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Destiny's Road

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,710 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Wide and smooth, the Road was seared into planet Destiny's rocky surface by the fusion drive of the powered landing craft, Cavorite. The Cavorite deserted the original interstellar colonists, stranding them without hope of contacting Earth.

Now, descendants of those pioneers have many questions about the Road, but no settler who has gone down it has ever returned. For Jemmy
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 15th 1998 by Tor Science Fiction (first published January 1st 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aaron Forster
Sep 17, 2011 Aaron Forster rated it really liked it
This book gets a fair number of low reviews from people saying that it isn't as good as his earlier works. Readers have difficulty following the main character who seems somewhat shallow and a bit emotionally void. He is confused for most of the book and this translates into no small amount of confusion for the reader. The book doesn't seem to go anywhere and it's difficult to tell where the denouement is and when anything has progressed.

This is not a novel, there is little to no progress in the
Not Niven's best, but there's enough here to satisfy: This is an odd book. It's as if Larry Niven had deliberately set out to do something different from what he has done before. In this he succeeds, but also leaves his strengths behind.

Destiny is an attractive world, with a potentially fatal drawback for its human settlers - the local biology, while not especially antagonistic to human life, won't sustain it either. Humans need to eat something called "speckles" in order to survive. Niven makes

Sep 03, 2010 Villager rated it really liked it
I haven't read a Larry Niven book in over 20 years. I decided to read this one because it was about a new world / universe. I enjoyed the main character ... and his desire to "see the world" ... and I also enjoyed the geo-political intrigue that was unveiled about the caravan, the speckles and such. It reminded me a little of the Dune situation with spices.

I enjoyed the book and I appreciated the plot twists that led to a very satisfactory conclusion in my view.

Anyhow, this is a book that anyone
Walt O'Hara
Jun 23, 2009 Walt O'Hara rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Reread/listen. I'm on a Niven kick these days. Audio version.

An archeological mystery of sorts; along the lines of Jack McDevitt's work (whose Eternity Road from about the same time period bears a strong resemblance to this story). Unlike McDevitt, the SF archeological mystery niche story does not seem to be Niven's forte. The plot is established on good foundations. A young man living on a long abandoned Earth colony must find out her secrets. A tragic accident leads to a 30 year journey to fin
Sep 03, 2011 Andreas rated it did not like it
On a distant colony planet, a boy grows up wondering why the original colony ship departed many generations ago, at the same time scorching a road into the distance with its fusion drive. No knows where the road leads. The planet has a shortage of potassium and an upper class distributes what turns out to be potassium in exchange for their ruling status.

The ideas underlying the story are very clever. Unfortunately the story itself is confusing and hopelessly. I could barely finish the book. Give
Feb 05, 2016 A~ rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, pdf
Larry Niven....
I have read a few books where Larry Niven was the co-writer and I enjoyed them but at times felt like the characters conversation and actions didn't quite make sense.
I can see now that it was the Niven side of the equation that caused this to happen.
The story had a great premise but the writing of it lacked.

The main character moved from location to location doing some activities that sometimes made sense, at other times made sense in hind site and at other times made no sense at a
Jul 18, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, xcharity-2011
My first impression was to give this one 3 stars but after thinking about the underlying theme, it deserves at least 4 stars. The idea behind “speckles” was unique and subtle. There is a Rite of Passage feel to the book along with a sci-fi Johnny Appleseed. Then there is the “Hydraulic Empire”…I appreciate a book that teaches something new or stretches the mind. Built around the concept of a hydraulic empire, an ancient idea, this book takes a long while getting to the point. It meanders but the ...more
Oct 31, 2015 Tom rated it did not like it
This is the tale of a young man coming of age. An incident in his town sets him off down the only road on the planet, burned into the crust by the fusion drive of a spaceship. Because our hero comes from a backwoods/ suppressed community, most of the tale consists of encountering the weird alien life and learning about the global society. For some reason, every human he encounters either wants to kill him (fear of strangers, resource protection?) or sleep with him ("genome diversification"?) But ...more
Jan 18, 2015 Lonnie rated it it was amazing
Just finished re-reading this book. I find that the second time reading always fills in and provides a richer experience. This book is a great example of how, in the future, a colonization attempt is hit with a number of unexpected circumstances (cryogenic process failures, absence of potassium), that forces the colonist to make hard choices...Choices that made sense at the onset, but as centuries passed, served only a select set...As with the Ringworld series, this book has a bit of sexual libe ...more
Michelle Rose
Oct 25, 2014 Michelle Rose rated it really liked it
This novel is a departure for Niven, both in style and exposition. It's also closely played; no easy, quick answers are offered for evaluation, nor is there much in the way of backstory except towards the very end.

It's a sociological treatise in many ways. I suspect Niven fancies himself a historian in the mold of Russell or Wells; equally equipped to tell the story and give it a spin in the direction of social commentary. His reputation in that respect is well-deserved.

The "spin" is relatively
Feb 20, 2015 L. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not read much of Larry Niven's work, and I don't consider myself a fan, but I though that "Destiny's Road" was a fine book. It was not a typical hard sf (technology dependent) story, and based on the inverse correlation between positive comments about this book and the number of references to the ringworld books, I assume that this book was not characteristic of Niven's previous books either. It is a very good "coming of age"/adventure story in the pattern of Heinlein's better juvenile st ...more
Jim Syler
Aug 30, 2015 Jim Syler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun
Confusingly written and unsatisfying. I've read Niven's Integral Trees and loved it. Niven writes very "hard" science fiction, meaning not only does the story generally adhere to science as we understand it, but the setting depends on scientific elements. That is the case here; Destiny, the Earth-settled planet the story is set on, is unique in interesting and plot-determining ways. Niven slowly allows us to discover these ways, and much of the history of the place, in the adventures of Jemmy Bl ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Denis rated it liked it
Shelves: hardcover
A later Niven book. From the introduction I was warned. He himself claimed that the book was four years overdue to be presented to his publisher. This, I felt, as being a book that was initially inspired but eventually became troublesome and maybe even a chore to finish.

This feeling kept reoccurring over and over as I read on. Great premise, competently written with good world building (Niven's genius) but as the story went on, it ran out of steam. The road revealed itself to be either a road to
Marc Goldstein
Feb 05, 2013 Marc Goldstein rated it liked it
In his first solo novel since concluding his epic Known Space series, Larry Niven takes us to planet Destiny, a long-forgotten human colony light-years from Earth. Thanks to a hostile environment and more than 300 years of isolation, the Destiny colony has devolved into a feudal society of alienated townships. The ancient technological artifacts left behind by the original colonists remind Destiny's inhabitants how far they have fallen, giving the story a strange post-apocalyptic flavor.

The plot
Robert Negut
Jan 03, 2014 Robert Negut rated it really liked it
Very light style for SF, half of it at least.
It just takes you along for the ride, presenting a world by following a person. Does make you wonder what kind of societies humankind would develop if people would be left to band together in places with very little or no contact to each other and having no proof of their past other than memories fading as generations pass...
Another thing I liked was that the author treated sex just like any other activity. Didn't focus on it, but didn't run through i
Cadaver19 Travesty
This book gets a lot of flak. Readers find the narrative structure confusing, the main character distant and unrelatable, and the find the substance within the pages lacking.
This book just isn't what they expected it to be.
The so called confusing narrative is intrinsically tied to the ecology and interactions with humanity as it attempts to settle Destiny.
The main characters distance is also tied to this interaction. Not to mention the taboos and social ideas of his home, Spiral Town.
The story
Briscoe Lang
Sep 06, 2015 Briscoe Lang rated it liked it
Mr Niven had me wanting to find out more and more as I was exponentially sucked into the fantasy world he creates in front of the readers eyes. Mr Niven's uses of ambiguity in the main character (name changes, role changes, gaps of many years) adds to the air of lucidity surrounding the planet. My only complaint is that after the climax the story really ends. He sends the reader home with a gift basket and yearning to go back to Destiny.
Jun 17, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it
Shelves: futures, sci-fi
I really got on with this book. It is well written, which is a start. The pace of the narrative was just right to keep me absorbed, but to also allow for the plot to develop and thicken. There is scope for a follow up book from this one because a number of issues remained unresolved at the end. As we were taken through a timeline, we could see where we were coming from and where we were, but what was missing was a sense of what comes next. I would have liked to peek into that frame.
Apr 14, 2015 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2013 Neil rated it liked it
This book gets points because it explores a fascinating idea. Hundreds of years ago, humans colonized an alien world. They were deserted by their starship and left with only the orbital landers and no way to remain in contact with Earth. The group split with one half going off to explore more of the world and in the process coming into possession of the sole source for a necessary resource. What kind of society evolves? How do the haves treat the have nots? How much do they tell them.

In executio
Jan 15, 2015 Jenifer rated it did not like it
I love Nivens work...when he collaborates with other writers. This book, however, was impossible to follow, impossible to get behind any of the characters (especially the main character who remained completely flat through the entire book) and I'm still not sure what the point of the book was.
I finished it only because I kept hoping that there would be a point to it all by the end. There wasn't.
That being said, the descriptions of Destiny and the Road were beautiful.
May 04, 2014 Maddalena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, american
Ho letto questo libro per la prima volta parecchi anni fa, e ho come l'impressione che mi fosse piaciuto di più allora XD
Comunque: un bel libro di fantascienza di colonizzazione (termine inventato sul momento, non ho idea se esista un filone di questo tipo), con alcuni spunti interessanti.
E sicuramente mi sono incuriosita parecchio su Larry Niven...
Aug 29, 2013 Terrence rated it did not like it
This is less than what I expected from Larry Niven. As many have pointed out, Jemmy is plain flat — even if he is supposed to be the reader's emissary on Destiny. I found the vague descriptions of Destiny's indigenous life and its habitat confusing — even more troubling was the idea that somehow Earth life can grow and be sustained in the environment of Destiny while somehow Destiny life avoids contact with Earther forms. Shouldn't there be some sort of shelter or quarantine between the Earth co ...more
Aug 21, 2014 Tracey rated it liked it
After picking up & discarding 2 more Niven books after about 50 pages (The Barsoom Project and California Voodoo Game) - this re-read has kept my interest nicely. Am fairly sure it is a re-read (I remember the "speckles" and the ship named Cavorite) but have almost completely forgotten the plot, so it feels like something new.

An overall enjoyable "quest" story, even if it stretched credibility at times. The explanation of the caravans & overall background presented in the last 1/3 of th
Sep 25, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it
The best part about this book was when it ended and I no longer had to suffer. I have read some good books by Niven; however, this wasn't one of them. The worst thing about this book is that I never knew what was going on. The dialog in this book was incomprehensible. The characters would have "ah ha" moments in their dialog but the reader was left totally in the dark about what happened. It was the same thing with the action sequences (the little action there was), they were never described eno ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Phil added it
Niven paints a unique and very complete picture of life on another world from the viewpoint of the protagonist, a young boy who travels this world that he knows little about and discovers along with the reader. I listened to the audiobook version.
Jan 02, 2015 Phil rated it really liked it
Loved this book. They say nothing is new but Niven borrows some ideas well and does come up with a brand new idea or two about terra-forming and colonies. So worth the afternoon I spent reading it. Almost made me forget my sore throat.
Neal W
Nov 29, 2014 Neal W rated it it was ok
I'm a huge Niven fan. Conceptually I think there might have been something here but how it was published makes me think either the editors were asleep at the wheel or everyone just wanted it to be published and forgotten.
Mar 16, 2008 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I love Niven's classic work - his Known Space novels and short stories, his fantasy work, and the collaborations with Pournelle. Unfortunately, he hasn't produced anything really compelling in decades, and this novel, sad to say, continues that trend. It's a mildly interesting story set on a human colony world that has degenerated somewhat after losing contact with Mother Earth generations ago. But I found the main character didn't capture my interest, and his story didn't grab me, either. Even ...more
Clinton Sites
Jul 27, 2015 Clinton Sites rated it really liked it
I am going to defer an in depth review (I erred in reading some others).

If one can have said already what I feel about this book - Aaron said it very well indeed and I find that I cannot add any more substance.
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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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