- Mass Market Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Pocket Books (31 Dec. 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671741926
- ISBN-13: 978-0671741921
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3 x 17.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Mote in God's Eye Mass Market Paperback – 31 Dec 1998
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Robert Heinlein Possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.
Frank Herbert A spellbinder, a swashbuckler...And, best of all, it has a brilliant new approach to that fascinating problem -- first contact with aliens.
Theodore Sturgeon One of the most engrossing tales I've read in years...fascinating.
San Francisco Chronicle As science fiction, one of the most important novels ever published.
Columbus Dispatch A superlatively fine novel...no writer has ever come up with a more appealing, intriguing, and workable concept of aliens.
Minneapolis Tribune Intriguing and suspenseful...the scenes in which the humans and aliens examine one another are unforgettable.
The accidental killing of a group of emissaries to Earth threatens man's survival.See all Product description
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Well now that I have read I can honestly say I loved it all over again. I do think it is one of the best sf books I have read, right up there with Dune.
On to the gripping hand!!
The writing style and the plot are extremely childish. Others have given negative reviews and been criticised for lack of detail. I'll try to give a few specific examples - but there is SO wrong with this book!
The characters are incredibly two-dimensional. The ship's captain has an old scar on his nose that he strokes when he is thinking or troubled - that's the authors' idea of "character". There is a Russian admiral who talks perfect English except for omitting "a" and "the" plus throwing in an occasional "da". Being Russian, he is gruff all the time. There is a merchant who is a muslim. He goes around saying things like "beard of the prophet" all the time. Also being a merchant he only ever thinks about money. There are various Scots characters with silly accents, no doubt based on Scotty from Star Trek. All these accents and racial stereotypes despite being set a thousand years in the future when humans live all over the Galaxy!
There is only one female character. She is repeatedly described as "demure". She also giggles a lot. Eventually she falls in love with one of the male characters. The way they talk to each other had me cringing. It was like the book was written by a 12 year old schoolboy.
Also there are big differences between human and alien reproduction. She explains human birth control to the aliens, but informs them that "nice girls don't do that". Yes, really!!! The authors hide behind the idea that the cultures of some human planets are quite prudish - but you get the distinct sense throughout that it is THEY who are like overgrown teenagers in this regard. It was written in the 70s but the values are more like the 50s or earlier.
The writing grated in all sorts of ways. One thing was that no one ever smiles - they alway "grin". This is especially bizarre when a character "grins" secretly to themselves! Likewise no one ever seems to speak calmly. They always "snarl", "growl", "sneer" etc. Even when discussing banal topics. "Feral" expressions abound. It was like they had used a thesaurus to make their writing more "interesting" without really understanding the words they use.
The plot itself is pretty daft. It includes absurdities like a crew member allowing some alien creatures to escape (from a totally unguarded room!!!) then worrying whether or not to "bother" the captain about it because they are "only pets".
I slogged on to the end. I wished I hadn't bothered. This really is bad.
FYI - I also ordered a copy of The Integral Trees. The writing is sometimes a bit annoying [and his descriptions of anything to do with women or sex are awful] but is is MUCH better than this.
The book is formed from two parts. The first is the initial contact with the aliens and the expedition to initiate first contact. This was my favourite part of the book. The aliens are well realised, with just enough commonality to allow the reader to relate to them, but with sufficient differences to make them feel alien. To be honest, I would have been happy to read more about this process.
Naturally the aliens have a secret, one that threatens any possible deal with humanity. This leads into the second part of the book with the political fallout and dealings within the human empire. While this didn't interest me as much as discovering the aliens, it did raise some interesting points and does set it up nicely for the next book.
It does have it's flaws though. The core story is fine, but some of the components don't match up. The characterisation is limited in many cases with most just filling their roles for the plot. Don't let that put you off though, this is a gem of a read.
The only caveat I'd say is over the writing of the human gender roles, perhaps things have moved on a bit since then - though it might have been necessary to emphasis the description of these in order to explore the differences in the alien gender roles.....
There are some errors in the Kindle edition. I guess no-one bothered to proofread the book after carrying out the OCR. Unfortunately something that is quite common with with Kindle editions of classic books.
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