"If I had a time machine, I'd visit the near future... a time close enough that someone might want to talk to Larry Niven, and can figure out the language, but distant enough to get me miraculous medical treatments and a ticket to the Moon."A prolific writer of Speculative Fiction, Larry Niven is best known for The Verse of Known Space, a very vast and detailed universe, which includes Ringworld and its sequels (which were one of the inspirations for a certain Xbox Launch title which was an FPS...) ; the mysteries of Gil the ARM; the Man-Kzin Wars, which ended up a professional Round Robin; the voyages of Beowulf Shaeffer; the adventures of Louis Wu; the human-ancestral Pak Protectors and the Precursors known as the Slavers. Known Space is notable for the many biologically plausible Starfish Aliens which neither look nor think like humans.Also responsible for numerous works with Jerry Pournelle, including The Mote in God's Eye (from which the term for a third hand — the "gripping hand" — comes. The phrase is used in the context of there being three options from which to choose, the dominant concern being the gripping handnote ) and Lucifer's Hammer. He's also worked with Steven Barnes on the Dream Park series.Niven's other notable work includes The Integral Trees and its sequels, A World Out Of Time which examines the implications of slower-than-light relativistic travel used as a form of Time Travel, and the Fantasy series of The Magic Goes Away (Namer of that trope). He also wrote the influential Man Of Steel, Woman Of Kleenex, referenced often in geek culture, and some of the backstory for the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Green Lantern Corps origins.Niven's story "The Jigsaw Man" was originally published in Harlan Ellison's groundbreaking anthology Dangerous Visions.Niven is known among his fans as "Speaker-to-Seafood" because of a long and very public argument he once had with a lobster during the Guest of Honor dinner/Hugo Awards ceremony at the World Science Fiction Convention. (He was bored, the awards ceremony was going long... you do the math.) The name is a play on "Speaker-to-Animals", one of the heroes of Ringworld.There is more than one Shout-Out to him in Magic: The Gathering. A very powerful necromancer, Nevinyrral shows up, on the very powerful Nevinyrral's Disk, and also wrote the "Necromancer's Handbook", a field guide for aspiring necromancers.Niven often has Shown His Work.
— Larry Niven
Works by Larry Niven with pages on this Wiki:
- Footfall (with Jerry Pournelle)
- Dream Park (with Stephen Barnes)
- Known Space
- Lucifer's Hammer (with Jerry Pournelle)
- The Magic Goes Away
- The Mote in God's Eye (with Jerry Pournelle)
Tropes in other Larry Niven works:
- Autodoc: A portable medical resource, these are virtually omnipresent, helping to drive stories with easily accessed health. They range in size from portable units to provide medicines or induce comas to coffin-sized units that can replace limbs. They also become more technologically advanced, starting with pill-pushing units and ending with Nanomachines that can rebuild anything given time, resources, and programming.
- Background Magic Field: Niven's take on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian series, his 'The Magic Goes Away' stories treat magic as a non-renewable resource that drives civilizational advance, then causes collapse when it is consumed, as an anvilicious allegory for modern civilization's reliance on fixed resources. Later less Malthusian stories in the series have humans smoothly making the transition from mystical resources to biological and technological resources.
- Borrowed Biometric Bypass: In the Known Space universe, organleggers were known to harvest people for their organs. In one "Gil the ARM" story, it's noted that eyes are particularly in demand by criminals, to get past retina scanners with transplanted eyes taken from organlegger victims.
- But What About the Astronauts?: Kind of used in Fallen Angels - a radical environmentalist regime rules the Earth and the only people left with freedom and high technology are those living on a moon base or in an orbital habitat made by combining the Mir and (never actually built) Freedom space stations. However, as another ice age is fast descending upon the Earth, it looks like it could become a straight example.
- Colony Drop: Niven appears to visualize celestial mechanics and has a taste for things going badly wrong.
- The Mote in God's Eye: The Moties are cursed with eternally reoccurring war. After an ancient asteroid war nearly wiped out the planet, the race was motivated (terrified) into moving every single comet and meteor in the system into more stable circular orbits, making it too fuel-intensive for future war-makers to use them to bomb the planet again.
- Footfall: Elephant-mentality invading alients "stomp" the Earth with a handy meteor to force surrender.
- Lucifer's Hammer: A disaster story about a comet hitting the Earth and all its consequences.
- The Magic Goes Away: The last god tries to smash the Moon into the Earth to restore magic.
- Ringworld's Fist of God: A moon-sized asteroid collides with the Ringworld, massively deforming it.
- World of Ptavvs: A stasis field moving at relativistic speed slams into Pluto, punching it into a new orbit.
- A World Out of Time, Earth develops extra-solar colonies, and they eventually go to war. By throwing planets at each other. Earth's colonies drop a gas giant into the sun, which causes it to heat up and kill most life on Earth and eventually become a red giant star. Lots of moving planets around follows, with the Earth eventually ending up as a satellite of Jupiter.
- Eco-Terrorist: The FROMATES (FRiends Of Man And The Earth) terrorist group in Oath of Fealty. They totally oppose the arcology Todos Santos and commit kidnapping, attempted arson, murder and attempted mass murder in their campaign to destroy it (and everyone living in it).
- Exploited Immunity:
- In one Draco Tavern story, the bartender is infected with a Puppeteer Parasite sentient virus. It warns his friends that there's no way to get rid of it without killing the bartender too, only to be told that it's treatable with sulfa drugs (which would destroy the virus without harming the bartender).
- In "The Lion In His Attic", a sorceress infiltrates a partially submerged castle by using magic to make the water withdraw. A man breaks her concentration and causes her spell to lapse, resulting in the water flooding back in and drowning her. The man doesn't care because he's a were-sea lion - he just changes to sea lion form and swims back to the surface.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Unlike the friendly story-writing tool that most authors envision, Niven's hyperspace is a place of death where any ship too deep in a gravity well will vanish forever. As well, the mere unsight of hyperspace's unseeability tends to rattle incautious viewers and can leave many insane. The Outsiders, who sell access to the realm, refuse to use it themselves. The Puppeteers, a race of cowards, would rather face relativistic radiation threatening their worlds than use hyperspace.
- If Jesus, Then Aliens: Also used in Fallen Angels - the novel's "ruling coalition of proxmires, falwells, rifkins and maclaines" is composed of groups currently regard each other, sometimes literally, as minions of the Devil. Niven(and later, Michael Crichton) noticed that if those four blocs ever realized that they are Not So Different - that they all yearn for Ye Goode Olde Days - they could easily gain bipartisan support (Green liberals and fundie conservatives) and pretty much Take Over the World.
- Never Land: A World Out of Time features an immortality treatment that only works on pre-pubescents. The far future Earth is ruled by the Boys, who exterminated the Girls, and then seem to enjoy living a tribal hunter-gatherer existence with stone-age technology, though they fully understand and routinely repair more complicated devices. Adults are basically slaves kept to breed more Boys.
- Organ Theft: Niven's early Known Space work thoroughly explored the dangers of transplant technology outstripping organ synthesis, to the point where lawmakers would obsessively change laws to make all crimes into death sentences just to keep up with the demand for organs. With the price of organs being so high due to demand, it's almost inevitable that illegal organ harvesting becomes a frequent concern, enough so that the process becomes known as "organlegging", a Portmanteau of "organ" and "bootlegging".
- Zero-G Spot: The problems of low gravity sex are discussed in The Patchwork Girl.