needs to herd together to leave the galaxy post haste.

The latest prequel saga to the Ringworld Known Space science fiction series (see Destroyer of Worlds) is a strong complicated entry (even with a glossary, names are a mess to follow) as four sentient species are on the verge of when worlds collide.Ironically in spite of the obvious superiority of the three alien races, the human Wu and the insane puppeteer Nessus understand that cooperation is the only means of survival with the supernova coming; as either all four races endure together or die.Fans will enjoy learning why Wu was wooed years later in Ringworld as Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner provide a strong entry; newcomers need to at least read the prequel tales like Juggler of Worlds to ascertain the galaxy meltdown.

Harriet Klausner

4-0 out of 5 stars A very good addition to an amazing series
Not the very best of the series (needs more Ausfaller!), but still definitely well worth the read for Known Space or hard sci-fi fans.

Classic Niven (and par for the course on this overall excellent series w/ Lerner): intelligent characters, very nifty uses of the given science and technology, and a good amount of "action" driving the plot forward.

Since Louis Wu is the main protagonist in this volume and the story is set before "Ringworld", the story runs into some of the hazards of writing prequels in a widely read (and well explored) history: requirements of continuity w/ "Ringworld" forces the authors hands in some places.

That's a small complaint, only noteworthy because I've been otherwise enjoying the series immensely.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not bad
The starfish-like aliens called the Gw'oth, introduced in an earlier book in the series, are engaged in a civil war. The two factions live on different planets, and these two planets happen to lie on either side of the Puppeteer's Fleet of Worlds and the human colony planet New Terra. Diplomacy, espionage, and war ensue.

The subtitle of the book "Prelude to Ringworld" is misleading, as the Ringworld is only mentioned once in the entire book. It is clear that the next book or two in the series will bring the reader more information on the historical interactions between the Puppeteers and the Ringworld races, but not much here.

The book gets off to a very slow start - espionage and diplomacy are about avoiding conflict, after all. I almost put it down half-way through. Also, the various storylines seem a little disjoint and character allegiances change frequently, so it's hard to develop an emotional investment in the characters. Do we care, for example, whether a puppeteer can erase a set of incriminating computer files before being arrested? Do we care whether a starfish alien has decided to ally with one group of Puppeteers or another? My answer: yes, sometimes, but I do wish there was more star-spanning action and less talk. ... Read more

2. Destroyer of Worlds
by Larry Niven, Edward M. Lerner
Mass Market Paperback: 448 Pages (2010-11-02)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765361779
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Worlds closer to the galatic core than Known Space are --or were-- home to intelligent speciers.  Some learned of the core explosion in time to flee.  Destroyer of Worlds opens in 2670, ten years after Juggler of Worlds closes; with refugee species fleeing in an armada of ramscoops in the direction of the  Fleet of Worlds.  The onrushing aliens are recognized as a threat; they have left in their trail a host of desolated worlds: some raided for supplies, some attacked to eliminate competition, and some for pure xenophobia. 

Only the Puppeteers might have the resources to confront this threat--but the Puppeteers are philosophical cowards... they don't confront anyone.  They need sepoys to investigate the situation and take action for them.  The source of the sepoys?  Their newly independent former slave world, New Terra.     
... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great continuation of known space saga
If you are a fan of Larry Niven's know space saga, this follows many other novels and short stories, and ties many of them together.I couldn't put it down.

4-0 out of 5 stars Destroyer of Worlds
The book is well written, and continues to explore the millions of facets of the Known Space universe that Niven fans have had questions about for the last 40+ years.I think it and the two preceding novels have enhanced any Niven fan's knowledge of and interest in all of the Known Space future history series, just as the Man/Kzin War novels and stories have done about that particular period of Known Space "history."Destroyer of Worlds is a great read!

3-0 out of 5 stars Paks only a little punch
So so continuation of an enjoyable series.Lost are some of the more interesting characters like Beowulf, Feather, and Carlos, and they are replaced by a whole new species which defines credibility in its ability to learn.

It was interesting to have more character development of the Pak, since they built Ringworld afterall, butthe characters all behave per stereotype, which is a bit mundane and improbable.The interesting thing about the Kzin series are those anti-heroes that move beyond their racial programming and have humor, compassion, insightfulness, etc.

This book was overall pretty weak in itself, but hopefully it adds value to the series as a whole!

3-0 out of 5 stars OK
The latest installment in a seqeuence set in Niven's Known Space universe.The basic idea is that an explosion of the Galactic Core is driving advanced civilizations out of the Core into the Galactic periphery.The ensuing conflicts are the background for these stories.This book, like its predecessors, involves a number of characters and events described in some of Niven's prior work.This time Lerner and Niven bring in the Pak-Protector species.The recycling of characters and plot elements is probably interesting for Niven's devoted fans but the lack of novelty detracts from the quality of the series.In terms of plot, character development, and quality of writing, this book is unexceptionable for this sub-genre.My prediction is that the next book in this sequence will involve Niven's most famous creation, the Ringworld.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Good "[noun] of Worlds" Book
"Destroyer of Worlds" is the 3rd of Niven's & Lerner's "Before the Discovery of the Ringworld" set of books (Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds).The writing and tone are very similar to that of "Fleet of Worlds" (and, thus, better than that of "Juggler of Worlds" -- but there's no way to get to this book without having read "Juggler").Overall, I found the book well-paced, interesting, and enjoyable.But, I do have a few quibbles with it.First, though the main plot does get tied up, it doesn't feel like a very satisfactory solution (it's a bit abrupt, given what it took to get there).Second, there are several other plot elements that are just left hanging (I wish authors would write self-contained, complete books and let their writing abilities and their universes bring readers back on their own accord).And, finally, I don't understand why the authors ignore the tremendous tactical advantages a hyperspace jumping ship would have over regular space ships in a battle.It just seems to me that dropping out of hyperspace with a high relative delta-v to another ship, dropping a rock on an intersecting path, popping back into hyperspace after a couple of microseconds in regular space, and then repeating the process as needed is a pretty obvious and strong capability.But, those are fairly small problems considering that I highly enjoyed reading the book.So, I still rate the book at a Very Good 4 stars out of 5.If you liked "Fleet of Worlds," you should like this one. ... Read more

3. Fleet of Worlds
by Larry Niven, Edward M. Lerner
Mass Market Paperback: 293 Pages (2008-08-26)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765357836
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Humanity has been faithfully serving the Citizens for years, and Kirsten Quinn-Kovacks is among the best and the brightest of the humans. She gratefully serves the race that rescued her ancestors from a dying starship, gave them a home world, and nurtures them still.  If only the Citizens knew where Kirsten’s people came from.

A chain reaction of supernovae at the galaxy’s core unleashes a wave of lethal radiation that will sterilize the galaxy.  The Citizens flee, taking their planets, the Fleet of Worlds, with them.

Someone must scout ahead, and Kirsten and her crew eagerly volunteer.  Under the guiding eye of Nessus, their Citizen mentor, they explore for any possible dangers in the Fleet’s path—and uncover long-hidden truths that will shake the foundations of worlds.

Fleet of Worlds marks Larry Niven's first novel-length collaboration within his Known Space universe, the playground he created for his bestselling Ringworld series. Teaming up with fellow SF writer Edward M. Lerner, Fleet of Worlds takes a closer look at the Human-Puppeteer (Citizens) relations and the events leading up to Niven's first Ringworld novel.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (43)

1-0 out of 5 stars Impressively bad
I've read almost all Niven's books, including each of the Ringworld series two or three times. This reads like juvenile fiction. The human characters are utterly flat. I couldn't even keep the two males straight. Skimmed the last half, and I can't remember what happened. Gave it away.

3-0 out of 5 stars Only for people who simply MUST have more "ringworld"
It's OK, I guess, but just does not tie together.All the bits are there but they don't engage.For example: one of the characters is apparently a super-genius, except that he is a moron and really doesn't do anything.Another character looks interesting but then is reported to have died 'off camera' what was that all about?And there are super-intelligent aliens with less reasoning ability than your average 12 year old child.And the main character has an interesting quirk but in the long run it doesn't seem make any difference.You get the idea.

If you really want to read something interesting set in this fictional universe read "A Darker Geometry" by Gregory Benford and Mark Martin.

5-0 out of 5 stars My First Hard Sci-Fi Read
Imaginative, dramatic and lots of fun to read.Now I'm hooked on hard sci fi.

3-0 out of 5 stars Big Niven fan, but could not complete
Normally I dash out to get the latest tome of Niven in hardcover. This was no exception.

However I could not finish the book. This was like the middle ringworld books until he redeemed himself with the final Ringworld novel. Something is missing. Not sure what, but hopefully Larry will return to form soon?

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent! More like the Niven of old
I first started reading Niven in my youth when he first started writing, and I loved his early stuff, especially "Ringworld" and other books in his "Known Space" series.I have been disappointed by most of his later stuff, however, especially some of his collaborations with Jerry Pournelle.The stories seemed to be just a hook to hang technology or politics on."The Integral Trees" is a perfectly example; I barely managed to finish it.I thought the concepts were fascinating, but I kept waiting for a story.

Fleet of Worlds seems to be "back to basics", however.I think that most people who enjoy SF (or maybe even fantasy) will appreciate this book.However, you'll have a special treat if you are one of those increasingly rare individuals who didn't sleep through high school science class and who has trouble suspending disbelief while watching one of Stan Lee's creations.Niven doesn't just create aliens, he creates ecosystems; his aliens aren't just pointy-eared humanoids.They are logical products of the environment where they evolved, and when that environment is alien to us, the results are alien indeed but believable.His new technology has consequences, either good or bad (or both).

I sincerely hope there'll be more books like this from him (and whoever) in the future. ... Read more

4. Stars and Gods
by Larry Niven
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2010-08-17)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$4.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765308649
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Larry Niven is the New York Times bestselling author of such classic science fiction novels as Ringworld and Destiny's Road. One of his previous collections, N-Space, was lauded by the Houston Post as "Outstanding . . . hours of entertainment," while Publishers Weekly called it "A must for science fiction fans." A follow-up volume, Playgrounds of the Mind, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as "Grand Entertainment."
Niven returns with the sequel to his most recent collection, Scatterbrain, which gathers an equally engaging assortment of Niven's latest work, all in one captivating volume. Here are choice excerpts from his most recent novels, including Ringworld's Child, as well as short stories, non-fiction, interviews, editorials, collaborations, and correspondence. Stars and Gods roams all over a wide variety of fascinating topics, from space stations to conventional etiquette.

Give yourself a treat, and feel free to pick the brain of one of modern science fiction's most fascinating thinkers.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars In Case You Missed Something
Stars and Gods (2010) is a collection of recent SF works, including extracts from several novels.It also contains fantasy and non-fiction pieces and provides introductions to the various selections.This book is divided into nine parts.

Preface - comments on this book, writing and a few other topics.

Part One:Excerpts

- Ringworld's Children extract - trapped by a Protector.

- Rainbow Mars extract - captured on Mars.

- Escape from Hell extract - better dining in hell.

- Burning Tower extract - among the oarsmen.

- Building Harlequin's Moon extract - seeing the works from space.

- Fleet of Worlds extract - frustrated by the Gw'oth.

- Juggler of Worlds extract - caught on New Terra.

Part Two:Stories

- "Choosing Names" - negotiating with the enemy.

- "Fly-by-Night" - held hostage among Kzinti.

- "The Hunting Park" - Kzinti hunting in Africa.

- "After Mecca" - the inside story,

- "Cadet Amelia" - cats in space.

- "Cat Toy" - the talking cat and the dead mouse.

- "Chicxulub" - talking with dragons.

- "The Gathers' Guild" - the real tax conspiracy.

- "The Solipsist at Dinner" - an imagination at work.

- "Boys and Girls Together" - the oldest children.

Part Three:Nonfiction for Space.com

- "Traveler" - networking versus traveling.

- "Rocket Men" - the eighth "Access to Space" convention.

- "Wet Mars" - water on Mars.

Part Four: Collaborations with Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes

- "Beowulf's Children" - the very large scribe.

Part Five: Collaborations with Jerry Pournelle

- "Where Next, Columbus?" - profits and getting into space.

Part Six: Collaborations with Steven Barnes

- "Achilles' Choice" - the Olympian and the nerd.

Part Seven: Collaborations with Brenda Cooper

- "Choosing Life" - going digital.

- "Free Floaters" - the female who dared.

- "Finding Myself" - a backup was released.

Part Eight: Draco Tavern Stories

- "The Missing Mass" - the forerunners did it.

- "Safe Harbor" - invading the bar.

Part Nine: Miscellaneous Nonfiction

- Hooking the Reader - getting their attention.

- Larry Niven Interview by Brenda Cooper in 2000 AD - a few thoughts.

- Food Story for the Con Jose Program Book - quit smoking and start writing about food.

- "Inconstant Moon Has Passed" - watching the Moon with a friend and a dog.

According to the Preface, the above selections are everything that has been going on within the author's literary life since Scatterbrain.The cutoff date would be a year or so ago, before Destroyer of Worlds.In any case, his writing seems to have slowed down lately, even with the collaborations.

Larry Niven has been on the forefront of SF -- and Fantasy -- for many years.One hopes that the author will publish another collection five or six years from now.Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Niven fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales and articles about science and other way out ideas.

-Arthur W. Jordin

3-0 out of 5 stars Collection of excerpts and shorts
This is an unusual book, an eclectic mix of excerpt teases from his novels, short stories, bits of nonfiction work, collaborations and even correspondance. The collection gives a wide variety of samplings of his work, but the value here is more a fannish one of the backstory he gives for past items and the collection of such variety.Not recomended for a new reader as there is no overall theme and the fragmentary parts are not really a full plot or understandable on their own. The Niven fan will see many things you've not read read before, and some explanations about old favorites, just don't go in expecting all new material or a full length book.


1. Excerpts from novels
- Ringworlds Children chapter 1
- Rainbow Mars chapter 18
- Escape from Hell 7th circle 3rd round
- Burning Tower chapter 2
- Building Harlequin's Moon chapter 12
- Juggler of Worlds chapter 59

2. Stories
"Choosing Names", "Fly-by-Night", "The Hunting Park", "After Mecca",
"Cadet Amelia", "Cat Toy", "Chicxulub", "The Gatherers Guild",
"The Solipsist at Dinner", "Boys and Girls Together"

3. Nonfiction for Space.Com
"Traveler" "Rocket Men" "Wet Mars"

4/5/6/7 Collaborations
- Beowulf's Children
- "Where Next, Columbus?"
- Achilles' Choice chapter 15
- "Choosing Life", "Free Floaters", "Finding Myself"

8. Draco Tavern Stories
"The Missing Mass", "Safe Harbor"

9. Miscellaneous Nonfiction
Hooking the Reader, Interview by Brenda Cooper in 2000,
Food Story for Con Jose Program book, "Inconstant Moon Has Passed"

4-0 out of 5 stars An Okay read
The intent apparently is to enable the reader to have a smorgasbord of the works and ideas of award winning Larry Niven over the past six years.Parts of the tome are refreshing; ironically the nonfiction articles especially in Part Three and somewhat in Part Nine are the best inclusions.The extracts highlighting the worlds of the novels (solo or in collaboration) are also well written, but needed more insight as to what led Mr. Niven and partners to come up with concepts like Ringworld.The short stories are also fun to read especially the two from Draco Tavern.However, extracting one or two chapters from ten novels makes no sense even to introduce new readers to one of the greats of science fiction made even less appealing at hardcover prices.

Harriet Klausner

2-0 out of 5 stars This was certainly a horrible introduction for a new-ish reader--and maybe not designed for the experienced Niven reader either
STARS AND GODS is a collection of fact and fiction from the well-known and award winning (one Nebula and five Hugos) author: Larry Niven.And, in the words of the dust jacket, "STARS AND GODS roams all over a galaxy's worth of ideas and topics to form a fascinating, kaleidoscopic view of one of science fiction's most beloved writers."

When I heard about STARS AND GODS, I was childishly excited.I became the annoying person who watches out their window for the mail person to arrive and leave before coincidentally deciding to walk the dog and, say, check the mailbox along the way.No matter what goodies came in the mail that day or what I found to occupy myself, I was disconsolate until STARS AND GODS finally arrived.

You see, the idea of STARS AND GODS had hooked me.The premise: a mix of editorials, short stories, novel excerpts, nonfiction pieces, and random science or science fiction bits from an author I've long been wanting to know more about.It sounded utterly perfect and incredibly fascinating.

Previously, I've only read LUCIFER'S HAMMER, which was co-written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.So while I knew of Niven's most famous series, Ringworld, I haven't read anything in it. Unfortunately, rather than getting a mosaic introduction to Niven, I felt like the collection was aimed well away from new-comers of Niven like me.However, I sincerely doubt that this anthology would do much for well-established fans, either.Strangely, it seems that it would only be really good for a fan lapsed in the past five to ten years or so, honestly.Ironically, very late in STARS AND GODS there is a short nonfiction article on writing by called "Hooking the Reader" in which Niven explains the difficulty of re-using a long-silent character in RAINBOW MARS:

"A new reader will need the background; a familiar reader doesn't want to be bored." [p356]

Unfortunately, that's the exact problem with STARS AND GODS.It's not collected for any particular audience, as far as I can tell.It's not a great initiation for the novice and I can only imagine that the Niven expert would be incredibly bored.In the prologue, Niven doesn't appear to consider his audience, but does speak about how STARS AND GODS chose its collected pieces:

"Wehave here a collection of everything that's been going on in my lifefor the past six years or so...The world has changed some.So haveI.I'm seventy-one years old, and feeling it." [p9]

Particularly troublesome was all the pages dedicated to novel excerpts.I'm not the biggest fan of excerpts to begin with, but I certainly don't think that having over 70 pages of assorted novel excerpts from relatively recent releases helps very many people.New people like me will probably be lost.(I haven't even read the beginning Ringworld novels, much less considered RINGWORLD'S CHILDREN.)Plus, anyloyal fan will have already read the novel being excerpted.So who's left?Well, I suppose those handful of fans who have lapsed on their Niven in the past few years and are looking to catch up.Other than that?I can't imagine.

Now the novel excerpts weren't entirely without use for me.I ended up marking down Niven and Pournelle's INFERNO for my wishlist.And yet, I don't think that was the idea, because the excerpt was for ESCAPE FROM HELL, the sequel to INFERNO.Perhaps if this collection had been something of a "best of" it might have a better chance with an audience like me.If the excerpts had been for the first Ringworld novel or INFERNO itself, well, I would have felt that I was being spoken to directly.As it was, I had to do quite a lot of research via iPhone as I was reading just to keep up with what Niven was talking about in the introduction.

Those 70+ pages were frustrating.Afterwards, I began to enjoy myself a bit more.The short stories, both sections of nonfiction articles, and even the Draco Tavern stories were all enjoyable.I could do without the collaboration sections (which were as mystifying in purpose as the beginning novel excerpts and took up as much space)...

The short stories were pretty enjoyable.I had a tough time keeping up with a few, since many center around a race that is apparently from Ringworld called Kzinti, but I think it's a little easier to pick up what one needs from a short story rather than a novel.Or worse, a novel excerpt.In the end, I rather liked "The Hunting Park" quite a lot and also enjoyed "After Mecca" and "The Solipsists at Dinner," too.

But the best part of STARS AND GODS?Easily, it is the nonfiction.The nonfiction articles come in two varieties: written for [...] and miscellaneous.Both sections should be a lot longer than they are, because they're fascinating--and welcoming to both new and old readers alike, I think.

Indeed, if STARS AND GODS had perhaps tried a different approach by including more of these nonfiction articles and a mix of excerpts and stories from past and present I think it would have hit the mark a little better.New fans could get a proper introduction, old fans could reminisce (or find out that they had missed something), and everyone could enjoy the articles they had most likely missed from [...] or other sources.I keep wanting to point to YOUR HATE MAIL WILL BE GRADED for my point, so I will.YHMWBG is a collection of John Scalzi's blog posts over at WHATEVER (his blog).It pulled from new things and old things, random and thoughtful alike.In the end, it became a book that was both excellent for the novice to get a foothold into Scalzi as well as a great point of reminiscence for the more experienced reader.I feel that STARS AND GODS was really close to getting to that point.It had the right idea by pulling such a vast and varied amount of content, but it was too restricted by only using the past few years and by limiting the content that was originally published to the web.(After all, I will never be a reader of [...], but that doesn't mean that I don't thoroughly enjoy Niven's space articles when they're presented to me in a collected format.)

Well, I'm not done with Niven, but starting (re-starting?) with STARS AND GODS was utterly a mistake.

2-0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent nonsense...
Like many I have grown up in the Larry Niven era; clearly, he has been one of the most prolific and celebrated authors of the last 30 years.The original "Ringworld", "Man-Kzin" and "Dream Park" novels are justifiable classics.While I respect the previous reviewer's opinion, this "collection" of writings is mostly derivative, with meaningless snippets of prior works.It is virtually pointless and a sad offering from a once great author.I am returning it for a refund.

On the other hand, I would like to know how other Niven fans react to this publication. ... Read more

5. Juggler of Worlds
by Edward M. Lerner, Larry Niven
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2008-09-16)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$9.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003L1ZXHU
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

For too long, the Puppeteers have controlled the fate of worlds.  Now Sigmund is pulling the strings...
Covert agent Sigmund Ausfaller is Earth's secret weapon, humanity's best defense against all conspiracies, real and potential - and imaginary - of foes both human and alien.  Who better than a brilliant paranoid to expose the devious plots of others?
He may finally have met his match in Nessus, representative of the secretive Puppeteers, the elder race who wield vastly superior technologies.  Nessus schemes in the shadows with Earth's traitors and adversaries, even after the race he represents abruptly vanishes from Known Space.
As a paranoid, Sigmund had always known things would end horribly for him.  Only the when, where, how, why, and by whom of it all had eluded him.  That fog has begun to lift...
But even Sigmund has never imagined how far his investigations will take him - or that his destiny is entwined with the fates of worlds.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

1-0 out of 5 stars A Rather Dull Book
I can't imagine how anyone could like reading this book. Having enjoyed Larry Niven's books in the past, I was surprised at the wooden writing in Juggler of Worlds. Nonetheless, I read it to the end, hoping Niven's magic would appear. It didn't.
The Kzinti hardly entered the plot, indeed I am not sure there was a plot. Niven took us to the puppeteers' home world, "Hearth", but didn't develop it. The Outsiders were active but we learned little about them.
At least, the grammar and spelling were good.

2-0 out of 5 stars Repetitive with Excessively Complex Plot
The sequel to the solid Fleet of Worlds.It features many of the same characters and overlapping plot elements.This book, however, is not as good as Fleet of Worlds.In particular, the plot is excesively complicated and the story lacks dramatic focus.Niven and Lerner have also drawn extensively on Niven's prior Known Space stories.For committed Niven fans, this is probably fun but this self-referential quality impairs the clarity of the plot. The recycling of themes, characters, and plot elements undermines what has been the major attraction of Niven's work, the use of innovative ideas.

2-0 out of 5 stars Sometimes Short Stories are Best
As others have said, this is a novelization of several short stories about Beowulf Schaeffer mainly collected today in the Flatlander anthology. Sadly, I think we'd have been better off without it. I didn't feel they really hung well together and overall the short stories are far more satisfying.

4-0 out of 5 stars A treat for Bey Shaeffer fans; New readers should read "Crashlander" first
Summary: This book stands out from its series by retelling many of Niven's old stories, most of which are collected in Crashlander, from the point of view of one of Niven's former background characters, Sigmund Ausfaller.As a result, it's much more like a collection of short stories than a novel.It's a lot of fun for fans of the Crashlander stories, but if you are reading this as part of the "Worlds" series and haven't read the earlier stories, definitely go get Crashlander and read that first.

Forty years or so ago, Larry Niven began writing a set of stories and novels set in "Known Space" - a portion of the milky way that was at least partially explored by the human race.Since then, he has occasionally let other writers into his playground, particularly in the The Man-Kzin Wars series.

This time, Niven has collaborated with Edward Lerner to write three books about the "Puppeteers", a race of technologically advanced herd animals, and their interactions with humanity.

The first book, Fleet of Worlds, re-introduces the Puppeteers fleet of five (now six) travelling planets for readers not familiar with them, and takes place largely on those planets, as does the third book, Destroyer of Worlds. This is the second in the series, and in some ways, the most daring.It is closer to a collection of short stories than a novel, and follows the connections of Sigmund Ausfaller, an existing Niven character, with the puppeteers and the fleet of worlds.

Previously, Ausfaller had appeared in the background of several Niven short stories, most of which are collected in Crashlander.In those stories, he's a mysterious agent of Earth's "ARM" intelligence agency, who typically shows up to manipulate the hero of thoses stories, interstellar pilot Bey Shaffer.Juggler of Worlds re-tells those stories from Ausfaller's perspective, plus one story ("The Soft Weapon") from the perspective of Nessus, a puppeteer "scout" who is also a long-standing Niven character.If you have fond memories of the Crashlander stories (and I do), rereading them from another perspective is a neat experience, but if you haven't read them, some of these stories will be challenging.If you are picking this up because you are reading the "Worlds" series but haven't read Crashlander, definitely read that first.You would also be well advised to read The Soft Weapon, but that's much harder to find.

Overall, the stories worked for me.I liked the growing relationship (often behind multiple levels of deception and proxies) between the two agents, Nessus and Ausfaller, as well as their parallels.Nessus, from a race of obsessively cautious herd animals, is made a scout because he is insanely daring (for a puppeteer), and Ausfaller, from a race of curious primates, is made an intelligence agent because he is insanely paranoid (for a human).The book does a nice job of sketching out their loneliness and their ongoing intelligence duel.

I have a few gripes that prevent me from giving it five stars.First, I was a little disappointed that the "lone genius" trope applies to puppeteers too.We are told several times that the puppeteer home world has TRILLIONS of puppeteers, but we meet fewer than ten: Hindmost (the leader of the civilization); Achilles (another scout);Baedeker (a genius engineer); Nessus; and a few supporting characters.

Baedeker, in particular, is the Wesley Crusher of the puppeteer civilization.If you need a previously nonnegotiable law of physics repealed, you apparently just call Baedeker.Presumably, with a civilization of a trillion plus hyperintelligent herd animals, some kind of distributed problem solving would be the way to solve problems - imagine what you could accomplish with a well managed set of one hundred teams of a thousand scientists each, plus logistical support.Ten thousand teams?A couple lines about Baedeker using the herd would have been great.

Still, I'm very glad I read Juggler of Worlds, and really enjoyed it, particularly the chance to revisit some of my favorite stories.Read it, but read Crashlander first.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even Better Together
This sequel to "Fleet of Worlds" expands the history of Niven's Known Space, focusing on the Puppeteers' flight from the exploding galactic core.Although much time is spent recapping events on Earth that were occurring during the events that take place in "Fleet of Worlds" (including some clever references to previous Niven stories involving Beowulf Shaeffer and others), the two threads are eventually brought together through ARM agent and natural paranoid Sigmund Ausfaller.To say more would give away some of the plot twists and turns that make this a highly entertaining read.Niven and Lerner collaborate seamlessly and to my mind, both benefit from this collaboration. ... Read more

6. The Draco Tavern
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 316 Pages (2006-11-28)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765347717
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When a tremendous spacecraft took orbit around the Earth's moon and began sending smaller landers down toward the North Pole, the newly arrived visitors quickly set up a permanent spaceport in Siberia. Their presence attracted many, and a few people grew conspicuously rich from secrets they learned from talking to the aliens. One of these men, Rick Schumann, established a tavern catering to all of the various species of visiting aliens, a place he named the Draco Tavern.
From the mind of #1 New York Times bestselling author Larry Niven come twenty-six tales and vignettes from this interplanetary gathering place, collected for the first time in one volume, including:
Â"The Subject Is ClosedÂ": A priest visits the tavern and goes one-on-one with a chirpsithra alien on the subject of God and life after death.
Â"Table Mannners: A Folk TaleÂ": Rick Schumann is invited to hunt with five folk aliens, but he's not quite sure what their hunt entails, or if he will be the hunted.
Â"Losing MarsÂ": In this previously unpublished tale, a group of aliens who call Mars and its moon home arrive at the tavern only to find that humans have mostly forgotten about their neighboring planet.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars Should have read this years ago!
A great collection of short, funny, poignant stories. Niven at his best. I don't know why I kept passing by this one. If you have not read it and are a Niven fan get it NOW!

I had my daughter read the one about the aliens who need to simulate preying on humans to stimulate their appetite. She loved the concept of a Disneyland-like amusement park where kids wear special hats to signal willingness to be unexpectedly snatched up by huge bird-like aliens and carried away to an aerie (but not eaten). "Dad, that would be the best ride ever!"

5-0 out of 5 stars Will it be dry ice with that, sir?
A fascinating, varied and deliciously strange collection of short stories. Just what you would expect from Larry Niven on the subject of human - alien interaction. The Tavern is a meeting place for alien visitors to earth but the number of humans present can usually be counted on the fingers of one hand (assuming your species has fingers or hands). The ever-present, worldly wise bar owner, Rick Shumann, acts as fixer for problems of an intergalactic nature. Written between 1977 and 2006, some of the stories are remarkably topical, all of them are vivid, visual and reliably entertaining.

Psychology, philosophy and linguistics collide in a spectacular series of misconceptions, misapprehensions and very near misses in terms of interspecies relations. This is a thought-provoking, imaginative and mind-expanding collection of tales that will bear repeated reading and enjoyment.

2-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish
Many of these stories don't appear to have a significant point. They read more like sketches rather than short stories.

I understand this is a compilation, but it was a very mixed bag. The ideas have a lot of interesting potential but they didn't seem to all come together when presented as a book this way. A good editor would have insisted Niven go back and work on them some more, and make them all work together somehow for this book. As it is, it all seems very half-baked. It seems to me these were ideas Niven sketched out but never finished.

I enjoyed a few of them but about half way through I started skimming, and then I finally stopped reading. The one in "play drama format" totally lost me (maybe because I skimmed it too fast).

I don't understand all the high reviews here. I assume they must be from die-hard Niven fans who love anything he writes.

I've read a few other Niven books that were all good: Neutron Star, Ringworld, Mote in God's Eye, Fleet of Worlds (contains spoilers for Niven's earlier Known Space books).

4-0 out of 5 stars "Let 'Em Eat Campbell's"
In 1973, Anne McCaffrey edited a book entitled _Cooking Out of This World: A Science Fiction Cookbook_. Alas, I have not read it, so I cannot comment on it. But its existence prompted me to muse upon food in science fiction. For example...

Robert A. Heinlein likes his food plain but tasty:

"Yes, Mrs. McCoy-- suppose you order for us-- but make sure it includes one of your steaks".
"Two inches thick-- from a steer that died happy." She glided away, moving her fat frame with surprising grace. ("The Roads Must Roll," 1940, _The Past Through Tomorrow_, 34)

Jack Vance favors menus that are a touch more exotic:

Farr turned to find two attendants carrying in a tall compartmented buffet laden with food. Farr ate wafers, fruits, marine tubers and pastes while Xi Aurigae bulged gradually over the horizon. (_The Houses of Iszm_, 1954, Ace, 17)

Clifford D. Simak manages to combine the two. Here are some spacemen who have feasted off a biologically bizarre but unusually co-operative alien herbivore:

"It's wonderful. It's got everything you've ever eaten backed off the table. We had three different kinds of red meat and a slab of fish and something that resembled a lobster, only better. And there's one kind of fruit growing out of that bush in the middle of the back..." ("Drop Dead," 1956, _All the Traps of Earth_, 85-86)

Of course, some dystopian futures yield less tasty fare. Here is one example by Fritz Leiber:

From the speed at which the order had been filled, he decided that they still had radionic cooking in the place. Juno's seared rabbit chops were as big as small steaks-- it must have been an octoploid bunny, at the least-- while her whiskey was intimidatingly huge and brown. [Phil] nibbled his yeast sandwich and found it seemingly okay, though it always made him nervous to eat restaurant food that didn't pop out of a wall. (_The Green Millennium_, 1953, Ace, 46)

All of which brings us to Larry Niven and _The Draco Tavern_ (2006). The book is a collection of science fictional tavern stories, much in the tradition of Spider Robinson's Callahan's Saloon stories. As such, Niven pays attention to drinks, whether it is the conventional gin and tonic favored by the owner, Rick Schumann, or the sparkers used by the Chirpsithras, or methane stingers, or the bottles of the wonderful Opal Fire liqueur. In one instance, rounds of coffee and cappuccino leads to some new scientific thought in cosmology.

But Niven also pays attention to food. There are tubes of paste favored by some aliens. There are arctic trees and shrubs for others. (The Draco Tavern is located in Siberia.) There are the really hot aliens who feed off of plasma. There is spaghetti. This doesn't sound especially exotic, but it comes in handy at a very critical time for Rick. And in two stories, we see that types of food and table manners can be very important indeed. "Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing" is a chiller about alien food that could actually become all too real with a little bit of advanced technology. And "Table Manners" sees Rick outside the tavern on a friendly hunting trip on an alien planet. Or... is it friendly? If he is invited to the alien's table, is it as a guest or as the main course?

Of course, not all of the stories in _The Draco Tavern_ have to do with food and drink. There is an exploration into the extremes of theological knowledge ("The Subject is Closed"), an account of how telling dirty jokes to aliens can become more than an academic exercise ("Smut Talk"), a tale of the one thing that terrified an alien daredevil ("The Death Addict"), and an exploration into just desserts for some violent criminals ("Cruel and Unusual"). There are twenty-six tales in all. They are short, tight, and well-written. But they are sometimes a bit fragmentary. Some of the events involving the Tavern seem to happen off-stage and are pieced together only in a fuzzy kind of way. But on the balance, an excellent collection of science fiction tavern tales.

2-0 out of 5 stars Niven is one grand master not holding up to the test of time
Let me start out by saying that when I was a kid, Larry Niven was hands down my favorite writer. I read everything of his and I think enjoyed it all. Included would be his large collection of short stories. I really enjoyed Draco Tavern back in the days. I thought that these were interesting and engaging at the time.

Revisiting old favorites and exploring a few new ones, I recently read 'the Draco Tavern' and found it startlingly dull and dry. I have tried to read a few of Niven's books written over the last 20 years, and have really not enjoyed it. This short story compilation is no exception.

Either I was a totally different person 20 years , with out a great deal of reading to make me realize just how tired and formulaic Niven's writing was. Or I have been reading so long that my primary taste in literature style has managed to change drastically as I decide what makes a good book, and what does not. Ether way, something must be amiss with my overall review because from what I can tell here at amazon.com, Niven's work just does not shine the way I once thought it did. Instead it was dull and pretty bad.
... Read more

7. Inferno
by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Paperback: 240 Pages (2008-09-02)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$5.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002M3SP5K
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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After being thrown out the window of his luxury apartment, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier wakes to find himself at the gates of hell. Feeling he's landed in a great opportunity for a book, he attempts to follow Dante's road map. Determined to meet Satan himself, Carpentier treks through the Nine Layers of Hell led by Benito Mussolini, and encounters countless mental and physical tortures. As he struggles to escape, he's taken through new, puzzling, and outlandish versions of sin--recast for the present day.  
... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

4-0 out of 5 stars $9.99?Really?
$9.99 for a digital version of a 240-page book?No.What's the matter with you people?Make it $6.99 and I'll buy it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Damned Good Story
First of all, forgive my punn in the review title.This was my first novel written by either Niven or Pournelle.After reading a little about the book I decided to give it a try as it seemed up my alley.Imaginative does not do justice to this one.

The novel begins with a darkly humorous episode where science fiction author Allan Carpenter(Carpentier) accidentally kills himself while trying to impress a stereotypical group of fans.Needless to say, the rationalist Carpenter finds himself surprised to find himself in a hell very similar to the one described by Dante.Even more surprising, a certain historical figure calling himself Benito tells Allan that he can lead him out of hell (the authors used some of C.S. Lewis's thought about choosing eternal destiny).And so a wild journey begins.Along the way, the two meet various fictional and historical characters--the latter include Henry XIII, Vlad Dracula, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Al Capone,etc.The fictional characters are often satirical jabs at modern society.A health nut stuck in with gluttons, radical environmentalists and those who destroy the environment facing ironic punishments (e.g. getting chased by bulldozers or stuck cycling trying to stop an exhaust pipe), lying advertizers wading around in excrement.A republican and democratic senator who voted against a lazer defense system for very different reasons are also featured.Needless to say, it is a wild and for the main characters very painful ride.

The writing itself is very well done.There is some cursing in the novel and of course very violent secenes (though often ironic and sometimes darkly humorous).Overall an entertaining read which can get one thinking about certain issues.

4-0 out of 5 stars A fun ride
As a major sci-fi/fantasy fan since the age of 10, I'm not sure how I managed to miss this book until now. A friend recently recommended it when I was on vacation so I put it on my Kindle and off I went. The main character dies and finds himself in the afterlife. Usually I don't recap basic plot points (see the book description for that) but obviously that is the premise of the book and is extremely germaine to my one negative on this one: he spends an inordinate amount of time in denial about where he is. I mean, really, it literally cound not be more annoying how long he maintains his particular delusion. It plays into his development but I think he could have given it up earlier, still learned the same lessons, and irritated the reader much much less.

The story itself was very good and was also particularly well-written. I know going into it that it was a collaboration between 2 authors and at the end they discuss how they worked together on it, but other than that I managed to completely forget that it was the product of 2 different writers. Some colloborations by other authors suffer from a change in tone or some kind of disconnect but they really worked together seamlessly in this - you cannot tell, at all, that two minds and writing styles went into this.

The action moves well along and you encounter interesting scenarios and supporting characters in the journey. It was fun, slightly though-provoking, and had an interesting moral without being moralistic or heavy-handed. I recommend reading this. There were some amusing scenes but please don't go into it expecting a true spoof or satire, it really isn't that at all.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Hell of a story
Inferno Nivens and Pournelle

Authors Larry Nivens and Jerry Pournelle brainstormed a terrific idea for a science-fiction novel: a rewrite of Dante's Inferno set in the 20th century with the protagonist a science-fiction writer. I purchased the paperback when it was first issued in 1976. With a plot like that I could not pass up reading this novel.

The author's are to be commended for successfully merging a certain amount of spooky supernaturalism with a busman tour of the neither region. I was somewhat thrown off balance when one of hell's subordinate devils is played for comic relief. Rather then provide an opportunity for sly wit and crafty dialog I found this character weaken the previously created infernal atmosphere.

The reader is presented with a choice of two rationales for the existence of hell: either it is the creation of a sadistic being from another world for perverted amusements populated by robotic demons or it is in reality, Hell where presumably bad folks are sent for punishment. The protagonist mulls this conundrum while he journeys from one region to another. Crafty readers will detect that the author's want us to decide just what the hell - hell is, or is not.

I wonder how Phil Farmer or Phil Dick or Phillip McCann would of handled this story idea.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Laid Back Stroll Through Hell
I don't know how else to put it, but this book is a relaxing stroll through hell.I found myself relaxed, happy, and engaged, reading this book.How is that possible?How?I'm taken on a journey through hell. How can I be enjoying myself so much?I don't know, but I did.Did hell sound horrid?Sure did.There were some possibilities I never thought of.

This book is very creative, fun to read, and still relevant.Most science fiction books written over 30 years ago do not stand up well today.This one does.I never felt like I was reading a 30 year old book.

This book is well written, enjoyable, fun, and makes you think.What more can you ask for?Read it. ... Read more

8. Flatlander
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 368 Pages (1995-05-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345394801
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Gil "The Arm" Hamilton was one of the top operatives of ARM, the elite UN police force. His intuition was unfailingly accurate, his detective skills second to none, and his psychic powers -- esper sense and telekinesis -- were awesome. Now you can read all the classic stories of the legendary ARM operative, collected in one volume for the first time -- plus, an all-new, never-before-published Gil Hamilton adventure! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars niven does detective
good entry to niven sci fi detective fiction for those who love the latter but snub the former as geek bait.not on level of stout or ross macdonald as detective stories but better than bradbury.

2-0 out of 5 stars No Table of Contents?Really?
Not sure about the previous reviewer who said he only got one short story when he bought this for his Kindle.I received the same 300+ page collection I have in paperback.But what I did not appreciate was reading it through, reaching the novella "Patchwork Girl," deciding I wanted to skip to the next short story, only to discover THERE IS NO TABLE OF CONTENTS.In a novel maybe you can get away with this.But in a collection of short stories and novellas it is unacceptable.I would expect this from a public domain release, not from a commercial one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Future Mysteries
Flatlander (1995) is a collections of five SF stories in the Known Space series.It incorporates the three stories in The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton (1976), a short novel -- The Patchwork Girl (1980) -- and another short story original to this volume.It also includes an Afterword.

Gil Hamilton was a native of Earth, but migrated to the Belt.For six years, he was a crewman on a three-man prospecting ship.Then they had an accident and one crewman was killed.Gil lost his right arm, but found that his mind was able to project an imaginary arm that could pick up small objects and reach through walls and phone screens.

Gil returned to Earth to receive a transplant for the missing arm.His imaginary arm did not disappear after the operation.He joined the Amalgation of Regional Milita (ARM) -- the UN police -- and spent most of his time pursuing organleggers.

- "Death by Ecstasy" (Galaxy, 1968, as "The Organleggers") brings a former comrade of Gil to Earth, only to die from a electric tap into his pleasure center.

- "The Defenseless Dead" (TLAoGH, 1973) has Gil searching for organleggers behind a new bill to salvage the parts of a few hundred thousand corpsicles.

- "ARM" (TLAoGH, 1975) involves Gil in a murder associated with a machine that accelerates time.

- "Patchwork Girl" (novel, 1980) takes Gil to Luna for a legal conference and involves him in the investigation of an attempted murder.

- "The Woman in Del Rey Crater" (original, 1995) has Gil checking out a spacesuit found in a highly radiactive crater on Luna.

- Afterword describes the author's experiences writing the first three tales and the subsequent updates provided by readers.

The title of this book has been a problem, since "Flatlander" (If, 1967) is another -- but unrelated -- story in the Known Space series.The works within this volume are the only Gil Hamilton stories to date.Each is a puzzle of some sort, as are many other tales written by the author.

Recommended for Niven fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of future detectives, advanced technology, and persevering heroes.

-Arthur W. Jordin

3-0 out of 5 stars Short Changed
I bought the kindle version and to my surprise it was not the book I had read years ago.I estimate the kindle version is only 50 pages long, vs 350+ as advertised.What happened to the rest of the book?? I hope Amazon corrects this problem.
I gave it 3 stars because what I have of the story was a good story, so if you don't mind getting short changed then buy it, otherwise let's hope the rest of the book will make it to the kindle.

1-0 out of 5 stars Only the Beowulf Schaefer short, *Not* the real book
This is not the book, even though Amazon claims it to be (the cover, page count, etc)
It is a cool, yet very short, story, but not a full eBook. ... Read more

9. Protector
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 224 Pages (1987-09-12)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345353129
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Phssthpok the Pak had been traveling for most of his thirty-two thousand years. His mission: save, develop, and protect the group of Pak breeders sent out into space some two and a half million years before...

Brennan was a Belter, the product of a fiercely independent, somewhat anarchic society living in, on, and around an outer asteroid belt. The Belters were rebels, one and all, and Brennan was a smuggler. The Belt worlds had been tracking the Pak ship for days -- Brennan figured to meet that ship first...

He was never seen again -- at least not by those alive at the time. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (54)

3-0 out of 5 stars Lame and redundant
Basically everything you learn in this book about Known Space is already in the Ringworld series, so if you liked Ringworld and wanted to learn more this book isn't what you're looking for. Also the entire plot is summarized rapidly in the Ringworld series, so there are no surprises. And we've seen the climax before, only with Teela Brown instead of Brennan...

The book ages poorly too. What was Niven even thinking? Newspapers are audio tapes that you put in a tape player. The Mars base is -inflatable-. Apparently it's feasible to zoom around the solar system in a matter of hours with virtually unlimited fuel.

5-0 out of 5 stars An all-time favorite
I love this novel. It's stayed with me for years, so I bought it again and it still packs a punch. There is one scene in particular, a doctor is doing a biopsy on a copse and finds a chunk of the yam-like tuber involved inside the corpse's stomach. Beyond temptation, the doctor eats the piece of root while the nurses stand-by aghast. Yuck! But it made the point of how driven by instinct we can be. A lovely thought that the idiocy of mankind is attributable to a stalled adolescent development. An intriguing thought of what it would be like to grow up.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing idea, less impressive execution
Like many of Niven's books, this is based on a big idea: suppose you take the "selfish gene" theory (that evolution compels people to favor the survival of their genes) and took it to an extreme: a species that is obsessed with their descendants' survival, to the point that they have no free will and no ethics, and end up actually harming their descendants.Combine this with the notion that humanity is a "failed"version of that species (but actually more successful, because they HAVE developped free will and ethics).

All of the good stuff is in the first half, which alternates between the thoughts of the Pak (who thinks he has come to "rescue" humanity) and the 23rd century humans who don't know what to make of the situation.When Brennan kills the alien he saves humanity, yet there is a tragic side to the Pak's death.

The second half is consistently the most uninspired in the Known Space series, and I can't believe that Niven wrote this just after Ringworld.It's as if he thought "oops, I've got to explain why the Martians and the Pak never appeared afterward in Known Space, so I better write a story about it".There's almost nothing new, unless you get a kick reading about military technology (I don't).At the end Truesdale says "it seemed best to novelize this story" -- why? He's supposed to be convincing the readers that they are in terrible danger!It sounds like an idea Niven suddenly had when writing the conclusion, not a real interpretation of the story.

Lots of reviews here stress the fact that this story leads into RINGWORLD.I think a story ought to stand on its own, and the first half does.

5-0 out of 5 stars My all-time favorite Science Fiction Story.THE "sci fi" of my life
"Goodbye and Good Luck. I Love You."
These, are the final words of the novel, "Protector".

-unless you have read it you can have -NO CONCEPT- of what leads to those words.
And it's IMPOSSIBLE for you to guess, it is TRULY an original drama AND mystery.No, it's not a mushy LOVE-story.This is hardcore Old School SciFi and it's GOOD!And... the fate of humanity rests in the hands of a salesman from a shoe store who hates his job.

This is a story about a humanoid species from the center of the galaxy.
They call themselves, "Pak".
Their language is a series of hisses and clicks, because they have a beak.
The story begins from the point of view of a Pak, named Phssthpok.
He's actually on a mission of mercy and he just wants to help us.
He's bringing food-plants and fertilizer.
He's coming to HELP.
He's been traveling in space for 32,000 years, alive AND conscious.
He sat in his cockpit, and FLEW for 32,000 years.
Watching the stars crawl past his window.
He'd occasionally stop to exercise.
As he rushed to Earth...
Just to save us.
By himself.
He had received a distress call, so he's obligated to come.
His species is very tough, and very smart.
He built his own starship to come to us.
His people do not build starships -Usually- ...unless they have a reason to.
Like this mission.
-of mercy.
And, he's very dedicated to his species.
But when he finally meets us...
He's not going to like us.
He'll have to kill us.
All of us.
He has to.
At least, he'll try.
And he has NO choice in the matter.

We're LUCKY he's just delivering food plants, and fertilizer.
Because there's a WHOLE PLANET- With millions more, JUST LIKE HIM, who are at war.
...and THEY won't like us, either.

The Pak, have 3 stages in their lives: Child, Breeder, and Protector ('Protector' being the adult-stage).If humans were to meet the breeder stage face to face we would call it... Homo Habilis.

The beauty of this STORY is the human drama of 2 men, Jack Brennan, and Roy Trusedale.There is a threat that the entire human species faces, but is entirely and HAPPILY unaware of.Both Jack and Roy end up drawn into something they can NOT control, is FAR larger than themselves, and they have NO power over.Yet, at their fingertips, is the fate of humanity.By the END of the story, you realize the human race NEVER ever knew of the threat! They are so well "Protected".The manner in which Larry Niven crafts originality out of scientifically accurate and common facts, YET is able to redraw our ENTIRE human history --is what makes the story compelling to a smart reader.The STORY, is truly original.

This book, -IS- believe it or NOT, a ROMANTIC NOVEL about the human condition.Larry Niven turns the stage of Old Age, into one of power and control.It is set, in a True Blue, Hard Core, Old School, Sci-Fi Universe of Larry's creation.
This would make an AWESOME Movie.
Just because of the Human Element.
And the Novel stands alone Very Well, as a story (or movie!) in it's own right.
And I- would want to PLAY Jack Brennan OR Roy Truesdale -hint-

"I Love You"The last 3 words of the Novel, and it's the ONLY time they are said.
And unless you are a FAN- You have NO idea of what KIND of "Love" it is.
You have NO IDEA of where those words leave you HANGING, as in.What's NEXT?
For that- you have to have read his series.

This is -REAL- science fiction.We are talking survival of the species, because with THOSE words at the End, a huge inter-species war is about to start.And whats more, is the Humans are Never even aware it is happening!They are... "Protected" by stronger beings.

We didn't even KNOW we had "relatives" elsewhere in the galaxy.

Larry Niven has created a universe and a space opera that goes FAR beyond this Novel.In fact it could be the basis for a whole series of great movies. THAT is how HUGE this is.You've GOT to read the story.IF you like classic fiction, you'll most likely LOVE this.The attraction is in the details of this SciFi-drama.Larry re-crafts human origins, very intelligently in this story.

Larry Niven, is my absolute favorite author.And No I do not spend every day living/breathing Niven.NOT HARDLY.I have not even re-read Protector in years.But I HAVE re-read protector as well as many of his "Known Space" series.I absolutely LOVE his humane / decent / civilized / educated and scientifically and technically accurate style.I absolutely LOVE the "known-space" series, (which this novel is -part- of).The internal CONSISTENCY and Accuracy of all his writing is something that naturally drew me from the start. It is an opera "up there" with Asimovs Foundation and Robot lines. The human -romance- of THIS PARTICULAR NOVEL "Protector" --spoke-- to me from my early years.I was a teen-ager, when I read this book.A top-scoring science geek, so I truly appreciated his accurate science and technology.In this book, we discover that Humans did NOT originate on Earth.We come from a planet closer to the center of the galaxy.We also learn that there are actually 3 stages in the "proper" life of a Human, as lived by our ancestors on our planet of origin.Child, Breeder, and then Protector.Here on Earth we do not have the proper "food" that allows us to make the change to the final stage.As originally evolved, on the planet of our origins, the "Breeder Stage" is a barely sentient animal that exists to perpetuate the species.Upon Breeding, we then age, lose interest in Breeding and a biological switch flips.We suddenly have the URGE to eat a specific root, that before now, was repugnant.The root comes from a plant known as "The Tree of Life"There is a virus in this root, that causes a bodily change.The root also contains hormones, and necessary supplementation to aid certain biological processes- (remember Niven first wrote this as a short story, in 1967 where it appeared in 'Galaxy' magazine in June under the name, "The Adults"... And, he was writing popular fiction about Viral modification of genetics!)We are suddenly drawn to eat the root- Upon ingestion, the virus affects massive physiological and psychological as well as intellectual reformation.We fall into a coma, as the somatic changes occur.Our skin wrinkles and toughens, teeth fall out and gums fuse with lips to form a beak, of sorts.Our joints enlarge, (sound familar? like symptoms of Old Age maybe?...) our larger joints give a greater moment-arm for greater muscular torque right at the joints (we become massively stronger) our skull softens, and our brain grows... we become more INTELLIGENT... and wake up from the coma.Look around TRULY and fully AWARE--

To quote Larry. "My premise was a cute one: that every symptom of aging in man is an aborted version of something designed to make us stronger.... Once I accepted that premise I was in deep water."

Humans, DO have a Protector stage.And even tho' OUR breeder stage are intelligent, the Protector stage is even More So.And with a re-ordered species-driven initiative.An instinctually driven set of urges.

From the Novel,

"Every human protector must wake this way.

A Pak wakes sentient for the first time.But a human protector has human memories.Now he wakes clear-headed, with even greater intelligence, and remembers, and thinks with a certain amount of embarassment:"I've been stupid". ... And If this message reaches you, then a Pak fleet that was tough enough to destroy us is following just behind this laser pulse, at near lightspeed...

...Now MOVE!"

1-0 out of 5 stars Protector: Library Edition (Audiobook)
The Protector book is a good book to read, but not listen too. This audiobook implementation of Larry Niven's book exceeds a threshold of spits, clicks, and tits, that any non-ARM prisoner should be forced to listen too. Unfortunately, we are held in the cell while ARM agents cover us with grating irritating noises in our desire to experience the Known Space basics.

An errant Protector finds earth and, much to his dismay, fails in either attempt to re-solve a new colony or eliminate a deviate one. Larry Niven integrates the science into the background when it should be and let's the human element guide the story. From the asteroid belts to the earth, we learn why we exist and what our place in the universe was supposed to be.

As far as a read, it's clearly a 4, but this Blackstone audiobook only rates a 1.

... Read more

10. Ringworld's Children
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 284 Pages (2005-04-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765341026
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Welcome to a world like no other.

The Ringworld: a landmark engineering achievement, a flat band 3 million times the surface area of Earth, encircling a distant star.Home to trillions of inhabitants, not all of which are human, and host to amazing technological wonders, the Ringworld is unique in all of the universe.

Explorere Louis Wu, an Earth-born human who was part of the first expedition to Ringworld, becomes enmeshed in interplanetary and interspecies intrigue as war, and a powerful new weapon, threaten to tear the Ringworld apart forever.Now, the future of Ringworld lies in the actions of its children: Tunesmith, the Ghould protector; Acolyte, the exiled son of Speaker-to-Animals, and Wembleth, a strange Ringworld native with a mysterious past.All must play a dangerous in order to save Ringworld's population, and the stability of Ringworld itself.

Blending awe-inspiring science with non-stop action and fun, Ringworld's Children, the fourth installment of the multiple award-winning saga, is the perfect introduction for readers new to this New York Times bestselling series, and long-time fans of Larry Niven's Ringworld.
Amazon.com Review
Larry Niven may be America's greatest living hard-SF writer. Much of his SF belongs to his famous future history, the Tales of Known Space. His preeminent creation is the Ringworld: an immense, artificial, ring-shaped planet that circles a Known Space star. Possibly SF's greatest feat of world-building, the Ringworld is featured in four novels: the Hugo and Nebula Award winner Ringworld (1970); The Ringworld Engineers (1980); The Ringworld Throne (1996); and Ringworld's Children (2004).

Ringworld's Children returns series protagonist Louis Wu to the titular world. Louis and his friend The Hindmost, an alien of the Pierson's puppeteer race, are prisoners of the Ghoul protector Tunesmith, a Ringworld native, who is deliberately provoking the warships that surround his world. All the star-faring races of Known Space have sent warships to the Ringworld, and they are already at the brink of war. If fighting breaks out, the near-indestructible Ringworld will be destroyed: dissolved by antimatter weapons.

The Ringworld series is so complex and ambitious thatRingworld's Children opens with a glossary and a cast of characters, inclusions that even many Known Space fans will need. Newcomers to Niven's artificial planet should start with Ringworld. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (50)

1-0 out of 5 stars Niven is worse than Lucas
Thank you Larry Niven for raping my childhood. With his last to "Ringworld" books, he has destroyed my love of the first two. It's worse than what Lucas did to Star Wars (well...maybe not that bad). He breaks the rules of his Known Space universe at whim, provides inane characters who act without purpose, and the plot/story is just plain LAME. The worst part, however, is just trying to figure out what's going on from page to page. Niven has apparently lost the ability to describe what's in his imagination with the written word.

Let's all just hope that Ringworld's Children is the last book in this series. I don't think I could take another one and still remain sane.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't Believe The negative Reviews
I am suspicious of all of the negative reviews of this book. First of all, anyone who says they read this book in one day is lying. The concepts in this story are staggering. The visuals are awe-inspiring. You can read one sentence and then spend 20 minutes visualizing the scene just described. One of the problems with most scifi is that the action is 'toned down' to the level of a bad movie or a TV show. Niven does not do that. He imagines a truly future, amazingly complex reality; and then the characters move along in real time in that situation. The reader has to THINK just to keep up.I kept thinking as I read that " there will never be a movie made of this story... it is just TOO difficult ". Niven is juggling a vast array of disparate elements here; and part of the fun is watching him keep those balls in the air and tell a story at the same time. Not for everyone; but satisfying for those who try.
I wrote the above review after reading the book one time. Then I dug out 'Ringworld Throne' and tried to read it again. It took me awhile. The first half of the book is just boring. Then I discovered that the second half deals with the characters we all love, especially Louis. So I forced myself to read through the second half. This helps to appreciate ' Ringworld's Children '. So then I picked up 'Children' and started to read it a second time. Much better. I actually enjoyed most of it. I think I understand what's going on a little more, at least enough to offer some minor helpful criticism:
Larry Niven no longer writes any descriptive sentences to help us to understand or visualize what he is talking about. He wastes no time. Almost as if he is a Protector telling a story. He touches on details and keeps moving, forcing us to figure out what is happening. This is a problem. Because sometimes the events are difficult to comprehend or understand. And without understanding them we lose the thread of the story.
Another failing is the way the characters talk. We are supposed to believe that an alien living for thousands of years on the Ringworld would be interested in literature from Earth, or phrases or concepts from pre-space-age Earth. This is fun, and makes the story colorful and easier to comprehend; but the idea is still silly.
It is never explained what exactly Protectors do with all the time they have lived. Apparently they sit around living for thousands of years and then act quickly in a flurry of excitement during the events in the story.
And they teach themselves quantum physics on their own, but fail to grasp simple concepts that to us seem obvious ( super nerds ).
And everyone uses the concept of a BallWorld ( like Earth ) but no one thinks to ever call it a sphere-world or cantaloupe-world.
I realize now that the problem list goes on and on.
Perhaps the concept of the Ringworld is just too big. Maybe a smaller Ringworld would be easier to write about and easier to visualize.
I still like the characters, and I love when Hindmost and Louis and Acolyte are doing stuff together.
And there are some great situations that Niven plays with . One of my favorite sections involves Louis Wu pretending to be a younger son named Luis and talking to a hot female ARM agent who he is lusting after but pretending not to. And he is trying to interrogate her and at the same time fool her and manipulate her. And she is trying to coerce him and interrogate him at the same time, while she wants to have sex with him and also kidnap him. The dialogue and thought balloons are maddening and great fun and to me 'pure Niven'.
All in all I greatly enjoyed 'Children' the second time through.
If I understood the physics I think I would like it even more the third time.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Ringworld series ends
This book is an improvement on Ringworld Throne, which isn't saying much.There still aren't new striking ideas, but this time Niven brought in ideas from earlier in his career (tricks with hyperdrive, loony ARMS officers), and made it look like he had planned it that way.And the elaborate cover story that Louis comes up with sounds almost like the plan of an unwritten Ringworld novel.Finally some mysteries are finally tied up neatly:


Why did Teela die in spite of her "luck"?Because the Teela Brown gene was protecting ITSELF, not her -- Dawkins' selfish gene theory.

Why don't the Ringworld Protectors show the xenophobia that they did in PROTECTOR?Because they did genetic engineering on themselves to eliminate the trait.

Still, to paraphrase TS Eliot, the RINGWORLD ended not with a bang but with a whimper.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Tired Boring Prequel
I liked the original Ring World series, and like any book I enjoy, I found myself reading each book in a day or so.

I decided to read RingWorld's Children on the strength of the original series. However, after a couple of weeks, I am still only a 3rd of the way through. I picked it up again today - after reading the new Dune series book and other - well more interesting - books in between, I found it hard to keep reading.

Why? Well I decided, sadly, that the story is just plain boring, It drones. It reads like a sad tired addition to the series that I get the distinct impression that Larry Niven probably did not want to write.

I honestly do not think I can finish it - which is probably the worst thing I can say about a book. I'll keep it by the toilet in case one day I have a bad case of diarrhea and run out of toiletry boxes to read.

It is really quite sad.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very happy
The book is in excellent condition. It arrived quickly and it was at a very reasonable price.
I am very satisfied with this purchase. ... Read more

11. The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring
by Larry Niven
Paperback: 480 Pages (2003-07-29)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$8.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345460367
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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“Niven has come up with an idea about as far out asone can get. . . . This is certainly classic science fiction–theidea is truly the hero.” –Asimov’s ScienceFiction Magazine

When leaving Earth, the crew of thespaceship Discipline was prepared for a routineassignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission ofinterstellar exploration and colonization, Discipline was aided(and secretly spied upon) by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionlesscomputer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedienceof the crew. But what they weren’t prepared for was the smokering–an immense gaseous envelope that had formed around aneutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to avariety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditionsof continual free-fall. When Discipline encountered it,something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikelyspace oasis.

Five hundred years later, the descendants of theDiscipline crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remembertheir origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection ofthe State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the SmokeRing, Discipline waits patiently to make contact with itswayward children.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars Quality Combined Edition
This softcover edition is an excellent combined presentation of Larry Niven's two smoke ring novels, including the original illustrations (maps).Both stories are outstanding examples of hard science fiction with interesting science, characters and plot twists.As a fan and reader I am left wanting more from the smoke ring but that is not a bad thing.These stories are also some of the author's favorite science fiction works (he has stated in interviews).My highest recommendation.

4-0 out of 5 stars worth reading
This book is worth a read, I finished it two weeks ago, and I find myself thinking about it still.
Very interesting concept.The second book is more peopled and I liked it better then the first
half.It is just different, very different!

4-0 out of 5 stars Fairness all around, average Niven
Better than expected, judging from the cover. Having read most of Niven's sci-fi novels, I expect a huge idea to be brought out within the pages followed by a cast of so-so characters. Nevertheless, Niven follows in his own footsteps to create Integral Trees. A key part of this novel is the government called The State, which has been part of his novel A World Out of Time and many of his short stories. Integral Trees expands this idea a little more, including the Watched... the personality which governs the people aboard a seedship to see that they keep the traditions of The State.

The characters are typically dry in Niven novels and here is no exception. What it lacks in characterization, it makes up for it in sheer originality of the environment around the neutron star and the plot involving the descendants of star explorers. The amount of detail in the world around the neutron star is impressive and articulate. This is an idea never explored other authors before as well as any authors since this publication.

For a sheer wow-factor, the Integral Trees is a good book to read. Simply reading it for plot and characterization sake, you'll be disappointed unless you know what Niven can offer you. The ending lends to a sequel, The Smoke Ring which is another fair novel.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not up to Niven's best
I read this expecting it to be much better, based on Niven's reputation & the short stories of his I had read in my many sci-fi anthologies. While the characters and the world they inhabit are interesting, the plot is so thin and shallow that the only good thing I can say about it is that it allowed me to wade through it quickly. Disappointing.

3-0 out of 5 stars Worth it for the Front Cover... Not
Yes, there is a smoking hot girl with long toes on the front cover.Buy it for that.Amazon can probably wrap it in brown paper for you and you'll be all set.

No, seriously - don't you hate it when you see a book and almost put it down because the cover is unnecessarily provocative?That's what I almost did with this one.And it's a shame, because the world Niven creates is very compelling.His look at a drifting world of gigantic drifting trees and floating lakes in an atmosphere ring around a star is fascinating.

That said - the thing that bothers me about this book is its attempt to push the typical "free love" ideas of the sixties.As we most of us know now - that open sex lifestyle doesn't work.It only leads to heartbreak, misery and plenty of STDs.Yet authors keep dreaming of it... living vicariously through the sexual escapades of their characters.I get a little bit of that "dirty old man" feel from this book... maybe the girl on the cover should have been a warning.

It's hard to recommend because of that angle, but it's still a read you can't put down.And with how inexpensive copies are, you can always heat your house cheper than fuel oil if you decide you didn't like this tale of trees.

... Read more

12. Dream Park
by Larry Niven, Steven Barnes
Paperback: 320 Pages (2010-05-11)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765326671
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A group of pretend adventurers suit up for a campaign called "The South Seas Treasure Game." As in the early Role Playing Games, there are Dungeon Masters, warriors, magicians, and thieves. The difference?  At Dream Park, a futuristic fantasy theme park full of holographic attractions and the latest in VR technology, they play in an artificial enclosure that has been enhanced with special effects, holograms, actors, and a clever storyline. The players get as close as possible to truly living their adventure.

All's fun and games until a Park security guard is murdered, a valuable research property is stolen, and all evidence points to someone inside the game. The park's head of security, Alex Griffin, joins the game to find the killer, but finds new meaning in the games he helps keep alive.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Immediate Reread
Yes, the methods are a bit dated.As Niven himself has since said, it has become increasingly obvious that if anything like this comes to pass, it will be implemented in virtual reality, perhaps with direct neural feeds.

Doesn't matter.

As to the economics of the thing, in the Republic of Korea, watching people play video games is considered a form of entertainment.I was a gamer before it was cool.I've already seen this turn into a multibillion dollar industry, Seen my Commodore Vic 20 ultimately replaced by a WII, a Playstation 2, a Playstation 3, and half a dozen high-end personal computers in my home.I've seen science fiction and fantasy movies come to dominate the box office from a time when the best of the best was 2001, Silent Running, and Wizards.I can imagine spectators happily watching the first group of players chosen to play a red-hot, eagerly anticipated new game title.

I bought this book when it first came out and to this day it remains the only book that, when I finished the last page, I turned back to the first page of chapter one and begin to reread the whole thing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Repeat Line
I love this book and will read it again and again. However, one line in the book is repeated. Don't remember where it was, just that it was a short, one-line paragraph.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dream Park is Disney for Gamers...
Niven and Barnes create a wonderful world in Dream Park; a theme park where adults get to live out their fantasy adventures and role-play in the extreme.Set in a near-future where full-scale motion holography is not only possible, but indistinguishable from reality, Dream Park engages you in the characters within the fantasy game and who they are in their normal lives.It's fantasy, thriller, and murder mystery all in one.

Read it when it first came out.Liked it then, like it now.A good, fast-paced read, as Niven's work usually is, and the collaboration of Niven and Barnes makes this a truly enthralling novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
Live action role-playing was years in the future when this book was written.I'm not part of the LARP scene, but as others noted, this was an attempt to transfer idea of Dungeons and Dragons into real life, or a vague approximation thereof.

The other thing that is unique about this book and its sequels is that, more than anything that preceded them, they combined many genres: science fiction, fantasy, and murder mystery.While it's popular to take elements of each genre these days, these books are properly murder mysteries occurring in a science fiction setting that surrounds a fantasy.

The other thing that resonates strongly here is the authors' commitments to non-western mythology: it's not spoiling anything to say that Dream Park runs on Cargo cults, while subsequent series use elements of inuit mythology and vodoun.

All in all, this book and its two sequels are well worth reading.As another reviewer noted, we haven't got there yet, and we may well never get there.But I suspect that elements of Dream Park are bubbling away in MMORPGs all over the net.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
"A highly entertaining book, particularly for rpg geeks I guess.Dream Park is a huge live action role playing game complex, where players participate in games, complete with character stats, and holographic and computer assisted abilities.

Character classes, gamemasters, the whole thing.The Dream Park management have discovered evidence of a crime, so they have to put one of their security operatives undercover in a game.

The problem is that the game is an epic, a confrontation between two world class gamemasters and a famous party leading adventurer.

... Read more

13. Ringworld
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (1985-09-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345333926
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A new place is being built, a world of huge dimensions, encompassing millions of miles, stronger than any planet before it. There is gravity, and with high walls and its proximity to the sun, a livable new planet that is three million times the area of the Earth can be formed. We can start again!
... Read more

Customer Reviews (190)

2-0 out of 5 stars Attack of the Killer Sunflowers!
Attack of the Killer Sunflowers!
Two hundred year old Louis Wu is bored.So when Nessus, an alien called a puppeteer, offers to include him on a journey to a strange Ring World, Louis accept.The duo is joined by Speaker-To-Animals, a kzin (think Klingon warrior cats), and Teela Brown, a ditzy, lucky woman.

I Liked:
By far the absolute best aspect of the book was the world building.From the moment the Ringworld was described, I was intrigued.A ring, with the circumference of an Earth orbit?That rocks!When does construction begin?Niven puts a lot of effort into the crown piece of the Ringworld.We get the logistics of how it would be built, what it would be made of, what has happened to it and more.
I think the interplay amongst the travelers was well-done too.I liked the friction between the kzin and the others, how Teela actually gets to be intelligent occasionally (more on this later), and how they all have to pull together to make it work.Plus, one of the coolest things was how Nessus was from a far more technologically advanced culture and yet was way more afraid than any of the others.I liked how he was slightly mad, shifting from paranoia to depression.Of course, Teela also gets a bit of development.At the beginning, she's a reckless "child", running around and not worrying about getting into trouble or pain.By the end, she's matured a lot, is a lot more cautious, and is more wary.
While nothing on the caliber of Hitchhiker's Guide or The Princess Bride, there is quite a bit of humor in the novel.Louis is quite the snarker, as is Nessus.Even a few serious situations are made lighter with the humor.

I Didn't Like:
I struggled to listen to all of this book, and, at first, I didn't know why.Yes, Louis Wu was your typical, aggravating, superior human male protagonist that can do no wrong, looks amazing at 200, can have great sex, and is wealthier than Bill Gates, but that wasn't it.Yes, the story did smart a little too much of The Hobbit (Nessus "knocks" at Louis' door, only Louis agrees instead of being forced into the adventure like Bilbo), but I actually like adventure stories in that vein, so that wasn't it either.Yes, Teela is yet another 70's scifi woman shown to be stupid, vacuous, vapid, inane, childlike, and unimportant, but that wasn't it either.
And that was when I figured it out.The book was boring.Hard to believe, with such an interesting concept as the Ringworld (which I totally loved), but the pace is incredibly slow.The plot is nearly nonexistent.The whole plot is "travelers go to investigate Ringworld, get shot down on the surface, and try to return".Actually, the plot doesn't sound that bad and has a lot of potential, but when you actually read it (or hear it), it just becomes snooze-worthy.When the travelers get stuck on the Ringworld, instead of being awed by being on the Ringworld and seeing it firsthand, I wanted to bash my head into a wall as they bickered, argued, postulated, and sped along in fly-cycles."Please," I was begging the audiobook."Make it stop!"The writing, while certainly not the worst I've ever seen, just doesn't transmit the awe and intrigue you would expect.Not to mention, there were some strange word choices, particularly in the love-making scenes.
The characters minus Nessus, as I mentioned above, are hideously stereotyped.We have our trademark warrior race, our trademark super-hero, and our trademark stupid woman.I understand this book was written in the sixties/seventies (there may not have been as many warrior races back then, women were often personified as stupid and incapable to make our hero look so amazing and wonderful and gag-worthy), but I still like a little depth, a little pizzazz, a reason to be invested in the characters.Probably my least favorite character was Louis Wu, who soars headfirst into Marty Stu territory, with his 200 year old wisdom in a 20 year old body, able to make amazing love to any woman and can talk physics with far superior beings.Teela comes in close second for her horrible "character" in the form of "stupid woman drug along to boink the hero".And the prostitute spacer lady...wrong, wrong, wrong.
As for the Teela and Louis "relationship"...laughable.They jump each other like bunnies, Louis treats her like an idiot most of the time, and Teela laps it up like the lap dog she is.And yet, I get the creepy sense that he is her grandfather, caring for her in a father-figure, slightly demeaning teacher-to-student way.Really doesn't make me feel good.There are sparse few scenes where they behave towards each other anything like normal human reactions (and yes, I know this is years in the future, but no where was it stated that love has been banned or manipulated, like in THX-1138).The end of their "relationship" is so flat--after Teela's accident, Louis just up and decides that he doesn't love her anymore.Pathetic.And I was prepared not to insult the lovemaking scenes (most of them were of the "cut to black" variety), but then I read this one: "Teela impaled herself as she straddled his hips".Sounds romantic, doesn't it?Not.Most of the love-making scenes are written so thoughtlessly and totally ruin any emotion you build up into them.
Minor Quibble: People call this book "hard scifi", and as I was listening, I had to scratch my head in confusion.Faster than light drives?Teleporting booths?Aliens?Sounds pretty soft to me.But this complaint is more about marketing; I don't care if a book is "hard" or "soft", as long as it A) has good characters, B) has a good story, and C) is well-written.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
The ship is called the Lying Ba****d.
Louis has Teela around to "keep him company".They hop out of their flyers to make the most awkward love.
Louis gets punched.

I am very disappointed.I was so looking forward to reading this Hugo (and Nebula and Locus) award winning novel.I have wanted to read more varied scifi authors and went into this novel excited.And in the beginning, I was entertained and hopeful.But then, as the novel wore on, and the execution didn't live up to my expectations, my hopes began to die.The characters were dull and lifeless and just couldn't carry the story.The plot forgot the Ringworld.And Niven's writing couldn't save the story at all.
Oh, and as for the review title: there is a pseudo-action scene involving Louis and Speaker trying to evade sunflowers.Strange...

Brought to you by:
*C.S. Light*

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great
This was hailed to me as a classic by several pals who, like me, enjoy hard scifi.My friends were truly passionate about the book, with all its quirky detail and humor, so I agreed to read it.No this is personal, but it just didn't work for me that well.

The plot takes place on a massive belt that is build around a sun, kind of like a ribbon Dyson sphere.As it spins, it creates an artificial gravity for the inhabitants, who are unknown.An unlikely team - an Asian, a felinoid Kzin, a girl gifted with luck, and an alien prostitute - enter and try to unlock its secrets.They go on a long journey and there are many funny asides, such as when the Kzin gets all his fur burned off with the exception of the bush he was sitting upon and a band around his shielded eyes.There are also some very interesting details, such as the medical advances of the time but also the notions that some people are genetically lucky.However, by the end, I did not like the explanation of what had happened:rather than awe, I felt disappointment that it wasn't more clever.

Recommended.It is good hard scifi.I just expected more after so many enthusiastic endorsements.

3-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing yet a little flat
I remember buying this book when I was a kid because the premise of a giant ringworld appealed to me. However, I never tried to read it. When the audiobook version came up on Audible thirty years later, I thought I'd give it a try, even though I've never read much "hard sci-fi."

Overall, I found myself interested and motivated enough to keep listening; the narrator is good, and I think he kept me engaged better than reading the book would have. I was proud of myself for absorbing most of the scientific concepts, or at least being able to go with the flow when I didn't fully understand. I liked a lot of the technology and gadgets.

Lots of things about the setting are interesting, and I really liked the two main alien characters, especially the two-headed puppeteer, who I think turns out to be the most successful aspect of the book. Louis Wu is fine as the main protagonist, but I didn't like the concept of Teela Brown and her "luck," which just doesn't seem very plausible.

As far as the actual storyline goes, the book is less interesting, and parts of it sort of drag a little and lack elements of gripping drama. The ringworld itself turns out to be a little boring for me, and the four main characters' interactions with the world aren't all that interesting, compared with their interactions with each other. I found the size of the ringworld, especially its million-mile width, to be a little too unbelievable.

The book ends so abruptly and unsatisfyingly that I thought I was experiencing technical difficulties with my audiobook download. Overall, though, I liked the imaginative sci-fi elements of the book and don't regret listening to it, although I will not seek out any of the sequels, especially after reading about them online. Also, I think this book was enough hard sci-fi to last me for the foreseeable future, although if "Dune" is considered "hard sci-fi," that one is on my list to try one of these years.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best Sci-Fi books you'll read
This became a favorite book of mine some years ago and I just had to get a new copy.Someone borrowed mine and didn't give it back!This story by Larry Niven has won a slew of awards and justly so.It relates a story of the future that inhabits it's own world, that creates its own reality as the best stories do, and never fails to entertain.The characters are well drawn and the action is well written and always propels the storyline.This is intelligent, well written science fiction and a wonderful read.Still time to take a copy on vacation or give to someone who loves sci-fi so you can borrow it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Complex But Uneven Adventure Romp
Louis Wu is two hundred years old and has seen many strange things out amongst the stars.When a Puppeteer (a species characterized by two heads, three legs and a startling degree of pathetic pusillanimous-ness) named Nessus approaches him about a mission to a strange star system beyond known space, Louis Wu can't help but agree to join the timorous alien.So Louis Wu, Nessus and two others, a twenty year old human woman named Teela Brown who tends to be quite lucky and a Kzin (think eight foot tall, bipedal tiger) named Speaker-to-Animals set off to this strange star system.What they find there would boggle any engineer's mind:A world, not spheroid in shape like any ordinary planet, but an artificial construct that is wrapped entirely around its parent star...a Ringworld.After numerous attempts at contacting the inhabitants of the Ringworld the four intrepid explorers manage to end up (crash) on its surface.Their subsequent exploration of the Ringworld's surface leads them to many unusual wonders and quite a bit of harrowing danger.Can these four explorers figure out what happened to the civilization of those who created the Ringworld and manage to find a way off of its surface?

Niven's Ringworld is an audacious piece of speculative scifi.The engineering talents to create such a structure would be enormous...and obviously well beyond anything we can currently accomplish or will likely be able to accomplish even several centuries from now.But the story of Ringworld, while the structure itself would be a wonderful discussion for engineering students, is not really about the structure, but is more about four explorers trying to survive in an unknown and, at times hostile, environment.And that's primarily where I think Niven went wrong with this story.If you had picked up these four characters and placed them on Planet X a thousand light years from the Ringworld the story could have been much the same.I kept wanting more details about the amazing environment and technology and society that these amazing engineers built...and while some of this popped up occasionally, it wasn't near enough to sate my curiosity about a world so enormously vast it would be impossible to see it all in ten lifetimes.

However, the sheer brilliance of the Ringworld concept makes this story worth four stars...and worth picking up the sequel in the future. ... Read more

14. The Ringworld Throne
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 368 Pages (1997-05)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345412966
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Come back to the Ringworld . . . the most astonishing feat of engineering ever encountered.A place of untold technological wonders, home to a myriad humanoid races, and world of some of the most beloved science fiction stories ever written!

The human, Louis Wu; the puppeteer known as the Hindmost; Acolyte, son of the Kzin called Chmeee . . . legendary beings brought together once again in the defense of the Ringworld. Something is going on with the Protectors. Incoming spacecraft are being destroyed before they can reach the Ringworld.Vampires are massing. And the Ghouls have their own agenda--if anyone dares approach them to learn.

Each race on the Ringworld has always had its own Protector. Now it looks as if the Ringworld itself needs a Protector. But who will sit on the Ringworld Throne?

"Niven's work has been an intriguing and consistent universe, and this book is the keystone of the arch. . . . [His] technique is wonderfully polished, his characters and their situations are nicely drawn . . . wraps up (maybe) a corner of a very interesting universe."
--San Diego Union-Tribune Amazon.com Review
In Ringworld and Ringworld EngineersLarry Niven created Known Space, a universe in the distant future witha distinctive and complicated history. The center of this universe isRingworld, an expansive hoop-shaped relic 1 million miles across and600 million miles in circumference that is home to some 30 trilliondiverse inhabitants. As in his past novels, Niven's characters inThe Ringworld Throne spend their time unraveling the complexproblems posed by their society. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (106)

1-0 out of 5 stars Who wrote this book?
Not only was the story bad (see most other reviews here), but the prose was so poorly written that it makes some children's books look like fine art. 95% of the sentences are 10 words are less and are structured as "so and so did something" or "something happened". If my 10-year old were to write a book, it would be a better read than Ringworld Throne.

2-0 out of 5 stars parasitical novel
This novel comes across as an uninspired sequel, trying to cash in on the success of two great sci-fi novels, RINGWORLD and RINGWORLD ENGINEERS.Even when an occasional good idea comes in, it flickers out almost immediately.

The first of the two stories had what sounded like a good idea: what does the Ringworld look like from the point of view of its own inhabitants?Here's a culture where it is taken for granted that multiple species are equally intelligent, where there are two forms of sex (inner-species and intra-species) with different connotations, where the combination of huge world and slow transportation makes the world seem almost infinite.But instead of following up on the psychology, we get a dull adventure story about the Ringworlders fighting some "vampires" (which sounded less hokey at the time Niven wrote it).

The second story is supposedly about a war between two bands of protectors, but actually most of it involves Louis Wu dashing around trying to find out what is going on.If this was written as a straightforward mystery it might have worked, but the protectors aren't really being mysterious -- Louis is being slow.Why was it written this way?Because the protector war is so short that the story needed tons of padding.

At the end the story simply stops with a TO-BE-CONTINUED, in the hopes that the reader will buy the next uninpired sequel.

There is much talk about the "contract" between Bram and his servants, which could have been made interesting -- what are the obligations between ruler and ruled? -- but turns out to be just a plot device.

The most moving scene is when Chmeee spares a defeated enemy, commanding him to both protect and learn from Louis.But, typically for this novel, it happens "offscreen".Does Acolyte really learn human wisdom?Does anybody in the story care?

1-0 out of 5 stars This is written with great respect for Larry Niven, just not for this book
It's worthless. Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers are science fiction classics. This is a muddled half-book of interspecies sex and random wanderings. Niven has written other good works since this one, so let's just call it an off-book, and move on. Nothing to see here.

P.S. It annoys me though that the professional, established reviews were relatively positive for this book. Could they not say that Niven missed this once and move on too?

1-0 out of 5 stars A waste of time
This book is not worth reading.Half of the book is devoted to random ringworlders who dont matter and develop the plot in no way.I could not stand to read about nasty alien sex every three pages.I skipped almost every chapter not involving Louis or Acolyte (Chmee's son, who could have been an interesting addition but sadly was not).It made the book almost bearable.Overall you can skip this book and not miss anything.Here is all you need to know.

-There is a vampire protector in charge of the repair center.
-He sucks at his job
-Chmee has a son, Acolyte, whom he sent to learn wisdom from Louis.
-Louis decides that ghouls would make a better protector than a vampire
-He arranges it so that a ghoul becomes a protector and and overthrows thevampire protector
-This book sucks

2-0 out of 5 stars Running out of steam
Some questions are best left unanswered.I know that fans of the original wanted more and more of the story.Ringworld was a great story and great concept and I loved the original. The anticipation of this book more was much better than the actual story.

Even after reading other reviews panning the book, I read it -- and I read the whole thing since I wanted to give a fair opinion.It kills the time nicely and did keep me engaged, but so would Solitaire on the computer. In this case, both were equally productive. (Two stars because the residual Ringworld relation kept me interested)

STAY AWAY. ... Read more

15. A World Out of Time
by Larry Niven
Mass Market Paperback: 256 Pages (1986-03-12)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$5.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345336968
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Jaybee Corbell awoke after more than 200 years as a corpsicle -- in someone else's body, and under sentence of instant annihilation if he made a wrong move while they were training him for a one-way mission to the stars.

But Corbell picked his time and made his own move. Once he was outbound, where the Society that ruled Earth could not reach him, he headed his starship toward the galactic core, where the unimaginable energies of the Universe wrenched the fabric of time and space and promised final escape from his captors.

Then he returned to an Earth eons older than the one he'd left...a planet that had had 3,000,000 years to develop perils he had never dreamed of -- perils that became nightmares that he had to escape...somehow! ... Read more

Customer Reviews (37)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Three Million Year Journey
Corbell died of cancer in 1970.Only to be reawakened more than two hundred years later after having been frozen.Governing the entire world is the State, a benign dictatorship that rules the world.Corbell is expeditiously retrained (using advanced methods) to be a starship pilot, his task is to seed other worlds with life, in the hopes that humanity will find them suitable to colonize at some point in the distant future.But Corbell does not take orders well, after commandeering the ship for his own purposes (and due to relativity) Corbell winds up three million years in the future.

Corbell returns to a Solar System and Earth that are drastically different.Among the changes are Earth's orbit and immortal (barring injury) Boys.Not to mention a nearly-mad old woman, who swears she was once stunningly beautiful and insists there is an immortality potion somewhere on Earth...but can't find it and coerces Corbell into hunting for it.

With the plot devices above and some pretty nifty scientific postulating (especially towards the end of the book), A World Out of Time makes for a fairly easy, page-turning tale.However, there were points when I wish Niven had gone into a bit more detail.Along with the immortal Boys, there were also immortal Girls.While Niven answers the primary questions he sets up around the Boys and Girls, I would have liked a bit more background on their opposing cultures and points of view.Overall, however, A World Out of Time is certainly recommended, especially to those, like myself, who had yet to pick up a story by Niven.

3-0 out of 5 stars Typical Niven, reworked from short story
This book is actually the first book in the "series" for The State.The following two books are Integral Trees and Smoke Ring, which only have to connection to this story (besides have The State as a government).

First three chapters were good (Niven's short story Rammer was the 1st, yet altered a bit to fit the format). This was very interesting as it dealt with space exploration, the State and exploration of earth +3 million years. Those three chapters alone I give 5-stars. Thereafter, storyline changed... it slowed, dragged and barely held my attention. Needed more twists, which is common for Niven novels and it comes now as an expectation. I didn't fancy Ringworld for the same reasons.

For better Niven reading, I suggest his short story collections of Neutron Star and Tales of Known Space. Of his novels, I recommend his novels which were in partnership with Jerry Pournelle- Mote in God's Eye, Footfall, Lucifer's Hammer and Oath of Fealty.

4-0 out of 5 stars A story that takes 3 million years and 246 pages to tell
This is an excellent novel. It does everything you would expect of a novel. It entertains; it surprises and motivates thought. This book covers 3 million years of time through the viewpoint of one personality. I say personality rather then person, as it is not necessarily the same thing for the purposes of this novel. The author does an excellent job of not getting bogged down in the vast areas of change that happen in 3 million years and only shows us things that are relevant and aid the telling of the story rather then bog it down.

Basically, the story is that of humanity and its cycles of evolution. All of this is told through one mans viewpoint and gives us a 1970's perspective on the rest of future humanity. A very well told story that is told succinctly and with the correct level of pithiness. A definite recommendation on my part. The only reason that I give this book four stars instead of five is because although it has aged well over 25 years I do not believe the story survives completely independent of the science in this case and that has aged less well. A very entertaining read.

4-0 out of 5 stars A story that takes 3 million years and 246 pages to tell
This is an excellent novel. It does everything you would expect of a novel. It entertains; it surprises and motivates thought. This book covers 3 million years of time through the viewpoint of one personality. I say personality rather then person, as it is not necessarily the same thing for the purposes of this novel. The author does an excellent job of not getting bogged down in the vast areas of change that happen in 3 million years and only shows us things that are relevant and aid the telling of the story rather then bog it down.

Basically, the story is that of humanity and its cycles of evolution. All of this is told through one mans viewpoint and gives us a 1970's perspective on the rest of future humanity. A very well told story that is told succinctly and with the correct level of pithiness. A definite recommendation on my part. The only reason that I give this book four stars instead of five is because although it has aged well over 25 years I do not believe the story survives completely independent of the science in this case and that has aged less well. A very entertaining read.

3-0 out of 5 stars A world out of focus
I find this book hard to evaluate because its two main focuses are out of proportion. Niven creates a fascinating future history where one mistake leads to another and eventually dooms the human race to barbarism -- then he pushes it in the background and expects us to get concerned about Corbell bumbling through boring adventures while piecing the history together. (Niven even borrowed the hero's name from another of his stories -- that's how uninterested he was in the character) ... Read more

16. N-Space
by Larry Niven
Paperback: 544 Pages (2007-08-21)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$5.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765318245
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Arthur C. Clarke was once asked to name his favorite writer. His answer was "Larry Niven." Countless others agree. The Baltimore Sun and Kirkus Reviews have both dubbed Niven "the premier writer of hard SF," and Gregory Benford has hailed him as "the paradigm of SF personality of the last several decades."

Now Larry Niven presents us with his undisputed masterwork. N-Space contains, very simply, the best SF of his career--marvelous fiction, a wealth of anecdotes and gossip, plus Niven's own special brand of wit and excitement.
N-Space includes:
*Excerpts from some of Niven's most loved novels, including The World of Ptavvs, a Gift from Earth, Ringworld, and The Mote in God's Eye
*His bets short fiction, including "Bordered in Black," "The Fourth Profession," "Madness Has Its Place," and many others 
*Quips like the ever growing list of "Niven's Laws"
*Notes from Niven describing his inspirations and building blocks for his writing.
*And an introduction by Tom Clancy, one of Niven's biggest fans.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction for Engineers, Part 1
Larry Niven's first collection of book excerpts, short stories and essays is full of Big Ideas, interesting aliens, and scientific puzzles disguised in story form.There are also excerpts from his book-length fiction and thought-provoking essays on writing, science and technology.It was difficult to pick a small set of favorite pieces.Here are four very, very good selections from the thirty-one chapters:

"Down in Flames" is a paranoid's paradise.It is not a story, but a set of notes for a book that was never written.Fueled by late-night discussions with fellow authors and friends, Niven outlines how almost everything in his Known Space stories could be deception and illusion.Whole species are not who they seem and many important events never really happened.Its scope is staggering.

"Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" is perhaps Niven's most famous nonfiction offering.He speculates in some indelicate detail about the problems presented by physical intimacy, pregnancy and parenthood in the relationship between Lois Lane and Superman.He thinks it through with an engineer's attention to detail and entertains readers with deadpan delivery.It is spot-on hilarious.

"Inconstant Moon" paces through the long, sleepless night after its protagonist figures out the puzzle of the evening sky's too-bright moon.One of his very best tales, it is not connected to Niven's Known Space, nor to any of his other sets of related stories.

"Night on Mispec Moor" is loosely connected to Known Space.It is fundamentally a vampire story rewritten onto a future alien landscape, with plausible biological explanations for the nightstalkers and the potions that keep them at bay.As in many vampire tales, we wonder if our hero will make it through the night.

The collection is recommended to serious science fiction readers as well and to those just looking for good stories.Satisfied readers can proceed to Niven's second book of stories, essays and excerpts, Playgrounds of the Mind.With forty-nine chapters, it contains even more of the same good stuff--and is really "Volume Two" of this book.I'd buy them both before beginning to read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Okay
This book is okay at the start, then just seems to not live up to Larry's other work..

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
Anyone who likes Larry Niven's work at all should be happy with this book.

From Tom Clancy's introduction, along with others by co-authors and editors, through all the stories - and this basically includes his best work of all (Inconstant Moon and All the Myriad Ways), along with some other good stories.In fact, even with the excerpt scores averaging almost 3.50.

Even the excerpts are well done, the fun scene from Ringworld a good choice, for example.

Throughout, Niven offers commentary, and non-fiction pieces include an extensive look at how they put together the setting for The Mote In God's Eye, and also a piece outlining plans to write something that would satirise Known Space as all a hoax.

Then at the end a few thoughts and an advice paper apparently that he and some other writers, including Pournell did for some political body or other.

I'd probably call this a 4.25 I think.

N-Space : excerpt from World of Ptavvs - Larry Niven
N-Space : Bordered in Black - Larry Niven
N-Space : Convergent Series [short story] - Larry Niven
N-Space : All the Myriad Ways [short story] - Larry Niven
N-Space : excerpt from A Gift from Earth - Larry Niven
N-Space : For a Foggy Night - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Meddler - Larry Niven
N-Space : Passerby - Larry Niven
N-Space : excerpt from Ringworld - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Fourth Profession - Larry Niven
N-Space : Inconstant Moon [short story] - Larry Niven
N-Space : What Can You Say about Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers? - Larry Niven
N-Space : Cloak of Anarchy - Larry Niven
N-Space : excerpt from Protector - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Hole Man [short story] - Larry Niven
N-Space : Night on Mispec Moor - Larry Niven
N-Space : Flare Time - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Locusts - Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
N-Space : excerpt from The Mote in God's Eye - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
N-Space : Mote Lite - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
N-Space : Brenda - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Return of William Proxmire - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Tale of the Jinni and the Sisters - Larry Niven
N-Space : Madness Has Its Place - Larry Niven
N-Space : The Kiteman - Larry Niven

She puffs on Pluto.

3 out of 5

Overcee project farm people find.

3 out of 5

Demon summoming time limit Atom solution.

3.5 out of 5

Murder maybe multiverse.

4.5 out of 5

Slowboat reservation.

3 out of 5

Vaguely lost.

3 out of 5

PI no Martian Manhunter.

3.5 out of 5

A specially adapted ramscoop ship pilot gets in trouble in space, when he sees a large golden alien humanoid. He finds himself rescued and transported 12 light years instantaneously back to Earth.

3.5 out of 5

Various biffo, with or without laser beams.

3.5 out of 5

Alien alcohol test case quad pill investigation.

3.5 out of 5

Really lunary weather we're having.

4.5 out of 5

Strange party alien trip.

3 out of 5

Free Park experiment not bright.

4 out of 5

Three stage dude adjustment.

3 out of 5

Quantum black hole is ridiculous overkill.

3.5 out of 5

Offworld mercenary Cabell nightwalker Spectrum Cure.

4 out of 5

Fuxed up entertainment production mission.

3.5 out of 5

Monkey kid form peak.

4 out of 5

Abandon ship, the little bastiches have weapons.

3.5 out of 5

Hey! That looks different.

3.5 out of 5

Sauron attacks Dagon City. Who'd like to see that?

3.5 out of 5

Heinlein time alteration.

3.5 out of 5

Harem sneaky story.

3 out of 5

ARM to schizo arm.

3.5 out of 5

Flying lessons.

3 out of 5

5-0 out of 5 stars A feast for the mind
This book is at the top of my "If I were stranded on a desert island..." list. I don't love everything Niven's ever written, but this sampler has something for everyone. This isn't just the best of Niven, it's some of the best SF written in the last 40 years. What's also nice is the inclusion of hard-to-find stories like "For A Foggy Night" and the non-fiction slice of life stuff. NSpace, Playgrounds of the Mind, and the later Scatterbrain provide an unparalleled look at the career of one of SFs greats. If you read no other science fiction this decade, read these books.

5-0 out of 5 stars A collection as unique as the author
At one time the term "science fiction" caused eyebrows to raise."Isn't that reading for losers who can't relate to others well?"Larry Niven is one of the authors who forever changed the way SF is perceived, one whose fiction emphasizes science without cutting short on any of the tools of your typical brilliant writer of fiction.This gives us well-sculpted characters, even in the shortest of stories, with eye-opening and theoretically sound scientific concepts, plot twists, and remarkable endings.Satisfying story after satisfying story.

What's unique about this collection isn't that it includes a foreward with comments by other authors and fans, or that the author comments on each piece within the collection.Those are commonplace.But in Niven's world, he likes to let you into his world in a special way, perhaps by dishing some dirt on an SF mag who rejected a story that turned out to win a Hugo, etc.He openly questions his finished product, saying that "Today I'd write this story differently," etc.As if we could lift the lid on his cranium and step inside for a moment, seeing how the stories are crafted.Very interesting.

Not as interesting as the work, however, another unique thing about this collection:Not only short stories are collected here, many of which only appeared in one issue of some now-defunct SF mag or other, dating back to the mid 1960s upward to 1990 when this book was first published.He also includes essays, such as an unforgettable commentary on the problems Superman would have if he tried to mate with Lois Lane, as well as excerpts from his published novels at the time.A terrific sampler of a terrific author, whose early-70s work "Ringworld" stands as one of the most brilliant works of speculative fiction of all time.Intelligentsia still debates the validity of its scientific assumptions, and while even Niven admits that most of these have been disproven, how many SF works do you know that sparked so much debate while still being so widely admired?

Niven is far, far beyond any alien shoot-em-up author.This ain't "Star Trek."This is real scientific fiction told by a natural storyteller who loves what he does.We readers love him for it. ... Read more

17. Beowulf's Children
by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes
Paperback: 384 Pages (2009-08-04)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$6.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0044KN2BQ
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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This powerhouse trio of science fiction greats united to further explore the island paradise of Camelot from their classic novel, Legacy of Herorot. A new generation is growing up on the island paradise of Camelot, ignorant of the Great Grendel Wars fought when their parents and grandparents first arrived on Earth. Setting out for the mainland, this group of young rebels feels ready to fight any grendels that get in their way. On Avalon, however, there are monsters which dwarf the ones their parents fought, and as the group will soon learn, monsters also dwell in the human heart.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars Generational Twist
Niven is a great sci-fi writer. Together with Pournelle they are brilliant. But there are multigenerational twists to this work that set it even higher up the story-telling scale. Stunning events can shape the mindset of an entire generation but how does that work out when those events are merely history for their children? Its hard to fear myths . . . or is it?

1-0 out of 5 stars A disaster
This book is a major disappointment. The predecessor, "Legacy of Heorot", was a reasonably well-written, entertaining book. Not without flaws, but captivating in its own way. This one, however, is a boring knock-off that reads like it was written quickly (numerous consistency errors) to make some cash. No real plot, just endless noodling about the sexual mores and relationship angst of a group of uninteresting, one-dimensional characters. No structure, no tension, no drama, little creativity, just self-indulgence from authors who seem to be taking their audience for granted. Don't waste your time with this one. I wish I hadn't.

4-0 out of 5 stars timely social commentary in space
Upon their arrival on Avalon the Earth Born never fully recovered from the extended hibernation whereas their Star Born children have thrived.The Earth Born have not forgotten their near extinction when they cavalierly tried to colonize the mainland, but almost were left extinct by the monsters as they fled like rats off a sinking ship during the Grendel Wars (see THE LEGACY OF HEOROT); only fast action by Cadmann Wayland saved them.Now young adults the Star Born discuss a second invasion, but while their collective parents object, the youngsters feel they have the intelligence to succeed and dub the elders as cowards.

The Star Born have a leader Aaron Tragon, who has no connection to any of the Earth Born; being more removed than his peers who in a collective sense feel for the brain damaged elders.Aaron uses abuse and cruelty to obtain authorization of an invading force to take the mainland.Now the hero of the first Grendel War and his opponent pushing a second war amplify the generational divide; their respective actions will cause further schism amongst the humans as the Grendel monsters remain on the mainland that the colonists desire.

The story line starts slow with the Star Born debating what to do about their increasingly feeble parents, but that dialogue is what makes the reprint so timely; due to the false accusations that health care reform includes death squads from those hypocrites who until recently fully supported end of life counseling.The storyline accelerates when Aaron and to a lesser degree Cadmann take control of the plot.The Grendels are a much more fascinating species than they were portrayed in THE LEGACY OF HEOROT; especially with the improbable climax.Still fans will enjoy this social commentary in space that seems as apropos as it was in 1995 when health care reform was debated.

Harriet Klausner

5-0 out of 5 stars An old friend
While this unit was in transit, I reread the first novel.When it did arrive, it was early and in better shape than I expected.Great buy.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
This is the sequel to the former Legacy of Heorot novel, also called the Dragons of Heorot, I think, and unfortunately it is not as interesting.

The older generation begin to have health problems from all that they have endured, so a serious generation gap develops between those born locally, and those not.

So, the book mostly is about the difference in cultural attitudes between the two, and the new kids wanting to go their own way.

... Read more

18. Lucifer's Hammer
by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Mass Market Paperback: 640 Pages (1985-05-12)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449208133
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known....
"Massively entertaining."
... Read more

Customer Reviews (256)

4-0 out of 5 stars Civilization Crumbles
Apocalyptic fiction is a favorite genre of mine so the discovery of seventies doomsday novel, Lucifer's Hammer was a surprising find and a fascinating read. This story, of a comet striking the earth, is one of the best of this genre, its premise centers around an apocalypse that mankind is powerless to prevent and the aftermath for humanity.

The center of the action is in Los Angeles, as well as earth and space. An amateur astronomer discovers a comet that just happens to be heading towards earth. No one believes it's going to hit the earth but as the odds starts to narrow towards the inevitable catastrophe, the populace becomes unnerved. This book really takes the reader on one exhilarating ride.

Lucifer's Hammer is a look at not only how mankind might organize and exist if we lost our material comforts but it also delves into the basic character of humans during a global emergency.

1-0 out of 5 stars Encouraging how many saw this for the dreck it was
This is movie of the week, soap opera, bestseller schlock written by plodding, prosaic hacks for zombie readers who want to read about what they already know.

Every character, every scene, every word of dialog in this glop of schmaltz you've seen before. Nothing here will surprise you or shock you with freshness or originality. That's why it's popular.

That so many recognize it for what it is encourages me.

If you do want to read sci fi that is apocalyptic, fresh, shocking and inspiring of awe, read this Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Book,PA requirement.
Its a good book. If you are a Post Apocalyptic fan it is required reading. It is one of the 20ish PA books that form the core of the PA genre. Look through the discussion boards on PA books and you'll see Lucifer's Hammer is always there.

Spoiler Alert:

All while I was reading it I kept thinking that it was a cross between The Road, One Second After and Earth Abides. The author many times speaks of banning people to "the road" from the Stronghold. I have to think the this could be where The Road author got his title.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but could have been MUCH more!
I'd like to start the review repeating what many reviewers have already stated: The first couple hundred pages or so is quite boring at times and tedious developing characters. This alone almost made me not finish the book. I powered through and just as I almost dropped the book entirely; I suddenly became interested enough probably around page number 270.

Others have pointed out that the time this book was written makes it outdated. That really only held true of vehicle models for me and was not that big of a turn off in the least.

Some of the characters really did not do it for me and the writers, at times; seemed to jump around a lot going back and forth in story lines with all of them. Some of the characters I could care less about. I developed a strong liking for Harvey Randall for some reason, even though he was portrayed (IMO) as kind of guiltless. I could identify with his struggles. Other characters stood as well.

It was a little strange in the direction used for some of the characters. But I do think they understand that things would be chaotic like they portrayed and much of people's ethics and morals would go out of the window during a disaster.

A few people seemed put off by the racial tone in the novel. It did not bother me and certainly was not a problem. Here is a clue: Racism exists! In 1977 it was probably more open than it is now since everything is so PC now. There are people that point that the authors must be racist because of this. Only the writers know for sure.

There were times reading this book I drifted and when things went bad it was in a weak fashion instead of explosive nature. The book seemed to drudge on at times and other times I was really wanting to see what would happen next.

Finally, I was not quite satisfied with the ending. For me it was kind of a let down. If the book would have not wasted so much with too many characters and there was a little more human feel to them, I would have given this book 5 stars. So it does get a solid 4 stars because there were a lot of things I did enjoy about this book.
One thing is for sure, the book will not please everyone.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dystopia that will leave you asking for more.....
Niven and Pournelle wrote a fantastic dystopia that kept you turning the pages.Even though it took awhile to really kick into the full action I enjoyed it from cover to cover.I really enjoyed reading about the end of the world due to a comet strike.I've been reading various dystopia lately and each one gives a very similar outcome, but this one leaves you with how much man will sacrifice to save what is thought to be the last electric plant on earth.

This book goes into great detail on how one would continue in a world that has become savage and without law. They go beyond why some turn quickly to cannibalism, and others enjoy the benefits of effective organization and write a story that could be a how to guide to life after a disaster.One thing I thought was smart is the fact that one man buried books wrapped in several layers of plastic, and they proved vital to rebuilding.Can you imagine trying to rebuild a society that has been ruined.Very few of us know how much of our technology works, only how to use it.This book makes me want to preserve a couple of "how things work" books.

The action throughout is enough to keep you turning the pages, but what make this one so great is how it ends. ... Read more

19. Footfall
by Larry Niven
Paperback: 524 Pages (1997-06-23)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$21.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345418425
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

--Tom Clancy

They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteriods.

Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender--or death for all humans.

--The New York Times Book Review

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (103)

4-0 out of 5 stars Alien Invasion
'Footfall' is a realistic and plausible alien invasion story set in the mid 1990's (as foreseen from the early 80's)

The novel starts out very similarly to 'Lucifer's Hammer' another Niven/Pournelle novel- a menacing object is moving towards the earth (a comet in 'Lucifer's Hammer', an alien spaceship in 'Footfall') and we meet a large cast of characters before the object reaches the earth.
The war was realistically portrayed, the humans fighting with contemporary weapons (no wonder weapons here), but the aliens aren't overwhelmingly powerful, they can be defeated militarily (no viruses, computer or biological, here either). The aliens have the advantage of controlling space, but are vastly outnumbered on the ground, and are a long way from home, meaning if anything happens to the mother ship they'd be hooped.
Apart from scientific realism, I also thought the motivations, culture and background of the aliens were well done (although a glossary of alien terms would have been nice). The internal conflict of the aliens between thespace-born and the sleepers I thought was interesting and logical- someone who has spent there whole life on a spaceship might not be too keen to live on a planet, let alone die on one fighting a war. The culture of the aliens was well done, even to the point of making the aliens quite sympathetic in a way.
As some have noted the ending is quite abrupt, I would have preferred a longer coda. The other complaint I have, is that there were too many unnecessary characters.

3-0 out of 5 stars Okay Invasion Earth Story
The story is a little dated, written back in 1985.I found that the writing and characterization was pretty good.I love the alien psychology aspect and felt the authors did a good job explaining and incorporating that into the story.

The pacing seemed okay and I liked the climax though I felt the authors finished the story a few pages too soon and the ending was a bit too abrupt.

The quick synopsis would be that aliens that look like baby elephants invade Earth.There is a socio-political aspect in the book with the USA vs Russia motiff and felt the authors captured that fairly well.

If I had read this book back in 1985 i'm sure i'd give it 4 or 5 stars.But compared to other more recent stuff out there, I had to downgrade it to 3 or 3.5 stars (but Amazon doesn't allow half star ratings).It is an enjoyable story that holds up fairly well despite being dated, but it is not better than the more recent stuff by John Ringo, David Weber, or Peter F. Halmiton

Anyways, overall, decent book, not bad, enjoy.

4-0 out of 5 stars I would love to give this book five stars, but.........
Don't get me wrong. This is the best alien invasion book I have read in over five decades of reading SF. The book is long, but you will want to read it to the end. That's the problem. There is no end. Earth beats the aliens, and that's that. You really want to know what happens next. Most of the aliens are still alive, they are not going home, we are in control of their technology, then what? The book reads like the editor said, "Listen guys, the book is too long. You have to lose 50 pages." So the authors lopped 50 pages off the end.

Still, read it. You will enjoy it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Product of NASA and the Cold War
This was written in a style I was not used to, and the book tops out at 581 pages in my old 1985 copy.And believe me--that is not due to huge print and double spacing.There's sort of a dated feel because of historical changes, like the fall of the USSR, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the absolute failure of the US and its space program to really accomplish anything of real import.The story was pretty engaging after I sort of "cataloged" all the characters.It almost starts out like Knott's Landing or some TV soap--it has that flavor.The pace, though, really picks up, and I could not put the book down for the last quarter.I think I was up until 3AM to finish it. This was an interesting story which does not abandon its characters quickly--we get real follow-through and closure for all of them.The romantic elements were kind of cheesey, but hey--it was 1985.You can really get a feel for that era.For those who liked A-Team and Battle Star Galactica, this is probably worth reading--and be sure to dedicate a big enough time slot for it.You won't blow through it in a few days.I really liked how they fully developed a view of both human culture and the strange alien culture, and the insuing conflict.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good but not their best work
Footfall is a good read but it is not Niven and Pournelle at their best.

Don't get me wrong. Footfall is a page turner but given the authors' reputations, I was expecting more.

The aliens were interesting. I've never seen the idea of evolved pack animals expanded upon but it makes sense. Understanding their psychology was as important as weapons used.

I give Footfall a solid C+. It moves fast and there's plenty of action and suspense.

If you like it, try out "Ringworld" and "the Man Kzinti Wars" by the same authors. ... Read more

by Larry; Pournelle, Jerry Niven
 Hardcover: 498 Pages (1985)

Isbn: 0575036907
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Elephants in Space meets Shogun the miniseries
I bought this book when the paperback came out in the 90s.It is an extremely well thought out 'what if' first contact novel.It was written back when the United States had a manned space program and the International Space Station was being designed.

This book is an excellent hard sci-fi novel written in the epic tell everyone's story style.If made for TV it would be a miniseries like the original 10 hour Shogun.It covers the point of views of both humans and aliens of all castes and professions.

The premise is an alien race avoids a planetary nuclear civil war by exiling the losing side in a cold sleep/multi-generational space ship.They arrive in the Sol System and apply the psychology of their own race to how they expect the human race to act.This leads to war with near genocidal consequences for the humans as they completely refuse to act as the aliens expect.The aliens have a very unexpected flaw which the human race is able to exploit.This flaw is expertly conceived and written into the story as part of the reason for the alien decision to colonize earth.

This book could have been written a quarter of it's length and been just as good, but if you like novels that cover all aspects of the story and do not mind the length you will love it. ... Read more

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