Larry Niven's Known Space

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Sabataage, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Sabataage

    Sabataage Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm interested in Larry Niven's "Known Space" universe and would like to start reading it. For those who have: where's a good place to start? Can you just jump right in with Ringworld or are there other books to that need to be read first that flesh out the history?
     
  2. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Tomorrow Never Knows Premium Member

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    I started with Ringworld, that was my introduction to "Known Space." Seemed to work out okay.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Most of the Known Space books stand pretty well on their own, although one of the latest ones, Juggler of Worlds (with Edward M. Lerner), retells events from a lot of earlier Known Space tales from a fresh perspective, so it's better if you've read those first. Certainly the Ringworld books work on their own, and they're many people's first or only exposure to the Known Space universe. I think I started out with Ringworld and then moved on gradually to the rest.
     
  4. Mysterion

    Mysterion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would recommend the anthology Tales of Known Space. It's a good sampling of that continuity spread over most of the time period. Good way to dip your toes in to see if you want to keep going or not. It also has a (unfortunately out of date) timeline showing the proper sequence of the stories of Known Space.
     
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  5. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    I would read World of Ptavs before Ringworld, seeing as in some ways Ringworld is a sequel to it. Agreed on Tales of Known space being a great way to get started though.
     
  6. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'd start with either Ringworld or Neutron Star.

    Read Protector after Ringworld and before Ringworld Engineers.

    After that, it's pretty wide open. Tales of Known Space is good to get out of the way early. Flatlander is immensely enjoyable. World of Ptaavs and A Gift From Earth are, in my view, important but not essential, and they can be left for later.

    I'd leave the post-1996 books for the end -- Ringworld Throne, Ringworld's Children, the Fleet of Worlds trilogy with Ed Lerner.

    There are also a couple of Man-Kzin Wars books with Niven-penned stories -- "Madness Has Its Place" in MKW III, "Choosing Names" in MKW VIII, "Fly-By-Night" (a Bey Schaeffer story!) in MKW IX, and "The Hunting Park" in MKW XI. I'd also recommend the work of Paul Chafe and Hal Colebatch (especially "The Colonel's Tiger," which expands on what ARM did to humanity, and "Telepath's Dance," a direct sequel to Niven's "The Warriors") in the MKW series.
     
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^Doh!! Did I say World of Ptaavs? I meant Protector. Read it before Ringworld. Don't know where my brain was.
     
  8. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  9. milo bloom

    milo bloom Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You know, I did Known Space for the first time starting last year, going into this year. I started with a bunch of the short stories, then moved onto Ringworld. The first was brilliant, the second was interesting, but the third jumped off the damn rails and over the damn shark. Am I the only one that feels this way?
     
  10. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would recommend the out-of-print collection Neutron Star, if you can find it.
     
  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I think I started with the "N-Space." It's a nice collection of his stories with a broad range.
     
  12. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I understand that now even Niven feels that Ringworld Throne (the third book) was the wrong way to go about things. It does set up Ringworld's Children, though, and I loved Ringworld's Children.
     
  13. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I started with World of Ptaavs, A Gift from Earth, The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton and some of the short stories in (I think) his first collection, All the Myriad Ways. Then I finished with Ringworld and Protector.

    For my part, nothing Niven has done since falling in with Jerry Pournelle is of great interest.
     
  14. Iasius

    Iasius Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not even "The Mote in God's Eye"? That's one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time.

    It's not part of the Known Space universe though.


    As for a recommended reading order, I'm not sure. I don't even remember which book I read first. I don't think there's really any problem with reading novels set later in the timeline first, unless it's a direct sequel like say Ringworld Engineers.

    If in doubt, read them in the order they were written, I'd say.

    PS: I wish I could read all of these short stories and novels for the first time again. Known Space is probably my favorite science fiction universe. I only have a few short stories and a couple Man-Kzin Wars novels that I haven't already read left. :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  15. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Tomorrow Never Knows Premium Member

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    "The Mote In God's Eye", "Footfall" and "Lucifer's Hammer" are great!!!!!
     
  16. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    QFT! :)

    Footfall has my favorite Niven character -- Harry "Redd" Reddington -- and my favorite sequence in a Niven book -- when the Michael lifts off on its mission to beat the living snot out of the fithp.

    I also love Fallen Angels, which is about a group of science fiction fans when a new Ice Age hits. (I, personally, consider it a sorta sequel to Fallen Angels, or at least set in the same universe. The fithp attack on Earth could have tilted the global environment over toward the trigger point for a new Ice Age, rather than environmental protections that are cited.)

    The Heorot books are also very good. I prefer the first more than the second, mainly because the second generation of colonists were, frankly, assholes with entitlement issues.

    Of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations, there really aren't that many that left me cold. Oath of Fealty didn't do a lot for me (though it is somewhat prescient). Inferno was interesting, though not gripping. The Gripping Hand, the sequel to Mote, has a lot of good ideas, but it also has some thoroughly unlikeable characters -- and sci-fi literature's least interesting space battle. The Burning City, the fantasy set in Niven's Warlock universe, never resonated with me.
     
  17. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I can't suspend disbelief for space empires with kings and nobles. And personally monarchist fantasies are repulsive. I'm pretty much to the point where every SF writer who thinks he's being coolly objective when they imagine scenarios where people "have" to contemplate or perform genocide puts himself straight onto the shithead list. Obviously, the scenario is very attractive to other people with different values.
     
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yup.
     
  19. Noname Given

    Noname Given Admiral Admiral

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    This ^^^ Then you should read the two Ringworld books. (Oh, and if you want to see Mr. Spock in the role of a Pupeteer, watch a copy of the Star Trek Animated series episode The Slaver Weapon - it's as close to seein an actual story from the Nivn Known Space Universe on TV as we're probably ever going to get. ;))
     
  20. Lieut. Arex

    Lieut. Arex Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The third book should be titled Ringworld Thrown because that's what I would've done if it weren't a copy from the library. I've got a copy of Children but have been afraid to open it. Based on your post, I'll have to take a look.