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Footfall Mass Market Paperback – April 12, 1986


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"NOBODY DOES IT BETTER THAN NIVEN AND POURNELLE.

I LOVED IT!"
--Tom Clancy

They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteriods.

Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender--or death for all humans.

"ROUSING . . . THE BEST OF THE GENRE."
--The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Larry Niven has won the prestigious Hugo Award five times. He is known to millions as the premier modern author of rigorous, scientifically consistent hard SF, the champion of 'SF without a net'. In addition to being an acclaimed science fiction author, Jerry Pournelle holds degrees in engineering, psychology and political science. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (April 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345323440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345323446
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

There was no need for me to scare people like that over a REALLY bad ending.
Mark Ferman (Mark_Ferman@juno.com)
The pacing seemed okay and I liked the climax though I felt the authors finished the story a few pages too soon and the ending was a bit too abrupt.
amnightus
After reading Niven and Pournelle's book Lucifer's Hammer I figured I'd give this book a try.
Brian A. Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Peter Dykhuis VINE VOICE on July 23, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a stupendous novel. I decided to read this novel after finishing "A Mote in Gods Eye". Mote was my first experience reading Niven and Pournelle as a team and I was suitably impressed. This book was even better in my most humble opinion.
Footfall tells the tale of an alien incursion to Earth in a manner which Hollywood and most authors today never could. There is no pretense, no presuppositions of actions and conduct. The aliens are alien and not just funny almost humans as so often happens in Science Fiction today. The motivations for the aliens are superbly drawn yet completely foreign. The society is bizarre but believable. Wonderful indeed.
The invasion is not a rehash of the same tired story told in Independence Day and many other such tales. Why should aliens come to this planet with the same motivations we would approach other planets? Why should aliens be interested in our culture and society in the same way in which we would be interested in theirs? Niven and Pournelle do an excellent job in portraying a realistic scenario that is spellbinding in its breadth and stupendous in its readability.
I can't tell more without giving away too much of the tale but rest assured this is a novel worthy of the title classic. Excellent and worth every one of its five stars.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Tillman VINE VOICE on January 3, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I still think this is the best alien-invasion story I've ever
read. Granted, it's hard to write a sensible invasion story, given that
a) it's hard to think of a reason for rational aliens to invade, and
b) if they did, they should win overwhelmingly. See rifles vs. spears.
But it makes a great *story*, and N&P have given probably as
reasonable a backstory as anyone could. As an example of high-level
page-turner storytelling, Footfall still rings my chimes. I've read it
three times, plus the last time I picked it up a couple of years ago, to
jog my memory to reply to a post, I got sucked in again and spent the
afternoon rereading the good parts. "Orion will Rise" -- all right!

Footfall is dragged down a bit by dated political background: the
USSR is alive and well here, and is portrayed as considerably
stronger and healthier than it actually was in 1985. I'd skim over the
Russian scenes; in fact the book is pretty slow-moving until the
aliens arrive, so a quick skim of most of this early scene-setting
material is all you need.

And make no mistake, once the action starts, you'll have no further
complaints. Good stuff, guys.

Happy reading!
Peter D. Tillman
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 12, 1996
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is the best alien-invasion story I've ever read. Niven and Pournelle present thoroughly rich characters on both sides, human and alien. The alien culture is well thought out and fully developed. They have their own language and customs, both of which have a direct, visceral impact upon the story. Essentially, an alien vessel has been observed heading through the solar system toward earth. Not knowing what to expect but acquiescing to the probability of superior technology, earth awaits to establish greetings. Instead, they are greeted with destruction of the space station, destructive raids upon strategic installations earthside, and demands for surrender. How humanity assesses the situation and unites to fight for it's survival manages to induce feelings of pride and global patriotism within the reader. The human characters are multi-national, multi-ethnic, and brilliantly develop a means to thwart and eventually repel the invasion. The human culture and method of attack is sufficiently different from that of the aliens to completely throw the alien's attack methodology askew. Using present, cutting-edge human technology (no warp drives, phasers, or non-existent futuristic weaponry), with space-shuttles, chemical rockets, and ingenuity born of desperation, the humans successfully repel the invasion. The alien technology, although superior, is also plausibly explained in such a manner that makes it understandible as to why they were able to be defeated. Again, the story is in the characters and their participation in the events that give structure and life to the story. The physical appearance of the aliens is both outlandish and surprising, and meshes well with the cultural aspects of the story.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steve, Northern Calif. on February 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Footfall" is a big old potboiler of a "hard" science fiction novel, in which "hard" science fiction writers are among the heroes when aliens come to invade the earth.
The human characters are thinner than the science; sometimes it seems as if the humans are lifted from a '70s disaster movie to they crisscross each others' paths here to conveniently provide drama and unconvincing sexual tension.
It's the aliens and their culture who are the stars here. Niven and Pournelle create an alien race whose "inexplicable" behavior turns out to be perfectly logical, given how they think. And the humans, in turn, are at least as inexplicable to these elephant-like aliens. It's the difference in culture that creates inevitable war.
The book is sprinkled with pro-space program messages and maybe some conservative political messages, too, as well as cult hero-status for "hard" science fiction writers.
Its handling of human affairs, though, is weak. Many hundreds of millions of men, women and children die at the hands of these aliens, and we see little of the chaos, bloodshed, violence, suffering and pain that must result. Likewise, we see little of the reaction we'd expect (PANIC! FEAR!) among the survivors as they await an unknown fate and lose contact with relatives and friends in other places. People just calmly cope. (Could the same book have been written AFTER the L.A. riots, for example?)
The ending is neatly done: there's enough complexity and ambiguity in the final events that it's hard to say exactly which of the characters were "right" and which were "wrong." A denoument is entirely lacking, though.
Read more ›
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