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Larry Niven "Neutron Star"


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Artwork copyright: Alan Gutierrez

Mostly known for his "Ringworld" series of novels and a tireless world-building, Larry Niven has a penchant for cool-looking aliens, cool-looking planetary landscapes and cool-looking spaceships. In fact his whole body of fiction is so cool-looking that I am surprised how none of his adventures made it to the big screen yet. Visuals and a solid science backing are always supplemented with a lively plot and constant flow of ideas. One of the best "hard science fiction" writers of the 70s-80s school, if not THE best.




Larry Niven
"Neutron Star"
(Beowulf Shaeffer series)
© IF, Oct 1966
Neutron Star, 1968
--short story : 1967 Hugo W
--novelette : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /30 (tie)

--/ third place space sf story
>--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award


Talking about an offer you can't refuse... Beowulf Shaeffer, who is a bit of a space tourist, a bit of an adventurous Han Solo-type, is pressured by aliens to get inside the perihelion of a neutron star and live to tell the tale (never mind the huge tidal forces that would stretch your body into one infinite spaghetti). To the best of my knowledge this is the only story that describes in a scientifically plausible way what happens to a ship inside a neutron star's Schwarzschild radius. Alastair Reynolds attempted to describe what happens on the surface of the inconceivably dense neutron star, but his vision was rather more surrealistic and contrived. "Neutron Star" sticks to the hard science, justly winning many top awards. Clearly a "thought-experiment" story, it competes with the best of Hal Clement, Robert L. Forward and even Stanislaw Lem (who put his Pilot Pirx through the relativistic loops once with incredibly inventive results). And if you are skeptical about Beowulf Shaeffer's fate after being turned into a cosmological spaghetti, read the story to find out how he spooled himself together again.
review: 04-Sep-07 (read in 1988)


(image credit: Jeroen Lapre)

"Neutron Star" (coll)
© 1968, Ballantine Books
--/ second place space sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ idea award
--/ awesome scale


SIMPLY THE BEST COLLECTION OF HARD SCIENCE FICTION SPACE STORIES I HAVE READ. Miles above the competition, "Tales of Known Space" and "Flatlander" series are even more entertaining in a collected form, where each story adds to a kaleidoscope of splendid space outings. Your best bet for getting a taste of what Larry Niven is all about. When published in sf magazines in the late 60s, these stories burst like a supernova among the glut of tame & predictable offerings of the time - and I'm sure you'll still get an almost relativistic "kick" out of reading them today.

READ OTHER REVIEWS FOR THIS WRITER

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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

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