Three Books of Known Space, by Larry Niven

I was looking for other Known Space books by Larry Niven and came across this in the library. Two of the books I already had, but the third, which is a collection of short stories, was (mostly) new to me.

The books in here are World of Ptavvs, A Gift from Earth and Tales of Known Space. The stories are arranged in chronological order, which means that the short stories of the last book are scattered between the other two books. This works pretty well, and is helped by a chart at the front of the book that provides a timeline.

Although I'd read WoP before, I had forgotten the story completely, and it's a really important one in explaining the Known Space setup. In fact I do remember coming across references in other stories to the "Sea Statue" which is uncovered in this story, and turns out to be a slaver in a stasis field: an alien being that's billions of years old from a race who once ruled the galaxy by virtue of telepathic powers over other creatures. Earth is experimenting with their own stasis fields, and manages to open the slaver's, which means he gets out and starts causing havoc. The resulting chase is pretty exciting, and the overall story very satisfying.

I did remember the plot of GFE, which largely concerns organ-banks, and the problems that result in one of the colonised worlds when technology arrives from Earth which will make them obsolete. Since the whole structure of society is premised on the idea of capital punishment for the most trivial of offences, in order to keep the organ-banks stocked, the gift from earth, when it arrives, causes major problems. Another great tale.

The short stories were also good: I think I may have read a couple of them before: they must have been in other collections I've got. I don't think anything stuck out as being particularly memorable, but they rounded the collection out nicely.

Completed : 13-Feb-2007

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