Plateau, a colony in the Tau Ceti system, was settled by humans some 300 years before the plot begins. The colony world itself is a Venusian type planet with a dense, hot, poisonous atmosphere. It would be otherwise uninhabitable, except for a tall monolithic mesa that rises 40 miles up into a breathable layer in the upper atmosphere. This gives the planet a habitable area about half the size of California. The Captain of the first colony vessel named the feature Mount Lookitthat (from his interjection at first sight of it), and the colony became known as Plateau.
After landing the slower-than-light ships, the Crew sign an agreement, called the Covenant of Planetfall, with their former passengers (who had just emerged from suspended animation and were in a weak bargaining position). This agreement gives the Crew (and their descendants in perpetuity) all control over the new colony. A system of medical care evolves, in which organ transplantation is the only method of treatment, even for cosmetic defects (such as baldness); a justice system evolves, with all crimes punishable by death, followed by involuntary donation of the decedent's transplantable organs (including skin, scalp, and teeth). Not surprisingly, only Colonists are ever arrested for crimes; and only Crew are eligible to receive transplants. Some Colonists become dissatisfied with the system and form a dissident group called the "Sons of Earth."
©1968, 1996 Larry Niven (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
When the narrator decided to use a 'surfer dude' accent for the rebel faction, I just really lost interest. I tried to listen all the way through. I tried repeatedly, but just kept falling asleep or finding myself having listened to 30+ minutes and realizing that I hadn't paid attention because I was distracted. The premise is interesting but it's probably a better read than it is a listen.
I believe that some stories are meant to be heard and others to be read. Sometimes you get a great book (and narrator) that succeeds at both. This really feels like something that you need to read. Perhaps I'll come across an inexpensive written copy and try to get through it again.
The story is vintage Niven--a very detailed world with a well-thought-out sociological issue revolving around technology. If you like his stuff, read this.
However...giving the protagonist what can only be described as a 'surfer dude' accent was incredibly distracting and irritating.
Here is a classic adventure novel from a master of SF. Thoroughly enjoyable, well thought and well paced.
A trip through the body banks, where political prisoners donate their organs to keep alive the ruling class...
WHY OH WHY did the narrator give the Matt Keller character a ridiculous California surfer accent!!?? Extremely annoying and detracting from the overall experience.
The narrator should keep his funny voices in the box where they belong!
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