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Publisher's Summary

Leaving Earth, the crew of the spaceship Discipline were prepared for a routine assignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission of interstellar exploration and colonization, Discipline was aided - and secretly spied upon - by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionless computer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedience of the crew. What they weren’t prepared for, however, was the Smoke Ring - an immense, gaseous envelope that had formed around a neutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to a variety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditions of continual free fall. When Disciplineencountered it, something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikely space oasis.
Five hundred years later, the descendants of the Discipline crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remember their origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection of the State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the Smoke Ring, Discipline waits patiently to make contact with its wayward children.
©2003 Larry Niven (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Lena K Schroeder on 05-26-18


basically a story of adventure and peril set in a world with atmosphere but no planet. good reader... uses different ethnic accents to tell characters apart, which is odd, but helpful.

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1 out of 5 stars
By Zero Calvin on 11-16-15

A big pile of Who Cares

I very rarely drop a book, but this one is an exception. Chapter 2 is so dreadfully dull and spatially confusing that it it made me completely lose interest.

EDIT: I have since stuck it out and finished the book. I am sticking with my original assessment: a big pile of "Who cares." Lots of action, but since this silly world gets described piecemeal, it is merely annoying rather than exciting. I think this is one of those books in which the author probably had a lot more fun while writing it than most will have while reading it.

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0 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Ian Warrender on 06-06-18

Niven not at his best

One of the reasons I like Niven is for his thought experiments, whether it's a ring world, organ replacements as a resource, multi generation space ships or everlasting life it's fun to join his exploration of the idea.

Niven's best work is when he includes an outsider to learn about the subject with us, to be our point of view. This outsider stories are usually 60% of the actual narrative and 40% of the thought experiment.

Unfortunately Integral Tree's is not this, it has no outsider perspective and the thought experiment is very complex with no answers suggested. To make it worse the first 25% explore the experiment without explaining the premise, talk of sky beneath them and falling into the sky, trees miles long and tides changing along it's length. The first quarter only makes sense later upon reflection with everything else you learn / assume through the book. To add to this the story doesn't really start in this section most of the characters we meet have little bearing on the rest of the book.

The thought experiment is fascinating if you can picture a carbon rich gas giant torn apart by a Neutron star but held together in a ring formation by a larger stellar body, developing mile long trees with complex gravity, yes at times it might feel like you need to draw a few diagrams!

It's not all thought experiment but the balance is more 35% narrative 65% experiment with the real Niven narrative hiding in the last 20%. The rest of the time it's spread very thin and this is why it's very hard to recommend this book.

If you are tempted to dig into this book don't worry about this being a 'book 2' this is based in the universe of 'The world out of time' but all characters and settings are new.

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