The Mote in God's Eye (Mote Series #1)

The Mote in God's Eye (Mote Series #1)

by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

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The united 'Second Empire of Man' spans vast distances, due to the Alderson Drive which has enabled humans to travel easily between the stars. After an alien probe is discovered, the Navy dispatches two ships to determine whether the aliens pose a threat... Called by Robert A. Heinlein: "Possibly the greatest science fiction novel ever written," this magnificent exploration of first contact and a truly alien society is a "must read" for science fiction fans.

"As science fiction, one of the most important novels ever published."
- San Francisco Chronicle

"A superlatively fine writer has ever come up with a more appealing, intriguing, and workable concept of aliens."
- Columbus Dispatch

"One of the most engrossing tales I've read in years... fascinating."
- Theodore Sturgeon

"Few writers have a better pedigree"
- Los Angeles Times

Product Details

BN ID: 2940012514493
Publisher: Spectrum Literary Agency, Inc.
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Series: Mote Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 40,340
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

LARRY NIVEN: Born April 30, 1938 in Los Angeles, California. Attended California Institute of Technology; flunked out after discovering a book store jammed with used science fiction magazines.  Graduated Washburn University, Kansas, June 1962: BA in Mathematics with a Minor in Psychology, and later received an honorary doctorate in Letters from Washburn. Interests: Science fiction conventions, role playing games, AAAS meetings and other gatherings of people at the cutting edges of science. Comics. Filk singing. Yoga and other approaches to longevity. Moving mankind into space by any means, but particularly by making space endeavors attractive to commercial interests.  Several times we’ve hosted The Citizens Advisory Council for a National Space Policy. I grew up with dogs. I live with a cat, and borrow dogs to hike with. I have passing acquaintance with raccoons and ferrets. Associating with nonhumans has certainly gained me insight into alien intelligences.

JERRY POURNELLE: Jerry Pournelle is the author of the popular Janissaries and CoDominium series and co-author with Larry Niven of several bestselling science fiction novels, including INIFERNO, FOOTFALL, LUCIFER'S HAMMER, OATH OF FEALTY, THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE, THE GRIPPING HAND, THE BURNING CITY, BURNING TOWER and ESCAPE FROM HELL. Dr. Pournelle has advanced degrees in engineering, political science, statistics and psychology. He has written columns on political and technology issues for decades, in addition to his career as a fiction writer. His columns for Byte magazine have been an internet staple for many years. The author has been involved in the development of government policy on space enterprises and defense, and he is active on several committees for the advancement of science and space exploration.

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Mote in God's Eye 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 118 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't believe I went so long without reading this. A truly magnificent SciFi book. Well worth your time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a book that involved first contact with an alien species. This one was recommend several times as a book that deviates from the usual "the aliens find us first" approach. I enjoyed it very much and loved how the interactions between two very different species, both physically and culturally, played out.
TXWeisberg More than 1 year ago
This was the first of several science fiction books that left me awe-struck and the first book that I kept to re-read to appreciate its nuances as well as the chance to gage my reading evaluation skills. The premise of a second chance for a controlled first contact with a technological near equal  is fantastic and well developed.  This collaboration was made the stronger by the careful selection of characters and voices by each author.  We are playing in Pournelle's future post-"Co-Dominion" universe until we enter the Motie system.  Niven's voice/personality is given a "seat" on-board the battle-cruiser MacArthur - the prime setting  for much of the story in the role of Sailing Master Renner. From this point forward, Niven's writing becomes more apparent.  Character development is much better than typically found in SF stories - especially when one's SF diet began with Asimov's Foundation series.  Please note that this book was published during the mid-1970's and that some of the writing team's social attitudes may seem a bit dated after nearly forty years in print.   Please don't let this point of view get in the way of reading one of the strongest first contact novels that I have read..
wookietim More than 1 year ago
And I say 'science fiction' as opposed to 'sci fi' for a reason. This book is about big ideas rather than battles, it presents a truly alien species rather than monsters. It deserves its classification as classic. It has a bevy of well developed characters and its plot moves from one phase to the next with impeccable logic and style. But if there wad one thing that held this back from getting five stars rather than just four it was the characters. I liked them all and they are all fun to spend time with... but half of them are not needed for the plot. Their contributions could have been made by lesser characters and the book would have been half its length. It was fun getting to know them... but we didn't need them. But still this book is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree that the beginning is slow - but so is the classic Victorian narrative style - but the effort is well rewarded with a story strong in both major and minor elements. Major, the universe that is created is rich and varied, with an alien culture that is based on some truly unique premises. The authors do not shy away from some very central and provocative topics, key to the existence of any species and especially problematic to a sentient one. Minor, in the elements of daily life - such as the handheld computer, which has since come into being much as Niven and Pournelle envisioned it (i.e. the Pocket PC with wireless access). I've read this book several times and gained more from each reading. And as with all truly great SF novels, we learn more about ourselves from the 'outside' view the authors posit. I don't want to give away too much, but once you've read this, think about some predominant religions' position on sex and reproduction.... There are many possible endings that would have trivialized this book, and it's my opinion that the authors avoided them successfully. Their conclusion is plausible and thought-provoking.
Anonymous 7 months ago
conformer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The groundbreaking sci-fi story of mankind's disastrous first contact with extraterrestrials. What sets this one apart from other E.T. books is the "Moties" themselves, whose appearance, social structure, and Big Secret are truly alien. A little dated, if only for the application of earthbound Naval procedures upon a spacefaring vessel, but still a deep and rich read, which is something you don't always find in sci-fi shoot-em-ups.
HALLERAN1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Might be the most influential piece by Niven; definetly by the Niven/Pournelle team. Classic SF. To consider yourself well read in SF this one is required reading.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is similar to Lucifer¿s Hammer in many ways: it tackles an archetypal theme in science fiction (this time, first contact with an alien race); it starts off slow and gets really exciting about halfway through; and it¿s peopled mainly by men, with one or two very poorly drawn female characters that proves the authors really don¿t know that much about women. Unlike many first-contact books, Niven and Pournelle really put a lot of thought into their alien race, the Moties, and it shows; these aliens are realistic, three-dimensional creatures with quite a detailed history who we can relate to but who still come off as undeniably alien. If only they had spent as much time developing a realistic human civilization two thousand years in the future, but the depiction of the ¿Empire of Man¿ is the book¿s major flaw ¿ more of an amalgam of 50s America misogynistic values (complete with its own Cold War dichotomies) with 16th century European monarchies than a fully realized culture that is a logical offshoot of our own. But if you don¿t let that distract you, this is an enjoyable read, and the Moties themselves are well worth getting to know.
voodoochilli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Started great, but went on too long for me.
clong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mote in God's Eye is essentially a combination of a reasonably entertaining, but far from extraordinary, space opera and one of the best first contact novels ever. The Moties are a beautifully designed sentient alien race--they think differently from humans, act differently from humans, and worry about different problems than humans. They have evolved in a way that provides the species with biological imperitives quite different from those of man. And Niven accomplishes the difficult task of making them both highly sympathetic and ultimately quite frightening. A sci-fi classic that should be in the library of every fan of the genre.
seeker4242 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the cover of this book a quote from Heinlein"possibly the finest science fiction novel i have ever read. not much to add, other than the book concerns a far future empire se in an alternanate history and their first contact with aliens.
chersbookitlist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a classic and belongs on every sci-fi lover's shelf. Both authors have written separate sci-fi novels, but the collaboration brings their individual work to new heights. I think this is one of the best in terms of its vivid and complex depictions of an alien society (Dune is probably better, but this comes close). Just enough high tech stuff to make it realistic and amazing at the same time, but not overly geek-driven.
Cymro17 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, and unlike many others I quite enjoyed the sequel.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mote in God's Eye is viewed by many as one of the greatest examples of alien creation in science fiction. As with most of Niven's writing however, I found that to be less than true. The novel starts by introducing us to a future society in the midst of forming a second Empire from the ashes of the first. This society, similar to turn of the century Britain in a lot of ways, has encountered (and accidentally destroyed) an alien probe. Because this is happening at a crucial point in the reformation of the Empire, the pressure and fear that grips the Empire makes for an interesting first contact tale.Except it doesn't completely work. For starters, I found the characters acting in ridiculous ways in numerous parts of the story. Despite the apparent power and strange abilities of the alien "Moties", the humans are extremely quick to accept them as harmless, inevitably leading to danger. The scientists seem more responsive to the Moties cuteness than their ability to perfectly understand human motivations in a few short encounters. This and other potentially dangerous abilities are laughed off by the scientists nearly to humanity's doom. And that's why characterization is one of the book's biggest flaws. It wasn't just that the characters acted with annoying stupidity. The characters themselves were hard to tell apart at times. Most of the story takes place on board a Navy vessel, and most of the Navy crewman simply run together. They don't have a wide enough variety of personalities to tell them apart, despite playing major parts in the story. Niven limits characterization to the "Scottish stereotype" or "the Captain." The only person who felt like a real character to me were the Admiral, and at a few moments, the Chaplain. The sole female character, Sally, an aristrocratic scientist, became the most difficult problem for me. Niven writes with an unnacceptable sexism. There's nothing wrong with describing a society in which women are regarded differently, even archaically. The problem begins when you have lines like Sally's lament that she doesn't have women onboard for "girl talk" which she describes as, among other things, housekeeping. Even a society in which women are relegated to secondary roles, the women don't enjoy discussing housekeeping especially if they are an aristocrat with tons of servants and a Ph.D. At that point, you aren't just telling me about a world that views women differently, you are engaging in sexism.These issues are large and take a lot of wind out of the novel. There are long stretches in the beginning and the end were the novel drags. But I'm not writing this just to pile it on. Part of the reason why these flaws are so pronounced is because The Mote in God's Eye, could have been awesome. The Moties are a unique species, very well thought out and believably presented. I just can't forgive Niven and Pournelle for their glaring mistakes. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card presented a fantastic alien species along with a gripping plot and fully realized characters. It's unfortunate, but no amount of world building or alien creation can mask a poor story.
LeeHallison on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of my all time favorites, but reading through the other reviews I see it may not stand up to the test of time.I will edit this after I reread the book!
J.R.Pournelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book as a teenager; I read it alongside LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness, and at the time was wowed by the gender-bending in both. 30+ years later, it frustrates me for all the obvious reasons - But that's the way of things: ya know, we grow. So I'm giving it the stars it rated the first time I read it. Those would not be the stars I'd give it now - but there's neither such a thing as a unitary author nor a unitary reader, and I find re-reading it now an interesting exercise in seeing how far we have come from the days of Virginia Slims.
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I spent the entirety of this book waffling back and forth between hating it for being a clumsy wad of misogyny and loving it for being a well-crafted picture of a misogynist society. The jerks who wrote it lured me through the whole thing. Damn them! I love the hell out of some classic sci-fi, but I am fully tired of books where every male character is a bro who struts around flexing and winning at big-dick competitions and every female character swoons, cries, and makes silly woman-decisions. For frig's sake, the book was written in the mid-seventies. That crap was well-out of style by that point.I'll give Niven and Pounelle some credit for neat aliens, though. I liked the aliens.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent read & raises a lot of interesting thoughts for me. It's about contact with an alien civilization in a more interesting setting than most. Makes me think a lot about some of our civilizations. Well worth reading & a classic of science fiction.
monado on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Niven has created an unusual world here. The Mote in God's Eye is an isolated sun in the constellation of a nebula. It has a planet... and the inhabitants of that planet can only launch into space under certain rare conditions... which is good for Mankind, because they can't stop breeding and their internecine combat is ferocious and finely honed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story, that did not pull me in, but did entertain over several sessions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The point of this novel is to take the concept of the "first contact" story and turn it on its head. The prose is workman-like. Neither the humans nor the aliens in this setting are benign. Their behavior brings to mind Pope's quote about humanity- both the humans and aliens are nasty, brutish and short-tempered. That makes for effective drama, but the story went on too long for my taste.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like Dune or Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, a fictional universe is created. Very enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LAB54 More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite novels of any genre. Yes, it's science fiction, and, yes, it's about contacts with aliens from space, but it's also about our actions and reactions to alien cultures just generally. Much of the human thinking and acts mirrors those of the U.S. in response to 19th and 20th Century immigration of Chinese, Irish, Jewish, and other nationals. It's a fascinating book, well-written, serious yet humorous -- a great read.