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Mote in Gods Eye Paperback – Sep 1 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (September 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671660543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671660543
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,502,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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"Admiral's compliments, and you're to come to his office right away," Midshipman Staley announced. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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By Rose TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 30 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have developed a love/hate relationship with this book.

On the love side, the plot was fantastic. It is set a millennia in the future and humans have colonized many planets in many solar systems. Just by sheer chance, they go into an unexplored system and find sentient life. The story explores what their civilization is like and the outcome of this discovery.

On the hate side, the way it was written. It felt choppy and I struggled to get through it. There was no sense of time passing. For example, when the humans met the aliens and they began trying to communicate, I thought the aliens picked up our language almost immediately. It felt like we were only in their system for a week or so which made the whole thing seem too implausible but by the end of the story I learned that it had been months. Another thing I didn't care for was that it didn't feel like the future. If I hadn't taken the time to check the publish date to know this came out in the 70's, I would have sworn it was written decades earlier. Women don't have sex until they are married - not the nice girls anyhow. This was learned during an exchange of information with the aliens on reproduction. How very scientific. The aristocracy runs the human empire. There are lords, viceroys, marquis and people get knighted. The telegraph is still a highly used means of communication and people continue to snail mail letters to people on other planets.

I can tell already that this is going to be one of those books that when thought of a year or more after reading, most of the bad will be forgotten and the fantastic plot will be all that's left. I'll look at my rating for it and wonder why I gave only three stars to such a good story. I'm guessing that's why this has such a good overall rating.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It's the year 3017, and humanity has spread to new worlds with the help of three main technologies: fusion power, the Alderson Drive, and the Langston Field. The Drive allows for FTL travel by Jumping from point to point along lines of constant thermonuclear flux (though what precisely this means is not stated). Interstellar travel often involves Jumping to a point inside the destination star (depending on the initial star); this is made possible by the Langston Field, which acts as a huge energy sink and protects the ship that generates the Field.

Lord Blaine has recently been made the new Captain of the MacArthur battlecruiser, when the ship detects what turns out to be an alien probe propelled by light sail through normal space (as opposed to using the Drive). After capturing the probe, MacArthur's crew finds the alien pilot dead inside.

MacArthur's crew determines the origin of the probe's trajectory to be from a star known colloquially as the Mote due to its proximity to a brighter star set against a nebula, a feature sometimes called God's Eye (hence the title, "The Mote in God's Eye"). The Imperial Navy dispatches the MacArthur and another ship, Lenin, to investigate.

The bulk of the novel begins after the two ships enter the system, and establish contact with the roughly-humanoid species they find on Mote Prime. With some initial difficulties, the humans are able to trade knowledge of language, biology, physics, etc. with the Moties, and the novel spends much time exploring the inevitable issues raised by First Contact, including religion, differing societal structures, and intra- and interspecies contact, the latter of which is exacerbated when the Moties inadvertently destroy the MacArthur.
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By Alan on Dec 31 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a classic story by two great authours. I've read it many times over the years and I keep coming back to its' timeless blend of imaginative story lines with a setting that it off-the-wall but credible and engaging.
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By peterj on Jan. 13 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was elusive to me for a couple of decades but thanks to Amazon I finally found it. A friend told me about it back in the 80's and praised it as a great read. His taste was a bit different from mine. I expected something down the line of "Starship Troopers" or the "Forever War" but found it a bit slow and bogged down with tech stuff that made the story drag. My opinion would be "about a hundred pages too long." Not a waste of time though and some good moments.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By VanKitty on March 20 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For students of the history of science fiction only.

I read several of the five-star reviews to try to discern what others saw in this bloated tome. There is nothing "fun" about reading this book. One five-star review said that only the fabulous Battlefield Earth could compare to The Mote in God's Eye.

The main problem I had with The Mote in God's Eye was that it wasn't about humans as we know them meeting aliens. It was about Pournelle's Second Empire of Man(TM) meeting aliens. Pournelle's universe is terribly boring and counterintuitive. Not only have humans devolved from the First Empire of Man, but they have devolved from the 1970's. The social attitudes are reminiscint of the Victorians. Politics are based on aristocracy. Space travel is based on seafaring. Almost every moment spent with the humans (most of the book) is irritating, boring and disappointing.

The best part of the book is the moties, but even they are disappointing. Socially and biologically, they are quite interesting. However, their planet is not very alien. I don't want to spoil anything; but, for example, if you imagine all the transport options that a 1970's city had available, that is exactly what the moties have as well.

Some of the action set pieces are exciting. But be prepared for confusion. This is not a well-written book in terms of action, characterization, story arc, or anything else.

I'll give The Mote in God's Eye a half star for the action sequences, another half for the ideas, and one full star for the moties. Overall, it wasn't worth reading, for me.

If you decide to read this book, I have one word of advice: SKIM. Skim as though your life depended on it - several hours of your life do.
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