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N-Space Mass Market Paperback – September 15, 1991

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?" or, indeed, about any of the provocative ideas that Niven ( Ringworld ) raises in this retrospective collection ranging over three decades of work. This bemusingly titled story is one answer to the question: Why is nobody out there talking to us? "Bordered in Black" provides a second answer, and "The Fourth Profession" a third. "Madness Has Its Place" is a missing tale from the Known Space series, while "Down in Flames" gives the outline for a story in which all Known Space is destroyed. "Brenda" is a novella featuring the Sauron Superman described in Mote; it is nicely complemented by "Building The Mote in God's Eye. " In "The Return of William Proxmire" the title character uses a time machine to save the health and military career of Robert A. Heinlein. While some of the stories here are classics, most have not previously been collected in book form. Niven's essays on the SF genre and commentaries on the stories make this collection a must for SF fans.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction (September 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812510011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812510010
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,306,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Battaglia on September 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Larry Niven novel, especially lately, can be a hit or miss affair but it's clear the man still knows what he's doing and there's no better way to prove that to pick up this hefty book. Not so much a collection of short stories as a retrospective and an introduction just about every piece here has something to recommend it to new and old readers. Niven has some of the best hard science ideas ever put down on paper but sometimes he forgets about the plot when writing his longer works, in short story form all the brilliance shines right through and you can see why millions revere the man as a writer of ideas. By and large the short stories are all excellent, ranging from the really good ("Cloak of Anarchy" "The Fourth Profession") to the merely okay (the story set in the Smoke Ring). For new readers there are even excerpts from his more famous novels, though only a couple highlight the best portions of the book (especially "The Mote in God's Eye" bit, which reminds those of us who have read it why we loved the book so much in the first place), all are interesting. But even better than the stories are the series of essays interspersed throughout the book. Some are Niven just goofing and having a good time (the bit about Superman's attempt at mating is one of the funniest things I've ever read and is worth the price of the book alone) and others are serious pieces on science fiction and writing in general. Rarely do readers get such a peek inside the mind of one of their favorite writers and it's a welcome look. Overall if you have even a passing interest in Niven you can't go wrong, since it focuses on what he's really good at and with so many stories and essays, the chance of a reader getting bored is very slim indeed.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
N-Space and its Companion Playgrounds of the Mind form a wonderful retrospective of the carrer of one of the best science fiction writers. N-Space provides a selection of short stories, especially ones that have not yet appeared in book form, and have been hard to find. It also provides some of his better stories, and gives essays, gossip, and a view into the world of a Science Fiction writer. You really come away knowing Larry Niven, the man, along with a better understading of his fiction. You get some very interesting factiods (did you know that the Kzinti are in Star Trek? neither did I!), and lots of enjoyment, from never read short stories, to anecdotes about your favorite Niven Novel, an unbeatable bargain. N-Space is a great introduction to the various works of Larry Niven (and sometimes co-author in crime Dr. Jerry Pournelle), as well as a great resourse for those who would like to learn more about what they have read and known for years. I rarely give the 5 out of 5 rating, but I have no hesitations here. Highest Reccomendation.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Larry Niven is one of the most inventive Scifi writers ever to live. His work is always brimming with ideas, from Ringworld --a million mile wide habitable ring around a star (a poor man's Dyson sphere) to Moties, a physiologically asymmetrical species made up of biological castes who each represent an aspect of intelligence (communicators, tool-users, decision-makers) or society. It is difficult if not impossible to find authors with more ingenious premises.
Unfortunately, the narrative matrix these gems are embedded in, while often very good, is too-frequently merely average scifi. Plotlines and characters are often clunky, and clearly there simply to provide a setting for his brilliant ideas. Ideas that fit twenty pages are stretched to two hundred, or at best, patched together with other equally bright ideas that are not a perfect fit.
The solution? A book of short stories and clips like N-Space. This is a collection of the jewels, cut and polished. The selections are short very sweet. Long narratives, instead of being sacrificed for the purity of the premise, are dispensed with entirely. The ideas shine out on their own.
Other recommendations: Playgrounds of the Mind (another book of shorts), The Mote in God's Eye (with Pournelle; probably his best novel), Inferno (with Pournelle; personal favorite, but that's just me).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
At one time the term "science fiction" caused eyebrows to raise. "Isn't that reading for losers who can't relate to others well?" Larry Niven is one of the authors who forever changed the way SF is perceived, one whose fiction emphasizes science without cutting short on any of the tools of your typical brilliant writer of fiction. This gives us well-sculpted characters, even in the shortest of stories, with eye-opening and theoretically sound scientific concepts, plot twists, and remarkable endings. Satisfying story after satisfying story.
What's unique about this collection isn't that it includes a foreward with comments by other authors and fans, or that the author comments on each piece within the collection. Those are commonplace. But in Niven's world, he likes to let you into his world in a special way, perhaps by dishing some dirt on an SF mag who rejected a story that turned out to win a Hugo, etc. He openly questions his finished product, saying that "Today I'd write this story differently," etc. As if we could lift the lid on his cranium and step inside for a moment, seeing how the stories are crafted. Very interesting.
Not as interesting as the work, however, another unique thing about this collection: Not only short stories are collected here, many of which only appeared in one issue of some now-defunct SF mag or other, dating back to the mid 1960s upward to 1990 when this book was first published. He also includes essays, such as an unforgettable commentary on the problems Superman would have if he tried to mate with Lois Lane, as well as excerpts from his published novels at the time.
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