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The Mote in God's Eye | [Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle]

The Mote in God's Eye

The Mote In God's Eye is their acknowledged masterpiece, an epic novel of mankind's first encounter with alien life that transcends the genre. No lesser an authority than Robert A. Heinlein called it "possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read".
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Publisher's Summary

Writing separately, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are responsible for a number of science fiction classics, such as the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ringworld, Debt of Honor, and The Integral Trees. Together they have written the critically acclaimed best-sellers Inferno, Footfall, and The Legacy of Heorot, among others.

The Mote In God's Eye is their acknowledged masterpiece, an epic novel of mankind's first encounter with alien life that transcends the genre. No lesser an authority than Robert A. Heinlein called it "possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read".

©1991 Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • All-Time Best Science Fiction Novels (Locus Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (3761 )
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  •  
    J. Rhoderick Frederick, MD USA 02-12-10
    J. Rhoderick Frederick, MD USA 02-12-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    181
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    "A great read!"

    The Mote in God's Eye, set far in the future, tells the tale of humanity's first contact with an alien species. Despite being first published in 1974, the science holds up fairly well. There are a few funny oddities that show the story's age, such as the mention of "microwave ovens" and "pocket computers" as if we would be shocked by their ubiquity, but these are rare. However, in this tale, the science isn't the star of the show. Rather, it's the nature of humanity and how that nature compares to the Moties who represent a unqiue threat.

    The characters, while not of any great depth, are passable for sci-fi. Some reviewers may complain about this but, as an avid sci-fi reader, I have seen much worse. I never really developed any strong attachment to the characters, but I did get to know them well enough to keep the story engaging.

    This is a moderately paced story with some parts moving rather quickly and others trudging along. There are a handful of dull portions, mostly involving Empire politics or background exposition, but just when I started feeling bored, the story picked up. The plot, while sometimes predictable, still leaves enough mystery to keep you reading. The story is long, perhaps a bit longer than it needs to be. For example, I think Horace Bury's character added nothing to the story and could have been cut entirely.

    I don't understand why some reviewers disliked the narrator. Personally, I think LJ Ganser does a superb job. Ganser can handle a room full of similar characters while giving each one a unique voice. His narration of Admiral Kutuzov deserves a freakin' medal. His reading never once interfered with my ability to absorb the story.

    Overall, I'd say this is a great read. It isn't the best first contact story, and it isn't the best sci-fi novel ever written, but it's fun, engaging, and memorable.

    54 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Mesa, AZ, United States 08-21-09
    Michael Mesa, AZ, United States 08-21-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    73
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    1
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    8
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    Overall
    "Oldie but goldie"

    I read this book in paper format more than 30 years ago, but I had forgotten how good it really is. When I saw it available in audible format I jumped at the chance to listen to a previous good read.

    Some of the reviews I have read are very hard on the book, but I believe that the are looking in the wrong place. What makes this book so interesting and unique, at least to me, was the idea that humans could encounter aliens so different that all of our assumptions would be wrong. How do two species interact when one is general and adaptive in nature and the other is differiented. That is at the core of this story; at least for me.

    The process of meeting, all of the mistaken assumptions and the final realization as to just how different the species are is, I believe, a very interesting story with, for new readers, an unknown conclusion.

    But listeners should know that this story is from 1974 and hence some of the story line is 35 years out of date. I believe that to be the cause of some of the bad reviews. Perhaps those listeners did not know the copyright date and might have been more charitable to the male-centered character of the story.

    All in all I think this is a nearly great book with more than adequate reading.

    73 of 76 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Union, NJ, United States 09-14-10
    Christopher Union, NJ, United States 09-14-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    70
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    35
    26
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    8
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    "Why, oh why won't someone make this into a movie?"

    For fans of hard science fiction, this book will not disappoint. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to ever be made into a movie because the story is quite long and complex, and to present it visually would probably be very difficult and require a lot of CG. Therefore, this audio book version is as close as we're likely to get. This is a very good production, and I much enjoyed the reader's performance. If you liked this, I recommend Niven & Pournelle's "Footfall."

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aerindel Arlee, MT, United States 07-28-09
    Aerindel Arlee, MT, United States 07-28-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Book gets a 4, reader gets a 2"

    When I first read this book seventeen years ago it was the most realistic and impressive Sci-Fi that I had read to date and Moral of the story seemed all too true. Unfortunately this book now seems a little dated and simplistic compared to Dan Simmons and Peter F. Hamiltions works for example. This is really too bad since this is one of the books that I have been wishing would come to audible for ever since I became a member.This is still an excellent story and the Motie Aliens are as well thought out as the Kzinti or Puppeteers, (two of Nivens other alien creations). The only real complaint about the writing is the pacing of the story, it seems to climax halfway through, get lost for a while and then come to a resolution.
    The reader on the other hand, (The gripping hand as the Motie's would say) is a real annoyance usually I don't care that much about the narrator when I'm picking out audiobooks, its the book that's important, not the reader. But this audio book makes me wonder if I've been spoiled by audible's other narrators. The voice is understandable and the speed and emphasis is fine but this man is just no fun to listen too, particularly for twenty hours. I can't come up with any better description, but this is the first time reader has been bad enough to be distracting.

    70 of 76 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed Marietta, GA, United States 08-08-09
    Ed Marietta, GA, United States 08-08-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    8
    3
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    "Narrator does matter...."

    I read the book many years ago and loved it. It is dated, but if you like shows like "Firefly", it won't bother you too much. The science isn't really dated...just the cultural norms. The story is interesting, as are the aliens. As others have mentioned the narrator is annoying. He would have been okay for 1 character, but having him read all the parts just didn't work. It is worth listening to.

    28 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ 08-21-09
    Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ 08-21-09 Member Since 2003

    MikeFromMesa

    HELPFUL VOTES
    975
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    191
    114
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    233
    0
    Overall
    "Oldie but goldie"

    I read this book in paper format more than 30 years ago, but I had forgotten how good it really is. When I saw it available in audible format I jumped at the chance to listen to a previous good read.

    Some of the reviews I have read are very hard on the book, but I believe that the are looking in the wrong place. What makes this book so interesting and unique, at least to me, was the idea that humans could encounter aliens so different that all of our assumptions would be wrong. How do two species interact when one is general and adaptive in nature and the other is differiented. That is at the core of this story; at least for me.

    The process of meeting, all of the mistaken assumptions and the final realization as to just how different the species are is, I believe, a very interesting story with, for new readers, an unknown conclusion.

    But listeners should know that this story is from 1974 and hence some of the story line is 35 years out of date. I believe that to be the cause of some of the bad reviews. Perhaps those listeners did not know the copyright date and might have been more charitable to the male-centered character of the story.

    All in all I think this is a nearly great book with more than adequate reading.

    27 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara Reller 12-28-09
    Sara Reller 12-28-09 Listener Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    37
    4
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    "ALIUMS!"

    A good book about alien contact and it goes into the depth to which we would likely misunderstand anything that would be alien. Well written with a fair amount of societal and structural understanding. Not as much of a War In Space book as I was concerned about, good mix of military and social sci-fi. Recommended with only slight reservations.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul levy 11-06-09
    Paul levy 11-06-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    "Beautifully Clever"

    This is a beautifully clever book. It is a worthwile spend of your time, but to avoid disappointment do not be too impatient at the outset.

    I find Larry Niven slow going at first. I even get irritated by the care with which he sets the foundations of his proes, but then it hots up and you are transported to his world. A well thought out, clever, insightful and exciting place that is just around the corner. The world could be, or would be as he describes if we were only able to develop the technology to travel from star to star.

    This is an excellent book. I recommend it strongly but prescribe you give the start a chance, you will be richly rewarded.

    His book Ringworld is similar. It starts out slow and thereafter the only disappointment is that it ends.

    Rgds

    Paul Levy

    33 of 37 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Raleigh, NC 02-10-10
    Ann Raleigh, NC 02-10-10 Member Since 2009

    Ann

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Smart, interesting read"

    I really enjoyed reading this novel. I thought the authors came up with a very smart and clever story of humanity's first encounter with an alien race. I was surprised to find that the alien race described was very different from all other sci-fi books, tv shows and movies that I've seen before. I was expecting the aliens to be a copy from a "star trek" idea, but they were quite different.

    The book also explores human nature by describing humanity's reaction to the aliens. The story unfolds throughout the novel. So there is action and questions to be answered right up until the end.

    I would recommend this book to anyone that likes to read fiction especially for those who like books that explore human nature in a "what if" scenario.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 08-14-09
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 08-14-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    339
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    "Top notch, classic Sci - Fi"

    Read this twice in my youth so when it recently appeared on Audible I took the opportunity to re-visit it. After a dubious start I found myself sinking into the story and was soon hooked. Still a fantastic story all these years later. Good old straight forward sci-fi with all the elements.
    Really enjoyed it.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
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