I read this book when I was in high school when I was riding my wave crest of discovery within the realm of NEW WAVE OF SCIENCE FICTION--authors likeI read this book when I was in high school when I was riding my wave crest of discovery within the realm of NEW WAVE OF SCIENCE FICTION--authors like Moorcock, Ellison, Farmer, Spinrad, etc. I had read some of the sci-fi "greats" at this point but more than likely you would find me buried in a Moorcock novel or a short story collection of Ellison's. My friends were always talking about Asimov, Pohl, Heinlein &, of course, Niven.
"Have you read RINGWORLD? You haven't! Man, it's a classic! If you haven't read Niven then you know nothing about science fiction!"
It was comments like these which really turned me off from hard sci-fi--aka., "The Golden Age"--because it came across as elitist. There's nothing I hate more than someone ridiculing me because I don't care for the "Grandmasters of Science Fiction"--as if there's some hallowed hall one must make a pilgrimage to & devour every classic title found on its bookshelves. Once you make that pilgrimage, read all the necessary titles in order to be accepted into their group, then you were given silent permission by their "Order" to discuss science fiction with them on an intellectual level--never mind it's a genre that has spent almost a century being ridiculed for what it is: science fiction. So on one hand, you have the classic/contemporary literature elitists shunning science fiction for the crime of being an existing genre & on the other you have the geeksquad sci-fi elitists shunning you for not placing the likes of Asimov or Niven on the alter of worship. Is it any wonder why I avoid the science fiction "masters"?
While the "masters" are submerged in science, the "New Wave" authors are bathing in the metaphysical--but the two do converge in one area of science in many ways: sociology. Be that as it may, I find the New Wavers to be far more unlimited in their imaginations, while the Classical authors to be struggling against their limitations.
Enter: THE INTEGRAL TREES by "master of sci-fi", Larry Niven.
Having RINGWORLD bashed over my head by the geek elite, I decided to start somewhere else with Niven so I wouldn't be already pissed off at the man who I'm told to worship--which I was. I wanted to be fair. What I found was a novel that screamed at me that it wanted to be different. The story was a plot a reader could find in a young adult novel. It was trying to be "cool" in the presentation of it's world which, to me, just seemed to be a variation on the Ringworld structure--trees forming the "wheel around the star". The characters were cookie cutter & I found I really didn't care about them--not leaving any impression on me at all. Hell, you could almost find the characters & their world being ripped-off by James Cameron's AVATAR--if they had showed up in the movie, I wouldn't have been surprised. Despite all this, I finished the novel & wasn't anymore the richer for doing so.
Was it a bad novel? No. Was it a good novel? Meh. Did it's author live up to the hype of being a "master" of his chosen genre? That's for you to decide. As for me, I've got better sci-fi novels to read....more
I always wanted to read GATEWAY because it is considered a science fiction "classic" & the fact it won both the Hugo & the Nebula awards pusheI always wanted to read GATEWAY because it is considered a science fiction "classic" & the fact it won both the Hugo & the Nebula awards pushed me to dig into it. But I was very disappointed by this novel. The plot was interesting, but I found myself not caring for any of the characters & found the main character to be a jerk. Now, of course, there are those who will agree with me that he is a jerk & his tragic fate is one he deserves, but I disagree. I think it would've been a greater tragedy if he was a caring figure--one who wasn't a misogynistic, selfish bastard (he savagely beats the female character at one point & she forgives him!)--& therefore when he commits his act of treason, going against his morality due to the impact of his surroundings (the frantic insanity of trying to survive his plight) would serve the story better. To have the main character abandon someone he supposedly loves to the coldness of infinity in order to save himself would have more of an impact on me if he were someone who really did have a shred of humanity within him. Instead, I'm left with the feeling this guy truly is a bastard & I don't know why I read this in the first place. As a character study, it could be considered a good novel--but this is science fiction. Science fiction needs to have a good atmosphere & the sparseness of the description of the ships the characters travel in & the futuristic society in which they dwell doesn't provide an atmosphere to excite my imagination. I know it was written in the 1970s but it reads like it was written in the 1950s. But then again, Pohl is an author from that sci-fi Golden Age--an era he seems to be stuck in while others writing in the genre pass him by. I'll read other novels by Pohl, but I think the GATEWAY series has shown me enough to make me not want to continue. ...more