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Footfall Mass Market Paperback – April 12, 1986

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap


--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.

--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 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,557 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.
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

68 of 72 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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57 of 62 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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Footfall" harkens back to the Science Fiction of the 1950's, with the President and the U.S. military dealing with godless Communists and equally godless aliens. A moving dot is discovered on astronomical plates and the evidence is clear: it is a spaceship from another galaxy far, far away. Attempts to contact the aliens are unsuccessful but as soon as they arrive at Earth their intentions become clear: they destroy the Soviet space station, the moon base and then every dam and major installation on the planet by raining down asteroids. To add insult to injury, when the aliens begin landing troops in Kansas, they look for all the world like elephants with trunks performing the function of hands. Now it is up to President of the United States David Coffey, Congressman Wesley T. Dawson of California, USAF astronaut Major General Edmund Gillespie and his sister-in-law Jeanette Crichton, the Director fo the Lenin Institute Academician Pavel Aleksandrovich Bondarev, the unemployed minstrel Harry Reddington, the captured alien Harpanet and several dozen other characters to save the Earth from the alien threat.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have provided a good old-fashioned "pulp" story, where you go along for the ride. My only substantive complaint is that the Snouts, as the aliens are called for obvious reasons, have a convenient Achilles heel (or two) that allows Earth to have a fighting chance against a technologically superior enemy that REALLY controls the high ground. My favorite part is President relying on a group of Science Fiction writers for advice on how to deal with these strange visitors from another planet, which at least avoids the stereotype of the stupid military advisers just wanting to use nukes at the first opportunity.
Read more ›
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