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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Gripping Hand

Copyright 1993 by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Superb (4/5)

I first read this in 1995 and most recently in May 2001.

It's 25 years after the Motie civilisation was first discovered in "The Mote". The blockade still survives, obliterating Motie ships as they exit the wormhole into normal space.

Rob Blaine and Sally Fowler run the Blaine Institute which continues to study the Moties and their children grew up with the three Motie ambassadors.

Horace Bury and Kevin Renner continue to the Empire's secret work, but have become increasingly concerned that either the Moties have already escaped, or are about to. Both of them know the horror that could result if the Moties population pressure could no longer be confined to the Mote system.

This is super stuff. Rereading "The Mote in God's Eye" in 2001, I was slightly disappointed - although it is still, in my view, the best space opera - alien contact novel, I found it a little teenage, starship-trooperish. "The Gripping Hand" does not have that problem, it's certainly a more mature and accomplished work.

It has the most enthralling space battle I've ever read. So exciting, in fact, that I paused long enough to dredge up Hawkwind's "In Search of Space" album, cranking up the volume for "Master of the Universe". With this masterpiece reverberating away in the background, plus tobacco and a shot of Cuevo 1800 I was able to continue reading in the spirit that the book quite clearly demands.

Finally this little "Pocket Book" did not fragment while reading as its predecessor did. Surprising, ne? But of course the reason it didn't fragment was that I cleverly refrained from opening it up more than 50 degrees. Of course that made it rather hard to read (especially after the Tequila) but at least it will last to be read one more time. Even so it is an astonishingly bizarre idea to bind books so that they, if opened fully, fall apart while being read.

Loaded on the 26th May 2001.
Cover of The Gripping Hand
Cover by Lee MacLeod

Other reviews with covers by Lee MacLeod
The Mote in God's Eye