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Protector Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1987

75 customer reviews

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Protector + Three Books of Known Space + The Ringworld Engineers
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Editorial Reviews


''Both halves of the book are permeated with the ingenuity that has been the driving energy of Niven's stories since his earliest work.'' --The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Inside Flap

Phssthpok the Pak had been traveling for most of his thirty-two thousand years. His mission: save, develop, and protect the group of Pak breeders sent out into space some two and a half million years before...

Brennan was a Belter, the product of a fiercely independent, somewhat anarchic society living in, on, and around an outer asteroid belt. The Belters were rebels, one and all, and Brennan was a smuggler. The Belt worlds had been tracking the Pak ship for days -- Brennan figured to meet that ship first...

He was never seen again -- at least not by those alive at the time.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (September 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345353129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345353122
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LARRY NIVEN is the multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces. He lives in Chatsworth, California. JERRY POURNELLE is an essayist, journalist, and science fiction author. He has advanced degrees in psychology, statistics, engineering, and political science. Together Niven and Pournelle are the authors of many New York Times bestsellers including Inferno, The Mote in God's Eye, Footfall, and Lucifer's Hammer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By "colinbi" on April 2, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Even in the world of hard science-fiction authors, Larry Niven is a bit peculiar. His ideas, while always grounded in the physical sciences and defensible, are frequently beyond any kind of normal, logical leap. Niven's longtime collaborator Jerry Pournelle ("The Mote in God's Eye", among others) has been quoted as saying that he writes with Niven because Niven "is the crazy one."
"Ringworld" is Niven's most enduring work, but "Protector" is, in some ways, a better example of his talent for amazing logical leaps. Niven has described the premise this way: "Every symptom of aging in man is an aborted version of something designed to make us stronger. In particular, we lose intelligence with age because we were supposed to grow more brain tissue, when the thymus gland dissolves around age 42-45."
In "Protector," this thesis is demonstrated by the appearance of the first alien species to contact humanity: the Pak. We learn that Earth was a failed Pak colony; homo habilis is the Pak breeder stage. At about middle age, homo habilis was supposed to eat a certain plant that would trigger the change to the sexless, armored, highly intelligent protectors. Pak protectors have other notable traits as well, some of which may come as a surprise to those used to more traditional tales of immortality.
This is an early Niven story, and plotting was not his strong point until relatively recently. Mainly the plot is a thinly-veiled excuse to learn more about the Pak. Of the characters, only centegenarian Lucas Garner and belter Jack Brennan seem to be more than placeholders. The ideas in the novel, however, make up for many of the more obvious flaws.
I'm not qualified to comment on the scientific plausibility of Niven's ideas.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael Delaware on April 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a crucial book to read to gain the full picture of what is involved in the Ringworld novels. The Pak Protectors are quite a race. They are both complicated in origin, but simple in purpose. This book was very interesting, as it describes the evolution of the protectors more than the Ringworld novels do. Larry Niven is a genius at the technical side of Science Fiction, and this novel was facinating and filled with action. I enjoyed it from many angles.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 11, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Often overlooked in comparission to the Ringworld series of books is Protector. And this is a shame as it is one of the keys to Larry Niven's wonderland known as Known Space.

The Pak race has a three stage life cycle. Childhood (self explanitory); breeder (adulthood) and with the Tree Of Life Root becomes the sexless (both in deed and form) ultra smart Protector.

Phssthpok is a childless (meaning he will die soon) Protector who has traveled from the galaxy's core to save a lost colony of Pak Breeder whose Protectors have died out. What is this lost colony? Well it is the third planet from a medium yellow star. Phssthpok sets into motion a set of events that will change all of Known Space.

You can read other novels of Known Space without ever reading Protector but reading it makes the expierence all the more richer.

Would you trade away some of your humanity to become faster, stronger, smarter and nearly immortal? This is one of the things you will ponder as you read this novel.

A very enjoyable read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dominic Ebacher on November 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback

I went into this book thinking that it would be the story of a really old alien who came to earth and found something in us worth saving. Boy, was I in for a surprise. The biggest was that very little time was spent with the original alien at all; in all the story was passed through three different narrators before its completion - not a challenge to the story but interesting when I had expected the main voice to stick with grandpa-ET the whole time.

What did I like about this book? I liked the fact that it recognized that people were missing something. Even though we've evolved into this form and this way of life - we are missing something; and although the author didn't put this much into words he did address it indirectly by providing the solution: we weren't always like this.

In fact, at one time we were very different from who we are now as a species, and something happened that made us lose a part of ourselves, a part that we've been missing ever since - and that msising has been gnawing away at us for some time.

I liked the book. I read it in a single sitting, so it wasn't hard to go with. It turned out well; a little lackluster as far as endings go and maybe the plot didn't move as fast as it could. The problems that characters faced were all solved without much effort or ingenuity involved on their parts, seemingly - and I didn't find myself engaged by that much. Sure there was some killing and explosions - but those aren't why I read books and they aren't that good in books anyway.

I would read it again, it was worth the $4 I paid for it buying it from Powell's in Portland, but Amazon has some great copies too I'm sure, I just didn't want to wait for them to arrive.

Good luck, and enjoy discerning if there's a little Pak in you too.

Dr. Dominic Ebacher
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