- Mass Market Paperback: 704 pages
- Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1 edition (July 15 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812516958
- ISBN-13: 978-0812516951
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.9 x 17.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,270,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Playgrounds of the Mind: The Sequel to N-Space Mass Market Paperback – Jul 15 1992
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“A writer of supreme talent” ―Tom Clancy
“Grand entertainment!” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Our premier hard SF writer.” ―The Baltimore Sun and Kirkus Reviews
“Great fun... Kudos to the publishers for producing such and enjoyable book.” ―Locus
“Niven's most representative work.... Highly recommended.” ―Booklist
“Many of these stories are acknowledged classics...an excellent volume for confirmed fans or new readers alike.” ―Science Fiction Chronicle
“This is a great collection for those few readers (is there anybody?) unfamiliar with one of the genre's giants. For the rest of us, we can revisit Wunderland, Jinx, We Made It, or the rest of 'known space.' ...Playgrounds is a must for any SF library.” ―Rave Reviews
From the Back Cover
"A writer of supreme talent"-Tom Clancy
"Grand entertainment!"-Kirkus Reviews
The sequel to N-Space
"Our premier hard SF writer."-The Baltimore Sun and Kirkus Reviews
Playgrounds of the Mind captures the startling range and variety of Larry Niven's spectacular career, from bestselling novels such as Lucifer's Hammer and The Ringworld Engineers, from his classic short stories of science fiction and fantasy, from his thought-provoking essays and non-fiction, from his innovative and seldom-seen work in comics (on such projects as The Green Lantern Bible), to an advance look at Larry Niven's upcoming projects.
Like N-Space, Playgrounds of the Mind is a feast for Niven's millions of fans-and an impressive tribute to the man Arthur C. Clarke called his "favorite writer."
"Great fun... Kudos to the publishers for producing such and enjoyable book."-Locus
"Niven's most representative work.... Highly recommended."-Booklist
"Many of these stories are acknowledged classics...an excellent volume for confirmed fans or new readers alike."-Science Fiction Chronicle
"This is a great collection for those few readers (is there anybody?) unfamiliar with one of the genre's giants. For the rest of us, we can revisit Wunderland, Jinx, We Made It, or the rest of 'known space.' ...Playgrounds is a must for any SF library."-Rave ReviewsSee all Product description
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My four favorites from the forty-nine chapters are:
"The Soft Weapon" is an excellent single-story sample of Niven's fiction. It explains several actual scientific principles, features exotic alien technology, and centers around solving a problem. Everyone behaves true-to-type: The Puppeteers value caution and cowardice, the Kzinti value honor and physical courage, and the humans value "monkey curiosity" and clever solutions. Guess who comes out ahead?
"The Dreadful White Page" is a short short story that lays out Niven's perspective on writer's block. It makes its point.
"The Green Marauder" is a science fiction bar story set in the Draco Tavern. Typical to such stories, the seen-it-all-before human bartender makes casual conversation with an alien and picks up a startling insight.
"Works in Progress" excerpts and discusses The Mote in God's Eye and Fallen Angels, which Niven is working on while writing this book. Not all of his predictions about how they will turn out prove to be accurate.
This book is essential reading for his fans, worth sampling by readers of space opera, and... is not to be mistaken for a how-to guide for would-be writers. The fiction is very good, the nonfiction varies in quality, and the book excerpts will frustrate anyone who has not read the respective books. Keep a pile of them nearby while reading. Satisfied readers may also enjoy Isaac Asimov's Opus 100 and Stephen King's Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction On The Craft Of Writing, which take a similar "author tells his stories and then explains them to you" approach.
Niven is a hard science fiction writer, interested in the possibilities of advanced technologies. Although he doesn't always adhere to the laws of physics (his Known Space works rely on hyperspatial travel), he does adhere to as much science as possible. His primary focus is on human-alien interactions and "interesting" worlds, with probably none more well-known than his Ringworld. Even in the featured fantasy stories, there is something of a scientific underpinning to his works.
Niven's ideas are often clever and he is a generally proficient writer, which makes his works overall good. On the other hand, he is not a "great" writer. I can't point to many specific examples, but there is something that is stylistically missing that prevents his work from getting to that higher level. Actually, my main gripe with his style seems to be his descriptive abilities; the concepts he tries to convey are sometimes described unclearly, leaving the reader with only a vague picture of what Niven is trying to show. In a hard science fiction writer - who relies on these scientific concepts as his bread-and-butter - this is a significant flaw. Fortunately, it doesn't happen enough to truly mar his overall work.
So even if Niven (and this collection) has its imperfections, it is generally good and a fun read. For Niven fans, or just those who want to see what type of writer he is, this is a recommended read.
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