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World of Ptavvs (Known Space)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  2,399 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Larry Greenberg's telepathic tendencies had been trained and developed to a critical level. The trouble was that if these psychic interchanges were strong enough, a man could end up not knowing who he really was. And when Larry's mind is taken over by a sinister alien force, he has to fight to retain his sanity - and divert a disaster that threatens all mankind...

Mass Market Paperback, 188 pages
Published August 12th 1966 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1966)
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Jul 23, 2013 Jeffrey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Niven's known space stories
Shelves: my_ebooks
World of Pshaw... I mean, Ptavvs

Reread this recently during one of my many "Niven" binges. This is one of Niven's first novels (converted from a serial?) and it is NOT really one of his best.

The World Of Ptavvs is in Larry Niven's Known Space universe but is a stand alone adventure. You get to see some aliens & alien tech from the "early days" of the galaxy. As usual with Niven, there are lots of cool scientific ideas for the most-part well developed. Lots of space travel, hi-tech gadgets, a
Robin Tell-Drake
Niven is one of the real reliable science-heavy sci-fi writers--always exploring what might be legitimately possible. The funky ideas come at you awfully fast in this one. And the science is always plot-critical. To pick one example and leave the rest: the third act here is a big space chase within the solar system, and in a blessed antidote to Star-Wars-style fighter jet flying, the ships act as though they're in a vacuum crossing vast distances. You burn the engines as hard as you can until ha ...more
Jonathan Palfrey
Feb 18, 2012 Jonathan Palfrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top11
This was Niven's first novel and rather oddly remains my favourite of the ones he wrote by himself. His ability to come up with imaginative concepts and tie them all together persuasively is already in place, and here he invents various alien species, in particular the thrintun, but also the tnuctipun and the bandersnatchi.

Some of his aliens (the Pak, the kzinti, the puppeteers) became an enduring part of his world and appeared in multiple books, but I think he never returned to the thrintun, pa
World of Ptaavs was Larry Niven's first novel, published in 1966, and with its 2106 setting it is one of the first stories chronologically in the Known Space canon. It is clearly a weak work, and offers only hints of the wonderful ideas that Niven was to write about only a year later.

The novel begins two billion years before the present with the alien Kzanol, a member of the Thrintun race. This race had the ability to control others telepathically and are the Slavers mentioned in later Known Spa
Feb 28, 2009 Manny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
"World of Ptavvs? Oh, that's one of the good ones, before he started co-authoring boring crap with Jerry Pournelle. So, there's this alien with mind-control powers who's been frozen in stasis at the bottom of the sea for, you know, a zillion years since his ship crashed... What? sure, another Margharita would be great. Ah, so of course the alien wakes up, and he takes over the mind of this human and escapes and... oh, thanks! Cheers. Now where was I? Had I got to the bit where they set Pluto on ...more
Karen Chavez
Mar 10, 2012 Karen Chavez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was Niven's first novel, and I was not expecting too much. I was wrong. Read this book! You won't regret it.
Mar 10, 2011 Allyson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this to learn the craft. I'm interested in how Niven deals with expository since his alien creatures and cultures are indeed very alien. I'm also interested in how he deals with explaining the aspects of every day human life that are futuristic and so different from ours. He has a way of talking about such things (like slidewalks, for instance) that succeeds in explaining/introducing them without becoming tedious.

Great little yarn, not exactly a classic of science fiction but a real
Feb 26, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, classic
The World of Ptavvs concerns the re-awakening from stasis of an ancient alien who has the power of mind control, so when a human psychic tries to use a mind-to-mind contact machine to communicate it all goes a bit wrong. The alien escapes from stasis and goes on a chase across the solar system looking for something he left in his other stasis suit. That something, if he finds it, would spell enslavement for the population of earth.

Early Niven like this is big on ideas, big on science, full of pl
Aurel Mihai
This is a fun, pulpy scifi read. Lots of silliness and adventure with a dash of science thrown in. As a bonus there are references to Niven's other material and other scifi of the era. And it'll make you think, but only a little bit. Overall a really fun read.
Aaron Anderson
I so shouldn't give this a 5, quite, but I love the story and fictional-universe history. So so fun.

Writing alone should stop it from being a 5, but screw it.
Kevin Metcalfe
After reading a few of the Ringworld books, I'm trying to catch up on Niven's "Known Space" books. This one was okay, but not great.
Pretty good. I haven't read a lot of Niven's stuff though.
Jeff Daly

started: 2017-03-05.Mar.Sun 15:55:20
finished: 2017-03-08.Mar.Wed 14:11:55
duration: 6h:53m
narrated by: Andy Caploe
Jul 19, 2016 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Niven fans
I had this one from one of our many book Fair runs and and after reading 'Protectors" figured I should knock this one out while some of the Known Space info was still fresh. On one hand, it's not my favorite Niven book... it has all his quirks and style but with three times the scatter brained randomness. On the other hand it made for a pretty good adventure, like the basic idea could be pasted into a D&D setting or even in a more RL setting and it'd make for some interesting interplay betwe ...more
Jun 02, 2013 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, aliens, 1960s
Since I had read Ringworld, I was more interested in The World of Ptaavs than I think I otherwise would have been.

The story is simple and straight to the point. A statue is recovered from the deep sea and is suspected to be an alien frozen in stasis. Scientists conduct an experiment to unfreeze the alien.

They release the alien, Kzanol, a thrintun, who crash-landed on Earth about two billion years ago. However, it all goes terribly wrong. Larry Greenburg, a telepath, is taken over by Kzanol's mi
S James Bysouth
Feb 25, 2016 S James Bysouth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the concept of Mind Control and feel Niven has done a great job of exploring this in World of Ptaavs. Because I am a Niven fan and Ringworld is my favourite book, and because I'm a writer, I wanted to see Larry's first published book. It was highly entertaining and i could not put it down. I would give it a 3.5 if i could.

This is essentially a short story. It's not really a novel. And as a result it lacks the depth a full length novel would enjoy. The first half of the book is engaging an
Gabriel C.
Apr 11, 2012 Gabriel C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: among-others, 2012
I keep clicking close instead of save. Also this review interface doesn't work in chrome. He is totally obsessed with hypnotism, to an embarrassing extent. An amateur hypnotist can get a hardened police chief to starve himself to death and shit his pants.

Also, can we talk about how a ten year old wrote this shit? Some mind-controlling alien has killed and maimed hundreds and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage but we're not going to, I don't know, kill him with overwhelming
While I _LOVE_ this author and his universe, I recently re-read this novel and found it a bit "sub-par" compared to many of his other works. It's an OK read and goes pretty fast, but just a bit more clunky than a lot of his other works. Neat ideas though.

I would say "not his best effort", but I just went back to see when it was written. Turns out to have been one of his first... Clearly he developed as a writer over time. Mind you _I_ would have been very pleased with myself if I'd turned this o
Mar 04, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing
This is one of Larry Niven's lesser known novels, and I had actually put off reading it for some time since I figured if it was lesser known it was probably not one of his better novels (and though I love his good novels, he has also had a couple that I've *really* not liked). Having read it, however, I think it's one of his best: retaining the strong flavour of science, with a much tighter and constantly twisting plot line. It had me from start to finish, as trite and hackneyed as I know that s ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Ari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Surprisingly good, given how whimsically goofy the plot it.

2014: Something that struck me, rereading it for the first time in a while -- The plot hinges on spaceships listening to each other's radio messages. There's something charmingly anachronistic about a spacefaring civilization that doesn't encrypt communication as a matter of course. There's a reference stuck late in the book to "social norms against the use of code", but this is a feeble defense by the author. (I am unsure if this refer
Apr 29, 2011 Hoyt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic, straightforward sci-fi, set sometime in "the future". It took a few pages to get past some odd terminology and names, but then I really got into this story, which is Niven's first novel. Engaging characters, cool ideas, and I was even able to look past the fact that this must have been written (1966? that wasn't known back then?) before it was widely known that Neptune was not a solid planet (either that or he didn't do his research ;) ). Highly recommend this quick read.

Chronologically the first of Niven‘s Known Space books, and also his first published novel. An alien who has been frozen in stasis for eons is awoken. He comes from a former master race (quite literally) and poses a grave danger to humanity.

Solid adventure SciFi with some very clever concepts.

Note: Various editions have the title with or without initial “The”.

Aug 27, 2008 Hien rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The Slavers were a species that ruled our galaxy long ago. They died out about a billion years ago (you can read the reason for this in other Niven stories). Earth was once a farm world of the mighty Slaver empire. Anyway, somebody uncovered the last remaining Slaver on earth. The Slaver was frozen in stasis. Once they brought him out of stasis he proceeds to enslave people.
Oct 10, 2013 Steef rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nederlands, sci-fi
Okay book, wouldn't read again. Maybe it was the (oldfashioned) Dutch translation, but I had a hard time keeping up with who was who and what ship did what.

Funny coincidence was that while I read about their space race to Pluto, there was the real world fly-by of Pluto.
Jul 07, 2009 Lowry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Niven always poses such interesting thought experiments on alien contact and ways in which alien thought process could be so different than human. I read this book in chunks, and think I would have been better to sit down and read through and really think. Not bad, though.
Aug 22, 2008 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
World of Ptavv's is set in Larry Niven wonderful future world where humans are subject to the whims of many different alien races. In this case, a member of a race that wants to subjugate humankind as slaves. A good read and lots of fun.
Aug 08, 2015 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
As a book it's uneven - the start of the book is a little clunky, the characters don't quite convince. But towards the end there's a terrific bit of space spectacle that made the whole thing worthwhile for me.

Come for the sci-fi, stay for the chemistry...
Jun 22, 2016 Brett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a great introductory novella for the known universe/ringworld novels by Niven.

This story introduces nyou to the thrintum race also known as the slavers who are now extinct but often mentioned in other known universe tales.
Akira Watts
A fine enough plot, but the writing is incredibly sloppy. Characters are indistinguishable, and the storyline, more than once, verges in incoherent. How did an editor not catch this?
Oct 06, 2007 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Fiction lovers
Shelves: favorites
I think this is my first Sci-Fi/Larry Niven book. I like it. There are many new characters and ideas I've never thought about before reading this book. I do recommend it.
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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)
  • Protector (Known Space)
  • Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (Known Space)
  • Neutron Star (Known Space)
  • A Gift from Earth (Known Space)
  • Crashlander (Known Space)
  • Ringworld (Ringworld #1)
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld #2)

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