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(Known Space)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  9,457 ratings  ·  242 reviews
Phssthpok the Pak had been traveling for most of his thirty-two thousand years. His mission: save, develop, and protect the group of Pak breeders sent out into space some two and a half million years before...

Brennan was a Belter, the product of a fiercely independent, somewhat anarchic society living in, on, and around an outer asteroid belt. The Belters were rebels, one
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 12th 1987 by Del Rey Books (first published 1973)
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Robert-Henrik Koch Yes, it is. I've read it in German though because I couldn't find the English version.

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Manuel Antão
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1980
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Hyperspace Shunt: "Protector" by Larry Niven

(Original Review, 1980-07-29)

Some apparent anomalies in Niven's "Protector".

I am reasonably comfortable with Larry Niven's "Known Space" universe, however I have just finished rereading "Protector" for the umpteenth time and I am somewhat disturbed by the apparent incompatibility with other "Known Space" stories.
Dirk Grobbelaar
Larry Niven proves a point here. Most other authors would be tempted to tell a story of this magnitude in a trilogy consisting of thousands of pages. Niven does it in a little over 200 pages. Granted, he keeps the featuring cast down to only a few individuals. But still…

The saga of Brennan the Belter and Phssthpok the Pak seems to enjoy a bit of cult status, and it’s easy to see why. It’s an enjoyable enough tale, with some nice surprises to keep things spicy. It also gets fairly technical, with
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Downloaded from my library & published by BlackStone Audio. It is one of his Known Universe books, there are some touch stones to others, but this stands alone perfectly well & is early in the cycle. It's old school, hard SF that I haven't read in far too long but was one of many that stretched my mind as a kid.

The premise of Protector is pretty interesting, as are the protectors themselves. Niven covers a lot of logical & moral ground in this book. I was constantly asking myself if I thought th
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Protector is essentially two separate, related novellas, published together. Niven introduces some fascinating concepts, at the core of which is an intriguing alien species, originating in the galactic core, with ancient ties to humanity making first contact after millions of years. But, as with most of his work, I found it fairly dry, heavy on the info dumping and science and light on story and character development, which generally feels didactic. In particular, he gets into the weeds way too ...more
Dec 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
"Protector" has one of the best ideas I have seen in any SF novel, and I'm astonished to find that not one of my friends has it on their shelf. Here's an intro (all revealed very early on, so it hardly counts as a spoiler). It turns out that human beings aren't actually from Earth after all; we are originally colonists from another planet a long way from here.

On the home planet, humans go through two life stages. First, they are Breeders. Breeders, as the name suggests, are only interested in h
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Further proof, if it were needed, that Niven is the king of creating interesting, believable, yet totally alien aliens.

Take all the features of human senescence: wrinkled, leathery skin, teeth and hair falling out, heart failure, joints swollen from over-use. Now imagine that all of these features are signs not of a body breaking down, but the beginnings of a third-stage of human development: the super-strong, hyperintelligent "protector" stage.

The frailties of old age become the strengths of a
3.5 stars. Great book by one of the masters of Hard SF "storytelling." This is a book with "big" ideas that are well thought out and explanined and yet such explanations are not given at the expense of the story.

Translation = Big concept, Hard SF that is a lot of fun. Recommended.

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1974)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1974)
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf
The last time I read this was in 7th grade, towards the end of my first real "I'm going to read everything this author has written" phase in which I devoured everything Known Space. (Come to think of it, I never did get around to reading The Integral Trees...) It's interesting to see what I actually remember about the Known Space universe and the stories in it. Niven's universe was very interconnected. I caught references to World of Ptavvs and A Gift From Earth, but I'm sure I missed others.
Being part of Niven's Tales of Known Space this is a somewhat older book. It's a mans first contact story and concerns the arrival in the solar system of the first alien visitor. From there things do not go as you might expect and the book covers several hundred years due to lots of travelling at sub light speeds.
In a few places it did seem a bit dated, and I was not at all convinced about the mono-pole (single ended magnet) technology, but overall, still a great book. Bringing together scienc
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Old read. Probably my favorite Niven book.
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my_ebooks, my_books
Re-reading Ringworld earlier this month as part of Sword & Laser book club selection got me in the mood for a re-read of Ringworld Engineers. Part way into that I dug out Niven's Protector and decided I should re-read that before getting much further in RW Eng. Overall I like this book ALMOST as much as Ringworld, some parts more so, some less. I would rate it a 4.5 if I could, putting this just under Niven's Ringworld, Mote in Gods Eye & Dream Park novels which are my favorites.

I enjoy a number
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing

(After reading the 5 books of the Ringworld, I decided to read the related works in Larry Niven's Known Space universe. Protector figured largely in the unfolding of the Ringworld series and I thought it would be interesting to revisit this book. As such enterprises tend to do, it brought up memories of a youthful life and all the silly things one can get into. Like hitching a ride with the Pak, you never know where you'll wind up.)

So Protector is the book, also the race and the spaceship. T

Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding! One of the greatest science fiction books ever written. This would have to be in my Top Ten books and definitely my favourite Larry Niven book.

And did I mention the cover? What a great cover!
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Five stars for the first half. Three stars for the second. Read the other reviews to find out why. Contains key information about the Pak protectors, which are threaded throughout Larry Niven's Known Space story arch including the Ringworld series.
With a world that is surprisingly consistent with the Expanse series of novels (and TV show), and a story that is light on characterisation but heavy on interesting concepts, Protector is a thoroughly engaging short novel.

(Interesting bit of trivia: the cover art of the UK edition by Peter Andrew Jones was also used as the cover of the 1989 videogame Blood Money by DMA Design, the team that would later go on to fame as Rockstar North, the developers of the Grand Theft Auto games).
Μιτς Γιωτίξ
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first book written by Niven that I read. Even though the final parts felt a bit "rushed", I really liked his style so I will definitely read more of his works in the future.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We always knew there was something wrong with growing old. Larry Niven tells us why. One of the most moving stories I have ever read.
Eric Lawton
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting idea, well-written, not really thought-provoking but I've read it three times, with a decade between each to be sure I've forgotten all the spoilers except the main one.
Another for my Hindsight 2020 re-reads.

It’s a touch more sexist than I recall, but not too bad considering it was written in 1972. The women are just as smart and capable as the men, with a couple in positions of authority. Still, there is a touch of “I’m just a girl!” to some of it.

As with all SF from this era the tech is sometimes painfully outdated, with the exception that people have phones on them the way we do today. Also the throwaway bit about how shoes are individually tailored to each
May 05, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Sarll
To some extent I consider Larry Niven's Known Space stories the default setting for science fiction. Not early enough to be pulp, yet still definitely not New Wave, let alone modern; never quite OTT enough to be space opera, yet even in the earlier stories too relaxed about the science to feel like mundane SF. The science has gaps and handwaves, but there's also a keen awareness that sub-light space combat would be incredibly boring. And so forth. This might sound like an insult, like calling th ...more
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: rockers
Recommended to Jason by: fate
I first read this book when I was about 13. I loved it then, and after picking it up last week, was pleased to discover that it still holds up.

Larry Niven had a streak where he wrote some truly bad ass science fiction. His later stuff isn't as fun - somewhere along the way he stopped being original and started writing "like Larry Niven" - but for a while he was the best there was. Ringworld, World Out Of Time, and his short stories are all very good, and definitely worth checking out.

As for Pr
Dirk Myers
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 (whether or not Goodreads actually lets me do that! hah!)

One of my favorite Larry Niven books.

Fun concept, and I very much like the descriptions of interplanetary travel and interplanetary combat. Another reviewer here mentioned that this book managed to span a lot of time, distance, and ideas into a short novel, and that's both true and part of the charm of the book. The book isn't rushed, but it's efficient: there's no time for things that aren't directly related to the story. Like much h
Doug Dandridge
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best of the Know Space Series.
Larry Niven is best known for his Known Space series and it outgrowth, Ringworld. One of the majors players in Ringworld are the Protectors, beings of great strength, intelligence, and a homicidal desire to protect their offspring, the idiot hominids that are their offspring. Millennium before a colony had been sent to Earth and never reported back, so a childless Protector comes here to find out what happened. It finds a space faring civilization, someth
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Protector is a excellent novel in Niven's Known Space series, a thought provoking book that covers a vast amount of space and time (the basic elements of sf!) in a relatively short book. Niven strength here is his ability to create believable aliens and cast them in scientifically challenging and plausible situations. (It's been said that his alien characters are more realistic than his human ones.) Protector is a good old hard-sf novel, well worth searching out. (And I love the Dean Ellis cover ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Inventive, iconic and fun. This is pulp sci-fi at its best! Enough hard-science stuff to make it enjoyable and believable, with fun characters and an excellent entry into the Known Space universe. It lays some great groundwork for the other novels in a cohesive way and yet stands well on its own.

Definitely worth a read if you are a sci-fi type, especially if you enjoy hard-sci-fi and/or have ever read any of the Known Space novels (e.g. Ringworld).
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I don't know why I like this book so much. The biology which is central to this story is ridiculous. The whole concept appeals to me though. Highly intelligent and highly dangerous beings who are ruled by a glandular need to protect their offspring at any cost. The physics, on the other hand, is solid. The space battle between Brennan's ship and the Pak scout ships lasted months since everything is limited by the speed of light.
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Larry Niven work, and my second favorite science fiction novel of all time (after The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress). Niven somehow makes a very unlikely story of human origins perfectly plausible, and a seven-year-long space battle against unseen enemies utterly riveting. I've read this book about two dozen times, and I still pick up details I've missed. ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
WOW ! Probably the first book in the series about the ET species called the PAK and its relationship with humanity. The rest of the series were entitled Ringworld. I am not sure this was the first in the order that Niven wrote them however. It is a great book. High tech., good science and extra terrestrials ! What more could anyone ask. It is written by the best author in the this genre, or any genre. Highly recommended !
Aug 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
A cult sci-fi novel if there ever was one. Belter and Pak society become so familiar concepts in a fairly short book, that you are left grasping for a sequel. Incredibly rich in ideas and alien culture, with an underlying philosophical theme that may connect with the more spiritually minded. Does end a bit too quickly.
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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

Other books in the series

Known Space (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton (Known Space)
  • Flatlander
  • The Patchwork Girl
  • The World of Ptavvs (Known Space)
  • Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (Known Space)
  • Neutron Star (Known Space)
  • A Gift from Earth (Known Space)
  • Crashlander (Known Space)
  • Ringworld (Ringworld, #1)
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld, #2)

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