Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Integral Trees” as Want to Read:
The Integral Trees
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Integral Trees (The State #2)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,426 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
In this novel, Niven presents a fully-fleshed culture of evolved humans who live without gravity in the gas cloud surrounding a neutron star. In this Smoke Ring, free-floating life forms flourish, and all of them, from fish to fowl, can fly...
Published by Del Rey (first published 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Integral Trees, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Integral Trees

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
Sep 23, 2014 Manny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Integrating the trees f(z) around the Smoke Ring C, we have

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)

Ben Babcock
As a math major, reading this book prior to class often came with the burden of disclaiming, "It's not about math." And that's a little disappointing, actually, because I don't read enough books about math, especially fiction books. And The Integral Trees would make a damn good title for a math novel.

But no, Larry Niven had to go and steal the title for his own nefarious purposes. It actually took me longer than it should have taken to realize why the integral trees were named as such—I admit I
Morgan McGuire
Jun 02, 2010 Morgan McGuire rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give this negative stars. Good ideas embedded in sickening sexism and mediocre writing. I couldn't get past the first few chapters.
Brad Wheeler
Classic Niven. Interesting situations, cool science. The characters are interesting but not fantastic, certainly far less fantastic than the setting.

The Integral Trees takes place in gas torus around a neutron star. There's air and water and plants and animals, but no ground. Everything and everyone is continually in freefall. The human colonists--who have, by the way, lost much of their technology and are only vaguely familiar with their offworld origins--live on the giant integral trees (so n
Roddy Williams
‘For five centuries they had survived, descendants of the mutinous crew of the starship Discipline. The Earth, The State, even the Discipline were legend at best. The Smoke Ring was all they knew: an immense gaseous envelope formed around a neutron star and inhabited by free-fall life-forms, most of which were edible and all of which could fly. This was their universe.

But slowly, they began the long climb from barbarism: and somewhere, beyond the Smoke Ring, the Discipline and its cyborg ‘advise
Nov 18, 2013 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The story here concerns the descendents of Earth travelers who, five hundred years earlier, chose to settle in an array of massive, free-floating trees that orbit a neutron star. During a particularly lean time, a small group is sent out to search for additional resources, and then an environmental disaster strikes...

By this point in their history, the tree people have lost most of their technology, and scientific knowledge is limited, so (like Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels) this is a science fic
When you read a Niven book you expect interesting world-building, unique characters and good science. In my experience you also expect an average story (although Ringworld and The Protector's War were better than average). That is right where this book sits.

The integral trees are large, miles long trees with a tuft at each end going in opposite directions giving them the look of an integral sign. These trees exist in the 'Smoke Ring' which is the sweet spot of a large gas torus that rotates arou
Mar 18, 2013 Ashish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The Integral Trees is a precursor to Karl Schroeder's Virga series, and the spiritual and intellectual forefather of Niven's magnum opus, Ringworld. It shares that sense of a vast, fantastical yet possible, limitless world where anything can happen... and populated with people very strongly reminiscent of JM Barrie's Lost Boys, or Brian Aldiss' Starship crew. It's a story we've read a thousand times before in some form or another... the outcast finds adventure, glory, wealth, gets the girl, resc ...more
Jun 13, 2015 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kinda OK - great ideas (AI-driven seedship loses human cargo for generations) marred by an obtuse (if scientifically-rich) setting and generally unlikeable and paper-thin characters.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 29, 2016 Timothy Boyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in his "known space" universe. A fantastic series by one of the master writer's of SiFi. Very interesting colonization story. Very recommended
Kest Schwartzman
Fantastic worldbuilding clearly took all the time Niven was willing to put into this book- the characters are a clear afterthought.

The real problem, though is a nightmare of anti-feminist bullcrap. The female "lead" (I'm putting lead in quotes as all the women in this book are very clearly portrayed as pets whose only opinions are those of their men) joined a sort of nun warrior class at 14, because that was the only way to avoid being raped (a woman can either make babies or join this separate
Hugh Mannfield
Apr 03, 2014 Hugh Mannfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book in the Sci-Fi section of my favorite used book store and I’m glad I did.! In The Integral Trees, Larry Niven explores the possibilities of life in a gas torus. The physics is imperfect, just as it was in Ring World, but the imaginative life forms more than make up for it. An interstellar seeder ship, presumably sent from Earth, detours from it’s mission of planet finding to investigate a gas torus orbiting the neutron star in a binary pair. The real story begins some five hundr ...more
A planet without ground, where the inhabitants are ruled by the whims of tide and wind. Not sure which is most fascinating: the unique setting, or the awkward delivery of the most mechanized sex scenes ever. Way to keep it systematic, Hard SF.
Three stars because the good guys win. And because this book is my friend James's favorite. That's a recent development though. The first half of the book gets zero stars. Because I didn't really understand lots of the details--just like I don't understand the details of Star Wars. Why, for example, is it a bad idea to belch during free-fall? Also zero stars in the first half because Larry Niven keeps changing the voice of whoever's talking without any warning or transition. And most of the char ...more
While Larry Niven is renowned in science-fiction circles from the massive alien structure described in his 1970 novel Ringworld and follow-up novels, the more complex habitat described in his mid-eighties The Integral Trees is less known. After conversations with friend, scientists and fellow SF writer Robert Forward, Niven came up with the "Smoke Ring", a gas torus between a dying gas giant and a neutron star. Thick enough to form a breathable atmosphere in the centre, the Smoke Ring is home to ...more
Mar 09, 2015 Allie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Integral Trees is a basic party exploration adventure story, but with a really fascinating environment to explore. Instead of colonizing a planet, humans colonized a kind of space ‘trees’ living in a gas torus within a binary star system. I was really drawn in by the amount of thought and creativity behind the description of the physical setting and its extrapolation to how native life would develop and humans would adapt. The characters were a little simple in comparison, but they made for ...more
The Integral Trees by Larry Niven
I must admit, I love this story. I have read it three times and I recently went through it again in audio format. Though as far as the audiobook, I could not stand the narrator! It was read by Pat Botino, who I think is the most dry sounding, worst acting (if there is any), terrible audiobook narrator I have ever listened to. Granted, I haven't listened to many audiobooks, but I would definitely avoid anything else involving him.
The Integral Trees takes place in
I'll add a more detailed critique when I read this again later. I gather that I reviewed this earlier as a box set, and now I'll be reading the two volumes separately.

I didn't grasp why the book was called 'the integral trees until pretty far in. I didn't go to the diagrams until I'd read about half the book. I don't know if this made it harder or easier to understand the environment.

I don't quite know why people object to the characters. I found many of them congenial, and was more easily able
Oct 10, 2011 Dylan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, locus-winners
I can't help comparing this to the first book I read based in Niven's State universe, A World Out of Time, which is far less acclaimed but structurally very similar and in my opinion, more fun. Both novels have action-packed plots and minimal character development, as Niven places desperate, resourceful protagonists in dangerous situations just long enough to explore whatever scientific or social concepts those scenarios are designed to illustrate, then blows everything up and moves on the next ...more
Nov 01, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this novel, author Larry Niven constructs a believable world wholly unlike our own, without recourse to the supernatural or even the super-scientific, and populated by transplanted humans whose society has devolved into small, isolated, xenophobic, sometimes warring tribes. Although the Smoke Ring in which the story is set is alien in a great many respects, part of Niven's genius is his ability to paint a lucid picture of this setting with a minimum of words. This frees him to develop his cha ...more
Jun 14, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: non-sci fi lovers, fantasy readers even, Niven lovers
In short, if you're considering reading Niven for the first time, pick this book first. It's not a very long book at all (I read it as a teenager) so if find you hate him, then you don't endure much. :) You get the interesting/strange world premise, lots of interesting inter-human development, plot twists, and a small/manageable but not overwhelming dose from the science aspect of sci-fi.

One of the first sci-fi books I read. I'm not really a sci-fi fan, but I picked this off my Dad's bookshe
Mike Kalmbach
Bottom line: Creative treatment of life and how it might exist in a gas ring surrounding a star.

I had a hard time initially getting into this book. The concept of a breathable atmosphere existing in a ring around a star was hard for me to buy: the gas required to fill up a volume the size of a planet's orbit would be (excuse the term) astronomically big. Even if it were possible to somehow collect enough oxygen and other gases and form them into a breathable atmosphere, the gas ring wouldn't be
Marcus Gipps
Sep 13, 2010 Marcus Gipps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up on a bit of a whim, to be honest. I went through a long phase when I was a teenager of reading all of Niven's stuff, but hadn't bothered in ages. But an email from Subterranean Press about a collected edition of his short stories meant that, when I was scanning my shelves, this jumped out at me. I'd remembered it as being one of the better ones, and as I was waiting for a new bunch of proofs to come in, I went for it.

It isn't too bad, actually - I can totally see what my teenage
Stone Lee
Integral Trees, by Larry Niven.

Oddly, I enjoyed Integral Trees.

Eventually, but not initially.

My first reading of the Prologue and a bit of Chapter One left me lost and confused: I didn’t fully understand who I was, where I was, or what I was doing there.

Ditto for attempt #2.

Before my third attempt, I carefully analyzed: 1) the book jacket synopsis, 2) five pages of introductory diagrams, and 3) a very interesting piece of cover art by Michael Whelan. After pouring more energy into my analysis t
Jul 01, 2012 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
While I'll admit that there's a lot wrong with this book; such as the writing not being the most stellar and some of the characters being a little flat, the world building is pretty darn creative. I'm almost willing to give it five stars on the strength of that alone, but my here and now brain wants to scale that back a bit. I read this as a teen, and it completely blew me away. I remember the very moment that it dawned on me that they were living on a tree that wasn't attached to a planet, and ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
Gavving was fourteen years old, as measured by passings of the sun behind Voy. He had never been above Quinn Tuft until now.
The trunk went straight up, straight out from Voy. It seemed to go out forever, a vast brown wall that narrowed to a cylinder, to a dark line with a gentle westward curve to it, to a point at infinity—and the point was tipped with green. The far tuft.
A cloud of brown-tinged green dropped away below him, spreading out into the main body of the tuft. Looking east, with the wi
Oct 05, 2012 Michael marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I read this years ago, and I'll probably either rewrite my review or add some thoughts once I re-read it in the near future (before I get to Smoke Ring).

I will say this now: Larry Niven has quite an inventive mind when it comes to something like this. The story is set in a habitable gas torus around a neutron star, Voy. It's a world of extremely low gravity, and it's interesting to see how its theoretical inhabitants adapted to the environment.

It is a story in large part of survival. Some other
Harry Robinson
The concept underlying the world Niven describes is fascinating, and underpins the story very well. It is basically a story of a small group of characters and the adventures they have in Niven's world.

Plot development really centers mostly around character development, and Niven does a reasonable job of developing the characters. There is one unique plot twist at the end.

This work is nothing to compare with Niven's classic "Ringworld", but it is an enjoyable read.
Edward Creter
Call this one Ender in Ferngully. Armies of a floating forest fly and shoot arrows at each other in a race to survive. Now, all of a sudden, they need to double team against a sparkley spaceship layered with state of the art technology and bent on the destruction of the universe. More action than Blade Runner (and somehow prettier in its descriptions of the trees.) with more foliage than Avatar (which I thought sucked.) this book has my seal of approval. I'm a confirmed Nivenian! (Is there such ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Titan (Gaea, #1)
  • The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, #3)
  • The Boat of a Million Years
  • Against Infinity
  • Chanur's Homecoming (Chanur, #4)
  • The Many-Coloured Land (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #1)
  • Imperial Earth
  • Brittle Innings
  • Heechee Rendezvous (Heechee Saga, #3)
  • The Computer Connection
  • Moving Mars (Queen of Angels, #3)
  • Starplex
  • The Planet Buyer
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

The State (3 books)
  • A World Out of Time (The State, #1)
  • The Smoke Ring (The State, #3)

Share This Book