SF Reviews background image SF Reviews logo image
Contact SF Reviews   |   Get the Newsletter 

Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
The Mote in God's Eye

Copyright 1974 by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

In Association with Amazon.com In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point    Perfect (5/5)

I first read this in 1976 and most recently in May 2001.

Rod Blaine, 28th in line to the throne of the Second Empire is serving time in the Navy. He's just recovering from putting down a rebellion on one of the colony planets and he's hit with handling the long-awaited the initial contact with an alien probe. Then to cap it all, he gets sent to the alien home world. Nice as these "Moties" appear, there's a lot more to them than is initially apparent. For one thing, they're potentially smarter than humans, for another they've been around a much longer, and finally they may be hiding some very unpleasant attributes. Still, it will Rod's job, along wih Sally Fowler, Admiral Kutuzov, Renner, Staley, Potter and Whitbread and many others to decide whether to welcome the Motie civilisation into the Empire, or to obliterate it.

This is classic hard space opera with a dash of starship troopers, it's not what you would call a mature and introspective novel - the sequel "The Gripping Hand" is more accomplished. However, it rocks, and along with that, it has the best aliens of any space opera book.

Now a word on the continuing problem of astoundingly bad book bindings. My original copy of "Mote" is safely stored in Wing 1, Silo 7, so out here, in Wing 3, I've had to rely on a quick Amazon order to get a copy to re-read. Well it arrived fast and it gave up the ghost up just as quickly. Over thirty pages fell out as I read the book. It's a "Pocket Book" from Simon and Shuster and it's obviously intended as a read-once disposable book. You may ask what percentage of these "Pocket Books" fall apart on initial reading. I assume it's less than 10% for one would expect sales to suffer if too high a percentage fell apart. Perhaps publishers use some carefully balanced function of number of refunds against the cost of glue. Alternatively, perhaps one is meant to remove a few pages at a time and stuff them in your pocket, returning them to the book once they're read.

Loaded on the 24th May 2001.
    
Cover of The Mote in God's Eye
Cover by Lee MacLeod



Other reviews with covers by Lee MacLeod
The Gripping Hand