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Stars and Gods
Larry Niven
Tor, 365 pages

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 bestseller, Footfall. He resides in Tarzana, California.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Juggler of Worlds
SF Site Review: Escape from Hell
SF Site Review: Inferno
SF Site Review: Ringworld
SF Site Review: Rainbow Mars
SF Site Review: Best of all Possible Wars
SF Site Review: Destiny's Road

Past Feature Reviews
A review by D. Douglas Fratz

Stars and Gods When a new short fiction collection of a major science fiction author appears from a major publisher, it is usually a time to rejoice, and not a time to ask why. But when I read Stars and Gods by Larry Niven, my first question was why did this book get published?

Stars and Gods purports to collect all of Niven's work that has appeared since his last collection of short fiction, Scatterbrain, which appeared in 2003, and it does indeed do that. It also includes a number of short but usually quite interesting non-fiction works. What is perplexing is that fully a quarter of this massive volume consists of excepts from nine various novels -- excerpts that can only serve to confuse readers that are new to Larry Niven's massive body of work over nearly five decades, while annoying those of us who are very familiar with his work. A very good 250-page collection is diluted by almost 100 more pages of excerpts!

Fortunately, Niven's short fiction has remained of high quality in recent years, and the sixteen stories here, including four co-authored by Jerry Pournelle or Brenda Cooper, are well worth reading (or even rereading). Many are set in Niven's fascinating Known Space future history, and two are in his insightful and playfully amusing Draco Tavern series. It's not even necessary to pick out strengths and weaknesses of the various short stories included here, many of which have nice introductions by Niven noting where they fit in his literary oeuvre. They are all solid stories of the type Niven has written for decades, and the non-fiction pieces often add further insight into the mind of one of the field's greatest writers.

For whatever reason it occurred, it is certainly unfortunate that this very good 250-page collection has 100 pages of extraneous novel excerpts grafted into it. My recommendation for long-time Niven fans and science fiction fans new to his work is to read the 250-page collection, and ignore the rest.

Copyright © 2011 D. Douglas Fratz

D. Douglas Fratz has more than forty years experience as editor and publisher of literary review magazines in the science fiction and fantasy field, and author of commentary and critiques on science fiction and fantasy literature and media.

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