Engineer Al shares his love of Science Fiction literature.
I have always loved Science Fiction. Maybe it all started with Saturday Morning cartoons, but I disappeared into novels and short stories at a very young age. When I was a kid in grade school my mother would force me outside on nice days for exercise and “fresh air”, but most of the time I would bring my current science fiction escape and sit beneath a tree in the backyard, lost between the pages. At this point in my life I have collected quite an impressive library, full of old favorites and new acquisitions waiting to be devoured.I thought it would be fun to share my library with my F:ATie friends.
When I was in High School my buddy Dan turned me on to Larry Niven.
“He’s not the greatest writer in the world,” he told me “but he has great ideas.”
Dan loaned me one of Niven's early works, I believe it was PROTECTOR. I was instantly taken. Niven’s Known Space novels have the adventure and world building of Heinlein and the hard science of Asimov, somehow mixed with the outrageous absurdity of Lost in Space. The Kzinti, for example, are giant, war like, cat people. . .
I’ve been reading Niven for many years now. I LOVE all of his early works including WORLD OF PTAVVS, A GIFT FROM EARTH, PROTECTOR, and all of his short story collections from the 1960’s and 1970’s. He is of course best known for his RINGWORLD books, but this to me is the beginning of the end. Some writers get better with age. Niven is not one of them. RINGWORLD is not bad, but his following efforts often feel like a reach for the same thing. RINGWORLD ENGINEERS was dull and disappointing. THE INTEGRAL TREES and THE SMOKE RING were horrible. Some of his work with Jerry Pournelle is surprisingly impressive. I don’t usually like books written by two authors (makes me think too much about who wrote what) but I loved LUCIFER’S HAMMER and especially THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE. THE GRIPPING HAND, a sequel to MOTE was horrible. Still, it didn’t stop me from abusing myself with RINGWORLD THRONE and especially LEGACY OF THE HEROT which was so bad I literally tossed it in the garbage at the end. I told myself at that point that I was done with Niven, or at least that I wouldn’t read anything he wrote after 1979. Nonetheless, when I saw a NEW Known Space novel in the bookstore a few years ago, (JUGGLER OF WORLDS) I couldn’t stop myself. Oh well. “Fool me twice, shame on me. . .”
Other opinions? Any other Niven fans? I would love to know!