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Fleet of Worlds (Known Space) Paperback – November 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Niven, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, and Lerner (Probe) offer a lively prequel to Niven's 1970 classic, Ringworld. It's 2650, some 500 years after the human colony ship Long Pass was captured by Citizens, those paranoid, two-headed beings better known as Puppeteers from the Fleet of Worlds. The Citizens of the Concordance have bred and nurtured successive generations of human Colonists from the Long Pass's crew and embryo banks, while lying about their origins, telling stories about an abandoned colony ship adrift in space. When a team of Colonist explorers led by Citizen Nessus to study intelligent life on an ice-covered world also uncovers evidence that the Concordance has lied about the past, they're determined to find the truth. Meanwhile, Concordance Citizens learn that the ruling Conservative policymakers have mishandled secret contacts with Earth and endangered the Fleet. Fans of hard SF will be well rewarded. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Niven's latest foray into Known Space, his favorite imaginary universe, revisits the domain of the puppeteers, the perpetually nervous, two-headed extraterrestrials featured in his Ringworld series. In this collaboration with the author of Moonstruck (2005), Niven steps back a few centuries before Ringworld's discovery to witness the puppeteers' flight from a lethal explosion at the galactic core. To safeguard his species' fleet of migrating worlds from hostile forces, a veteran puppeteer starship pilot enlists an unlikely trio of human scientists for scouting missions ahead of the fleet's path. Raised from embryos apparently discovered on a derelict starship, the humans have known only servitude and a limited culture carefully tailored by their alien hosts. Yet a chance discovery on one of their space treks slices through a web of puppeteer lies and provokes rebellion when the humans learn their true home may be waiting for them on Earth. Lerner may be responsible for the exceptional freshness and suspense of this further chapter of Known Space lore, full of startling revelations about human and puppeteer politics. Hays, Carl --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Known Space
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329486
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

169 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
During the 1970s Larry Niven was one of my very favorite Science Fiction authors. His "Known Space" setting was the launching pad for many excellent novels and short stories, and this established Niven as a leading author of "Hard SF." The "Known Space" universe featured a dazzling, and not implausible, future for the human race and even better, the aliens of Known Space really were alien. The Kzinti and the Puppeteers, to name two of the principal alien races, are truly imaginative.

This novel is set in "Known Space" and begins at a time shortly before the human race has discovered hyperdrive, although most of the story occurs after that time. A group of humans in space is essentially kidnapped by the Puppeteers, who intend to use these humans and their descendants as a slave race, albeit a fairly well treated one. The Puppeteers will use the humans in certain labor functions, and also as interstellar scouts, since the highly risk-averse Puppeteers are not well suited for risky jobs of this type. "Known Space" junkies will recall that the Puppeteers are fleeing our Galaxy because the galactic core will eventually flood the entire Galaxy with deadly radiation.

The novel essentially revolves around two themes. Firstly, the human servants are finding out that the Puppeteers have lied to them about their origins, and about humanity. Secondly, the Puppeteers are worried that other races, humanity included, will spot their migrating worlds and threaten them. This causes the Puppeteers to act preemptively and aggressively, and frankly, unwisely and implausibly.

The real core of this novel is to give the reader far more insight into Puppeteer politics and society than we ever got before.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Larry Niven, this time in collaboration with Ed Lerner, returns to Known Space, this time with a story told largely from the point of view of the Puppeteers, the three-legged, two-headed race who have featured in many of Niven's Known Space stories. About 500 years before the events of the story, the Puppeteers captured a human colony ship. The descendants of the passengers on that boat have been made slaves, called "Colonists," held in ignorance of human culture. It's a benign slavery, but slavery none the less.

Three of the Colonists are being trained as scouts by Nessus, by no coincidence the Puppeteer who has had the most contact with humans. Puppeteers aren't cowards, exactly. They are, however, extremely risk averse. As the Puppeteers' Fleet of Worlds flees an impending galactic catastrophe - the subject of earlier Known Space stories - it would be handy to have scouts, so the risk of scouting ahead for danger isn't taken by Puppeteers. Human scouts. That starts a chain of events that reveal the Puppeteers' version of Colonist history to be a tissue of lies.

Along the way we get to see Nessus manipulate Earth culture and create, almost in passing, the Birthright Lotteries, which led to Teela Brown and the events of "Ringworld." We get a bit of the truth about Dr. Julian Forward and the events leading up to "The Borderland of Sol," one of Niven's best novellas. But the most interesting bits are seeing the society and politics of Puppeteers and the Fleet of Worlds developed and revealed. In an odd way, there's even a Puppeteer love story.

Perhaps it's Lerner's influence, but plotting and characterization are far better than most of Niven's recent work. Neither is terrific, but the characters aren't cardboard cutouts, either.
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Snaz on October 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Short version: Buy it, read it, keep it to be reread.

Longer version follows. I'm biased, I confess. I've reread every work in the Known Space "series" for the past thirty years or so. The quality of each work can vary considerably but as a collection they may be without equal in the world of "pure" science fiction.

I believe I've read everything Niven has written, however, despite the fact I've haven't felt the need to reread any of his non-Known Space works for the past twenty years or so aside from the first Dream Park novel (which remains the only book I ever finished the last page of and then turned back to the first to read it again. Niven's other works aren't bad and are often quite good but none of them ever gave me that warm glow that some feel when they are returning to Middle-Earth, Narnia, or some other cherished place.

That said, this may be the best Larry Niven work since Ringworld itself. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Kudos to Mr. Lerner for whatever part of that is his doing. The book could be considered a prequel to Ringworld save that it begs for a sequel of its own at some point, set in some future when certain constraints established by the other works in the Known Space universe have been removed. It would be interesting to see some of the human protagonists encountering Ringworld and Louis Wu perhaps, or possibly the Pak, or even Sigmund Ausfaller.

Anyhow, it stands alone fine but also fits within the history terrifically, tying into several short stories as well. Many mysteries are revealed and yet the Known Space universe is no less mysterious for it.
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