They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star. The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteriods. Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender - or death for all humans.
©1986 Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“Nobody does it better than Niven and Pournelle. I loved it!” (Tom Clancy)
"Rousing – the best of the genre.” (The New York Times Book Review)
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
So, I'm working my way through all the top sci-fi classics, and I keep bumping into Larry Niven and his okay-ish novels.
My problem with Niven is that he has no clue how to write an interesting character. Throughout all of his novels I haven't been able to make myself care about any of them. That being said, it's hard to care about any plot if you don't have a stake in the outcome.
Footfall was one of those books I had to really work to get through. I was bored almost the entire time.
I found the pacing weird as well. How long did it take for this story to unfold? Months? Years? Decades? I'm not sure. I found the time transitions to be confusing, and I didn't like the book enough to sort it out.
Oh, and the narrator's alien voice was a bold choice... that annoyed the heck out of me. "A" for effort, "D-" for execution.
This book lacked descriptive depth. It didn't paint a picture so much as a rough diagram with labels like "Insert alien space ship here". The giant cast of characters was reminiscent of Greg Bear's books, and similarly bogged the story down way more than it added a sense of a broader universe. I found the aliens to be novel but entirely implausible, I don't see how a clumsy race that's incapable of fine motor control can develop any kind of technology.
And the final space battle that some of the other reviewers seem to be so fond of is mostly conveyed verbally, without any objective description, through the intercom and goes something like this: "Fire cannons. Accelerate. Boom! oh no we're hit. We need more steam!" Very underwhelming.
Oh and I found the pivotal roll that a group science fiction authors play in the story to be incredibly masturbatory.
Overall the book has several interesting ideas that are introduced, but overall, it's not really worth the credit unless you have nothing better to listen to.
I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.
Classic science fiction was often a narrative on politics set in a future world or circumstance. In this work, Niven and Pournelle offer such a narrative. True, it involves the Russians and Americans which I can connect with because I lived through the cold war era. However, the authors also advance the internal politics of the Fithp (the invading race). As with most novels from these artists, there are so many parallels to the human condition that it is still relevant today. You can find commentary on ecology, self-interest, prejudice, and treachery. A key take-away is how one culture creates devastation because if refuses to understand the other’s and only learns through defeat.
I like the narration of MacLeod Andrews. He did a very nice job on the characters and especially the alien’s dialect.
There are many characters in this story, so listening can be challenging because keeping them all straight is no easy task. Also, there is more emphasis on politics than science fiction. The weapons of the invaders are not significantly superior to the humans. So the question of how space travel technology can be so advanced, but the actual invading weaponry are only marginally better goes unanswered. Also the use of paratroopers is an elephant in the room (pun intended). All these little nitpicks aside, the story holds together very well even after almost 30 years.
Today’s SF has a lot more blood, guts, sex and in your face action. This work returns to an era of more cerebral Science fiction; SF of that era was designed as a narrative for current events that provoked thinking about thorny issues – issues more easily broached outside of the actual named groups. Listen to this novel, it is worth the 21 hours.
Listening is not the same as reading, but it is still fun
Yes, its good for a weekend's mindless entertainment.
After droning on through the last two thirds of the story, the ending finally gave me a reason to sit up and listen though.
I found the resignation of the world to the idea that we were deliberately struck by asteroids to be a little difficult to accept.
No way I could imagine any human making a deal with these elephants after that.
Footfall is another Great book by Larry Niven. It is well written and very well narrated!
You will not go wrong with one. It is differant then what you would think. Try It!
I fell in love with Niven and Pournelle in Mote in God's Eye, and thought I'd give this one a try. So glad I did. While it was a little outdated with the Soviet Union in the play, it read more like alternate history, and the social issues of an invasion were tackled from every angle, including the point of view and politics of the aliens. The payoff at the end was amazing, and the characters were fully-formed people I could route for.
There is some amazingly difficult pronunciation in this book (which gave a bit of a listening learning curve, too, but you'll get used to it quick enough), and honestly, I applaud the narrator for tackling it head-on and doing a good job throughout.
Many might quickly dismiss this story because of the hokey premise of alien invading elephants. That would be short sighted; robbing one selves of an amazing delve into a “what if” in a realistic understanding of human nature. The science is realistic as well. The plot intertwines a variety of characters where Niven and Pournelle bring you inside their heads, including the aliens. To do it more so it would have to be written in first-person. Andrews’ gifted performance, true to the story, does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life. No spoiler here, the ending is captivating and leaving me wanting more.
I would recommend this audiobook to a friend and I have I enjoyed the characters, the plot and just dated feel of it. I know that's strange but I like being taken back to a different time period by reading old sci-fi like this, you can almost taste the polyester and hairspray. I also enjoyed the structure and the background of the aliens with their culture.
The falling of the foot.
it was good and easy to understand
Good sci-fi, Also loved Lucifers Hammer
The story was pretty much straight-up scifi. I kind of wish the details of the alien species was fleshed out a little more, but you learn enough about them to create a good mental image.
I think they should have taken another strategy when trying to emulate the alien voices. There's a multitude of digital voice changers that the narrator could of used, but instead he opted to slur his speech as if he just had all of his wisdom teeth pulled out. You got used to it, but it was still distracting.
Also, the ending was definitely sequel bait. It's been almost 26 years and no sequel.
As with all Niven/Pournelle's collaborations, a great read, but sadly I was unable to finish the audio version because of the irritating reader. Too much acting and silly voices. Not enough punctuation. My star rating refers only to the reading. For the book itself I would give five stars.
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