Since fleeing the supernova chain reaction at the galactic core, the cowardly Puppeteers of the Fleet of Worlds have - just barely - survived one crisis after another: the rebellion of their human slaves, the relentless questing of the species of Known Space, the spectacular rise of the starfishlike Gw'oth, the onslaught of the genocidal Pak.
Now fresh disaster looms, as though past crises have returned and converged. Who can possibly save the Fleet this time?
Larry Niven is the multiple Hugo and Nebula award–winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces. Edward M. Lerner has degrees in physics and computer science, a background that kept him mostly out of trouble until he began writing science fiction full-time.
“Exceptional freshness and suspense…full of startling revelations about human and puppeteer politics.” (Booklist)
“Niven and Lerner have produced a novel that can stand on its own as well as part of the Known Space franchise.” (Locus)
“A far-future SF mystery/adventure set two centuries before the discovery of the Ringworld by humans…Intriguing human and alien characters and lucid scientific detail.” (Library Journal)
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Different voices. Better voices...
Yes, I would but for an odd reason: I'm not really listening to it. Back in the day, Niven working alone combined mind-blowing physics with fascinating events and glimpses of alien psychology. By comparison, this stuff is just a nice try. The Worlds books contain a pale imitation of better writing: Niven's ideas (sometimes with interesting details) glued to the kind of hack-stuff you find in all paperback thrillers: The same old, situation, conflict, complication, resolution stuff that is intended to work on readers who have never read anything closely and that Sol Stein will teach anyone to write for a fee. All that makes these books background noise. Without original, well-integrated ideas, it's pretty easy to guess when something's going to happen and wait for it. So yes, I listen, but I could read news articles while listening to it and not feel that I had lost anything.
No, BoW hasn't turned me off to the series. I don't think I'd be able to make myself sit through three-hundred pages of it in prose. As an audiobook, it works better than I imagine it would in print providing something good to space out on.
Tom Weiner is a fine narrator, just not for this book. He'd be great reading first-person-narrator detective fiction. His voice is rich and deep, but this limits his character range: everyone sounds like a guy in his fifties who smoked his first cigar when he was in diapers. There would be no problem with this except that his women sound like men and so do his puppeteers: aliens who all speak with sultry women's voices. Also, his accents are sometimes not the best. . If I were directing an audiobook project with cost no object, I would have used a cast with at least one man and one woman. It would have spared the world listening to, "he was transformed into a twenty-year-old" who sounded like Methuselah, or, "The woman no one has ever seen before with the bad Australian accent isn't a spy, she's one of us, yeah, that's it..."
Yes, it made me wish that Larry Niven could be young and fresh again instead of functioning as an editor for the guys who are picking his bones.
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