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Neutron Star (Known Space)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  9,729 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Come to Larry Niven's Universe and meet all the natives: Thrints, Bandersnatchi, Puppeteers -- and a host of other wonderfully created characters.
Visit Lookitthat, Down, and Jinx -- indeed, an entire galaxy of planets found only in these stories that trace man's expansion and colonization throughout Known Space.
A spectacular cycle of the future . . . a 10,000-year history
Mass Market Paperback, 285 pages
Published August 12th 1977 by Del Rey (first published April 1968)
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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
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Best Science Fiction
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Community Reviews

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May 08, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this years ago when I was first exploring science fiction - the artwork by Peter Jones - the doorway in to Known Space even today still appeals to me. But I get ahead of myself I can tell.

Okay this was part of a series of books I picked up at a carboot sale (British thing trust me) and where there was an old suitcase full of books. Well I could not resist not realising what I was letting myself in for.

Anyway this is a series of interconnected stories - if you accept the connec
Holy crap was this ever good. I'm not sure how I missed reading any of the Ringworld series before, but with this being the 40th Anniversary, I figured it was time.

With epic series like this, I usually hit the 'net to see if there's a recommended reading order, or anything that will help me to "get it" a little more easily. Every site I visited recommended starting with Neutron Star. This is an anthology of 8 short stories (each novelette length,) set in the universe of Ringworld - the future o
Jul 23, 2014 Manny rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
[Original review, Feb 2009]

For people who haven't read the book, a quick physics test. The hero agrees to put his ship on an orbit that will take it to within one mile of the surface of a neutron star. His employers assure him, correctly, that the ship's hull will stop any form of radiation. Nevertheless, it's a really stupid idea. Why?

If you didn't get it, don't feel bad. Beowulf Shaeffer doesn't either, and finds out the hard way.

[Update, Jul 2014]

Since postin
Oct 17, 2011 Josh rated it it was amazing
I'd been in the mood to read some classic sci-fi: something distant and cynical, taking place in deep space, where there was fantastic technology and alien races and not many people to mess it all up. This was perfect. Neutron Star is a collection of short stories from Niven prefacing Ringworld and highly worthwhile if you like the latter. I'll be re-reading Ringworld soon with these stories in mind. Plus let this also be a good reminder to just read more Larry Niven. There aren't many writers s ...more
Mar 27, 2011 Andreas rated it it was amazing
Neutron Star is my favorite short story collection, with quite a few gems from Niven’s Known Space universe. Unfortunately it is out of print. Luckily though, all the Beowulf Shaeffer stories have been republished in Crashlander with the addition of two newer stories.
Nov 26, 2008 Adam rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Adam by: Dad
Great book of short stories, which I usually don't care for. The difference here, I believe, is that most of the stories relate in some manner or if nothing else they are all set in the same sci-fi universe. Good stuff.
Jun 27, 2008 Emma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Niven sure has a wild imagination. And a really bad taste for puns, but also some really intellectual humor. His ideas are genius even to this day and age. His science-fiction is so realistic, it's disturbing at times.
William Franks
Feb 05, 2011 William Franks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this quite some years ago and was blown away by it. It stands up well to repeated re-readings.
The title story - a Hugo winner - introduces us to star pilot Beowulf Shaeffer (who appears in three other stories in the book, "At the Core," "Flatlander," and "Grendel"), as well as the Puppeteers who also feature in Niven's later Ringworld series. These are the tales that introduce us to Known Space. I particularly enjoyed the Shaeffer stories for the character's voice (told first-person
Andrew Couzens
Jul 19, 2016 Andrew Couzens rated it really liked it
A great series of short stories. Most of them function as a kind of hard sci-fi mystery, where something mysterious occurs and the protagonist must figure out what it is. The stakes are high, the universe (Known Space) is developed very well and includes numerous unique and well-detailed features, and the stories build upon one another, developing a chronology that is a pleasure to read. Unfortunately, by their very nature, the mysteries are probably a tad simplistic to be believable. They need ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Patrick added it
Shelves: books-i-own, sci-fi
A collection of early short stories by Larry Niven that take place in his "Known Space" universe (i.e., Ring World). Mostly of a "hard science" sort of story lines, where actual aspects of physics are a part of the plot line. I really enjoyed at least half of the stories in this book. Would recommend for fans of the hared science short stories of Asimov and Clarke.
Some of the great short fiction from Niven's "Known Space" universe - just enough hard science to make you believe this could all happen one day, and more than enough engaging writing to make this a book I read again and again.
Apr 18, 2011 Jimbo rated it it was amazing
what a great way to start my crusade into the ringworld series. i plan on reading all of the books of the known space. Niven seems to have a great knack of telling stories. i enjoyed this book very much
Feb 20, 2010 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Larry Niven has a great imagination and he is a really nice person. Love his books.
Ed Holden
Aug 03, 2016 Ed Holden rated it it was ok
My attention kept wandering. Perhaps it's because this is a series of short stories set in the same future universe, and short stories don't hold my interest like novels. But there are better explanations: the lack (or secondary nature) of female characters in much of the book, the characters' poorly-explained and often confusing motivations, and their darned midcentury vibe, which simply didn't feel realistic in the context of this future.

For a book written in the 1960s, this universe was prett
Brent Werness
Sep 17, 2011 Brent Werness rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
A highly entertaining collection of great sci-fi short stories!
Charles Harrison
Nov 03, 2015 Charles Harrison rated it it was amazing
I love Niven's work and this is no exception. What did however make this book exceptional is how pivotal it is in the known space universe especially ringworld. You get some amazing context on the puppeteers and kzinti as well as the general structure of life on the future human planets. The stories themselves are wonderful high sci fi. Using a scientific concept (e.g. gravitational tides) to drive exciting adventure stories. There are diversions into ethics, law and economics as well in what is ...more
Dec 07, 2012 Traummachine rated it really liked it
This is almost the same book as Crashlander, but since they each have exclusive material, I'm listing them both. They're both short story collections in Niven's Known Space setting, and they're both largely focused on the adventures of Beowulf Schaeffer (space adventurer!). Despite this, the stories have a pretty good range in styles. In some of them, Schaeffer is down on his luck, in others he's famous, so they didn't feel like rehashes. Neutron Star is the older collection, and contains a coup ...more
Another fix for my Niven addiction! More Known Space tales, most of which are mentioned as backstory in many of the other Niven Novels and the Man-Kzin Wars Anthologies. These are core stories that any Known Space history buff should read. Not to mention how awesome they are.

Story Summary of the stories in this book (hopefully without spoilers):

Neutron Star - Nothing can get through a General Products No. 2 space hull, but something around the 1st known neutron star did, and the Puppeteers are b
Shannon Appelcline
My rating of Neutron Star is based entirely on the four stories which were not re-collected in Crashlander:

The Ethics of Madness. An interesting look at mental illness, a great ending, and pretty slow getting there. [6/10]

The Handicapped. This contains a great secret of Known Space and some interesting ethics, both at the end of the story. Unfortunately getting there is pretty slow. [5/10]

A Relic of Empire. Though Niven's ideas about interplanetary plants are interesting, they're not enough to m
Nov 09, 2015 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brett by: Bungie
A go-to primer for Known Space. Contains the three best Beowulf Shaeffer stories (which are also found in Crashlander, a complete collection of Beowulf’s stories), while the remaining stories offer a wide breadth of events and characters from Niven’s universe, most of them linked by the discovery of ancient Slaver relics. Several of my favorite Known Space stories are found here.

Neutron Star 5/5
Easily the best of the Beowulf Shaeffer stories. The style is sort of like a mystery, with the super-d
Sep 20, 2007 Christopher rated it really liked it
Although out-of-print, Neutron Star is a book worth getting for any fan of science fiction. It collects several of Niven's "Known Space" short stories from his golden age of the late-1960s, including the Beowulf Shaeffer stories.

In 1966 Larry Niven created the ultimate tourist with his award-winning short story "Neutron Star." It was the tale of Beowulf Shaeffer, a laid-off pilot heavily in debt and easy to blackmail, and how the alien race the puppeteers convinced him to make a dangerous flyby
Zantaeus Glom
This was somewhat disappointing to me; since the quality of stories vacillated greatly from engrossing to pedestrian rather too frequently for my liking. I found the last story in the collection to be especially vapid, probably while I am compelled to low-ball this collection. For much of the time I wanted to read something by Sturgeon or Dick, but, confoundingly, the good stories work; there just weren't enough of 'em. I am gradually coming to the unassailable conclusion that Larry Niven 'aint ...more
Mark Hodder
In this collection of eight short stories, Larry Niven takes us on a tour of “Known Space,” a playground for his incredibly fertile imagination. He makes science one of his principal characters and, in a couple of the tales, I felt this was overemphasised to the point where human interest was lacking. Having said that, his world-building is exemplary, and he’s created a reality here that I’m keen to revisit in his other novels and collections.
May 30, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-ebook
As I am already a huge fan of Niven's Known Space, I am not surprised I liked this. However, what did surprise me is how many hits there were. Normally, I expect a short story collection to run about 65% like, 35% meh or dislike. This one came in at about 85% like, and is a good start to my RIngworld re-read.
Jul 23, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I read the short-story version (about 13 pages).

I like the premise and the plot, and the science as handled by Niven is realistic for its time period. However, I do not like the puppeteers. Call me anti-alien if you must, but they are not believable to me, not because of their amazingly useless body structure but because they are annoying in their personality traits. Why introduce them? In this story, they accomplish nothing that could not be handled by a human character.

Oh, well.

The story is go
Forrest Verde-green
Apr 19, 2015 Forrest Verde-green rated it liked it
I enjoyed the series of shorts. Niven has a lot of interesting ideas on space, and they are very fun to read. I believe a couple of mysteries are a little far fetched in that they should have been more easily solvable than the reader is led to believe.
Damon Alan
Feb 04, 2015 Damon Alan rated it really liked it
Like all Niven, the technical aspects are excellent and the vision of the author is grand. Niven has a way of using the not often traveled places in Sci-Fi, like Neutron Stars, and make it exciting. I like the attention to the physics of distorted space.
Nov 23, 2015 Rock5blue rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and entertaining. If you like Sci-Fi, this is among the best. Science based with just the right amount of humor. Written several decades ago, but still highly relevant today. You won't be disappointed with this one.
Jun 30, 2011 John rated it really liked it
Terrific short story collection, all occuring in Niven's "known space" milieu. Most probably known for his 'Ringworld' novels, I think Niven is underrated for his short stories. Known space is always a hoot, populated as it is with adventurers, oddballs, and those out to make a buck. I always find his aliens to be fun as well - extremely inventive but practical and mostly believable. Most of the stories in this collection revolve around Beowulf Shaeffer, a pilot who keeps managing to find himsel ...more
Jim Clearman
Oct 09, 2014 Jim Clearman rated it it was amazing
Fantastic collection of wonderfully crafted hard science fiction stories; these tales helped cement a lifelong love of science and reason.
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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)
  • Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven
  • A Gift from Earth (Known Space)
  • Crashlander
  • Ringworld (Ringworld #1)
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld #2)

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