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Oath of Fealty Mass Market Paperback – May 3, 1984

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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.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Pocket (May 3, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671532278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671532277
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,494,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you're reading this then I hope you give it a fair consideration in comparison to some of the unflattering comments made by the others reviewers of this fascinating novel.
Niven and Pournelle put together a really good read that puts to test the idea that a free society cannot truly be free without restraint. Look, I'll be honest here - I don't drink, don't carry guns, or play amateur pharmacologist; so in many ways the Arcology crafted by the authors is a dream come true for a prude like myself. And I suspect many other boring centrists who would like to live a socially committed life without dealing with the politically correct demagogues beating their personal drums or the flame spewing radicals that seems to draw the worst from both conservatives and liberals alike. The Arcology is in many way boring - which is the point.
It's worth noting that I agree that the idea of a sustainable, self-enclosed "fort" is likely impractical in the real world. In order for Todos Santos to hold sway over the County of Los Angeles (and the US in general) the authors have proposed an intriguing, but unrealistic, means of control. Specifically a gigantic iceberg. I won't get too much into this, hopefully you'll pick-up your own copy and find out for yourself. But when you get down to it - it's impossible for the managers of Todos Santos to control what is beyond their arcology. And the iceberg is the only real "defense" that it has from the outside affecting what happens in the inside.
BTW, simplistic comparisons of the Arcology to Soviet-era society or 1960's era US public housing is clearly misguided. I could waste time on a point by point deconstruction of that kind of shoot-from-the-hip mentality.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Gary M. Greenbaum on July 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Todos Santos is a gigantic self-governing building, or arcology, built near L.A. Needless to say, the arcology, which is quite successful and productive, is the target of protesters. When three protesters sneak into the works of the arcology, and make it appear that they are going to blow up crucial equipment, two of them get killed for their trouble. L.A. insists on the arrest of the Todos Santos manager who ordered them killed. Todos Santos (the point of the Oath of Fealty of the title is that responsibilities and loyalties run both up and down)seek to get him out by whatever means necessary.
While it is an interesting concept, there is a problem--this is very much a one-note melody. Niven makes the point that people living in such a structure would be different from what we are used to, and he makes it, and makes it until you're tired. And while the Todos Santos people are clearly all saints, fighting the good fight, you're left wondering what would happen if they were using the many resources at their disposal in a less worthy cause . . .
Still, a good read, with interesting characters, and it leaves you thinking, which is always a Good Thing.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A fairly involving story, though not terribly exciting. Set perhaps thirty years after 1984, it centers around a wonderful self-contained superskyscraper with the benefits of benevolent Big Brother's cameras everywhere. What is striking is not the plot, but rather the facility with which the authors dismiss what would seem to be the obvious danger of a kind of techno-fascism. The sociology of Niven/Pournelle collaborations is always striking, as with Heinlein's work, and this story is set in a believable near-future with immediately relevant issues; London, I am told, is now blanketed by security cameras. Nomads, we are told, lived drastically different lives from Roman citizens, who lived differently from americans in the 20th century (I am drastically paraphrasing as my copy is not at hand). Each of these peoples would have been shocked at how the others lived, so of course we may be shocked at the idea of having cameras in our apartments, but that is just a sort of evolutionary step in civilization. We can combine Right-libertarian laws and social mores with "If I'm not doing anything Wrong, why should I mind being watched?". Of course the fictional guards and administrators are rational with regard to what's Wrong, so the system works great. Those vigorously opposed to the superskyscraper are portrayed as ignorant illogical fools. I am reminded of the writings of Ayn Rand, or for that matter the writings of various communists; A view of society that is entirely too certain of itself. The protagonists are so wise that they would never condemn anything that didn't need to be condemned- though if they did they would do so for 250000 people in .004 seconds. Not as much fun as most Niven+Pournelle stuff, but interesting as a picture of near-present-day technology and social ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian Jones on May 25, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book first when still in high school, and the story stayed with me for many years. I recently reread it, and it stands the test of time quite well.

I read all the reviews with interest; I was particularly struck by the few that said this *wasn't* science fiction! I am a huge fan of science fiction, and by that I mean fiction that looks into the future, and tries to imagine what life would be like and how science and technology have evolved and the effect it has. Remember, this was written in 1981, and we JUST got giant TVs that can hang on the wall; we *now* have (cellular) devices that can transmit and receive data while driving at freeway speeds; we DO NOT have an artificial intelligent computer that can respond to natural language queries; we DO NOT have colonies on the moon; we *DO NOT* have computer links that go directly into your brain, and while there are machines that can bore tunnels under cities, they certainly aren't as cool as the one described in the book!

Yes, the book has a significant libertarian slant, but just because you don't like it's politics doesn't make it a bad book. Like all fiction, there has to be a certain 'suspension of disbelief' to keep it fun (Tolkien, anyone). The bad guys have to appear a little crazed, otherwise how could they justify sending the kids into the breach (and their deaths)? The good guys have to have a reason to do what they do, and high taxes, high crime rates, and self-serving politicans are a good reason to build a mile-square building!

I really liked the depiction of life in the 'city'; how someone would live, how they would defend it (alas, much harder now in the aftermath of 9/11), how they would improve it, what would you give up to live there, and how would it affect society around it.
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