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Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (Known Space)

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  4,808 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Ranging from the 20th Century to the 31st, these interconnected stories trace Man's expansion and colonization throughout the galaxy...

Becalmed in hell
Howie's spaceship had a malfunction...but it might be only psychosomatic!

Wait it out
He was trapped on Pluto...and all his assets were frozen!

The borderland of Sol
Forward possessed the ultimate weapon...but no one would ever
Mass Market Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 12th 1981 by Del Rey (first published July 12th 1975)
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Hyperion by Dan SimmonsDune by Frank HerbertEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardFoundation by Isaac AsimovCassastar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Best Space Opera
64th out of 416 books — 904 voters
Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinDune by Frank HerbertPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Excellent Space Opera
145th out of 398 books — 2,109 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Fair warning: one really nasty tale of homophobia.

Classic stories from the 60s and 70s, one out-of-date (as science) practically before it was published. What works: the tech and the mystery format that many of the stories fall into. What doesn't work: well, despite being able to imagine that each off-world culture would distinguish itself from home-earth culture, the nevertheless manage to be pretty white and patriarchal. For once the large-scale erasure of female characters is a relief, becaus
Dec 15, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gone, re-read, sci-fi
Some good ideas. And I feel wretched at giving it such low review stars as I really liked Ringworld and some of his other work. He says himself in the introduction that two of the stories are so bad they should have been left out - and he is correct but blinkered if he thinks that doesn't apply to quite a few more of the tales.

Also - writing in the 60s and 70s he seems both blissfully unaware of any human rights movements at all, and yet patting himself on the back for tackling a society where s
Nov 09, 2015 Brett rated it liked it
Recommended to Brett by: Bungie
Not as good as I remembered it being.

This anthology collects all of Larry Niven's Known Space short stories that don't fit thematically into his other collections (Crashlander, Flatlander, and Neutron Star.) As such, it's a grab bag of quality. The early stories are the first that Niven ever wrote, and seem unpublishable by modern standards. The middle entries are characterized by great concepts lacking in execution. The last few stories, however, are among Niven's best.

The Coldest Place 1/5

Bob Rust
Sep 05, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven • interior artwork by Bonnie Dalzell
Timeline for Known Space • (1975) • essay by Larry Niven
Introduction: My Universe and Welcome to It! • essay by Larry Niven
The Coldest Place • [Known Space] • (1964) • shortstory by Larry Niven
Becalmed in Hell • [Known Space] • (1965) • shortstory by Larry Niven
Wait It Out • [Known Space] • (1968) • shortstory by Larry Niven
Eye of an Octopus • [Known Space] • (1966) • shortstory by Larry Niven
How the Heroes Die
Preston Page
Jan 18, 2011 Preston Page rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Full of wonderful sci fi ideas, not the mostly junk on the so called sci fi channel. Pierson Puppetteers are one of the most interesting of all aliens, they change the laws of earth to breed lucky human beings, and it only works or partially to their advantage. Human beings are descendent from an intelligent species fleeing from the galactic core. The list goes on and on. Please read and enjoy, there are many other books of this series.
Jun 10, 2009 Jorn rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Nothing world-shattering; just filling in lots of details for Niven's universe. Exactly what I was hoping for. A fun read.
Charles Palmer
Mar 19, 2008 Charles Palmer rated it it was amazing
Any Niven book or short story is worth reading! The very best SCI/FI writer ever!!!
Phil Giunta
Larry Niven's Known Space series of anthologies and novels covers a vast timeline of spacefaring adventures encompassing 10,000 years. This particular volume contains 13 stories. While it was interesting to see how richly populated and developed Niven's universe is, only about half of the tales in this collection appealed to me. All were interesting in their own way, but I found the other half to be anticlimactic. My favorites included:

"Eye of an Octopus" - Human explorers on Mars discover a str
Marcus Gipps
Yep, more Niven, just because. It's alright, there's only one more I own that isn't in storage, so I'll stop soon. This is a collection of short stories, all set in Niven's Known Space future history and, as is almost always the case with short stories, the quality is variable. There are some nice SF ideas done in a few pages, and the science appears to be fairly accurate (if a little dated in places). A couple of the stories are more concerned with the impact of technological advances on societ ...more
May 19, 2016 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a collection of short stories, written in the 1960s and 1970s and all based in a universe that Niven created, generally known as "Known Space." He provides some commentary for some of the stories to help set the stage, since these are not the complete tales from that universe. Mostly classic tales of adventure, dangers of space, and clever heroes, they're a nice diversion.
Dec 09, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing
Grand in scope. Epic in its endeavour. This collection of short stories changed my concept that a tale was limited to one person.

While the science and technology is outdated, the real reason you can't put a book down is everywhere — stories on the human condition.

This book should be required reading.
Cole Schoolland
Oct 03, 2014 Cole Schoolland rated it liked it
An interesting collection, but it didn't help me gain a good sense of the history of Niven's universe. I did appreciate Niven's unique take on John Carter of Mars though.

I suppose I'm going back to his main works.
A good collection of Larry Niven's short works, all set in the charted space described in his novel-length works. Well worth a read; leaves you wanting more.
Apr 05, 2010 krin rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
I enjoyed this anthology of Known Space stories. I especially liked the stories "Wait it out," (set on Pluto), "At the Bottom of a Hole," (Muller discovers the truth behind the failure of a human settlement on Mars) and "The Borderland of Sol" (Julius Forward has a very dangerous weapon). I also like the timeline at the beginning of the book which sets the stories in context and the bibliography at the end.

Readers who like Niven's work may like Shaun Farrell's October 2007 interview with Larry N
Richard Buro
May 11, 2013 Richard Buro rated it it was amazing
A representative collection of Mr. Niven's early short fiction all set in that part of space he calls "Known Space," which includes around our Sun as well as near interstellar areas. Those who appreciate "hard" science fiction will appreciate Mr. Niven's work which reflects the knowledge as we have had it regarding interplanetary space inour Solar System. The end pages of the book includes a "history" of the Known Space short and longer (novel length) works inclusive of thos ...more
Jul 09, 2010 Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: in-taiwan
weak. I was hopeful for this book. I loved some of the ideas in a couple of his novels, but the characters were just stereotypes. Like, his aliens were unique but didn't have distinct personalities. One Kzinti is the same as another. The humans were all stereotypes, the most common one being the manipulative, but "good" spy-type of personality. But, I thought maybe character development would be less important in his short stories-he could focus more on the cool SF ideas. But, maybe Niven needs ...more
Mar 04, 2015 John rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi
1984 grade D+

Short stories
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 Norman Howe rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Timothy Boyd
Jan 31, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it really liked it
Set in his "known space" universe. A great selection of short stories by one of the master writer's of SiFi. Very recommended
Jimmy Pedersen
It's Niven!! :-)
Aug 19, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
Short stories spanning the first part of Niven's writing career, all set in his "Known Space" future. Some of the stories were obsolete almost before they appeared in print but they all were based on extending just the frayed edge of accepted science at the time and examining the possible consequences. THoughtful, fun and cautiously optimistic.
Jul 30, 2013 Doug rated it liked it
The stories in this were kind of hit and miss (as you'd expect from a collection that spans so many years of a writer honing his craft). You could probably skip some of the earlier ones (which read a little bit like 40's Asimov knock-offs to me). I particularly liked Niven's unselfconscious introduction and his notes on the stories.
Jul 26, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, diff-ed
I'm not normally a short story reader but I make an exception for Larry Niven. This loosely connected set of stories is a good place to start. Gives you a scatter-shot overview of the Known Space setting for many of his collections and novels, and a good sense of his writing aesthetic.
Jun 04, 2009 Blair rated it it was amazing
i very much enjoyed the book, again these are short stories but i don't think their are any stories in that book that i could complain about. my dad introduced me to niven's books and i certainly plain to read more.
Ninja Pigeon
Jun 04, 2012 Ninja Pigeon rated it really liked it
Mr. Niven has an amazing ability to draw you into his life, not just his worlds, with a candid manner of writing about the happenings in his worlds and his own life.
A pleasure to have been a part of it.
Jul 13, 2013 Marin rated it really liked it
Stories in this collection proved to vary greatly in quality, but most of them are pretty good. Another (more or less) fitting piece added to the fun and exciting Known Universe puzzle :)
Oct 22, 2012 Kevin rated it liked it
Some of Niven's short sci-fi stories. Good reads, though in this vein I like some of his short novels better: Neutron Star, Protector.
Sep 12, 2009 Terran rated it it was amazing
Niven's worldbuilding is really at its best in short-story form, where the punch of the idea can stand on its own.
A must read for Niven fans! It's like a guided tour of Known Space history with storybook flashbacks included.
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Laurence van Cott Niven's best known work is Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths ...more
More about Larry Niven...

Other Books in the Series

Known Space (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton (Known Space)
  • Flatlander (Known Space)
  • The Patchwork Girl (Known Space)
  • The World Of Ptavvs (Known Space)
  • Protector (Known Space)
  • Neutron Star (Known Space)
  • A Gift from Earth (Known Space)
  • Crashlander
  • Ringworld (Ringworld #1)
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld #2)

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