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A Hole in Space

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,528 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Stories from science fiction's master storyteller, including "Rammer", "A Hole in Space", "The Fourth Profession" and the Louis Wu story "There Is a Tide", as well as a discussion of non-planetary structures for human habitation (including the Ringworld) called "Bigger Than Worlds."

"His tales have grit, authenticity, colorful characters and pulse-pounding narrative drive.
Kindle Edition, 206 pages
Published June 22nd 2011 by Spectrum Literary Agency (first published June 1974)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Hole in Space was one of Niven's best early collections, with stories from several of his best-known and most popular universes. It can be argued that Niven was more effective in those days as a short fiction writer than he was as a novelist, because he could throw his ideas out to challenge and engage the reader without bothering overmuch with complex plot or character motivation. He was always one of the best thinking-persons writers.
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an early collection of short stories from 1968 - 1974 by Larry Niven. Most of them deal with human teleportation via displacement booths. There are nine stories and one essay, including: Rammer, The Alibi Machine, The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club, A Kind of Murder, All the Bridges Rusting, There Is a Tide, Bigger Than Worlds (essay), $16,940.00, The Hole Man (winner, 1975 Hugo Award; 1975 Locus Poll Award, Best Short Story (Place: 2)), The Fourth Profession (nominated, 1 ...more
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty great Larry Niven short story collection, mostly focusing on the problems created by the invention and popularization of "displacement Booths" AKA teleportation as mass transit. For all you nerds out there...this collection only kinda fits into Niven's KNOWN SPACE series.

Stories of note in this collection:

RAMMER: a man who had himself cryogenically frozen wakes up to find himself in a very different future then he could ever imagine.

Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
Yet another freebie from the "Y". I love their book table. This copy was the 1974 paperback, not even sure if the book is still in print. No ISBN barcode, the books listed in the back were only $1.25. It was a simpler time.

There are 10 stories in this collection. Two of them are basically essays about the economics of space travel, one from the standpoint of what to do when you have to rescue a lost expedition and one about how star ships can scale up in size (including Dyson spheres and Niven's
Peter Tillman
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Diehard Niven fans
[Corrupt] Online text,

First pub 1973, Vertex. Reprints:

I must have read this, but the first para or 2 aren’t familiar….

Maybe not: “There had been displacement booths in 2004: the network of passenger teleportation had already replaced other forms of transportation over most of the world.… ” Heh. We’re running late, here in 2019!

Puzzle story, and not a particularly good one. Stalled, probably headed for DNF. Not hor
A fantastic collection of short stories - I too like the idea of displacement booths, but for the vision of wide, empty streets with no cars whizzing along them. Probably my favourite two stories were the last two - "The Hole Man" is quite a scary thought of how just a small black hole could swallow a planet, a solar system. And "The Fourth Profession" was actually quite funny.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short (and not so short) stories by Niven. Quite a few recurring themes, but all are exceptionally well written, fun, and mildly educational (although I reserve my doubts about some of his math.

Also, to quote one of my friends, "heh, heh, A-hole in space".
I first read this as a kid. I know I started reading Niven with a short story collection but I'm not sure if it was this or The Flight of the Horse. I think it was this.

When I started reading it this time around it was because a) my reading had stalled and I wanted to kick-start it with something familiar, and b)I had a hankering for a particular story (The Fourth Profession).

Which might be ways of excusing the fact that this book isn't that great but I read it anyway. I'm not sure if you were
This is a collection of several of Larry Niven’s early short stories. These suffer a lot from the time they were written in the way they portray women. Some of the speculation about tech is just wrong to the point of seeming dumb because it turns out tech does not work that way. It turns out to actually be hard to teleport something / someone and there is no way it could not be done without being able to track a person or package. It is also interesting that I remember reading several of these s ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Hole in Space (which is a terrible pun BTW) is a story collection by Larry Niven. First published in 1974 the stories still retain relevance today, and they're very exciting. Hidden away in the middle of the book is a hard science essay on the various vehicles we (humanity) might successfully construct to get to the stars. I would have been nine years old in 74 but I'm sure I would have greeted this essay with enthusiasm. I'm not nine anymore, however-so I have to admit my reaction was entirel ...more
Thanos Kandris
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is some tremendously good sci-fi that's still a treat to read some 40 years later. I had never read Niven's work before, although I was familiar with him as an author, so this was a great introduction to his writing. His stories keep a balance between technical detail and human intrigue. There's murder and mystery and spaceships and aliens, and the fate of humanity is always on the line. There are points where I thought it was maybe a tad too murderous...several of the stories seem to be Ni ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From that classic genre of the sci-fi short story collection. 3 or 4 of the stories explore developing possibilities of a kind of transporter technology, the basis of which is that instantaneous transportation makes the concept of alibis all but meaningless in crime fighting. The final story, "The Fourth Profession," starts with the idea of aliens visiting Earth and transferring knowledge via pills, but ends in an interesting exploration of what it means to be a prophet, in very much the biblica ...more
This collection of Larry Niven short fiction is heavy on stories from the early age of teleportation, which are not among my favorites. Two excellent pieces stand out: "There Is a Tide," a Known Space story featuring Louis Wu (of Ringworld fame) on vacation, and "The Fourth Profession," wherein a bartender becomes an expert on several unusual skills when an extraterrestrial offers him learning pills. ...more
Ryan Jiorle
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the variety of stories packed into this short collection, with some "detective story" SF at the beginning and traditional space SF at the end. This type of hard science fiction almost reads like popular science in the nonfiction sense, which is really cool and an underrated element of the genre.
Robert Hobson
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great selection of short stories from the early '70s. Every single one of them are well written and the patina wears well, even today. I strongly recommend this book for any reader of any age.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-space
Read these stories as a teen back in the 70's and wondered how they held up. For the most part they did well. Still a believable, whole universe that holds together well. Some of the attitudes, especially towards women, feel a little dated. Still, if you are looking for good "hard" sci-fi I recommend.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Rammer (story)" (this story was later expanded into the novel A World Out of Time)
"The Alibi Machine"
"The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club"
"A Kind of Murder"
"All the Bridges Rusting"
"There Is a Tide" [Note 1]
"Bigger Than Worlds" (essay)
"The Hole Man"
"The Fourth Profession"
A Monk (an alien of a race of interstellar traders who have the technology to teach using RNA based pills) walks into a bar... Here's another collection of Niven tales! Every time I start reading one of his collections, I am amazed at the variety and scale this man can put into such small packages. The best one of this bunch is 'The Forth Profession' which is about first contact with an alien species of interstellar traders who specialize in Teaching Pills. The 'big concepts' explored include Bu ...more
Dirk Elzinga
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf
When I was 12, my uncle died by his own hand. It was a devastating loss to my grandparents and my father (his brother). I didn't know him well; my emotional universe didn't really extend much beyond myself, which is perhaps typical of 12-year olds. For several years, my grandparents did next to nothing about disposing of his book collection. I remember seeing Clausewitz and Dostoevsky in those boxes; I think Dad got those (my uncle was a Russian linguist for the Army and was stationed in Germany ...more
Mason Fake Name Here
Jan 08, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like science fiction short stories.
Recommended to Mason by: My Goddamn-Self
Shelves: trashy-sci-fi
Contains a Nebula winning short story, "The Hole Man." It is certainly questionable whether it is the best work in the collection...

First thing I've read by Niven outside of The Mote in God's Eyeand the disappointing sequel. I was very surprised at the science spouted off. Not that used to character's in books I read spouting off "six point eight-oh-nine times ten to the negative thirty-first." But other than that, a pretty enjoyable read.

Most stories based off this "hole in space" idea, that is
Shari Scott
I am not a fan of short stories to begin with, so this book started off in the hole. Niven is just too technical for me. I am not a physicist, an engineeer, nor a scientist and I think you must be one of these professions to truly understand or appreciate most of Niven's short stories. Funny enough, the only story I really liked was The Fourth Profession...the last one in the book. Now when he pairs up with Jerry Pournelle the end results are fantastic. And in his novels he takes the time to dev ...more
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi, 2008
A solid short story collection focused on the ramifications of teleportation technology. In particular, the amusing idea that ready access to teleporting would allow you to commit crimes from very far away--the police refer to the machine as the alibi box.

As usual, Niven does a great job building solid, believable characters and dancing them around the central conceit of the story. I particularly liked the final story with the visiting aliens. He does use an idea that I've read in the novel A MO
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This outstanding short story collection mostly contains stories that are set in deep space, as opposed to his other collections where the setting tends to be planetbound. The first is the excellent “Rammer” (which formed the basis for A World Out of Time), in which a man revived from cryogenic sleep is forced to pay his debt to society by going on a centuries long mission to “seed” potential colony worlds. There is also an essay on space habitats, including Niven’s Ringworld concept.

Emmett Hoops
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is that rare book of stories by a single author where every one is a little better than the one before it -- and for no other reason than that you've just grown to love the book so much. Larry Niven usually throws some very intelligent humor into his stories, and that humor is hilariously apparent in two of the stories in this collection: A Kind of Murder and The Fourth Profession (which concludes the book, and is a novella, to boot.)

Lots of fun to read, and typically illuminating as Niven
Mark Strumke
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Larry Niven book I've read in a long time and it reminded me of how good a writer he is. This book is a collection of short stories somewhat connected to each other(by the technological developments integrated into each). I found each story well written and I would recommend this book as a good intro to Larry Niven if you haven't read him previously.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a kind of a mixed bag. Rammer is flat-out brilliant, an archetype-establisher, hauntingly identifiable with and memorable, simple and vast. The Alibi Machine, interesting but a little convoluted. The rest are classic Niven, lots of hard science and thought experiments. Decent read.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: niven
It gets harder and harder to find Larry Niven shorts that I have not already read - This is a nice variety of quick reads - I kept my copy next to my bed at night, and read till I couldnt keep my eyes open before going to sleep.

It wouldnt be anything for someone to just sit down and read - they would finish in no time, and I think they would enjoy it quite a bit, I know I did.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Niven's Known Space short stories are his best work, and this compilation has tons of good stuff.

I'd recommend reading Ringworld first if you're a Known Space noob.

A must read for hard scifi fans.
Niven always delivers cool adventures in exciting worlds!
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff
Some of my first sci-fi was Larry Niven. I couldn't sleep the other night and decided to go back to my roots. All I can say is that I still <3 Known Space. ...more
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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

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