Footfall
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Footfall

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  8,565 ratings  ·  256 reviews
"NOBODY DOES IT BETTER THAN NIVEN AND POURNELLE.

I LOVED IT!"
--Tom Clancy

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...more
Paperback, 524 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Del Rey (first published 1985)
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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...more
Manny
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 the...more
Scott
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
Tamahome

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...more
terpkristin
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...more
Jen
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...more
Mark
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...more
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...more
Marvin
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.
Mike
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
Optimism
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...more
John
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...more
Nnwest
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...more
Bruce
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...more
Zeke
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...more
Gendou
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...more
Mark
Footfall
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Publisher: Del Rey
Published In: New York, NY, USA
Date: 1985
Pgs: 495

REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Summary:
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...more
Mont'ster
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.
Gary
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...more
Vineet
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.
Shari
Although I found the alien perspective of the narrative, and the ways humans are seen through their eyes, interesting, the story really didn't draw me in. There were certainly lots of actions, but very little character depth.
Michael
Jun 26, 2008 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like aliens
Recommended to Michael by: people who like reading about aliens
this book is great for reading in short (very short) installments. I think I averaged about a page or two a day. Luckily, there are clear stopping points every page or two.

Truly a book convenient to my schedule.
Charlie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
D-day
'Footfall' is a realistic and plausible alien invasion story set in the mid 1990's (as foreseen from the early 80's)

The novel starts out very similarly to 'Lucifer's Hammer' another Niven/Pournelle novel- a menacing object is moving towards the earth (a comet in 'Lucifer's Hammer', an alien spaceship in 'Footfall') and we meet a large cast of characters before the object reaches the earth.
The war was realistically portrayed, the humans fighting with contemporary weapons (no wonder weapons here...more
Lynne Norman
Slightly dated and, in spite of 'tokenistic-strong-female-character' Jenny, a fairly mysoginistic narrative that left me feeling a little alienated (if you'll excuse the pun) as a female reader. I still, however, found much to enjoy about this book.

I really loved the sweeping epic feel that came from the generous timeline given to tell the tale and the numerous characters and locations used. That being said, there were so many storylines that started out quite promising before sort of dwindling...more
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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...
Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) The Mote in God's Eye (Moties, #1) Lucifer's Hammer The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld, #2) Neutron Star (Known Space)

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