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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Future Smells Of The Seventies And I Like It, 7 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Protector (Mass Market Paperback)
Larry Niven's novel Protector is good, solid, science fiction like they don't write anymore. It depicts man's first contacts with extraterrestrials about two and four centuries hence. It is a novel of ideas: some futurology, some philosophy, some fantasy anthropology. It presents a consistent world that we can easily understand. It makes us think about where the human race came from and for what purpose. There are also one or two nice twists in the book.

Of course, the book cannot help but reflect the time in which it was written, the late sixties and early seventies. It's still a man's world: the only woman character in the book is feisty and tomboyish but succumbs to the hero's muscular charms; the police are men: helpful, but too busy to be effective; hippyish middle aged men go through crises and backpack round the world; a crepuscular statesman lingers contentedly in his establishment club. It's reassuring to know that books are still read and that sometimes they even take computers on trickier deep space missions. This is a book of its time, but the story and the ideas keep it fresh and divert from the threadbare certainties of four decades ago.

Like all good science fiction, it resonates. As I finished the book, a company called Planetary Resources, backed, apparently, by billionaires, announced their intention to begin a programme of space travel in order to exploit the mineral wealth of "near Earth asteroids". Niven's first "belters" are near. Much of the von Daniken speculation and the biological catalysts found in Prometheus, the new Ridley Scott film, are in Niven's novel too; the "ancient astronaut" being a fashionable theory of the late sixties and early seventies.

If all Niven's speculation from the first golden age of space exploration were not enough, we can marvel at Alice Jordan, Protector's lone woman, who becomes "Sally" from time to time as the book progresses. Teleportation? Mutation? Poor copy editing, more likely.
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