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The Mote in God's Eye Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1991
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In the year 3016, the Second Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems, thanks to the faster-than-light Alderson Drive. No other intelligent beings have ever been encountered, not until a light sail probe enters a human system carrying a dead alien. The probe is traced to the Mote, an isolated star in a thick dust cloud, and an expedition is dispatched.
In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization--at least one million years old--that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they've been unable to solve in over a million years.
This is the first collaboration between Niven and Pournelle, two masters of hard science fiction, and it combines Pournelle's interest in the military and sociology with Niven's talent for creating interesting, believable aliens. The novel meticulously examines every aspect of First Contact, from the Moties' biology, society, and art, to the effects of the meeting on humanity's economics, politics, and religions. And all the while suspense builds as we watch the humans struggle toward the truth. --Brooks Peck
Robert Heinlein Possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.
San Francisco Chronicle As science fiction, one of the most important novels ever published.
Columbus Dispatch A superlatively fine novel...no writer has ever come up with a more appealing, intriguing, and workable concept of aliens.
Frank Herbert A spellbinder, a swashbuckler...And, best of all, it has a brilliant new approach to that fascinating problem -- first contact with aliens.
Theodore Sturgeon One of the most engrossing tales I've read in years...fascinating.
Minneapolis Tribune Intriguing and suspenseful...the scenes in which the humans and aliens examine one another are unforgettable.
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If you've served in the Navy, you'll probably get something extra out of this story. It's obvious that the authors have some experience in the Navy, and my copy of the book had a complementary blurb attributed to Heinlein, who was a big career Navy guy, so you know it's probably pretty accurate. It also adds a great degree of realism to the story, as the authors have adapted Navy protocols and behavior from sea ships to space ships in a very intelligent and interesting way, even if you have no naval experience.
I just didn't gave it the 5 stars because the book shows its age: the dialog and science knowledge extrapolation are laughable by today's standards (compare to Michael R. Hicks 'In Her Name: Redemption').
Also the quite reserved way the (alien) sexual matters central to plot are discussed, seems 'centuries' displaced from how these things are openly discussed today... Again you can contrast to Hicks piece, which also makes differences in aliens procreation physiology and related customs central to the work, but in a very direct way...
Anyway, I've enjoyed the read a lot...
Possible spoiler: The real problem with the book is that it's a Pandora's box story. Once the door has been opened, so to speak, there will be no stopping it. I don't like stories with unbeatable bad guys, so I didn't really like this book.
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The characters were flat at best, sexist at their worst.Read more