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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  10,401 ratings  ·  290 reviews
They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors,
Paperback, 524 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Del Rey (first published 1985)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
188th out of 5,149 books — 17,557 voters
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry NivenEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardA Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor VingeThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsThe Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
Best aliens.
16th out of 231 books — 222 voters

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Community Reviews

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mark monday
 photo footfall_zpsd0fae0e5.jpg

Footfall is an Independence Day (the movie) type book, about an alien invasion and a wide range of humans across the globe reacting to said invasion. I'm sure you've seen Independence Day and I hope you didn't like it because it sucked. but have you seen Mars Attacks? now that is a great alien invasion film. smart and hilarious. Footfall is much better than Independence Day but it is a far cry from Mars Attacks.

the first thing you should know about Footfall is that the aliens in question who ar
Moderately entertaining artifact of the 1980s, predictably sociologically dated (and occasionally downright embarrassing in its treatment of sexual issues), but that isn't the biggest problem here. Footfall is a shining example of science fiction's general refusal to face up to the challenge of conceiving a plausible invasion by an extraterrestrial power without stacking the deck severely in humanity's favor through biology, psychology, or plain old stupidity. Here our species faces the peril of ...more

Audiobook is 24 hrs. About 4&1/2 hours in. There's a zillion (well 124) characters, lots of women and sexual intrigue, and it's set nearly in the present, with an oncoming alien attack. I guess they were going for a mainstream bestseller like Lucifer's Hammer (8 years earlier), and apparently they succeeded, back in the 80's. It starts slow. I'm listening in the car, and get confused as to who's talking. There's a lot of Russian/Cold War stuff that we don't worry about much these days. At le
Aug 17, 2010 Manny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoyed "Independence Day"
Elephant-like aliens attack Earth. Plucky Earthlings fight back. It's actually not at all bad if you like that kind of thing.

This book was described somewhere as "a rich tapestry". I recently read 99 Ways To Tell A Story , which has a witty page telling the story using the conventions of the Bayeux Tapestry, and I suddenly saw Footfall retold in the same way.

I think it would work quite well. To start off with, in a tapestry you expect all the characters to be two-dimensional. What else would th
I thought long and hard about giving this one 4 stars. It was really a toss-up...I think on a different day, I might have done so. I really enjoyed this book, but sometimes it felt like there was a lot of "fluff" in it. I listened to the audio of the book, hoping to finish in time to discuss it with the SFF Audio crew. Unfortunately, I didn't quite finish in time. Their podcast episode was pretty good, it summed up a lot of my feelings.

One thing mentioned on the podcast was that this book wasn't
Although I generally enjoy Niven and Pournelle's work, this one was just too heavy handed. Footfall was everything I dislike about sci-fi condensed into one book: self-gratifying and self-absorbed writers writing themselves as heroes, ridiculous aliens, extreme nationalism, sexism up the whazoo, and a complete disregard for character development. Some of these are explainable (though not justifiable) from a context-sensitive reading. Indeed, maybe I wouldn't have hated this book if I'd read it i ...more
Mary JL
Oct 20, 2010 Mary JL rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of SF--especially adventure SF
Recommended to Mary JL by: Fan of Authors
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
This is an excellent "invasion from outer space" book. The kind of good, old fashioned slam-bang adventure that was very prevalent in SF at one time.

One quirk of these elephantine invaders is: they will fight but if they surrender, they belong to the winning side permanently. So they are confused when humans surrender--and then fight back. They consider those humans to be dangerously "rogue", and kill them instead of conquering them.

Also, one of the aliens is captured by our side--and becomes a
A good alien invasion story with some fresh aspects to it. The enemy resemble small elephants and have a herd culture to match. This leads to many misunderstandings but also to some opportunities. I thought the opening was really good, with the introduction of some interesting characters. It was fun to learn about the enemy, called "snouts" by humans. The late middle sagged a bit for me but it picked up again at the end. SF writers become some heroes in this one. That was cool.

The book is long
More catastrophe survivalist misogyny from Niven and Pournelle. Maybe it's because I just recently read Lucifer's Hammer, or maybe I'm getting older, but I'm finding my earlier affection for Niven's work fading.
I'm sure there's a literary term for what the author's have done in Footfall and L.H., but I'm going to have to describe it- All of the characters we meet (and there are a lot) make the right decisions and are clearly superior to the common people who we don't ever really get to know. Pu
Mike (the Paladin)
In this day of wonderful, kind, helpful aliens or omnipotent, unstoppable, tree hugging, environmentalist aliens a nice old fashioned "invaders from outer space" story is kind of nice. I like it. I enjoyed it. Not only a good "yarn" (like the word??? okay, "a good story"...sigh) but also some nice insights into the way people think. While I can't quite give a blanket recommendation to Larry Niven's works, this is one I really like. So, prepare for the worst...and ready yourself for aliens who wa ...more
Holly Heisey
I was hooked on Niven and Pournelle ever since I read A Mote in God's Eye, which hit every right button for a space-based alien contact epic. Footfall told a story closer to home, asking what if the aliens came to us at Earth, what would we really do, how would different groups of people react, and how would the aliens respond to the alien-ness of us?

Though it's familiar territory, Footfall really delves into the human aspect, extrapolating from hard science and politics to paint a very plausib
I read this awhile back and remembered it as a fun if not very substantial read. It reads like a novelization of an epic disaster movie like Independence Day. The aliens look like elephants which is kind of goofy. Niven and Pournelle will never be mistaken for great literary writers, They hail from the pulp fiction side of sci-fi and their Libertarian views tend to be heavy-handed and often weight down their books. But ti was fun so I'll give it a cautious three stars.
Just good, old fashioned alien invasion, action, science. What else would you want for a good summer read!
Patrick Gibson
Footfall is an intelligent attempt to postulate a non-human society, provide them with a non-human psychology, and create a scientifically accurate and rational case of interstellar invasion. Hollywood is populated by those who do not understand the professional military. Niven and Pournelle do. Hollywood doesn't understand how the US strategic nuclear forces could be employed in combat. Hollywood gushes about the impossibly lucky idiot who saves the day. N&P understand that such luck is mor ...more
Another story of first contact from Niven and Pournelle.

Here's the problem: It's decidedly similar to Lucifer's Hammer. Asteroid impacts, married people who cheat the second they get the chance, and a fat biker who's out of long-term work plays his guitar for drinks.

I wish I were joking about that. The FBWOOLTWAPHGFD is not an archetype, guys. Okay? Okay.

The good: as with The Mote in God's Eye, the aliens are decidedly alien. Niven/Pournelle do a fantastic job of creating a psychology that is n
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Joseph
Niven's second post-apocalyptic tale and I think not quite as good as the other (Lucifer's Hammer). But it's got a lot to recommend it. The Fithp are are a subtle and well-conceived creation--both endearing and repellent. They seem doomed by both their commendable qualities (ethics) as well as their deficiencies (instinctual aggressiveness), and their similarity to humans gives their story a nicely satirical flavor. Their herd-animal behaviors are really not that different from human's, although ...more
Dan Henk
They don't write books like this anymore.
Multitudes of characters, converging plotlines, cold war intrigues, and a good old fashioned, worldwide alien invasion story. There's good and bad in this novel, but at the end, the good outweighed the bad and made the book worth reading. I'll start with the bad, and get that out of the way-

The Bad:
Too many characters. They become hard to keep track of after awhile, especially when you have to also figure out social connections that appeared briefly pages
Several (male) people, who loved Footfall when they read it 20+ years ago, heartily recommended it, so we read it for our book club.

In today's light, it's pretty offensive to my inner feminist. It doesn't even pass the Bechdel Test. I wouldn't go as far as calling it misogynistic as other reviewers have, but it's clear the authors can not or do not care to write believable or interesting female characters. The women in this book are only there to sleep with and be rescued by the male characters
Compulsively readable page turner. Perhaps the most "realistic" aliens invasion of earth novel I have ever read. My second time around reading this, 15 years later, left me with nearly the same high level of delight as last time.

And the importance of science fiction writers to the war effort? Maybe less realistic, but still a lot of fun.

Of course, aliens invading earth is really the perfect setup for what is a pro-military somewhat "conservative" world view. Endless accumulation of nuclear weapo
Written in the mid-80's, this book originally aimed to be a "near-future" story of alien invasion. However, in the 20+ years since its publication, the "near-future" aspect of the book sorely dates it. I can forgive the ongoing Cold War between the US and the Soviets. I mean, who really saw the fall of the USSR coming? but it's the other things that I find jarring at worst and extremely humurous at best.
the Russians have a huge space station? Okay. Americans and Soviets have competitive moon bas
This book contains approximately 300 pages of embarrassing misogynistic crap, sad cliches, and stupid characters that ruin what could have been a great 250 page alien invasion story. Lucifer's Hammer was the same BS. And that's a damn dirty shame because The Mote In God's Eye was an incredibly vibrant story, which spurred me to read more Niven/Pournelle books. Move on...nuthin to read here :[
Tony Day
Did anyone else find themselves cheering for the aliens?

I liked how they drew out the differences between human and alien points-of-view, and resultant miscommunication, as an artefact of both species history and genetics. Unintentionally, the rampant misogyny, pointless survivalism and badly drawn commies underlines this effort.
Getting used to the alien language is difficult but sort of fun.
The aliens morphology is silly but their instincts are interesting.
The books is an answer to the question:

"How can a race travel between stars without being peaceful?"

Sagan might argue any such race must have survived cultural adolescence.
They managed not to destroy themselves before reaching the space age.
This can be done through cooperation and peace.
But it could also be accomplished by an instinct to submit once defeated!
With su
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Publisher: Del Rey
Published In: New York, NY, USA
Date: 1985
Pgs: 495


Beyond Saturn, we see them for the first time. A small series of dots on telescopic images moving against the backdrop of Saturn’s rings. Ships inbound from the deep solar system or beyond. Signals rip across space, desperately trying to make contact with the unknowns. First contact destroys a space station. Second contact, a targeted bombardment of ast
Edwin Kort
Fantastisch boek. Echt een aanrader voor alle SF-liefhebbers.

De Aarde wordt bedreigd door een buitenaards ras 'baby-olifanten'.

Op een foto van de sterrenhemel is een stip te zien. Deze stip bevindt zich bij de planeet Saturnus. Deze stip blijkt te bewegen en zet koers naar de Aarde. Komen de aliens in vrede of ...

Snel worden een aantal mensen naar het Russische ruimtestation 'Kosmograd' gestuurd om de aliens te verwelkomen. Deze ruimtestation wordt door de Aliens vernietigd, mar een aantal opva
May 31, 2007 Mont'ster rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF fans
Footfall is a good "the aliens have landed - now what?" story. The ultimate outcome is not too hard to guess but the twists and turns that the story takes make for a fun ride. Another interesting thing is the invaders resemblance to a species native to Earth and the author uses this well for occassional comic relief. He is able to keep the book from becoming too dark without getting silly about it.
When I picked up this book I wasn't expecting great literature. It was, after all, about an alien invasion. I was looking for something light and fun. But I found it so irritating, it finally took a sheer act of will for me to finish it.

I could write pages about what made the book so bad. This is only an outline:

1.) Characterizations. The characters were cartoons. They had no depth. That was perhaps inevitable, given the fact that the novel's dramatis personae, listed in the front of the book, c
Briane Pagel
I think one of the things I like best about Footfall is the sheer scope of the story. It's fitting, I think, for an end-of-the-world story to have a giant cast and a universal reach -- in this case, outside of the galaxy and spanning 15+ years between when the story starts and when the invasion of Earth begins.

I like big sprawling books that you can really sink into. People talk about "world building" and I vaguely understand/care about what they say, but world building like Larry Niven does in
A real thriller, way ahead of its time. It's been called the Independence Day story of the eighties and rightly so. An exceptional story of first contact. The alien culture is described in exquisite detail and it grows on you.
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Sentient elephants? [s] 13 73 May 14, 2014 11:41PM  
footfall by niven and pournelle 13 86 Sep 27, 2013 07:50AM  
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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
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