In this standalone sequel to Fleet of Worlds, ARM agent and professional paranoiac Sigmund Ausfaller is obsessed with the enigmatic Puppeteer race. The book follows his career from recruitment to ultimate savior. It is a long and complex tale that touches on many points and characters covered in Niven‘s Known Space stories from decades past.
Fleet of Worlds is a pretty decent book. More importantly, it really took me back to the Niven’s classic Known Space novels and short stories. Juggler of Worlds unfortunately does not live up to its prequel. The plot is razor thin. The objective seems mostly to fill in the gaps between various Beowulf Schaeffer stories. Cute for the Niven fan, but it falls wells short of what I expected.
A new novel in the Known Space universe, “Fleet of Worlds” fills in some gaps in the story of the Puppeteers and the migration of their worlds (the “Fleet of Worlds”). It tells the previously unknown story of a society of humans living with the Puppeteers without knowledge of their heritage. The Puppeteers have some deep, dark secrets revealed. There are some excellent descriptions of Puppeteer society. We are also introduced to a younger Nessus, the Puppeteer featured in Ringworld.
It is a good story, and long awaited for any fan of Known Space. Unlike the third and fourth Ringworld novels, it really manages to capture the tone of the main Known Space novels. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the environment. Note, though, that you you will have a hard time following without at least having read Crashlander or Neutron Star (Crashlander reprints all the stories from Neutron Star).
This outstanding short story collection mostly contains stories that are set in deep space, as opposed to his other collections where the setting tends to be planetbound. The first is the excellent “Rammer” (which formed the basis for A World Out of Time), in which a man revived from cryogenic sleep is forced to pay his debt to society by going on a centuries long mission to “seed” potential colony worlds. There is also an essay on space habitats, including Niven’s Ringworld concept.
This novel, illustrated in the original editions, features Gil “The Arm” Hamilton, the detective protagonist of the stories in Flatlander (most of which were published earlier in “The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton). A woman is accused of murder and Gil must clear her name before she is executed and ends up in the organ banks.
The novel is rather short but a solid story from Niven at the height of his powers. If you can get hold of one of the original editions, the illustrations are have a nice retro feel.
This collection is a mix of Known Space stories, Draco Tavern stories and unrelated stories. There’s some great stuff in here, including the outstanding Dry Run, in which a man is doing a dry run with his dead dog in preparation for disposing of his wife’s body. Vintage Niven.
This short story and essay collection contains some of my favorite stories of all time. For example Becalmed in Hell is about a man and his machine partner exploring Venus. It has a very clever psychological twist. Inconstant Moon, which won the Hugo in 1972, is about a couple of people inferring a great disaster on the far side of the world. Epic stuff. Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex is a hilarious essay about the problems Superman would have mating with the hypothetical woman “LL”. It may be one of the funniest things ever written. You can read it here in its entirety.
In the fourth Ringworld novel, Louis Wu is, as usual, conscripted to do a powerful being’s bidding. In this case it is the Protector Tunesmith.
Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers are some of the best hard SF books ever written. On the other hand, The Ringworld Throne was an enormous disappointment, and given that I expected to dislike this offering. I was pleasantly surprised. The characters are well defined as usual with Niven, and the story, while not too complex, runs along nicely.
The days of truly epic tales from Niven seem to be over. Nowadays, he writes little idea pieces like this one, or collaborates with other authors. If you enjoyed the first two Ringworld novels, you will like this one. However, I think it would be impossible to read without having first read the other ones, and probably some of the other Known Space stories.
Set in Niven’s Known Space, more specifically on the world of Plateau, where the only habitable location is Mount Lookitthat, an area half the size of California that rises above the toxic clouds that range the planet. The crew of the initial colony ship set up an elitist society in which “crew” are first class citizens and “colonists” are lower class. This distinction is particularly noticeable when it comes to medical care. Capital punishment is used even for small offenses. Convicted criminals are harvested for their organs, thus allowing “crew” to extend their lives with transplants. Then a ship comes from Earth with some disruptive new technology.
While not one of the more flamboyant Known Space novels, it is cleverly constructed around some very intriguing ideas. Classic Niven.
A long running anthology series with stories set during the Man-Kzin Wars in Larry Niven’s Known Space universe. Niven started this thing up because while the Wars were very significant in the history of Known Space, he himself was not adept at writing about conflict. Niven has written some of the stories but most are by other authors. The writing ranges from average to excellent. Recommended if you are a fan of Known Space.
All the Gil “The Arm” Hamilton stories collected in one volume with a previously unpublished story. These are good SciFi murder mysteries set in the Known Space universe. It just goes to show that Niven has a devious mind. As he says himself, SciFi murder stories are tricky since the reader must know all the “rules” of the environment in order to have a shot at solving the mystery himself.
Note: Most of the stories were previously published in “The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton”.
Chronologically the first of Niven‘s Known Space books, and also his first published novel. An alien who has been frozen in stasis for eons is awoken. He comes from a former master race (quite literally) and poses a grave danger to humanity.
Solid adventure SciFi with some very clever concepts.
Note: Various editions have the title with or without initial “The”.
Neutron Star is my favorite short story collection, with quite a few gems from Niven’s Known Space universe. Unfortunately it is out of print. Luckily though, all the Beowulf Shaeffer stories have been republished in Crashlander with the addition of two newer stories.