Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Destiny's Road
Larry Niven
Tor Books, 351 pages

Destiny's Road
Larry Niven
Larry Niven has authored or co-authored more than 40 novels and short story collections. His 1970 novel, Ringworld, won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, while his short stories have earned him four more Hugos. His collaborations with Jerry Pournelle include The Mote in God's Eye, an intense first-contact yarn, Oath of Fealty, a blistering tirade against liberal values and the #1 best-seller, Footfall. He resides in Tarzana, California.

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Marc Goldstein

Advertisement
In his first solo novel since concluding his epic Known Space series, Larry Niven takes us to planet Destiny, a long-forgotten human colony light-years from Earth. Thanks to a hostile environment and more than 300 years of isolation, the Destiny colony has devolved into a feudal society of alienated townships. The ancient technological artifacts left behind by the original colonists remind Destiny's inhabitants how far they have fallen, giving the story a strange post-apocalyptic flavor.

The plot follows the misadventures of prodigal son Jemmy Bloocher. Jemmy begins as an ignorant, content resident of Spiral Town, Destiny's first settlement. A few years after the founders built Spiral Town they split, leaving behind a road burned into the earth by the fusion exhaust of their landing craft, the Cavorite. Problem is, nobody knows what happened to them. All the Spiral folk do know for sure is that a few times every Destiny year, a caravan of merchants comes down the road to deliver a cargo of speckles, a vital mineral without which they will perish. When Jemmy slays one of the merchants in self-defense, he is forced to flee his home, and follow the road in pursuit of the Cavorite, deep into the mysteries of Destiny's origins.

Some critics have accused Niven of coasting; they argue he has fallen into a rut by working within the confines of his Known Space universe for so long. Destiny's Road provides a welcome relief and a great opportunity for one of science fiction's greatest imaginers of worlds to craft a whole new universe. In Niven's stories the environment often becomes a character itself (see Ringworld) and here Niven imagines an alien ecology with astonishingly realistic detail. The book is suffused with the sense of an old master -- hungry to prove himself to a new generation - flexing muscles he'd forgotten he possessed. Niven's new found enthusiasm is infectious.

If you are familiar with Niven's work, you might expect a bizarre, earth-shattering revelation at the story's climax. But here Niven restrains himself and, rightly so, stays focused on Jemmy's character arc. Instead, the payoff is quietly profound.

Copyright © 1997 by Marc Goldstein

Marc has been a science fiction fan as far back as he can remember. He holds a degree in English Literature from California State University, Northridge. He has worked as an instructor of English composition and as a reporter. Currently, he pays the bills editing web pages. He is the principal contributor to the SF Site's Role Playing Department. Marc lives in Santa Ana, California with his wife, Sabrina and cat, Onion.


SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to editor@sfsite.com.
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide