Larry Niven

Updated Saturday, 24 November, 2012

If you have never visited Known Space, you don't know what you're missing. Larry Niven does a wonderful job of combining the science of science fiction with a great story. He tends to try to stay within the laws of physics, except when he has a good explanation for how those laws have been circumvented. And he seems to really play well with other authors, especially Jerry Pournelle. My favorite Niven book would have to be Lucifer's Hammer, in which a comet strikes the earth (this book was written long before the movies, Armageddon or Deep Impact). I have never read a book by Niven that I disliked. So if you have never read anything by him, give him a chance. I'd start with Lucifer's Hammer.

Books I've Read by Larry Niven

Dream Park (with Steven Barnes)
Dream Park A complex murder mystery set in a futuristic theme park where attendees can participate in one of the most involved role-playing games of all time. The authors manage to weave a gripping mystery around a detailed near-future Earth without ever breaking the readers suspension of disbelief. The dual threads of the murder and the story-within-a-story of the South Seas Game are masterfully interwoven; the authors give you all the information you need to solve the crime without ever revealing the criminal untill the very end. (from an review)
Fallen Angels (with Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn) (out of print)
Fallen Angels When a new technology-free government of the United States is elected to counteract the onset of the greenhouse effect, a devastating ice age results, and two hunted Space Hab astronauts become the planet's only hope for survival. (from an review)
Footfall (with Jerry Pournelle)
Footfall They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteriods.

Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender--or death for all humans. (from an review)
Lucifer's Hammer (with Jerry Pournelle)
Lucifer's Hammer The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization. But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival--a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known.... (from an review)
Oath of Fealty (with Jerry Pournelle)
Oath Of Fealty What a great team Niven and Pournelle are! Here they explore the possible ramifications of the logical extension of something which is becoming common nowadays, closed communities. Todos Santos is such a community, existing in an uneasy relationship with its neighbor, Los Angeles of the future. The social and political aspects of such a situation are examined in great detail. Definitely worth a read. "Think of it as evolution in action". (from an review)
Saturn's Race (with Steven Barnes)
Saturn's Race Chaz Kato is a citizen of Xanadu, a near future perfect society hosting the wealthiest men and women on Earth. Along with his fellow citizens, he bears the burden of a dark secret that the outside world would be shocked to hear. Lenore Myles is a student who travels to Xanadu and becomes involved with Kato. When Kato unwittingly lends her his access codes, Lenore stumbles upon the grisly truth behind Xanadu's glittering facade. Lenore is soon on the run, hunted down by Saturn, a mysterious entity that moves aggressively to contain the security breach. With the interests of the world's wealthiest people at stake and powerful technology at Saturn's fingertips, Lenore is in a race for her life against a truly formidable foe. (from an review)
A World Out of Time
A World Out of Time Jaybee Corbell awoke after more than 200 years as a corpsicle -- in someone else's body, and under sentence of instant annihilation if he made a wrong move while they were training him for a one-way mission to the stars.

But Corbell picked his time and made his own move. Once he was outbound, where the Society that ruled Earth could not reach him, he headed his starship toward the galactic core, where the unimaginable energies of the Universe wrenched the fabric of time and space and promised final escape from his captors.

Then he returned to an Earth eons older than the one he'd left...a planet that had had 3,000,000 years to develop perils he had never dreamed of -- perils that became nightmares that he had to escape...somehow! (from an review)

God's Eye

  1. The Mote in God's Eye (with Jerry Pournelle)
    The Mote in God's Eye 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. (from an review)
  2. The Gripping Hand (with Jerry Pournelle)
    The Gripping Hand 25 years have passed since humanity quarantined the mysterious aliens known as Moties within the confines of their own solar system. They have spent a quarter century analyzing and agonizing over the deadly threat posed by the only aliens mankind has ever encountered-- a race divided into distinct biological forms, each serving a different function. Master, Mediator, Engineer. Warrior. Each supremely adapted to its task, yet doomed by millions of years of evolution to an inescapable fate. For the Moties must breed-- or die. And now the fragile wall separating them and the galaxy beyond is beginning to crumble. (from an review)

Integral Trees

  1. The Integral Trees
    The Integral Trees In this novel, Niven presents a fully-fleshed culture of evolved humans who live without gravity in the gas cloud surrounding a neutron star. In this Smoke Ring, free-floating life forms flourish, and all of them, from fish to fowl, can fly... (from an review)
  2. The Smoke Ring
    The Smoke Ring In the free-fall environment of the Smoke Ring, the descendants of the crew of the Discipline no longer remembered their Earth roots -- or the existence of Sharls Davis Kendy, the computer-program despot of the ship. Until Kendy initiated contact once more.

    Fourteen years later, only Jeffer, the Citizens Tree Scientist, knew that Kendy was still watching -- and waiting. Then the Citizens Tree people rescued a family of loggers and learned for the first time of the Admiralty, a large society living in free fall amid the floating debris called the Clump. And it was likely that the Admiralty had maintained, intact, Discipline's original computer library.

    Exploration was a temptation neither Jeffer nor Kendy could resist, and neither Citizens Tree nor Sharls Davis Kendy would ever be the same again... (from an review)

Known Space

The Man-Kzin Wars

  1. The Man-Kzin Wars (with Poul Anderson and Dean Ing)
    The Man-Kzin Wars Once upon a time, in the earliest days of interplanetary exploration, an unarmed human vessel was set upon by a warship from the planet Kzin. But the Kzinti learned the hard way that the reason humanity had given up war was that they were so very, very good at it. Thus began the Man-Kzin Wars. (from an review)
  2. Man-Kzin Wars II (with Jerry Pournelle, S.M. Stirling, and Dean Ing)
    Man-Kzin Wars II The alien Kzinti had almost conquered the humans, but after the initial surprise, the humans fought back with a ferocity the Kzinti had never faced. But that was centuries ago, and the humiliation of lost battles has not faded. The Kzinti are back . . . and spoiling for a fight! (from an review)
  3. Man-Kzin Wars III (with Poul Anderson and S.M. Stirling)
    Man-Kzin Wars III The Mind Slavers are back--and only the cat-like Kzinti can save mankind now. This volume includes all-new tales of Larry Niven's Known Space--including one by Niven himself. Another blockbuster in the ongoing chronicle of humanity's greatest war. (from an review)
  4. Man-Kzin Wars IV (out of print)
    Man-Kzin Wars IV The Survivor This story tells the life story of Short-Son of Chiirr-Nig, a very cowardly Kzin who earns the name Eater-of-Grass from doing so to avoid battle. After being ostracised from the Kzin community he hides himself away in a Jotoki habitat and learns how to bond with the Jotoki and so become a Trainer-of-Slaves.

    The Man Who Would Be Kzin A story about a human telepath posing telepathically as a Kzin and going onto one of their ships! Incredible plot, but one of the best MKW stories. (from an review)
  5. Man-Kzin Wars V (with Jerry Pournelle, Thomas T. Thomas, and S.M. Stirling)
    Man-Kzin Wars V After losing three significant battles to the humans, the Kzin begin to wonder if their combative diplomatic style is working and decide to reevaluate their strategy. (from an review)
  6. Man-Kzin Wars VI (with Donald Kingsbury, Mark O. Martin, and Gregory Benford)
    Man-Kzin Wars VI Three short novels by Donald Kingsbury, Mark O. Martin, and Gregory Benford chronicle the continuing battle for supremacy between the humans of Earth and the lethal felines of Kzin. (from an review)
  7. Man-Kzin Wars VII (with Mark O. Martin and Gregory Benford)
    Man-Kzin Wars VII The Colonel's Tiger The reports from the Angel's Pencil of the anatomy and physiology of the attacking Kzin trigger a memory of an ARM agent. After a little searching, he finds the account of Colonel Vaughn who battled with a "tiger man" in India during the earth year 1878.

    A Darker Geometry This story depicts man's first contact with the Outsiders and is a forerunner to the use of hyperdrive by humans. Prisoner of War A surveilance trip into the Sol system by the Kzin scout ship Silent Prowlder ends in disaster after a cat-and-mouse chase with the earth destroyer Excalibur. The Kzin Fleet Commander is the only survivor and is taken as a prisoner of war. (from an review)


  1. Ringworld
    Ringworld A new place is being built, a world of huge dimensions, encompassing millions of miles, stronger than any planet before it. There is gravity, and with high walls and its proximity to the sun, a livable new planet that is three million times the area of the Earth can be formed. We can start again! (from an review)
  2. Ringworld Engineers
    Ringworld Engineers Twenty-three years after the events of Ringworld, Louis Wu and Speaker-to-Animals are kidnapped by another Puppeteer, The Hindmost, fallen leader to the Puppeteer people.

    The Trio return to the Ringworld, which has moved from its stable position and is within a year of grazing the sun. Louis must find his way to the Repair Center of the Ringworld to correct the orbit of the Ringworld and save billions of sentient creatures. (from an review)
  3. The Ringworld Throne
    Ringworld Throne Come back to the Ringworld . . . the most astonishing feat of engineering ever encountered. A place of untold technological wonders, home to a myriad humanoid races, and world of some of the most beloved science fiction stories ever written!

    The human, Louis Wu; the puppeteer known as the Hindmost; Acolyte, son of the Kzin called Chmeee . . . legendary beings brought together once again in the defense of the Ringworld. Something is going on with the Protectors. Incoming spacecraft are being destroyed before they can reach the Ringworld. Vampires are massing. And the Ghouls have their own agenda--if anyone dares approach them to learn.

    Each race on the Ringworld has always had its own Protector. Now it looks as if the Ringworld itself needs a Protector. But who will sit on the Ringworld Throne? (from an review)
  4. Ringworld?s Children (Mass Market Paperback) or (Hardcover edition)
    Ringworld?s Children


    THE RINGWORLD: a landmark engineering achievement, a flat band three million times the surface of the Earth, encircling a distant star. Home to trillions of inhabitants, not all of whom are human, and host to amazing technological wonders, the Ringworld is unique in all of the universe.

    Explorer Louis Wu, an Earth-born human who was part of the first expedition to Ringwrold, becomes enmeshed in interplanetary and interspecies intrigue as war, and a powerful new weapon, threaten to tear the Ringworld apart forever. Now, the future of Ringwrold lies in its children: Tunesmith, the Ghoul protector; Acolyte, the exiled son of Speaker-to-Animals, and Wembleth, a strange Ringwrold native with a mysterious past. All must play a dangerous game in order to save Ringwrold's population—and the stability of Ringworld itself.

    Blending awe-inspiring science with nonstop action, Ringworld?s Children, the fourth installment of the multiple award-winning saga, is the perfect introduction for readers new to the New York Times bestselling series and will delight longtime fans of Larry Niven?s Ringworld. (book description)

    Personal note: Any time a book makes me want to go back and reread the rest of the series, I consider it a good book. This book had that affect on me. In fact, the only real complaint I have about this book is that it's only 284 pages long. I didn't want it to be over when it was over.

(I haven't read this book, yet) The Magic Goes Away Collection (Paperback)
The Magic Goes Away, The Magic May Return, and More Magic.
  1. (I haven't read this book, yet) The Magic Goes Away (Paperback -- possibly illustrated) or (Mass Market Paperback) or (Mass Market Paperback) or (Mass Market Paperback) or (Mass Market Paperback) or (Paperback) or (Paperback -- DC Comics?) or (Paperback)
    The Magic Goes Away Set in the dawn of history, where the fortunes of those who once ruled the world by magic are now in decline. The gods are absent or dead, and once powerful sorcerers are now reduced to hoarding their magic as the finite magical resources of the earth - mana - have been all but exhausted. An unlikely group of saviours have one last chance at a previously untapped source of power - but is it worth the risk?

    Here Niven shows that his knack for logical and self-consistent writing works just as well in the fantasy realm as it does in science fiction. Duncan thought that it was an excellent book, far beyond the usual swords-and-sorcery clones. There is certainly a compelling quality about Larry Niven's interpretation of magic. This story was reprinted in 1984 in the Time of the Warlock collection. (from the Larry Niven website)
  2. (I haven't read this book, yet) The Magic May Return (Paperback) or (Paperback) or (Paperback)
    The Magic May Return ONCE THERE WAS MAGIC IN THE WORLD....Unlimited magic, enough magic for every wizard's son who ever wished to cast a spell. But the "mana;' the power that makes the magic and fuels the spells, is drying up, a natural resource wasted by centuries of careless and short-sighted magicians. In The Magic Goes Away master fantasist Larry Niven chronicled the end of an age, and the beginning of a new world where steel and muscle rule. In this eagerly awaited sequel, Larry Niven has invited Poul Anderson, Steve Barnes, Mildred Downey Broxon, Dean Ing and Fred Saberhagen into his world to tap the hidden reserves of mana and uncover the forgotten places of power. All is not lost. The magic may return. Illustrated by Hugo winner Alicia Austin. (book description)
  3. (I haven't read this book, yet) More Magic (Paperback)
    Contains the stories:

    • The Lion in His Attic by Larry Niven
    • Shadow of Wings by Bob Shaw
    • Talisman by Larry Niven and Dian Girard
    • Mana from Heaven by Roger Zelazny
    (book description)
The Burning City
  1. The Burning City (Paperback) or (Hard Cover edition)
    The Burning City Set in the world of Niven's popular The Magic Goes Away, The Burning City transports readers to an enchanted ancient city that often bears a provocative resemblance to our own modem society. Here Yagen-Atep, the volatile and voracious god of fire, holds sway, alternately protecting and destroying the city's denizens. In Tep's Town, nothing can burn indoors and no fire can start: by accident -- except when the Burning comes upon the city. Then the people, possessed by Yagen-Atep, set their own town ablaze in a riotous orgy of destruction that often comes without warning.

    Whandall Placehold has lived with the Burning all his life. Fighting his way to adulthood in the mean-but-magical streets of the city's most blighted neighborhoods, Whandall alone dreams of escaping the god's wrath to find a new and better life. But his best hope for freedom may lie with Morth of Atlantis, the enigmatic sorcerer who killed his father!

    Both gritty and exotic, The Burning City is unique fantasy vision unlike any you have read before. (book description)
  2. (I haven't read this book, yet) Burning Tower (Hard Cover Edition)
    No book description available.
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