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N-Space [Hardcover]

Larry Niven
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Jan 1992
This collection of science fiction literature includes extracts from such novels as "Ringworld" and "Protector", as well as short stories such as "Inconstant Moon" and "Bordered in Black". All of the stories are followed by pieces on writing, science fiction and other topics.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 526 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (23 Jan 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0356202429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0356202426
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,064,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Larry Niven has won the prestigious Hugo Award five times. He is known to millions as the premier modern author of rigorous, scientifically consistent hard SF, the champion of 'SF without a net'.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
N Space is a (I suspect), the best of Larry Nivens short stories. If you like your SF in short exiting chunks with no loose ends this is the one for you, although all the stories have the common factor of being set in Nivens future chronology. Each one leaves you with that wow feeling you experienced the moment the credits came up after star wars. Its pretty addictive stuff if only because each tale is about a 45 minute read and you can therefore bite into nivens space (N-Space), and chew, and then come back to it without being let down. My favourites were "the fourth proffession" and the "balck line". Bear in mind i read this book 5 years ago, instantly gave it to a friend to read, and would not buy it agian because I remember every single story.
It realy is a great book. The only thing I would say is that he seems to like novels more than short stories, so its a bit like "Lord of the rings" in terms of finding something else to read after you have become fully addicted.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
If you are the sort of person who has been dissapointed by sf short story compilations because you have to read a load of arty crap stories before getting a gem then you should get your hands on a copy of this. Each story is short and leaves you with that "wow" feeling when you finish it. While the stories do not bear any "saga" relationship to each other they share concepts and sometimes characters which adds to the books appeal. I dont read the intros to books so I only realised that N Space means that old Lar writes his stories within his own future time line (Niven Space), after a few stories this did however become apparent. I read N Space once 5 years ago and dont have a copy anymore simply because the stories cant be read twice. It is still without a doubt the single most enjoyable book I have ever read.....
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4.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction for Engineers, Part 1 8 Jun 2011
By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER
Larry Niven's first collection of book excerpts, short stories and essays is full of Big Ideas, interesting aliens, and scientific puzzles disguised in story form. There are also excerpts from his book-length fiction and thought-provoking essays on writing, science and technology. It was difficult to pick a small set of favorite pieces. Here are four very, very good selections from the thirty-one chapters:

"Down in Flames" is a paranoid's paradise. It is not a story, but a set of notes for a book that was never written. Fueled by late-night discussions with fellow authors and friends, Niven outlines how almost everything in his Known Space stories could be deception and illusion. Whole species are not who they seem and many important events never really happened. Its scope is staggering.

"Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" is perhaps Niven's most famous nonfiction offering. He speculates in some indelicate detail about the problems presented by physical intimacy, pregnancy and parenthood in the relationship between Lois Lane and Superman. He thinks it through with an engineer's attention to detail and entertains readers with deadpan delivery. It is spot-on hilarious.

"Inconstant Moon" paces through the long, sleepless night after its protagonist figures out the puzzle of the evening sky's too-bright moon. One of his very best tales, it is not connected to Niven's Known Space, nor to any of his other sets of related stories.

"Night on Mispec Moor" is loosely connected to Known Space. It is fundamentally a vampire story rewritten onto a future alien landscape, with plausible biological explanations for the nightstalkers and the potions that keep them at bay. As in many vampire tales, we wonder if our hero will make it through the night.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of ideas, low on entertainment 27 April 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I went through a short-lived sci-fi phase in high school and I recall liking most of the works of Larry Niven. Fifteen or so years later I found N-Space in a used bookstore and thought I would give it another whirl.

Good science fiction is always about ideas, sometimes with a fanciful element, but always grounded in scientific fact. There is no doubt Larry Niven is full of ideas and knows his science, but most of the stories come across as typing instead of writing - interesting ideas, but not told interestingly.

The trouble with short stories is that the big ideas have to be shoe-horned into a short narrative, so about half the stories here start with someone positing an absurd hypothesis which through a quick but logical chain of events is proved to be correct. This makes many stories feel rushed and predictable, whilst leaving an impression of the author being a smarmy type smugly chuckling at the reader for proving a theory right yet again. It wears a bit thin.

There is a strong emphasis on dialogue instead of description, which is fine when people talk in a realistic way about things I could grasp, but there were times when the story was rushing along and I couldn't picture in head what was happening. Sometimes this was due to the terminology, but more often it was because of the lack of description.

It's all fine in small doses. When read straight through you realise that though the stories can be imaginative, they aren't told in an imaginative way.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction 20 Sep 2001
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A Larry Niven novel, especially lately, can be a hit or miss affair but it's clear the man still knows what he's doing and there's no better way to prove that to pick up this hefty book. Not so much a collection of short stories as a retrospective and an introduction just about every piece here has something to recommend it to new and old readers. Niven has some of the best hard science ideas ever put down on paper but sometimes he forgets about the plot when writing his longer works, in short story form all the brilliance shines right through and you can see why millions revere the man as a writer of ideas. By and large the short stories are all excellent, ranging from the really good ("Cloak of Anarchy" "The Fourth Profession") to the merely okay (the story set in the Smoke Ring). For new readers there are even excerpts from his more famous novels, though only a couple highlight the best portions of the book (especially "The Mote in God's Eye" bit, which reminds those of us who have read it why we loved the book so much in the first place), all are interesting. But even better than the stories are the series of essays interspersed throughout the book. Some are Niven just goofing and having a good time (the bit about Superman's attempt at mating is one of the funniest things I've ever read and is worth the price of the book alone) and others are serious pieces on science fiction and writing in general. Rarely do readers get such a peek inside the mind of one of their favorite writers and it's a welcome look. Overall if you have even a passing interest in Niven you can't go wrong, since it focuses on what he's really good at and with so many stories and essays, the chance of a reader getting bored is very slim indeed.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Retrospective on the career of one of the best. 22 Aug 2000
By "rogue_7" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
N-Space and its Companion Playgrounds of the Mind form a wonderful retrospective of the carrer of one of the best science fiction writers. N-Space provides a selection of short stories, especially ones that have not yet appeared in book form, and have been hard to find. It also provides some of his better stories, and gives essays, gossip, and a view into the world of a Science Fiction writer. You really come away knowing Larry Niven, the man, along with a better understading of his fiction. You get some very interesting factiods (did you know that the Kzinti are in Star Trek? neither did I!), and lots of enjoyment, from never read short stories, to anecdotes about your favorite Niven Novel, an unbeatable bargain. N-Space is a great introduction to the various works of Larry Niven (and sometimes co-author in crime Dr. Jerry Pournelle), as well as a great resourse for those who would like to learn more about what they have read and known for years. I rarely give the 5 out of 5 rating, but I have no hesitations here. Highest Reccomendation.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best way to get to know a SciFi great 10 Nov 2000
By Jim Luebke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Larry Niven is one of the most inventive Scifi writers ever to live. His work is always brimming with ideas, from Ringworld --a million mile wide habitable ring around a star (a poor man's Dyson sphere) to Moties, a physiologically asymmetrical species made up of biological castes who each represent an aspect of intelligence (communicators, tool-users, decision-makers) or society. It is difficult if not impossible to find authors with more ingenious premises.
Unfortunately, the narrative matrix these gems are embedded in, while often very good, is too-frequently merely average scifi. Plotlines and characters are often clunky, and clearly there simply to provide a setting for his brilliant ideas. Ideas that fit twenty pages are stretched to two hundred, or at best, patched together with other equally bright ideas that are not a perfect fit.
The solution? A book of short stories and clips like N-Space. This is a collection of the jewels, cut and polished. The selections are short very sweet. Long narratives, instead of being sacrificed for the purity of the premise, are dispensed with entirely. The ideas shine out on their own.
Other recommendations: Playgrounds of the Mind (another book of shorts), The Mote in God's Eye (with Pournelle; probably his best novel), Inferno (with Pournelle; personal favorite, but that's just me).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a sci fi short story virus. You wont look back. 3 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I paid too much for this book on holiday, desperate for an "english read" on foreign soil.
It has become, (and you have to trust me when i tell you that this is in context!), the most memorable part of my honeymoon. They were simply the most interesting and absorbing set of short "AC Clarke" type stories I had read.
My mouth fell open as I turned the pages. It seemed "real" without trying to be an extension of todays technology. The characters were cardboard in most ways - it was about what they had done, and their background. History.
This is what Niven does. He makes history in the future. Its not just one history either. Each story he writes applies to one of a set of "timelines" or I suppose the "scenarios" he has invented in his literal career.
Inventions cross these scenarios, so that the reader recognises instruments or precepts accross "scenarios".
This is why the book is called N-Space.
It is a space where certain good ideas cross literal boundries and where the story comes first and the reader comes second. I'll take second place.
If you dont buy the book, borrow/ steal it and read "The fourth proffesion" - without a doubt the best short sci-fi I have ever read .
Really - enjoy - It is exceptional stuff.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection as unique as the author 16 July 2004
By Brian Hulett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
At one time the term "science fiction" caused eyebrows to raise. "Isn't that reading for losers who can't relate to others well?" Larry Niven is one of the authors who forever changed the way SF is perceived, one whose fiction emphasizes science without cutting short on any of the tools of your typical brilliant writer of fiction. This gives us well-sculpted characters, even in the shortest of stories, with eye-opening and theoretically sound scientific concepts, plot twists, and remarkable endings. Satisfying story after satisfying story.
What's unique about this collection isn't that it includes a foreward with comments by other authors and fans, or that the author comments on each piece within the collection. Those are commonplace. But in Niven's world, he likes to let you into his world in a special way, perhaps by dishing some dirt on an SF mag who rejected a story that turned out to win a Hugo, etc. He openly questions his finished product, saying that "Today I'd write this story differently," etc. As if we could lift the lid on his cranium and step inside for a moment, seeing how the stories are crafted. Very interesting.
Not as interesting as the work, however, another unique thing about this collection: Not only short stories are collected here, many of which only appeared in one issue of some now-defunct SF mag or other, dating back to the mid 1960s upward to 1990 when this book was first published. He also includes essays, such as an unforgettable commentary on the problems Superman would have if he tried to mate with Lois Lane, as well as excerpts from his published novels at the time. A terrific sampler of a terrific author, whose early-70s work "Ringworld" stands as one of the most brilliant works of speculative fiction of all time. Intelligentsia still debates the validity of its scientific assumptions, and while even Niven admits that most of these have been disproven, how many SF works do you know that sparked so much debate while still being so widely admired?
Niven is far, far beyond any alien shoot-em-up author. This ain't "Star Trek." This is real scientific fiction told by a natural storyteller who loves what he does. We readers love him for it.
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