I went on quite the sci-fi adventure for a couple of weeks with the audiobook The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.
I’ll go with the bad things first. They switched between characters’ first and last names randomly, and it was confusing at times because a large number of characters are introduced quickly. The story was a little hard to follow because I wasn’t always sure which setting we were in; this fact had a lot to do with the large number of characters, but I also know it was in part because it was an incredibly long audiobook (20 hours). If you’re looking for a story with gender equality, this novel is not for you; it is very dated in that sense, but like many older books, it is still worth reading. You just have to remember when it was written. Although, between the humans and aliens, there’s a wealth of material to do a gender study on this book.
Now the good stuff. This was some good freaking science fiction. It had everything I was looking for in a space exploration story. It explored the nuances of encountering a new race for the first time in exquisite detail and care. Almost every question that comes to my mind when I think of encountering new civilizations was addressed.
I loved the aliens! They were neither completely good nor pure evil; they were balanced and complex intelligent beings. Their thought processes were explored as much as the humans’ were. I also really enjoyed their physical descriptions and the set-up of their society; I thought both were very original.
I could say so much more, but giving details would ruin the story because it is so intricate.
I was really impressed with this book. I have a feeling that it’s one that would be beneficial to read again after some time. I think I’ll get a print copy and read it in a couple of years. If you’re looking for a science fiction adventure, you should definitely read The Mote in God’s Eye.