Fred D's Reviews > Footfall

Footfall by Larry Niven
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's review
Apr 10, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction
Recommended for: Anyone
Read in January, 1988

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Lots of action, especially towards the end, when the humans go on the offensive. Plausible aliens, which at first seem so invincible, but the humans find weaknesses, and exploit them. The book really gets into the alens' psychology, which was very interesting, and through that you learn of their weaknesses. One of the main ones was that the Snouts didn't invent most of their technology themselves. They inhereited it from an earlier civilized race on their planet. Consequently, the Snouts aren't particularly creative.

Towards the end the book gets really exciting. The humans secretly build a spaceship consisting of a dome with the crew cabin on top. The ship is propelled with atomic bombs, which are dropped into the space within the dome and detonated. This propels the ship upwards very rapidly. Once in space, the ship unleashes its weapons, including 4 space shuttles strapped to the side which are released to attack the Snouts' mother ship. At least one of them even does a kamikaze attack! Very exciting. In all seriousness, a similar type of ship has been seriously proposed in real life as an interstellar vehicle. Atomic bombs can propel a ship very fast. You just need to design it with sufficient shielding.

I attended a science fiction convention once where one of the panel discussions was about "101 Ways to Destroy the Earth". Many different sci-fi books were discussed where various methods of destroying the Earth wew described. I contributed to the discussion by mentioning the book Footfall, where aliens bombarded the Earth with asteroids. Very effective, very clever idea.

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