The Best of Larry Niven
by Larry Niven
Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Cover Artist: Edward Miller
Review by Steve Sawicki
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596063310
Date: 30 November 2010 List Price $40.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
It seems kind of amazing that there has never, until now, been a 'best of' collection of Larry Niven short fiction. While many readers know Niven more as a novelist--Ringworld, Footfall, The Integral Trees, etc--he got his start as a short fiction writer. Niven also used short fiction as a practice area, toying with themes and settings and characters that he would later incorporate into his novels. Niven's first short story, "The Coldest Place", published in 1964, set the stage for much fiction to come. It was hard SF, something that the sixties seemed intent on stamping out. Niven prevailed and went on to write hundreds of short stories and no few novels.
This collection gathers 27 of Niven's short stories, each with a brief, sometimes too brief, introduction by Niven about the story. The stories were written over a 35 year period and include entries from Known Space as well as Draco's Tavern. There are also non-series stories such as "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", "Flash Crowd", and "A Tear Drop Falls". In between is some of the most interesting short, hard science fiction you will ever find anywhere. You get "Neutron Star", "The Magic Goes Away", "Flatlander", "The Flight of the Horse", "All the Myriad Ways", and many, many others.
If you are a Niven fan then it will be great to have all of these stories in one place. If you are familiar only with Niven as the novelist then you are in for a real treat. If you have, by some fashion, never read Niven, then you are now able to fill in some huge gaps in your SF reading. Niven has written at least 3 if not 4 of the novels that annually make it to the top 100 SF novels you have to read lists. Now is your chance to find out what all the fuss is about.
Simply put, if you like hard SF then you need to get this book. Highly recommended.