REVIEW SUMMARY: A great hard science fiction story that delivers more ideas in a single novel than most do in a series. Niven is a great writer, and this is a great collaboration.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Fleeing a chain-reaction supernovae in the galactic core, the Citizens (Puppeteers from Niven’s other books) take their planets and head out. This fleet of worlds comes across a human colony ship and turns the embryos they find into a race of slaves. Kirsten is one of the best and brightest and is eventually sent out to scout ahead of the fleet looking for danger. What she ends up discovering involves the history of her race and threatens to send the Citizen planets spinning out of control.
PROS: Niven and Lerner turn in a fantastic collaboration. Even if you haven’t read any of Niven’s known space novels you’ll find a lot to like here. Excellent set of ideas around the alternative evolution of life, exploiting teleportation, starship construction, and much more.
CONS: You really need to be a fan of science fiction to enjoy this book.
BOTTOM LINE: Set in the universe of the Ringworld novels, this book stands very well on its own and delivers a very strong hard science fiction experience. It is a great novel that is not to be missed.