by Larry Niven
This is my third time reading this collection of short stories from the award-winning Larry Niven. I am more used to reading his collaborations with Jerry Pournelle, but was given this book as a Christmas gift in the late 1970s and loved the concept. Each of the books 8 stories are set in Niven’s “Known Space“, four of then featuring the same principal character, Beowulf Shaffer, a pilot looking for work wherever he can find it.
Although all the stories here are worthy and interesting, it is the, without doubt, the title story itself (Neutron Star) and “At The Core” that makes this collection such a delight.
The first four also feature the enigmatic and ancient race known as the Puppeteers (featured ion the cover of this edition).
The stories themselves were all first published in 1966 and 1967. At the time that this collection was first published in 1978 the concepts and featured technology were still valid, but time has overtaken Noven’s visions of the future. That does not however distract from what are imaginative and compelling stories. I am not by a rule a fan of short stories, but this is one of those collections that kept me intrigued to the end of the final story. Maybe this is due to the links between them all.
Larry Niven’s work has always been rooted in the big science and theoretical concepts and much of the science in these stories is as fresh and intriguing as it was when I first read them.
Neutron Star is an interesting and intriguing collection. There is pure science, thriller and even a smattering of crime. As good a selection as you will find anywhere.
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 Mote 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.