- Science fiction | Larry Niven
- Recently re-read Larry Niven's A Hole in Space, a collection of short stories. My last post on the topic covered the first three stories.
the Bridges Rusting is
a space story based on the instant-elsewhere booths manufactured by
JumpShift. Some have been put on drop-ships, whose only purpose is
to absorb the enormous potential energy differences between the
spacecraft here and
the spacecraft out
are self-transmitting ships. In the meantime, thirty years before, a
slowship had set out to explore planets around Centaurus. The
transfer booth ships reach first, and find the old ship is in
trouble, not having made its slowdown maneuvres. Now, it's zipping
along at 7% of the speed of light. Dr Robyn Whyte, ex-head of
JumpShift, is faced with the impossible rescue, and how to explain
it to a public no longer interested in space. Prophetic, that last.
This is Larry Niven in ideas mode.
is a Tide is
the earliest Louis Wu story. Louis Wu stars in Ringworld, and in a
few earlier stories. In this one, he is out alone, looking for
stasis boxes left behind by the extinct rulers of space, the
Slavers. He finds what seems to be the biggest one ever found, but
things are not simple. Another, new alien species, has found it at
the same time. Fight, flight, or gamble? This one is in way-out
problems mode. Larry Niven loves tides. Read Neutron
you don't believe me.
than Worlds is
a madcap essay, covering all kinds of giant spacecraft, why we will
need them, and how they will get inevitably bigger with our
overcrowding problems. Not fiction, but a tremendous display of
science writing at the edge of fiction.
- $16940.00 is
not a science fiction story. It's about a blackmailer, and the
blackmailed, and how they are tied together, and ... just read it,
- The Hole Man was written when the first quantum black holes were postulated. As Niven's friend Jerry Pournelle gleefully cackled later, Niven got into print about quantum black holes before Pournelle, but the science is wrong. Quantum black holes are black body emitters. Ah, dang it, it's a murder mystery. Of sorts. You realise only later that there are two murders, not one. This was an award winner.
Fourth Profession is
one of the eeriest Larry Niven stories I've read. The Monks, space
aliens, visit Earth. One of them walks into a bar... OK, I should
stop laughing. The bartender discovers more than he finds
comfortable. Now only he can save the Earth... If you ever get a
chance to read this one, do. It's Niven at his maddest
inventiveness. It's also a story that showcases why Niven stories
age so slowly in many ways. He was ahead of the times.
- Anybody interested in more thoughts about instant-elsewhere transport? Try Harry Harrison's One Step From Earth.
- Next up: Re-reading Hal Clement's Needle