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The Goliath Stone

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  613 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
The Goliath Stone is a visionary new tale from Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington.

Doctor Toby Glyer has effected miracle cures with the use of nanotechnology. But Glyer's controversial nanites are more than just the latest technological advance, they are a new form of life—and they have more uses than just medical. Glyer's nanites also have the potential to make eve
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Tor Science Fiction (first published June 25th 2013)
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Pseudonymous d'Elder
Goliath Stone is an homage to Robert Heinlein and Heinleinesque libertarianism. That much is clear. The mystery is how an accomplished author like Larry Niven could be responsible for such a disjointed piece of writing.

Here's a few of the authors' literary sins.
-- They have their characters interrupt the narrative seven or eight separate times just to talk about how brilliant science-fiction authors are, and to wax eloquently on the genius of Heinlein and other sci-fi writers. The characters e
Jun 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Goliath Stone is one of those books that reads like there are actually two books, one is the actual book and the other is a virtual book that the author/s wrote in their head/s or on liner notes that contain the other half of the story. Not having access to that virtual book, the reader is left to figure out what the authors are not saying. Sometimes this works well, as in, for example, Brin's Startide Rising (where the second story is the space battle amongst the various races and factions) ...more
Timothy Finucane

I thought there was much potential for this book based on the overview of the story, I couldn't have been more wrong. I don't think I've ever read a Larry Niven book that has left me this disappointed. The story is supposed to be about nano tech that is launched into space to retrieve an asteroid and bring it within Earth orbit, and that part of the story is at least there, but it is surrounded by a whole lot of crap.

To start with, the authors clearly have sex on the brain. There was far more th

Richard Cytowic
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Brain Candy and a fast read" is what I called The Goliath Stone,Larry Niven's latest Sci-Fi thriller which I reviewed in The New York Journal of Books

It's a novel of big ideas centering on nanotechnology (which of course gets out of control).

Part of science fiction’s pleasure is that it is grounded in familiar elements of genre. Which is not to say that it isn’t intellectual, only that it isn’t highly literary.
Kent Beck
This book fulfilled two of the major purposes of SF: it extrapolated from current science, looking at how nanotechnology might play out in the future, and it was so bad that readers will certainly say, "I can write better crap than this," and some of them will.
David Hill
Meh. Disappointing effort from Niven and yet another collaborator. Cardboard characters, juvenile politics, thin plot. Feel free to skip this one.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Wow, this was bad. And not in a good way. The only reason I stuck it out was because of Bowl of Heaven, Larry Niven's earlier collaboration with Gregory Benford. In some respects, his collaboration with Matthew Joseph Harrington is more ambitious, but the end result is much more uneven and unsatisfying.

The problem is that the authors ignore their own plot. Or to put it another way, the writing here is so pared down and allusive, that I was fully a third of the way into the novel before I could c
Jerilyn Franz
I'm a long time (more than 30 years) fan of Larry Niven's writing and I wanted to like this book. Unfortunately Niven appears to have joined the ranks of authors who think that promoting a political philosophy is more important than writing a good story.

The book was short (230 pages), overpriced ($11.99) and spent minimal time on the actual story.

It did spend lots of time trying to sell an extremist political philosophy (a Libertarian Ubermensch based 'Government Bad/Capitalism Good' hash - com
Steven Brandt
Aug 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The biggest problem for me was that I never felt the characters were ever in any danger. They were always vastly more powerful than anyone they were facing--except the sentient nano robots in orbit. When they are finally on the verge of confronting the sentient nanos, the book just stops. Apparently a sequel is intended.

To make the lack of tension worse, there was also a long section of the book where the characters sat in a hotel room and looked things up on the internet.

Apart from that, I foun
Tim Hicks
As Larry Niven ages, the probability that his next book will be good just keeps going down.

This one's a stinker.

In mid-story, the authors talk about a character becoming hugely successful by writing romance novels - using a template and making everything as bad as it could be. I am tempted to read that as being about this book too.

There's no doubt that this is a tribute to, and perhaps a satire on, Heinlein. Whose work I also don't care much for nowadays. But do we really need yet another of
Patrick Justo
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
The story is adequate: Nanobots sent to an asteroid evolve and, for all reasonable definitions of the word, become intelligent. On Earth, the father of practical nanotechnology has been using his nanobots to subtly improve the human race. What happens when these two new species meet?

Basic Science fiction. Hard to screw up that story, right? Well, give it to Larry Niven to write. It comes out something like this:

Nanobots - did everyone see how smart I am? I'm writing about nanotechnology- sent to
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Larry Niven has done it again - the man that brought you The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer and The Legacy of Heorot is back. I'm unfamiliar with Matthew Joseph Harrington but I envy him getting the chance to write with Niven. As usual the science leaves me a little behind (okay more than a little), but the characters make up for it. They are full and rich and fun to be around. I have to wonder why this man is not in charge of our space exploration - really! If you read hard science fiction ...more
Yet another winner from Niven! An awesome story about nanotech in the hands of an altruistic/benevolent brainiac with quick wit, lots of sci-fi lore and a good bit of humorous inuendo to boot! He basically takes the 'evil genius' theme and stands it on it's head to make the 'heroic genius' who's plan pretty much fixes all the world's problems. I found this one to be a rapid read page-turner that kept my brain trying to play catch-up because my eyes would not stop! I highly recommend this book to ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tor should be ashamed for publishing this disaster. And what Niven was thinking for putting his name on this title, I do not know. The book consists of a huge series of disjointed scenes. In addition, it has the most obscure references that just about everyone has never heard of. The plot barely holds together to the end (which doesn't really exist). Most of the book is people rejuvenated by nanos running around saying "Look at us, we are awesome". Don't waste your time on this one.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book. I want to rate it a 6 ;) Stargate SG-1's replicators meet Jason Bourne meets Dennis Miller. Niven and Harrington put together a very engaging story. The brilliant mind of William Connors, aka Mycroft Yellowhorse, uses nanobots to make the world a better place while another group of nanobots, sent into space years before, develops a society of its own. Great fun!
Heather Pierini
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very technical in it's scientific descriptions but some humor reminiscent of Hitchhikers Guide.
Robert Murphree
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cutting edge SciFi....Larry Niven has a Classic wit along with complete mastery of the subject matter involved.

Robert Murphree
Scott Martin
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Larry Niven is at it again. A SciFi author of more than 40 years, and just keeps getting better. I need to read some Terry Prachett next, Niven seems to like him a lot.
Vince Westin
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very cool ideas on the applications of nano technology, and where some of it may lead. I also like the side commentaries on a lot of the political challenges of the current culture in the US.
Johan Ekbom
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A funny sci-fi story with interesting concepts and some really interesting thoughts of where nano-technology could take us.
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An exasperating paradox of a book! The framework of the story was right up my alley and the extrapolative science draped on it was interesting enough. I started this fully prepared to forgive a great many flaws. But not this many.
Already ridiculously short, with a horrifying amount of white on the felt as if it should be far longer. And yet, fully half of what was there...needed to be cut! Specifically, the rage-inducing dialogue.
I would love to read this exact story line and plot w
Nov 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely disappointing. As several already said, the most disappointing book from Larry Niven. A couple of nice ideas, but no explanation or development, so that they sounds more like magic than science. The character development is completely absent, with a remarkedly heinleinian "old man at the helm, younger pair dong the acting, and lover-of-the-old-man appearing during the story". Some pitiful excuse to add a generous quantity of sex, some judicious sprinkling of stereotypes and several un ...more
Michael Perry
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of the somewhat near future concerning nanotech and political philosophy. It is a fast paced novel and has a character that really is smarter than everyone else. Some issues addressed are the uses of nano and how smart they could be made, and to a degree how personal choice can be made or circumvented. Some ideas are terrifying, such as the introduction of internal nanobots to a person without their knowledge or choice. Benevolence and tyranny aren't separated by much. It's a gre ...more
Harry Lane
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard Sci-Fi in the sense that it extrapolates from present-day technology, but pushes so far it almost qualifies as fantasy, especially given the time frame the authors set. That quibble aside, this is an engaging book. The suspense about what happens when machines develop self-awareness is sustained to the very end. But the best part is that the action is accompanied by smart dialog among the participants, some of which is very funny. There are a lot of references to literature and earlier scie ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
A more traditional SF than I've read in a while, where the emphasis is on the technology (in this case, nanotechnology). Unfortunately, the author took too much influence from Heinlein, and the characters were all one-sided and unbelievable. It was also internally inconsistent: very strong libertarianism (didactically so), yet the genius center infects everybody with nanotechnology without their permission or knowledge (but he has good intentions and it never goes wrong, so it must be OK)
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit I'm a long time fan of Larry Niven. I thought this book was very enjoyable on many levels. I enjoyed the plot and its development. I enjoyed the alien character and its development. The humans were complex enough but didn't demonstrate as much development. They were mostly a device used to reference other science fiction writers and stories, which I happened to enjoy as well. Some of the references were pretty arcane but that's why god made google.
Danny Dishon
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very quick read. And pretty funny too. Lots of inside jokes for anyone who is a scifi fanboy/fangirl. If you have followed the work of Niven throughout the years we will be chuckling throughout the book.
Medrith Nuttle
So this guy is a great brilliant supergenius and superhero. His special cause is ending rape. So he develops these nanobots that will make us physically perfect and mentally healthy- and infects everybody in the world without asking permission!!!
Ivor Thomas
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: put-aside
I plodded through it. There are plenty of good ideas to hang a story around, but the style is a series of bantering conversations and in-jokes amongst the protagonists that is a very indirect way to tell a story. Niven is still one of my all-time favorites... if you don't include this one!
Pat Resende
I read about a third of this one, then realized that I was dreading my nightly reading time because it meant I had to slog through a few more pages of this thing. At that point I quit reading it.
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Sounds a bit like Greg Bear's "Blood music" 3 13 Jun 26, 2013 12:08PM  
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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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