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.
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.
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.
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