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The Integral Trees (The State #2)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  5,094 ratings  ·  100 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)
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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)


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
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
Hugh Mannfield
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
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...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
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...more
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
Marcus Gipps
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
This book is about the human race immigrating onto another planet without land. The planet was built of several trees suspended in the air by a mysterious force. A group created by the former orginal humans created many tribes. These tribes lived in peace until a tree fell down killing off tribes and creating interactions between more tribes and survivors.

I can connect to the world because when the tress fell down the tribes had war. Whenever there is conflict between countries, there is confli...more
This is an example of a book I wouldn't have read if I hadn't been kind of desperate for reading material here in Back-of-Beyond, Illinois, in the winter, because I'm really not a hard SF reader and I skim over the sciency stuff. Still, the sheer weirdness of the integral trees and the various ways people had adapted to live in them did hold my interest. I figured the very sketchy characterization might just be "how it's done" in hard SF (b/c the idea is what matters) so even though I feel it's...more
I have no clue what is going on. I've totally loved several Niven books, and now have found a couple completely unenjoyable. The Integral Trees is such a cool concept and a fun exploration of physics but I never found myself caring for any of the characters or the plot. This might have been worked into a really good short story, but failed me as a novel.
Michael O.
A group of misfits and outcasts are seemingly sent out of their village of Quinn Tuft to find food. However, since they live on a giant tree floating planet-less in the middle of a gas torus, and that tree happens to be dying, they are actually sent to keep the tribe alive.

Quick and fun read. Very reminiscent of the Ringworld books – the same creative universe that experiments with unearthly astronomy, psychology, biology, and sociology. The biggest problem with that, for me, is that the book se...more
Ian James
May 14, 2012 Ian James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any Science Fiction reader
Recommended to Ian by: Antony James
Shelves: science-fiction
Excellent vintage Larry Niven - a great adventure story set in a truly amazing environment.

The book has diagrams of the world in the first few pages - I wish I hadn't seen them because it would have been really fun to figure out the structure of this world from clues presented as the story progressed.

I am very grateful for my son, Anthony, for giving me this book - I thought I had read all of Larry Niven's books years ago, but somehow I had missed this one. Being able to read a Larry Niven book...more
Strano, stranissimo mondo. Difficile persino da spiegare.
Vedi... ci sono alberi. Giganti. Volanti. Che hanno due ciuffi. Uno sopra e l'altro sotto, ma sopra e sotto forse non sono i termini giusti. E non è che ci sia proprio la gravità, c'è una sorta di spinta, loro la chiamano marea. Loro chi? Loro. Quelli che abitano sugli alberi. I Quinn, i Carter e tutti gli altri. Non è che sia proprio bravo a spiegarti nel dettaglio com'è questo... "mondo" (che parola impropria, l'unico vero mondo qui vici...more

The character development was so poor I had absolutely no attachment to any of them. The author could have killed off some of the main characters and I wouldn't have batted an eyelash.

Regardless of that (it is from the 80's isn't it? what was I expecting?) the whole thing was incredibly inventive.... I mean, I really haven't seen anything like it before in the sci-fi world, or maybe I just don't read enough from that genre. Some of the visual descriptions were so far out there, I'm glad...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) Footfall

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