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Oath of Fealty

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,935 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews

In the near future, Los Angeles is an all but uninhabitable war zone, racked by crime, violence, pollution and poverty. But above the blighted city, a Utopia has arisen: Todos Santos, a thousand-foot high single-structured city, designed to used state-of-the-art technology to create a completely human-friendly environment, offering its dwellers everything they could want i

Mass Market Paperback, 324 pages
Published August 3rd 1982 by Pocket (first published 1981)
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One of the more vile and viciously right wing novels I’ve read, though to be fair I haven’t read many of them at all. But this is something like Ayn Rand – wig askew and on her 13th pink gin fizz – going off on a paranoid scree about the muggers and rapists who are all out to kill her. Because she’s so rich and talented and beautiful and they just can’t handle that so she’s bought 10 attack dogs and built a concrete bunker.

It’s all about taking the gated community to the next level, making it a
Jason Pettus
Jul 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
For those too young to remember, Niven and Pournelle (both accomplished hard-science-fiction writers themselves) teamed up throughout the 1970s and '80s to produce a series of novels that crossed over into mainstream Michael-Crichton-style success. Although Hammer of the Gods is their most popular (concerning an asteroid hitting the earth, and what these two scientist-authors imagine would really happen in such a case), my favorite is Oath of Fealty, which imagines a private corporation building ...more
Sarah Sammis
Jun 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released
In the first chapter of Oath of Fealty, one of the characters makes an off-handed reference to Uncle Tom's Cabin and from that point on I couldn't help but compare the two books. Both books share similar flaws in the strengths of their stories as they sacrifice political agenda for narrative.

Uncle Tom's Cabin was written with an urgency and is a blatant call to end slavery. Oath of Fealty's message while politically motivated isn't as important or significant and therefore the book fails both in
Oath of Fealty is a dated, but not outdated, science fiction story of what might happen to a group of individuals if they were to live inside a self-contained (mostly) arcology in the midst of modern society. Modern society being one guessed at by the authors from the perspective of 1980. Keep that in mind.
I must preface this review with a rant to anyone who judges or reviews older books based solely on their own modern perceptions of society. If it is twenty or more years older than you, the au
-Querer y no poder, mientras se juega con lo polémico.-

Género. Ciencia ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. El libro Juramento de fidelidad (publicación original: Oath of Fealty, 1981) nos lleva hasta Todos Santos, una gigantesca construcción en la costa oeste de los Estados Unidos, a muy poca distancia de Los Ángeles, una moderna ciudad-estado próspera y avanzada, protegida por fuerzas de seguridad y cámaras que intentan evitar las amenazas de grupos terroristas y, también, la desconfianza envidiosa de o
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oath of Fealty is one of the more interesting collaborations of Niven and Pournelle. It's speculative fiction, but the science is more sociological and political than physical. It's a very thoughtful and though-provoking novel, and though it may be a little dated now I still think it's relevant. The philosophy seemed to be a little too right-wing for sf fans of the day to feel comfortable with it, but the authors always made well-reasoned, convincing arguments. The catch-phrase of the book is: " ...more
Mar 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: niven
I was borderline between 2 and 3 stars on this title, in the end I went 3 because I have so thoroughly loved the previous Niven books I have read...

This was vaguely interesting at times, but mostly it was a long drawn out boring telling of a only slightly better premise.

I didnt like the lack of consistency in terms of the their little society. It was too idealized in many ways, and I think to bring that level of idealism home, they should have made it more sealed off from the rest of LA. The lev
Mick Kelly
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Is this Science Fiction? The (kindle) edition I bought shows some kind of rocket driven aircraft circling a futuristic landscape and it is in the Science Fiction section. But when I gave up reading (28%) it just seemed to be about the running of a monster office block. Ok it's really a monster but the comings and goings of the big cast of characters seemed to be mostly about office politics and city politics (Los Angeles to be precise). Not my sort of thing. I wouldn't give it a negative review ...more
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A utterly fantastic book when written, some of the technology is dated now. Niven and Pournelle didn't anticipate cordless phones--the guy with a 20-foot cord on his phone will ring true with my generation but baffle younger readers. It originated my favorite quote on people who kill themselves doing dumb things--I won't include it here, spoilers.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Duuuude... It's evolution in action! That's all I have to say.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
The novel has a very interesting premise. A centrally controlled, almost police-state mega-gated-community created exclusively for a wealthy elite. Other than the interesting premise, the book has little to offer. It was first published in 1982 and suffers from many of the ailments of older-generation science fiction. The story is delivered mostly through dialogue in which characters with opposing views unnecessarily argue about something (or characters with similar views unnecessarily agree abo ...more
Kent Ellis
After two-thirds of this book, I had to quit it. The conflict was clear but there wasn't enough action to hold my interest. Quite enjoyed "Lucifer's Hammer,""Ringworld,"and "Peacemakers." OoF didn't come up to that standard.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1980-s
Excellent book that I think many people may not have found. I found it 30 years ago in a marked down pile!
Mary Clare
a bit too dystopian
Leo Knight
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Science fiction repeatedly asks two questions, "What if?" and "If this goes on...?" The first question brings us dreams and wonders, the second, nightmares."Oath of Fealty" blends the two.

In the future, Los Angeles has slid even further into disrepair and decay than when the authors wrote the novel in 1981. Slums, blight, crime, all the plagues of urban life persist. Incompetent politicians and bureaucrats make matters worse. However, over a formerly burned out area rises a new city, Todos Santo
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I read the German Translation "Todos Santos"
Respekt für das originelle Thema und für viel Stoff zum Nachdenken. Allerdings ist das ganze dann doch zu viel Text für mein persönliches Interesse an dem Thema. Eine Novelle hätte gereicht. Die Personen sind nicht so gut gezeichnet. Sie bleiben einem egal. Die reaktionäre Einstellung des Autoren ist zu spüren.
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: golden-age-sf
An arcology. What do we know about them? Could we live in one of them in the future without going outside just to walk? Are we able to live in a self sustainable building or structure where even weather is recycled and brought right to your household, not to mention food, water and other provisions?

Right you are if you say that Science and technology serve for our needs. Let’s commence our little analysis empirically. When A Primitive Commune back to the times of Human Herd nearly 60000 years a
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Oath of Fealty, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (3.5)
Set in 2020 (future for the writers in 1981, near future for us), Los Angeles has had a terrible fire and a corporation has constructed a self-contained city in the location. The people of Todos Santos have security and safety – but at what cost? Their location can always be tracked via electronic ID cards and there are video cameras everywhere. The Angelinos think of it as a termite hill or hive, but the residents think of it as sanctuary fro
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Love the other comments on here - stirring up the P.C. Hornet's nest.

I read this book and liked it. Now I was skeptical the thing would work that good in RL. IMO a corporation by definition exists:

1. To make money for its investors.
2. To maximize profits, for its investors.
3. To do this each and every 3 months or "Fiscal Quarter"
-and- save directives 1-3
4. To avoid responsibility.

The corporation seemed unusually benign, the sole purpose to create the artificial society and somehow argue its the
Amanda Hamilton
May 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I must be going through some ADHD or something because about two or three chapters in, this book lost me and I think I know how: I think the author is fond of writing things in this certain way. I can't think of another author off the top of my head but it most reminded me of Stephen King: multiple viewpoints with a third person omninescent POV. Then again, I may just have noticed because I read a bunch of Stephen King last year.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with writing like that b
Adam Helps
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
This is another Niven/Pournelle collaboration. The characters are flat and function purely as pawns for the plot--the real star of the show is the big shiny building. The science is decent, although the contemporary setting makes it nigh impossible for the book to avoid dating itself: Notably, there are mentions of the Soviet Union and a reference to the success of the Zimbabwean government. There are also a few areas where today's technology outstrips what the book's characters have, but overal ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally read this book in my 20s. I distinctly remember the interesting concept but not the title. (Concept: to build spaceships we first need to build self sufficient communities living together. How big should they be to be self sufficient? What is needed to be self sufficient etc. Story is about a completed Arcology in LA that houses thousands of people) What I didn't remember was the plot. Meh. Terrorist try to sabotage the arcology for .. "reasons". Builders of the arcology are all ben ...more
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it
The setting is your typical utopian society with "Big Brother" style surveillance. Except that the protagonists are the people running the show instead of the lone hero thinking for himself that They must bring down. I liked the different angle. The big wigs were sympathetic, human characters (I liked the head engineer)-- they're just trying to provide the people with a safe and perfect home. However, I felt that the eco-terrorists set up to oppose and undermine the Utopia were underdeveloped (e ...more
Dawn Lorien
Feb 13, 2011 rated it liked it
An easy read, not up to the reputation Niven and Pournelle otherwise deserve for classics like Hammer, Mote, and others. The premise is interesting, especially for me as a former Angeleno: a city-sized arcology in a riots-burned-out area of Los Angeles, to provide its "shareholders" safety and security from surrounding crime, etc, in exchange for lack of privacy/surveillance and "fealty" to the corporation.
The writing itself is pedestrian, no character development, an average plot, slightly too
Steven Reiz
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: livingroom
Dated near-future 'SF' story about what's basically just a gated community. Dated because nearly all the tech has been realized by now, and the impression the book gives about terrorists as just 'naughty kids' has become obsolete after 9-11, the War on Terror, IS etc. The term 'practise for a starship' is used a few times throughout the book but that seems nonsense, the book is all about the relations between the gated community (a big high-rise arcology) and Los Angeles surrounding it. The psyc ...more
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Niven and Pournelle make a pretty solid writing team - I've read some of their other collaborations, although Footfall is the only one I can remember offhand.
This is a pretty good tale of a titanic city-building and the culture that grew up within it.

There are some basic counter-arguments which are never addressed (e.g. "who watches the watchmen" - but this was way back in '81 so it's probably excusable), and the ending was rather weak in my opinion, and some of the technology described is hideo
Read Ng
It would have been better if I had read it when it was first released in 1981. Today it just seems to be just a bit dated and off of center. Some of the concepts never really change even after 35 years, so I still enjoyed it. I am not big on the "arcology" concept, but that is not key to enjoying the book. In general I really like the writing partnership of Niven and Pournelle. This book does come across as very Crichton at times. There is the small twist at the end that I enjoy in a good book.

Nov 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
The sci-fi aspect is thin, allowing the socio-political themes to shine through fairly blatantly. The story was engaging and interesting, with good plot twists and strong themes - my only negative comment is that this could be "literature" if the themes were presented with a bit more poetic crafting. The authors' "point" is all too in-your-face. Good literature makes such points more subtly, and ultimately more powerfully.

I do look forward to reading more Niven.
Ken Ramsay
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Perhaps it is because I read this book 30 years after it was first published, but I found its two main "what ifs" - a closed city (or arcology) and direct connection between brain and computer to be under-developed. The plot itself was slow and plodding and the characters were hollow. The underlying theme of a benevolent dictatorship didn't sit well with me, considering the state of N Africa and the Middle East at the moment. Niven has written some great books but this isn't one of them.
The general concept of this novel is pretty cool but it could've been so much more. The "innovative" technologies in the book were so archaic that I felt distant and removed from the scene. I also found myself wanting to delve in deeper to the culture, religion & politic of the Todos Santos people. What could've been an intriguing post-apocalyptic tale was distilled down into a crime drama with some occasional post-apocalyptic themes.
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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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