by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
The central theme of the book is one that always intrigues me, mankind’s first contact with another intelligence. And like all Niven and Pournelle’s novels, the mix of great storytelling from Larry Niven and the scientific input of Jerry Pournelle bring realism and fantasy together in a great book.
In the Note we find mankind, spread across the galaxy and recovering from a series of wars that have torn the First Empire apart. Fresh from brining rebel planets back into the Empire, The Battle cruiser MacArthur and her crew find themselves sent on a mission to follow up a first contact with an alien race. This is Rod Blain’s first command as a ship’s captain and stretches his diplomatic and military skills to the full.
The “Moties” (as they are soon called) prove to be welcoming and, on the face of it, peaceful. But all is not as it seems. As both races try to find a balance between openness with their new “friends” whilst keeping some of their darker secrets hidden, relationships become strained.
This is one of the better Sci-Fi novels you will find on your local book shop shelves. But it is also a story about relationships, about how we perceive ourselves and how we interact with others who are different from ourselves.
The Mote in the title is a reference to the biblical saying about motes and logs in an eye. It makes senceo nce you have read the book – Larry Niven explains it much better than I could.
A totally engrossing tale, and one of the best first contact novels around. The sequel, “The Mote Around Murcheson’s Eye” is on my shelf, but I will come back to this saga later.