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All the Myriad Ways

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,863 ratings  ·  45 reviews
An early collection of short works. Includes: All the Myriad Ways (1968); Passerby (1969); For a Foggy Night (1968); Wait It Out [Known Space] (1968); The Jigsaw Man [Known Space] (1967); Not Long Before the End (1969); Unfinished Story No. 1 (1970); Unfinished Story No. 2 (1971); Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex (essay, 1969); Exercise in Speculation: The Theory and Practic ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 181 pages
Published June 1971 by Del Ray (first published October 1968)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Idea-hunters, science-fiction fans
"All the Myriad Ways" is pretty ancient, by modern science fiction standards, but it's also more than that. It's one of Niven's collections of mixed fiction and commentary, science explanation, and basically "wild ideas" that he has either come up with or is happy to pass along to others. (Had string theory been around when it was written, I feel sure Niven would have discussed it.)

I chose this one to review because it's the one I can find my copy of and remember what's in it. But use it as a ge
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The title story is amazing. Instantly rises to my top 5 fave short stories of all time, right alongside The Veldt by Ray Bradbury. A quick, easy read that provokes challenging philosophical ideas. The easy writing style and enthralling, dreamlike sci-fi setting is enough to prompt me to read Niven’s other works.
“Casual murder, casual suicide, casual crime. Why not? If alternate universes are a reality, then cause and effect are an illusion. The law of averages is a fraud. You can do anything, a
May 08, 2009 rated it liked it
The title story is nice, and Inconstant Moon is always a joy. There's a segment of nonfiction in the middle that drags horribly -- Niven has poor command of density for nonfic. ...more
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This unusual collection combines 14 short fiction and non-fiction pieces into a mostly satisfying grab-bag. The highlights include "Passerby," a clever take on deus ex machina; "The Jigsaw Man," which speculates about a world in which organ replacement has become commonplace, and the implications which result from the possibility of near-eternal life; "Not Long Before the End," a remarkably original take on swords and sorcery which hinges upon an examination of the source of magic; "Man of Steel ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-anthologies
This is pretty good. Just some short stories and two essays. I'd read more Niven based on this.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike many reviewers, I think the essays on teleportation and time travel are some of the best parts...
Erik Graff
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sf fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
The Superman/Lois Lane "essay" is quite risque and very funny--not at all typical of my mental picture of this hard-science SF writer. ...more
Michael Bafford
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I've read a good deal of Larry Niven over the years. I lost faith when he was writing his fascist military books together with Jerry Pournelle but I got this from a friend and it was worth a few hours reading. There are some pretty wild ideas but most of the stories are so easily forgettable I had forgotten the ones in the beginning by the time I reached the end. I didn't hurry. What's the point of a short-story collection if you can't drag it out.

All the Myriad Ways refers to the theory of the
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
A collection of so-so Niven short fiction with a couple of excellent stories. "Not Long before the End" tells of one of the greatest showdowns in the age of magic. In "Becalmed in Hell", an astronaut and his ship (yes, it's sentient), stranded in the "searing black calm" of Venus's atmosphere, attempt to repair an engine failure before they get crushed or incinerated (or probably both).

This collection overlaps somewhat with Tales of Known Space ("Becalmed in Hell", "The Jigsaw Man").
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The title story and "Inconstant Moon" were really great, I think they alone make it worth to buy the book. Especially the first one throws up many interesting questions concerning practical philosophy -
what do "free will" and "free decision" mean? What are their value? Is a free decision only pure chance and nothing more?
I feel the other stories do not match up in quality to these two, but they all are short, interesting and fun reads.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an early of collection of fiction and non-fiction from Niven with many of what would be come to be known as his early classics included. What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers? was always one of my very favorite titles, Inconstant Moon is an established classic of the field, and people are still reprinting and discussing his Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex essay. There are also a number of early Known Space stories... a strong selection indeed!
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hard science...fiction

Niven is my favorite writer. He combines real physics, humor, personality and mystery as no one else can. Enjoy yourself. Read this and all his books. My best is Lucifer’s Hammer. Ringworld is most people’s favorite.
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reasonable (but not perfect) treatment of the overused sci fi interpretation of a quantum physics "many worlds" reality. Mostly shows how it isn't a terribly interesting theme for fiction (which was Niven's argument as well). ...more
A great read, well worth the time. And the time will go fast. Of course, I'm keen on science fiction from this era. ...more
Lee Belbin
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Wonderful collection of wild ideas - the reason I love Science Fiction.
A puzzling story that I listened to while falling asleep. I may need to listen to it again for clarity.
Daisy Goudan
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
The titular short story is absolutely chilling, incidentally horror in the way that only good science fiction can be.
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was fun! A lot of this I can easily see in the 1960's Star Trek TV show. Nothing overly complex, just some really cool, short ideas! As many have said, it's very technical in the middle and I can see not many being keen on that. All good. Was neat to think about and to try to get into Niven's head a little but if you're not looking for technical writings, just skip them. In particular, I enjoyed Passerby and Inconsistent Moon.

Caitlin Ball
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A story which covers one of my favorite subjects, which I've spent the greater half of the last eight or so years studying. Something which never seems to come up, even in theoretical physics it seems, is that if every eventuality is possible, then the possibility that a single individual might the exact same choices in every reality must also be possible, despite the fact that choice might have various outcomes. It was only lightly touched near the end of this one, but beautifully so. It's an a ...more
Larry Wentzel
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I used to read Larry Niven's stories voraciously as a kid. He's one of the hard sci-fi authors, who actually understands the science part of sci-fi and works out the myriad ways (see what I did there?) that scientific advances will affect society and the way people behave, the things they assume to be part of their world, and what throws them in these advanced technologies. Niven is a big ideas guy, on a rank only below Asimov, IMO.

This collection of short stories are story starters: short stori
Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I liked several of the stories in this book, but I think it was a mistake to throw three non-fiction essays in the middle. They make it pretty obvious that the stories are all about the clever idea and not about anything else.

There are some clever ideas here. My favorite story was "What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?," but I also liked the two extraplanetary stories, one set on Venus and one on Pluto. "Not Long Before the End" was a clever take on the death of magic. I didn'
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One drawback of collecting an author's entire oeuvre (especially in the SF/F world) is the repetition of short stories in various and sundry anthologies. For example, while I'd never read this book, I had read most of its stories within other collections.

IMHO, Niven's talent really shines in his short stories; whether exploring the concepts of time travel, life on other planets, the slippery slope of organ transplantation, magic as a finite resource or Superman's sex life (really!).

While some
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Larry Niven has always been my favorite Sci Fi author. I got the chance to meet him, along with Jerry Pournelle's son, when working in the late 1990s. This book exemplifies his mastery of the craft, though old.

You can see shades of some of his longer books in this, and the development or a "known universe" set of stories. Other are, well let's just say creative. "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" is an essay on whether Superman can mate with humans. The unfinished story is three paragraphs that s
Peter Tillman
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rating based on the title story, one of his very best. Time for a reread. Cool cover on the first ed.:

TOC, with a few comments:
"All the Myriad Ways"
"For a Foggy Night". Another classic parallel-worlds story.
"Wait it Out"
"The Jigsaw Man"
"Not Long Before the End", 1969, might be the best of his "Magic Universe" or "Warlock" stories.
"Unfinished Story #1"
"Unfinished Story #2"
"Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" !! Con-souvenir classic.
"Exercise in Spec
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This short story and essay collection contains some of my favorite stories of all time. For example Becalmed in Hell is about a man and his machine partner exploring Venus. It has a very clever psychological twist. Inconstant Moon, which won the Hugo in 1972, is about a couple of people inferring a great disaster on the far side of the world. Epic stuff. Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex is a hilarious essay about the problems Superman would have mating with the hypothetical woman “LL”. It may be o ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to my older brother, I developed a taste for Larry Niven shortly after exhausting my middle school library's collection of Hienlien. This is a particular favorite for the essay "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, or Why Superman Can't Get a Date," as well as the one on teleportation. They still hold up. ...more
May 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Some stories and some essays, all on Niven's characteristic hard-science perspective. Includes an essay on time travel and the classic consideration of Superman and Lois Lane's love life, "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex". I read this with great enthusiasm thirty years ago, and, surprise! found it a bit dated. ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I only read the titular story, which was a standard piece of science fiction based on the multiverse theory. It was an okay yarn, though the idea was clearly of more importance to Niven than the characters or the story. The exploration of how people would react to the multiverse theory being proven true was trite.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book would have been more fun if it hadn't contained like 40% recycled material from other Niven collections. What, did you think I wasn't going to read those other collections? Weak. But the new stuff was great as usual. ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ahhhh... these short stories were great! If you read NOTHING else out of this book of short stories, you MUST read "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex"... you'll never look at Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Supergirl and Superman the same way (at least, not without laughing) ...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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