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Reviews by Contributor: Niven, Larry (12)

About Strange People in the Strangest Place

A World Out of Time

By Larry Niven

1 Oct, 2017

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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ISFDB lists 1976’s A World Out of Time as one of Larry Niven’s State novels1, which it is. I liked to think of it as the last fun Niven novel. Having reread it, I am not so sure that’s right.

Jerome Branch Corbell had himself frozen in 1970 in a desperate bid to escape terminal cancer. In 2190, a man with Corbell’s memories woke up to discover a world unlike any Corbell had expected back in 1970, a world that expected him to expiate a crime he had no memory of committing … with a mission that would consume three centuries. 

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And I Think to Myself, What a Wonderful World

Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven

By Larry Niven

9 Apr, 2017

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1975’s Tales of Known Space: the Universe of Larry Niven was Larry Niven’s sixth collection (if you don’t count the British-only Inconstant Moon and the Dutch De Stranden van Sirius Vier) or his eighth (if you do.). It is the fourth instalment in an informal series I call the essential collections of Larry Niven [1], being an irregular review series I may not even get around to finishing or continuing” (or tagging or giving its own formal series name in the sidebar). 

An unkind reviewer might call this the Known Space stories that weren’t good enough to make it into Neutron Star. ” That’s not entirely true … but Niven himself acknowledges that a couple of the stories are not very good. Rather than bury them and try to conceal that they ever existed, he opted for completism (although it took another couple of collections to accomplish that goal).

There’s a very good reason beyond being a Niven fanboy as a teen that I picked this up. I will explain my reasoning at the end of the review. 

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The dead man, the teleporter and the bartender

A Hole in Space

By Larry Niven

3 Apr, 2016

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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This is my third foray into what I have decided to call the essential collections of Larry Niven, being an irregular review series I may not even get around to finishing or continuing” (or, as it turned out, tagging or giving its own formal series name in the sidebar). 

The actual physical book I am reviewing is something of a mystery, because I have no idea how I ended up with a copy of the 1974 printing of A Hole in Space . I clearly remember that the first Niven book I bought was the 1975 edition of Neutron Star


I liked it enough to snap up all the subsequent Niven collections. The book sitting on my desk is clearly the 1974 printing and was purchased new; both the price and the absence of the distinctive cover format Ballantine/Del Rey used for Niven in the latter half of the 1970 make that clear. Did I buy an old, but previously unsold copy that had lingered on bookstore shelves?

At first I thought that this book might be a relic of the failed commune that trashed my family’s farm. (Bad decision to rent to them, bad, bad.) They left behind a lot of junk. My copy of Beyond This Horizon  is a hippy relic. But on second thought, I realized that we had cleared away the last remnants of the commune by 1971, or 1972 at the latest. Unless the hippies had developed a time machine just for buying books from the future, this book could not have been left by them. It’s a puzzle I will probably never solve. 

(Trivial? Well, it matters to me, OK? Provenance is important to collectors.) 

This was for many years my favourite Niven collection. Has time been kind to it? 

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Remember when Niven was fun?

All the Myriad Ways

By Larry Niven

27 Sep, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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I will be blunt: this second foray into what I have decided to call the essential collections of Larry Niven, being an irregular review series I may not even get around to finishing or continuing” is an attempt to get the taste of Vernor Vinge’s The Witling out of my mouth. 

1971’s All the Myriad Ways  was Niven’s third collection after 1968’s Neutron Star and 1969’s The Shape of Space  (which I will not bother to review, because I’ve never seen a copy and anyway all the stories were repeated in later collections; it’s not essential). All the Myriad Ways  collects stories published between 1965 and 1971, most of them from the later years of that span 1.


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Man versus Motie

The Mote in God’s Eye  (Moties, book 1)

By Jerry Pournelle

4 Jan, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1974’s Mote in God’s Eye was the first collaboration between Niven, by then a winner of multiple Hugo Awards, and Pournelle, the winner of the 1973 Campbell for Best New Writer. Readers could be excused for expecting a lot from this novel given who wrote it. They must have liked what they found, because this earned nominations for both the Best Novel Hugo (losing to Le Guin’s The Dispossessed) and the Best Novel Nebula (losing to Haldeman’s The Forever War). Forty-one years later, does it still stand up?

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Lucifer’s Hammer

Lucifer’s Hammer

By Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

17 Aug, 2014

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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The 1970s were a golden age of disaster movies and books; skyscrapers burned down, nuclear reactors melted down, and earthquakes leveled cities. First published in 1977, Lucifer’s Hammer was a late entry into that genre0 but what it lacked in timing it made up for in scale; where previous entries had wrecked cities, Hammer smashed the planet and where others killed hundreds, Hammer killed billions. It’s a shame, therefore, that one could easily envision D.W. Griffith filming it and not for the spectacle.

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