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Mote in Gods Eye Paperback – Sep 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 (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,054,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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In the year 3016, the Second Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems, thanks to the faster-than-light Alderson Drive. No other intelligent beings have ever been encountered, not until a light sail probe enters a human system carrying a dead alien. The probe is traced to the Mote, an isolated star in a thick dust cloud, and an expedition is dispatched.

In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization--at least one million years old--that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they've been unable to solve in over a million years.

This is the first collaboration between Niven and Pournelle, two masters of hard science fiction, and it combines Pournelle's interest in the military and sociology with Niven's talent for creating interesting, believable aliens. The novel meticulously examines every aspect of First Contact, from the Moties' biology, society, and art, to the effects of the meeting on humanity's economics, politics, and religions. And all the while suspense builds as we watch the humans struggle toward the truth. --Brooks Peck --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Review

Robert Heinlein Possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.

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.

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.

Minneapolis Tribune Intriguing and suspenseful...the scenes in which the humans and aliens examine one another are unforgettable. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ronbc TOP 100 REVIEWER on Nov. 26 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
When I first read this book years ago, I thought it was the best "first contact" novel, and one of the best sci-fi novels period, that I had read. Nothing has changed my mind in the meantime.

The hidden tragedy of the Moties is as compelling today as it was back then, and the desperation with which both sides of the encounter pursue their goals is both extreme and convincing.

This book is one of those "sci-fi classics" that deserves the title.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rujith de Silva on July 6 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story is wonderfully well-paced, with three distinct "action"
sections, and a final court-room style showdown. Each action section
grips you to the climax, and then you take a breather and start
building up to the next. I'd love to see a film based on this! The
science fiction elements are good, but it'd still make a decent story
without it. However, the romance is rather poorly done. - Rujith.
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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 mark chapman on Aug. 31 2004
Format: Paperback
I first read this one at 15 and have been dying to review it ever since! This is an epic space opera played out on a grand scale, with an engaging cast of characters and bursting with ideas. It's theme of first contact with aliens is handled better than any other example I can think of in SF.
Set a thousand years in the future, the novel takes place in a fragmented space empire reeling from a series of civil wars. Against this background an ailing warship is sent to investigate an enormous unidentified vessel approaching the sun. This turns out to be powered by a "light sail", a sheet of gossamer fabric thousands of miles across which the ship must navigate against: this is one of the earliest and most dramatic uses of the "sunjammer" thesis first postulated by Robert Forward in the (1950s?) The discovery of dead aliens aboard and the subsesquent expedition to the alien homeworlds reveal a fantastically advanced culture locked into a tragic cycle of overpopulation and war, and with the meeting of technologies, threatens human survival as they begin to learn the secret of faster than light travel which would enable them to swarm through the galaxy.
There are passages of great potency and swashbuckling in the book: the encounter with the alien ship, the destruction of one of the human ships and the voyage across the foreign planet by fugitive survivors are unforgettable, as is the genuine sense of wonder evoked by the description of the alien civilisation.
Unfortunately the book does have its faults: it is immensely long and lacks real descriptive power robbing it of its visual potential unless you are empowered with a superb visual imagination.
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By Bart Leahy on March 13 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jerry Pournelle's "universe" consists primarily of military fiction in support of a monarchy. Larry Niven's stories tend to be puzzle-solving stories involving aliens. Combine the two, and you have a good idea of how The Mote in God's Eye functions.
Set in Pournelle's universe, Mote shows how the Second Empire of Man would deal with a "first contact" with aliens, from the political and military levels. Niven's touch shows in the descriptions of the aliens and how they interact with "regular people," like NCO Kevin Renner or the trader Horace Bury. If you find something funny in the book, it's Niven's. Much of the military hardware and procedural stuff is Pournelle's. The two authors complement each other's work, though Niven is the stronger of the two writers (for me) when writing on his own.
The "Moties" in this story are asymmetrical aliens with a very, very ancient civilization. They, too, have had their rises and falls of civilization, and even spend a great deal of time planning for the next fall. The primary impetus of these falls is uncontrolled population growth, which presents some interesting challenges for their species. The authors do a fine job of describing the aliens and their challenges when confronted with the Empire of Man.
The characters themselves are mostly military men, and humorless; save for Sally Fowler, a Senator's niece who happens to be an anthropologist; and Horace Bury, a trader being held prisoner for purposes of sedition and treason. The most admirable character is Rod Blaine, commander of the cruiser MacArthur; the most fun character is Navigator Kevin Renner. Each of these folks has their own "take" on the Moties and their potential relation to the Empire.
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