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SFF Author: Larry Niven

(1938- )
Laurence van Cott Niven is the multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction works. He has a degree in mathematics. He lives in Chatsworth, California with his wife. Here’s the official Larry Niven website.



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Ringworld: Big ideas in a grand setting

Ringworld by Larry Niven

In 2850 AD, Louis Wu is at his 200th birthday party and thinking about how bored he is. The world has become homogeneous — everyone on Earth uses the same language, everything is available everywhere, and all the cities have lost their unique flavor. Life is dull. That’s why Louis Wu is a perfect candidate for the alien Nessus (a Pierson’s Puppeteer) who wants to take a manned spaceship to explore a strange phenomenon in space.

Nessus also recruits a Kzin named Speaker-to-Animals who is a feline alien from a warlike culture,


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The Ringworld Engineers: Boring sequel

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

In 1970 Larry Niven published Ringworld, a high-concept novel that won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. What mostly captured readers’ imaginations was not RIngworld’s characters or plot, but its setting. The Ringworld is a huge (and I mean HUGE) artificial ring-shaped structure that orbits a star outside of Known Space. Nobody knows who built it or for what reason it was built. The protagonist of the story, Louis Wu,


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The Ringworld Throne: Did Not Finish

The Ringworld Throne by Larry Niven

Larry Niven has great ideas but, in my opinion, he’s weak with characters and plot. The Ringworld, a huge artificial ring that surrounds a star, is Niven’s greatest creation and accounts for the success of his most famous novel, Ringworld, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1970. As I explained in my review, it’s the Ringworld itself that’s exciting, not the actual events that happen upon it.

The sequel,


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Protector: A novel of ideas

Protector by Larry Niven

Phssthpok is a protector of his race, the Pak. For thousands of years he’s been traveling space, looking for the Pak breeders that left his war-torn planet millions of years before. This is, biologically, the only thing Phssthpok lives for and if he doesn’t find them soon, he’s likely to stop eating and die. Finally, in our year 2125, Phssthpok thinks he may have found the lost breeders, though they have evolved so differently than they would have if they had remained at home that they are almost unrecognizable.


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The Mote in God’s Eye: A classic First Contact story

The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

The Mote in God’s Eye, co-written by frequent collaborators Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, is a classic First Contact science fiction story which Robert A. Heinlein called “possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.” The story takes place in 3017 AD in the future of Jerry Pournelle’s CODOMINION universe (though it’s not necessary to have read any of those books to enjoy The Mote in God’s Eye).


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The Gripping Hand: Boring sequel

The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

The Gripping Hand (1993) is Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s sequel to their popular 1974 novel The Mote in God’s Eye, which you probably want to read first. This review will have a couple of spoilers for The Mote in God’s Eye.

Recall that by the year 3017 AD, humans had designed the Alderson Drive — an interstellar transporter which allowed them to jump out of our galaxy to colonize different star systems.


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Lucifer’s Hammer: Exciting disaster story

Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

When bored millionaire Tim Hamner discovers a new comet, he’s excited to finally accomplish something without the help of his family. Harvey Randall, who’s producing a TV documentary about the comet, expects his show to be wildly popular. And the American and Russian astronauts who are chosen to study the comet are proud to be chosen for such an important international mission.

All the experts said there was no way the Hamner comet would hit the Earth. But there are always plenty of people who are ready to panic — the type who start hoarding guns,


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The Barsoom Project: Fun even for non-gamers

The Barsoom Project by Larry Niven & Steven Barnes

I’ve never read anything by Larry Niven or Steven Barnes before, and after reading The Barsoom Project, I’m wondering why. While there were parts that didn’t completely connect with me, the writing was great and the story was interesting enough to hook me almost right away. Though I haven’t read Dream Park, the first book in the DREAM PARK series, I did not feel that my interest and understanding of this,


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The Best of Analog: A high-quality collection

The Best of Analog edited by Ben Bova

The Best of Analog is filled with high-caliber stories by all-star writers: Alfred BesterRoger ZelaznyGeorge R.R. MartinVonda McIntyreGene Wolfe, and more. Published in 1978, this anthology contains three novellas, ten shorts, and one poem — pieces that have by and large stood the test of time on both feet. It is a collection of bright, interesting sci-fi shorts, some of which won awards.


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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey‘s other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of “fabril” literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the “smith”


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Previous SFF Author: Jenny Nimmo

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