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Protector Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1987
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From the Inside Flap
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.
Top Customer Reviews
"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.Read more ›
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.
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
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the most most brilliant sci-fi tales ever. Period.Published 2 months ago by Robert J. Winters
This is a classic Larry Niven book that will be satisfying to anyone who has read any of the Ringworld series, or just to newbies coming to Niven for the first time. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Totentanz1980
PAK Protectors RULE! After reading this, I want to be a Protector, but I'm too old. And I don't like yams. Great Sci-Fi yarn.Published 3 months ago by John T. Mason, Jr.
Nicely fills out some blank areas in previous stories about Known Space and some of the characters in those stories.Published 3 months ago by Pixlwiz Graphics
Great addition to the Ringworld universe... this time the Pak are coming to earth! Loved this book.Published 4 months ago by JHB
I've really enjoyed Larry Niven's Ringworld series. I thoroughly enjoyed this "prequel." I'll probably continue with the Known Space books, too.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Had read several other Niven books and this is just as good as "the smoke ring", and "integral trees' and a step below "Ringworld'.Published 5 months ago by Charles Bachman
Thoroughly enjoyed this book
Great connection to Ringworld
Very glad I read this after the Ringworld series and before the Fleet of Worlds series