The World of Ptavvs – Larry Niven


This book is part of a new mini project I’m doing over the next month or so which concerns re-reading. I’ll cover this in more detail in another post shortly but for now all you need to know is that I chose this book at random from a shortlist.

The World of Ptavvs is one of Larry Niven’s early books in the ‘Known Space’ universe. It opens with an alien, Kzanol, escaping from his ship which is about to crash by getting into a stasis suit which will keep him safe, with no time passing, until he can be rescued. Unfortunately that takes a rather long time, 2 billion years in fact. He is eventually dug up on Earth and is named the “sea statue” and becomes a cultural artifact. However when he is accidentally let out of the suit he wreaks havoc trying to find his other stasis suit in which he left a valuable tool. Kzanol is part of a race that enslaved other races using mind control and he uses that talent to try to recover the other suit.

I enjoyed this book. It’s short and a quick read and although, like all early Niven it’s not great on character, it has a lot of ideas. I’ve left out quite a lot in the description above. There’s a chase through the solar system, inter-system politics and possible war, a man who becomes convinced he is Kzanol and Pluto being set on fire. It’s also very interesting how primitive some of the future tech is. They have spaceships with fusion drives but the on-board entertainment is a video game which involves connecting lines between grids of dots on a screen.

In a reflection perhaps of when it was written (1966) the politics surrounding who gets to have and control what’s in the second suit take on a kind of Mutually Assured Destruction aspect.

As for the re-read aspect I’m not going to comment on that now but I made various notes.

7/10 – big ideas and a fun romp through space, if a little dated.

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About shuggie

My name is Shuggie, Paul or LatePaul depending on where you know me from. I work in computers (databases) and occasionally write about softw
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