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Neutron Star

(Known Space)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  12,004 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Come to Larry Niven's Universe and meet all the natives: Thrints, Bandersnatchi, Puppeteers -- and a host of other wonderfully created characters.
Visit Lookitthat, Down, and Jinx -- indeed, an entire galaxy of planets found only in these stories that trace man's expansion and colonization throughout Known Space.
A spectacular cycle of the future . . . a 10,000-year history
Mass Market Paperback, 285 pages
Published August 12th 1977 by Del Rey (first published October 1966)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,004 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Dec 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
[Original review, Feb 2009]

For people who haven't read the book, a quick physics test. The hero agrees to put his ship on an orbit that will take it to within one mile of the surface of a neutron star. His employers assure him, correctly, that the ship's hull will stop any form of radiation. Nevertheless, it's a really stupid idea. Why?

If you didn't get it, don't feel bad. Beowulf Shaeffer doesn't either, and finds out the hard way.

[Update, Jul 2014]

Since postin
Holy crap was this ever good. I'm not sure how I missed reading any of the Ringworld series before, but with this being the 40th Anniversary, I figured it was time.

With epic series like this, I usually hit the 'net to see if there's a recommended reading order, or anything that will help me to "get it" a little more easily. Every site I visited recommended starting with Neutron Star. This is an anthology of 8 short stories (each novelette length,) set in the universe of Ringworld - the future o
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this years ago when I was first exploring science fiction - the artwork by Peter Jones - the doorway in to Known Space even today still appeals to me. But I get ahead of myself I can tell.

Okay this was part of a series of books I picked up at a carboot sale (British thing trust me) and where there was an old suitcase full of books. Well I could not resist not realising what I was letting myself in for.

Anyway this is a series of interconnected stories - if you accept the connec
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not fond of Science Fiction in general, except for the ‘known space’ stories by Larry Niven. Known Space is populated by more than 10 intelligent species, each with its own eccentricities. My favorites are the puppeteers — extremely smart but ditto cowards — and the Outsiders, who do not need an atmosphere and live by selling information: interesting facts about the galaxy, which they seem to know better than anyone.

Niven has written many stories about known space. This book was recommended
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'd been in the mood to read some classic sci-fi: something distant and cynical, taking place in deep space, where there was fantastic technology and alien races and not many people to mess it all up. This was perfect. Neutron Star is a collection of short stories from Niven prefacing Ringworld and highly worthwhile if you like the latter. I'll be re-reading Ringworld soon with these stories in mind. Plus let this also be a good reminder to just read more Larry Niven. There aren't many writers s ...more
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Neutron Star is my favorite short story collection, with quite a few gems from Niven’s Known Space universe. Unfortunately it is out of print. Luckily though, all the Beowulf Shaeffer stories have been republished in Crashlander with the addition of two newer stories.
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rpg-material
Second time through and I was able to finish as well as remember what I read.

My favorite is "The Ethics of Madness". I was dumbstruck by the ending. I also really liked the structure and the way Niven related the story and the information indirectly.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neutron Star is arguably Niven's best Known Space collection, containing stories that appeared over a relatively brief span but introduced a vast array of fantastic puzzles and fabulous stories. Beowulf Schaeffer, a likable rogue who's one of Niven's best characters, appears in many of them, and planets such as Jinx, Down, and Lookitthat provide classic science fiction settings. This is hard sf at its best.
Jun 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Niven sure has a wild imagination. And a really bad taste for puns, but also some really intellectual humor. His ideas are genius even to this day and age. His science-fiction is so realistic, it's disturbing at times.
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Adam by: Dad
Great book of short stories, which I usually don't care for. The difference here, I believe, is that most of the stories relate in some manner or if nothing else they are all set in the same sci-fi universe. Good stuff.
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been rereading these stories for a couple of months, a few pages at a time. I always did think that Larry Niven wrote better short pieces than novels, and this reread just made me believe it more.

The stories are set in the "Tales of Known Space" universe, of which Ringworld is probably the most well known example. I believe all these stories take place before Ringworld, but it's not necessary to read them before Ringworld. They're still fun.

Yes, I think "The Soft Weapon" drags in the midd
Classic sci-fi but dated in spots as well as illogical. The stories featuring Beowolf were a highlight though.
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
An interesting set of stories. I plan on reading more of the ringworld books and this was a good introduction to the universe.
Eric Stodolnik
Damn fantastic collection of short stories.

This would be a great first book to read if someone is interested in getting into Niven's Known Space universe, but don't know where to begin. Since this book's stories consist of much of Niven's initial fleshing out of Known Space, in 1966 and 1967, it is most definitely a perfect book to use to dip one's toes into Known Space.

And if you have already read Ringworld or any other Known Space books, this collection is pretty much a must. You will instant
William Franks
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this quite some years ago and was blown away by it. It stands up well to repeated re-readings.
The title story - a Hugo winner - introduces us to star pilot Beowulf Shaeffer (who appears in three other stories in the book, "At the Core," "Flatlander," and "Grendel"), as well as the Puppeteers who also feature in Niven's later Ringworld series. These are the tales that introduce us to Known Space. I particularly enjoyed the Shaeffer stories for the character's voice (told first-person
Tim Deforest
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very entertaining anthology of hard SF novellas set in the Known Space universe. I'm a particular fan of "The Soft Weapon," probably for nostalgia reasons--I saw the adaptation of it on Star Trek: The Animated Series when I was a kid. But the original story has a Pierson's Puppeteer in the role given to Spock in the adaptation. Those two-headed and cowardly aliens are always fun to hang out with. Of all the nifty aliens Larry Niven created to populate Known Space, the Puppeteers are my favorit ...more
Feb 03, 2009 added it
Shelves: books-i-own, sci-fi
A collection of early short stories by Larry Niven that take place in his "Known Space" universe (i.e., Ring World). Mostly of a "hard science" sort of story lines, where actual aspects of physics are a part of the plot line. I really enjoyed at least half of the stories in this book. Would recommend for fans of the hared science short stories of Asimov and Clarke.
Some of the great short fiction from Niven's "Known Space" universe - just enough hard science to make you believe this could all happen one day, and more than enough engaging writing to make this a book I read again and again.
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
what a great way to start my crusade into the ringworld series. i plan on reading all of the books of the known space. Niven seems to have a great knack of telling stories. i enjoyed this book very much
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dianne-s-books
If you are going to read Niven's Ringworld... and you should... warm up with Neutron Star. The collection of short stories introduces you to the world you'll be playing in. Great collection and one that can be read over and over again.
Feb 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Larry Niven has a great imagination and he is a really nice person. Love his books.
Brent Werness
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
A highly entertaining collection of great sci-fi short stories!
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading this splendid specimen of 1970s hard SF. Neutron star is probably my favorite Larry Niven short story collection. I wanted to pick this up to re-read "the Soft Weapon" and "the Handicapped", which I guess means that I'm partial to the stories with the Thint (I also really liked World of Ptaavs). I really enjoyed the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, even though "Neutron Star" & "Flatlander" are clearly intended as vehicles for thought experiments about how a human would experience exotic spac ...more
Jonas Salonen
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Wow. I had never read anything by Niven but had naturally heard a lot about his work. This is probably the first book in the Ringworld (or Known Space) series. It tells some tales from the same universe in which Ringworld happens.

I was blown away. I mean... I have heard that Nivens theories are not all plaucible and some of his mathemathics is off. But I wouldn't know. I understand that the problem some hove with Niven is that his work is labeled as hard scifi (which I think it mostly is). Add t
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here we have an unimpeachable collection of early short fiction from an author whose output can be uneven at time. These stories, all set in the Known Space universe, and originally published between 1966 and 1968, hang together loosely and help to form a sort of exposition of that universe, its conventions, and its inhabitants. Because this exposition is embedded only incidentally within eight fast-paced and ingenious short stories, the reader is never plagued by tedium. Of course, one can alwa ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
An enjoyable collection of well written short stories that often double as puzzles of science or logic. The puzzles fall flat in a few places (e.g. how do you get a sunburn through material that only allows visible light to pass?), but don't let that detract you from the adventures to be had. My mistake was reading this in the middle of a long New Wave binge. If you take away Niven's scientific acumen, you are left with exactly the sort of universe and characters the New Wave was pushing off fro ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unexpectedly brilliant

I got a few pages in and was having a hard time getting into it so set it aside for awhile. Then I picked it up again and realized how much depth there was to it. A series of interconnected stories with crazy ends to some parts of it. The ending itself was enjoyable and I can't help wishing there was more. However, I find danger in prequels and sequels. Frankly, this work stands on its own and has no need for more. It just makes me want more.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great collection of novella length short stories. Going in, I thought it was a novel. The stories are linked by virtue of taking place in the same "known universe" with a character, Beowulf Shaeffer, who appears in many of them. I wasn't the biggest fan of Ringworld when I read it a few years ago, but I really enjoyed this title. ...more
Tom Britz
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neutron Star is a collection of short stories that are the ground floor for Niven's "Known Space" series. This is a nicely rounded set of stories. Niven is known as a "hard science" writer, and it shows in a couple of these stories. They seemed like a thinly veiled science article, even those however were quite entertaining.
Eric Starr
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Collection of classic Niven short stories, all of them in the same fictional universe, all of them very good.

I may be biased in reviewing books that I have loved since I was a teen, but I find myself enjoying these stories just as much today. I have read this collection literally countless times.
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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)
  • Protector (Known Space)
  • Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (Known Space)
  • A Gift from Earth (Known Space)
  • Crashlander (Known Space)
  • Ringworld (Ringworld, #1)
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld, #2)

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