Leaving Earth, the crew of the spaceship Discipline were prepared for a routine assignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission of interstellar exploration and colonization, Discipline was aided - and secretly spied upon - by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionless computer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedience of the crew. What they weren’t prepared for, however, was the Smoke Ring - an immense, gaseous envelope that had formed around a neutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to a variety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditions of continual free fall. When Disciplineencountered it, something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikely space oasis.
Five hundred years later, the descendants of the Discipline crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remember their origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection of the State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the Smoke Ring, Discipline waits patiently to make contact with its wayward children.
©2003 Larry Niven (P)2013 Blackstone Audio
I very rarely drop a book, but this one is an exception. Chapter 2 is so dreadfully dull and spatially confusing that it it made me completely lose interest.
EDIT: I have since stuck it out and finished the book. I am sticking with my original assessment: a big pile of "Who cares." Lots of action, but since this silly world gets described piecemeal, it is merely annoying rather than exciting. I think this is one of those books in which the author probably had a lot more fun while writing it than most will have while reading it.
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