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The Goliath Stone

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  488 ratings  ·  106 reviews
The Goliath Stone is a visionary new tale from Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington.

Doctor Toby Glyer has effected miracle cures with the use of nanotechnology. But Glyer's controversial nanites are more than just the latest technological advance, they are a new form of life—and they have more uses than just medical. Glyer's nanites also have the potential to make eve
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Tor Science Fiction (first published June 25th 2013)
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Pseudonymous d'Elder
Goliath Stone is an homage to Robert Heinlein and Heinleinesque libertarianism. That much is clear. The mystery is how an accomplished author like Larry Niven could be responsible for such a disjointed piece of writing.

Here's a few of the authors' literary sins.
-- They have their characters interrupt the narrative seven or eight separate times just to talk about how brilliant science-fiction authors are, and to wax eloquently on the genius of Heinlein and other sci-fi writers. The characters e
The Goliath Stone is one of those books that reads like there are actually two books, one is the actual book and the other is a virtual book that the author/s wrote in their head/s or on liner notes that contain the other half of the story. Not having access to that virtual book, the reader is left to figure out what the authors are not saying. Sometimes this works well, as in, for example, Brin's Startide Rising (where the second story is the space battle amongst the various races and factions) ...more
Timothy Finucane

I thought there was much potential for this book based on the overview of the story, I couldn't have been more wrong. I don't think I've ever read a Larry Niven book that has left me this disappointed. The story is supposed to be about nano tech that is launched into space to retrieve an asteroid and bring it within Earth orbit, and that part of the story is at least there, but it is surrounded by a whole lot of crap.

To start with, the authors clearly have sex on the brain. There was far more th

Michael Forbes

On the plus side, this book was occasionally funny; never quite enough to make me burst out into laughter, but at least enough for a few chuckles. Niven and Harrington appear to have been more than a little sex-obsessed while writing this yarn, but at least the sex is only ever (strongly) hinted at, not told in pornographic detail.

The plot revolves around the use of nanotechnology around 50 years hence, and is somewhat believable; the willing suspension of disbelief didn't come terribly hard, ex

This book fulfilled two of the major purposes of SF: it extrapolated from current science, looking at how nanotechnology might play out in the future, and it was so bad that readers will certainly say, "I can write better crap than this," and some of them will.
David Hill
Meh. Disappointing effort from Niven and yet another collaborator. Cardboard characters, juvenile politics, thin plot. Feel free to skip this one.
Wow, this was bad. And not in a good way. The only reason I stuck it out was because of Bowl of Heaven, Larry Niven's earlier collaboration with Gregory Benford. In some respects, his collaboration with Matthew Joseph Harrington is more ambitious, but the end result is much more uneven and unsatisfying.

The problem is that the authors ignore their own plot. Or to put it another way, the writing here is so pared down and allusive, that I was fully a third of the way into the novel before I could c
Benjamin Franz
I'm a long time (more than 30 years) fan of Larry Niven's writing and I wanted to like this book. Unfortunately Niven appears to have joined the ranks of authors who think that promoting a political philosophy is more important than writing a good story.

The book was short (230 pages), overpriced ($11.99) and spent minimal time on the actual story.

It did spend lots of time trying to sell an extremist political philosophy (a Libertarian Ubermensch based 'Government Bad/Capitalism Good' hash - com
Steven R.
The biggest problem for me was that I never felt the characters were ever in any danger. They were always vastly more powerful than anyone they were facing--except the sentient nano robots in orbit. When they are finally on the verge of confronting the sentient nanos, the book just stops. Apparently a sequel is intended.

To make the lack of tension worse, there was also a long section of the book where the characters sat in a hotel room and looked things up on the internet.

Apart from that, I foun
Richard Cytowic
"Brain Candy and a fast read" is what I called The Goliath Stone,Larry Niven's latest Sci-Fi thriller which I reviewed in The New York Journal of Books

It's a novel of big ideas centering on nanotechnology (which of course gets out of control).

Part of science fiction’s pleasure is that it is grounded in familiar elements of genre. Which is not to say that it isn’t intellectual, only that it isn’t highly literary.
Patrick Di Justo
The story is adequate: Nanobots sent to an asteroid evolve and, for all reasonable definitions of the word, become intelligent. On Earth, the father of practical nanotechnology has been using his nanobots to subtly improve the human race. What happens when these two new species meet?

Basic Science fiction. Hard to screw up that story, right? Well, give it to Larry Niven to write. It comes out something like this:

Nanobots - did everyone see how smart I am? I'm writing about nanotechnology- sent to
Tim Hicks
As Larry Niven ages, the probability that his next book will be good just keeps going down.

This one's a stinker.

In mid-story, the authors talk about a character becoming hugely successful by writing romance novels - using a template and making everything as bad as it could be. I am tempted to read that as being about this book too.

There's no doubt that this is a tribute to, and perhaps a satire on, Heinlein. Whose work I also don't care much for nowadays. But do we really need yet another of
Love this book. I want to rate it a 6 ;) Stargate SG-1's replicators meet Jason Bourne meets Dennis Miller. Niven and Harrington put together a very engaging story. The brilliant mind of William Connors, aka Mycroft Yellowhorse, uses nanobots to make the world a better place while another group of nanobots, sent into space years before, develops a society of its own. Great fun!
An exasperating paradox of a book! The framework of the story was right up my alley and the extrapolative science draped on it was interesting enough. I started this fully prepared to forgive a great many flaws. But not this many.
Already ridiculously short, with a horrifying amount of white on the felt as if it should be far longer. And yet, fully half of what was there...needed to be cut! Specifically, the rage-inducing dialogue.
I would love to read this exact story line and plot w
Absolutely disappointing. As several already said, the most disappointing book from Larry Niven. A couple of nice ideas, but no explanation or development, so that they sounds more like magic than science. The character development is completely absent, with a remarkedly heinleinian "old man at the helm, younger pair dong the acting, and lover-of-the-old-man appearing during the story". Some pitiful excuse to add a generous quantity of sex, some judicious sprinkling of stereotypes and several un ...more
Michael Perry
This is a story of the somewhat near future concerning nanotech and political philosophy. It is a fast paced novel and has a character that really is smarter than everyone else. Some issues addressed are the uses of nano and how smart they could be made, and to a degree how personal choice can be made or circumvented. Some ideas are terrifying, such as the introduction of internal nanobots to a person without their knowledge or choice. Benevolence and tyranny aren't separated by much. It's a gre ...more
Harry Lane
Hard Sci-Fi in the sense that it extrapolates from present-day technology, but pushes so far it almost qualifies as fantasy, especially given the time frame the authors set. That quibble aside, this is an engaging book. The suspense about what happens when machines develop self-awareness is sustained to the very end. But the best part is that the action is accompanied by smart dialog among the participants, some of which is very funny. There are a lot of references to literature and earlier scie ...more
Yet another winner from Niven! An awesome story about nanotech in the hands of an altruistic/benevolent brainiac with quick wit, lots of sci-fi lore and a good bit of humorous inuendo to boot! He basically takes the 'evil genius' theme and stands it on it's head to make the 'heroic genius' who's plan pretty much fixes all the world's problems. I found this one to be a rapid read page-turner that kept my brain trying to play catch-up because my eyes would not stop! I highly recommend this book to ...more
Larry Niven has done it again - the man that brought you The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer and The Legacy of Heorot is back. I'm unfamiliar with Matthew Joseph Harrington but I envy him getting the chance to write with Niven. As usual the science leaves me a little behind (okay more than a little), but the characters make up for it. They are full and rich and fun to be around. I have to wonder why this man is not in charge of our space exploration - really! If you read hard science fiction ...more
This book is about nanotechnology that evolves self-awareness on an asteroid and comes to have first contact with Earth. That part is kind of interesting, but it's also a total of like 20 pages. Readers will thank me if they follow my advice and skip over the rest.

The use of nanotechnology in humans was kind of a rip off of the Sleepless series by Nancy Kress.

These nanobots also turned men into women. The explanation is that they fix mutations by copying missing information from one chromosome o
William Korn
Larry Niven seems to be losing it. Or perhaps it's his collaborator, Matthew Joseph Harrington. Or perhaps Harrington never had it in the first place. The premise of the book is interesting enough - nanotecchnology becomes self-aware and does all sorts of unscheduled things. But the explication of the premise alternates between hideous amounts of detail not necessary to move the plot forward, truly dull characters despite their various superpowers, and dialogue so poorly crafted that it would ma ...more
Raargh Wunderkzin
Sep 28, 2014 Raargh Wunderkzin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard-core SF scientists only
Recommended to Raargh by: me myself and I
I can understand why most people don't like this book. Matthew Joseph Harrington, and recently to a lesser extent Niven, target an audience that is VERY informed about all aspects of science and history - and that also has read pretty much every science fiction novel and short story ever written.

The more I read the latest MJH and Niven books, the more I find older SF too pedestrian, too long-winded and too handed-to-me-on-a-platter. MJH and Niven expect me to THINK while reading, not just blandl
A more traditional SF than I've read in a while, where the emphasis is on the technology (in this case, nanotechnology). Unfortunately, the author took too much influence from Heinlein, and the characters were all one-sided and unbelievable. It was also internally inconsistent: very strong libertarianism (didactically so), yet the genius center infects everybody with nanotechnology without their permission or knowledge (but he has good intentions and it never goes wrong, so it must be OK)
I have to admit I'm a long time fan of Larry Niven. I thought this book was very enjoyable on many levels. I enjoyed the plot and its development. I enjoyed the alien character and its development. The humans were complex enough but didn't demonstrate as much development. They were mostly a device used to reference other science fiction writers and stories, which I happened to enjoy as well. Some of the references were pretty arcane but that's why god made google.
Mark Muckerman
Niven is always solid. While nothing will ever match Lucifer's Hammer (although Ringworld and the Man-Kzin Wars do come close), I've never read a Niven book and been disappointed.

This one is a different read: funky premise, and written in an odd chapter style of tiny bursts. However, the plot holds up okay, and the premise, while not as developed from start to finish as his best works, is good.

And the science. . . either his research is impeccable and his facts perfect, or he's made up science f
Andy Mac
This read like a bit of an over the top homage to Robert Heinlein. Literary references every fourth sentence, men and women who have transcended normal humanity and know better than everyone else because they're both intellectual geniuses and physically perfect, and a bit of a lecture while they teach various aspects of humanity how much better they are.

I knew to expect that from Heinlein in books like Number of the Beast, but this almost seemed like an attempt to impress the readers with how sm
Ivor Thomas
I plodded through it. There are plenty of good ideas to hang a story around, but the style is a series of bantering conversations and in-jokes amongst the protagonists that is a very indirect way to tell a story. Niven is still one of my all-time favorites... if you don't include this one!
Medrith Nuttle
So this guy is a great brilliant supergenius and superhero. His special cause is ending rape. So he develops these nanobots that will make us physically perfect and mentally healthy- and infects everybody in the world without asking permission!!!
Danny Dishon
This was a very quick read. And pretty funny too. Lots of inside jokes for anyone who is a scifi fanboy/fangirl. If you have followed the work of Niven throughout the years we will be chuckling throughout the book.
Vince Westin
Very cool ideas on the applications of nano technology, and where some of it may lead. I also like the side commentaries on a lot of the political challenges of the current culture in the US.
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Sounds a bit like Greg Bear's "Blood music" 3 12 Jun 26, 2013 12:08PM  
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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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