A reflective statue is found at the bottom of one of Earth's oceans, having lain there for 1.5 billion years. Since humans have recently developed a time-slowing field and found that one such field cannot function within another, it is suspected that the "Sea Statue" is actually a space traveler within one of these time fields. Larry Greenberg, a telepath, agrees to participate in an experiment: a time-slowing field is generated around both Greenberg and the statue, shutting off the stasis field and revealing Kzanol. Kzanol is a living Thrint, a member of a telepathic race that once ruled the galaxy through mind control.
©1966. 1994 Larry Niven (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
The narrator never so much as pauses when there is a scene change within a chapter. He plows on as if the paragraphs are directly connected. This makes it very hard to follow which characters are speaking.
I originally read this book when I was a teenager and remember it fondly. In fact, I was scared that listening to the audio version would destroy my fond memories of this book. This was not the case. While there were some issues with some of the science in the book, those are largely due to it's age. That really had a minimal effect on my enjoyment of this book.
The story revolves around an ancient alien who due to an accident with his space ship is forced to aim the ship at a yeast-growing colony planet while placing himself in stasis. In order to prevent his possessions from being claimed by his rescuer, he aims the ship at an outer planet's moon while launching himself at the yeast world. While in route to this planet, his telepathic master-race is overthrown so instead of being rescued he is left at the bottom of the ocean for over a billion years. Time enough for humans to evolve.
Humans have by this time discovered telepathy and have telepaths that can communicate with dolphins who have given the humans the alien who due to being in stasis looks like some type of shiny statue. As scientists are doing research on stasis fields for colonization efforts, they realize that they can deactivate the stasis field by placing it in another stasis field. Telepath Larry Greenberg is given the job of communicating telepathically with this alien. Unfortunately, because telepaths transfer memory when reading minds, Larry is overwhelmed by the greater power of the telepathic alien and as a result is convinced that he is the alien who's mind has been placed into a slave (a ptavv in the alien's language). The real alien sees a slave planet to conquer. Soon, it becomes a race to retrieve the possessions that hit an outer moon as one of those possessions is a helm that amplifies the telepathic power of the wearer which would allow the telepath to gain control over a world of ptavvs.
As a teenager I really enjoyed the way the book is largely viewed from an alien perspective. This still was interesting, but the entire ARM and Belter sub story was actually very interesting. Still, the best part of the book was the story of how the telepathic race that ruled the galaxy was defeated. Making this even better was simply how it was not told outright but instead pieced together from clues throughout the story.
If you are a Larry Niven fan and have not read/listened to this book it is well worth grabbing despite it's age. While not his best work, it is very entertaining.
A great story. It is amazing to me that Niven imagined this future back in 1966. What a mind. His science is impeccable as the story unfolds. A telepathic alien races a man with his alien memories across the solar system to find a device that would amplify their abilities and enslave humanity. The competition between the planetary civilization and that of the Belt (space inhabiting humanity) adds tension to the race. Freedom of thought and humanity itself will be lost if any of them fail.
I first read this book when it came out many years ago, On listening it wasn't as good as I remembered it. Larry Niven has improved since then and fleshed out his Universe. Still worth a listen , especially if you like any of his "KNOWN SPACE" series.
Narrator does a good job with range of characters especially the dolphin.
First of all, I have been a fan of Larry Niven since the mid-80s. I don't know how I managed to go so long without reading this book. I knew the basic story from mentions in other Known Space stories.
The basic story idea is awesome. The time frozen last survivor of an ancient, extinct species that used its powerful mind control abilities to control much of the galaxy is released upon the Solar System, & a mad race is on to stop him before he can reclaim a tool that could enable him to enslave all of humanity. It's a fun little romp that feels like a short story. (I mean that as a complement because it just seems to fly by.)
In my opinion, what dates this story the most is the almost constant smoking. I'm convinced that, if all references to smoking were removed from this book, you would loose about 45 minutes. I found myself wondering if this book was originally sold with packs of smokes.
Read this if you like a light sci-fi adventure with a heavy dose of tobacco. :-)
It's very hard to follow an audiotext where there are jumps from one part of the story to another without some sort of vocal clue. The narrator doesn't even pause between story sections. Apart from that, the story is quite boring and the narrator gives far too much dramatic emphasis to unimportant details so you become immune to any written drama in the story. Unless you are a collector of Larry Niven's work, well ...
This is one of the earliest (in terms of both when it was written and fictional chronology) novels of Larry Niven's "Known Space" series. It is interesting, but I found the writing a little choppy, and the audio production didn't help.
The concept is interesting---an alien, frozen in a protective field for about a billion years, is found on the bottom of the ocean floor. Researchers turn off the protective field for about a second and the alien's memories take over the mind of a nearby telepathic human. And we go from there.
It's an interesting thought experiment (as are many of Niven's stories), but the writing is a bit awkward. Characters are introduced and thrown away in a paragraph or two (never to reappear), there are several extraneous diversions and so on. This isn't typical of Niven's later work, by the way.
The problem is made worse by the fact that the audiobook production didn't have any kind of pause or signal to indicate that the scene had jumped...I sometimes had a hard time realizing that the conversation between A and B was suddenly a conversation between C and D. In the print version, there was probably extra white space or *** or something, but there was no equivalent in the audio version. (A short pause when the scene jumped would have been invaluable. It seems like a minor point, but given the way the book was written, I found it particularly annoying.)
I believe Andy Caploe did a good job reading this---his inflections for the characters makes it fairly easy to distinguish between the major ones, but there are a LOT of characters in this and there is only so much one larynx can do.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
World of Ptavvs is a book that I have read four times. The first three times I really enjoyed everything about it. The characters are well imagined and fit in their roles precisely. The plot is as tight as a snare drum. And the ideas: space travel, telepathic powers, time-retardation fields, talking Dolphins–cool right? I liked it so much that I recommended the book to a friend who was not a Science Fiction reader thinking that it would be a good short illustration of the elements of SF that I liked the best. It turns out that this novel may not have been the best choice for an outsider to the wonders of SF that we all know and love. My friend disliked the book so much that I felt compelled to re-read it, and to my horror, I began to notice its many shortcomings. I had overlooked the things that most people look for in a novel-reading experience; you know character development, flowing prose and the like. Things that are nice to have but that are not exactly essential. For me Larry Niven has always been about the idea; what would have been called a “gadget story” in the old days. One of his collections is titled Playgrounds of the Mind. And once you latch onto that idea you will have found the key to enjoying Niven.
So, this time, listening to World of Ptavvs this time around was a return to my old favorable impression. I very much enjoyed it. I was able to transport myself back to my old self, to my old way of thinking and was able to really have a good time. My mind was again fully engaged. I like the way Niven throws around ideas. Just to play in his world for a while is great fun. This book is a prime example of hard science fiction executed by one of the foremost practitioners. It is interesting to realize that this novel was written very early in Niven’s writing career for his vision of his own Known Space series seems fully formed even though not much of it had been published at the time of its writing (1966).
World of Ptavvs has elements that can only happen in a Science Fiction story: Time-retarder field (Stasis field) that allows one of the characters to be from two billion years ago, Telepathic aliens that don’t need intelligence because of their mind-control powers. Things like these have absolutely no connection to anything in the real world and, therefore, are difficult for some people to relate to. But for those who can find the hook, the connection, such ideas are really fun.
Andy Caploe was a big factor in making this an enjoyable experience. He manages to give each character an individual voice, and some of his voices are really great. I particularly enjoyed his voice for the Dolphin characters. I always appreciate it when the narrator makes the extra effort to perform difficult readings.
the story is not one of Nivens best. it fills in more about known space univers. the reading is confusing and you get no warning when suddenly the story has jumped from one character to the next. this book felt like it was abridged.
This story could have beed so much better. Very Little Action,Drama is lite. It is well narrated. The Plot of the story is good but just lacks the action and drama that a good sci-fi story needs!
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