Phoebe's Reviews > The Mote in God's Eye

The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven
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May 17, 09

bookshelves: sciffy
Read in May, 2009

I wanted to like The Mote In God's Eye--not only did it come highly recommended by both the denizens of metafilter and my good friend Karin, but it also centers on first contact with an alien race, one of my favorite themes in science fiction. Niven and Pournelle handle the species-building well--the Moties are strongly developed, emotionally believable, and consistent in their motivations. But everything else in this novel--not the least the human characters--felt extraneous and poorly developed.

There's no plot here, not really. I suppose we're supposed to be riveted by the painfully slow revelations about Motie culture--though if that were the case, I don't know why we linger so long on the bland human characters, many of which are stock sci-fi archetypes--don't get me started on the Scottish Engineer with his all-too-familiar--and painful-to-read--brogue. Each of the novel's four sections are poorly paced, with fairly bland narrative used to fill in the history of the universe and move the plot (slowly) forward. The universe itself is quaintly Victorian and vaguely unbelievable. The single female human character demurely tells the aliens at one point that respectable human girls don't use birth control.

Still, the conclusion to each section, and the parts of the novel most deeply involved in the story of the Moties themselves, move quickly and are engaging. This is particularly true of the parts of the novel told from the Motie perspective. Perhaps Niven and Pournelle should have spent more time developing the human characters--if they had been created with the care evident in their alien antagonists, this would have been a more even, and ultimately fulfilling, read.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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David I totally agree, I disliked this book to the point of not finishing it (I read 5/6 though)


Vikingabroad I felt the same. In regards to your comment on first contact being one of your favorite Sci fi concepts, have you found any really well written books on it?


message 3: by Phoebe (new) - added it

Phoebe Vikingabroad wrote: "I felt the same. In regards to your comment on first contact being one of your favorite Sci fi concepts, have you found any really well written books on it?"

My favorite first contact/alien invasion story is probably Dawn by Octavia Butler. It's also insanely intense and very bizarre!


Rikki Prince I half wonder whether the slow pace of the human sections and the snappiness the Motie sections is meant to reflect the speed of the thought and communication processes of the respective species?


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