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Juggler of Worlds by Larry Niven
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Juggler of Worlds (edition 2009)

by Larry Niven, Edward M. Lerner

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Member:scifi3
Title:Juggler of Worlds
Authors:Larry Niven
Other authors:Edward M. Lerner
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2009), Edition: First Edition, Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
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Juggler of Worlds by Larry Niven

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The second two books in this series of prequels were a decided improvement over the first. Juggler felt like a Niven book, and despite being rather shamelessly cobbled together out of classic Known Space short stories, at least they were very good short stories. If I'd read them more recently I probably would have enjoyed the new POVs very much. If I'd never read them at all, I might have found the story somewhat episodic, but I wouldn't have noticed it was a retread.

On the other hand, it was a pleasure to be properly back inside Known Space with Sigmund Ausfeller as guide. I believe there's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Louis Wu. I was looking out for it; if you subtitle your series '200 years before the discovery of the Ringworld", and Ringworld's hero very publicly turns 200 just before he leaves to discover the thing, you'd better have his birth pop up somewhere. ( )
  Cynara | Jun 14, 2011 |
I was a bit nervous when I realised that Juggler of Worlds was to be a retelling of Fleet of Worlds from the human perspective, but I thought, "Hey, I like slight differences like that. It could work."

Well, I'm not sure it did. Juggler turned out not only to be a retelling of Fleet from the human perspective, but seemed to be a retelling of a good portion of the short stories of Known Space, including "Neutron Star" and "At the Core" as well as the semi-new story, "Procrustes." Basically we're talking about 30% of the novel collection Crashlander was used heavily as a basis for Juggler and told in such a way that you didn't need to have read those stories to follow along. And that's good I guess...except for those of us who have read those stories.

But what got to me was a section of the novel where our heroes go to β Lyrae and find a statis box...or think they do. This chapter turns out to be a re-telling of "The Soft Weapon," regarded by everyone except, perhaps, Gene Roddenberry, as the weakest link in the 1968 Neutron Star short story collection, from Nessus' point of view. The problem is that the original story is done in 3rd person, so telling it from Nessus' point of view is such a small change that the effect is that Niven & Lerner cut & pasted "The Soft Weapon" directly into Juggler of Worlds!

I was less than impressed. ( )
  kinnerc | Dec 24, 2010 |
This is almost a return to form for Larry Niven. It revisits almost all of the Known Space stories of the Beowulf Schaeffer era and gives a different viewpoint. Maybe it does too much of that, but it doesn't turn the previous stories on their head as some authors might. It's still annoying that a series of insights by a single character can completely change the plot in a couple of pages.
Biggest scientific blooper - as soon as an object leaves the constricted radius of Known Space, it is treated in the plot as though it is gone forever. It isn't the distances in Known Space that are the problem - it's the volume of the space, and the difficulty of finding something, and matching its velocity.
  d.r.halliwell | Jun 17, 2009 |
My enjoyment of this book was definately hampered by the fact that I did not actually like (empathize with?) any of the characters. So I wasn't exactly rooting for anyone to accomplish their goals...

Also at least two scenes out of the book gave me a sense of "deja vu" - I doubt I have read this book before (as it was published in 2008) - but I knew the details of two separate encounters in the book - perhaps they were published as short stories or included in other works in the series?...I would love it if someone would clue me in as to where I have read the same scene before (I don't want to spoil a scene for anyone so I will be vague - one scene involved a device that shifted in form and/or function - the other involved trapping a person into doing what they had contracted to do ....)

Please contact me via my profile if you know where I have read these scenes previously - review will be updated to reflect new information.

Not being a fan/follower of the series I can't say if this work (billed as "A lively prequel to Niven's 1970 classic Ringworld...") adds significantly to the backstory....but, as a stand alone book, I wouldn't bother.

**UPDATE**

Regarding my invitation to contact me about the scenes that seemed familiar - LTer death4breakfast took me up on it and provided the following information which he gave me permission to reproduce here:

(Some details included may be considered **SPOILERS** by those who are sensitive to such things so BE WARNED! - PL)

Regarding your questions about familiar scenes in Niven and Lerner's "Juggler of Worlds", I think I can explain it.

A several of the scenes in it are the Sigmund Ausfaller character's point of view of much earlier short stories of Niven's. The book doesn't go into a lot of detail on any of them, so it's still possible, in my opinion, to read and enjoy all of the stories in question. (And they are very good stories, some of them Hugo Award winners for the years they came out.)

The story of Bey Shaeffer being blackmailed into taking a ship to visit BVS-1 can be found as the Hugo winning short story, "Neutron Star", and the story involving Bey, Carlos Wu, Dr. Forward, and the ship, _Hobo Kelly_ can be found in the Hugo winning story, "Borderland of Sol".

The story you get a tiny hint of from the Puppeteer's viewpoint that regards the discovery of the antimatter world, is another Bey Shaeffer story, "Flatlander". The story with the shifting weapon and the Kzin that you see from Nessus' point of view, is Niven's "The Soft Weapon".

(The story, "The Soft Weapon" also has the dubious distinction of having been made into the Star Trek Animated Series episode, "Slaver Weapon", which replaces the _Jester_ with a shuttle craft, and substitutes Uhura, Sulu, and Spock for Anne,Jason and Nessus respectively.)

All of these stories are available in Niven's short story collection, "Neutron Star", (Which is unfortunately out of print, but cheaply and easily available used on Amazon.) or in his two current collections, _Flatlander_ (The Soft Weapon) and _Crashlander_ (Everything else.)

_Crashlander_ also uses a framing story to tie all of the stories together, which gives you the real view of what happened to Sherrol, Bey, Carlos, Feather, etc.and winds up, again, making things a lot clearer.

Anyway, I hope that that helps. :)

Sincerely, Richard


Turns out that I have a copy of Neutron Star that I must have read at some point and the mystery is solved! (Thanks Richard!) ( )
  PortiaLong | Feb 3, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Larry Nivenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lerner, Edward Mmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Als Sigmund Ausfaller erwachte, zitterte er am ganzen Leib; reglos lag er auf einem kalten Boden.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765357844, Mass Market Paperback)

For too long, the Puppeteers have controlled the fate of worlds.  Now Sigmund is pulling the strings . . .
Covert agent Sigmund Ausfaller is Earth's secret weapon, humanity's best defense against all conspiracies, real and potential - and imaginary - of foes both human and alien.  Who better than a brilliant paranoid to expose the devious plots of others?
 
He may finally have met his match in Nessus, representative of the secretive Puppeteers, the elder race who wield vastly superior technologies.  Nessus schemes in the shadows with Earth's traitors and adversaries, even after the race he reperesents abruptly vanishes from Known Space.
As a paranoid, Sigmund had always known things would end horribly for him.  Only the when, where, how, why, and by whom of it all had eluded him.  That fog has begun to lift...
 
But even Sigmund has never imagined how far his investigations will take him - or that his destiny is entwined with the fates of worlds.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:53 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"For too long, the Puppeteers have controlled the fate of worlds. Now Sigmund is pulling the strings ..." "Covert agent Sigmund Ausfaller is Earth's secret weapon, humanity's best defense against all conspiracies, real and potential - and imaginary - of foes both human and alien. Who better than a brilliant paranoid to expose the devious plots of others?" "He may finally have met his match in Nessus, representative of the secretive Puppeteers, the elder race who wield vastly superior technologies. Nessus schemes in the shadows with Earth's traitors and adversaries, even after the race he represents abruptly vanishes from Known Space." "As a paranoid, Sigmund had always known things would end horribly for him. Only the when, where, how, why, and by whom of it all had eluded him. That fog has begun to lift ..." "But even Sigmund has never imagined how far his investigations will take him - or that his destiny is entwined with the fates of worlds."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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