Review of Protector By Larry Niven

May 5, 2004
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audiobook - Protector by Larry NivenProtector
By Larry Niven; read by Mark Sherman
5 cassettes – 7.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2003
ISBN: 0786123907
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / Interplanetary Travel / Solar-System Civilization / Asteroid Belt / Mars / Evolution / Genetics / Biology / Ballistic Physics /

Phssthpok the Pak had been traveling for most of his thirty-two thousand years. His mission was to save, develop, and protect the group of Pak breeders sent out into space some two and a half million years before. Brennan was a Belter, the product of a fiercely independent, somewhat anarchic society living in, on, and around an outer asteroid belt. The Belters were rebels, one and all, and Brennan was a smuggler. The Belt worlds had been tracking the Pak ship for days, and Brennan figured to meet that ship first. He was never seen again, at least not by those alive at the time.

Humanity has become an interplanetary species; Luna, Mars, Mercury, the Asteroid Belt and the gas giants of Sol are the playground of mankind. But it wasn’t meant to be that way… an alien race from near the galactic core has set its sights on Earth and the cargo it brings will bear some really strange fruit.

Protector is absolutely bursting with awesome SF ideas, and the twists on them, everything from a precursor to Richard Dawkin’s “Selfish Gene Theory”, to realistic spaceship ballistics and sexual politics. Niven himself has been a giant in the SF field since the early 1970s, of the many living authors who still haven’t been bestowed with the honorific “Grand Master,” Niven is the most deserving. Protector was first published in 1973, and is a part of Niven’s ongoing “Known Space” series, one of the foremost continuing visions of the future by an SF author. Like Robert A. Heinlein’s Future History series, the Known Space novels and stories follow the expansion of humans into the galaxy. And Protector is perhaps the best of the Known Space novels, it offers some of the hardest of the Hard SF ever written, something Larry Niven has a particular talent for, and it’s a great story, both unpredictable and fun! But I can’t stress enough just how good this novel is, the plot is unpredictable but relentlessly logical and enthralling at the same time, even better this novel like Richard Matheson’s classic I Am Legend, has a deep psychological and philosophical impact on the reader, and it also has a similar twist ending. It’s simply fantastic!

Reader Mark Sherman appears to have prepared well for what really could have been a very difficult reading. Larry Niven gave the alien names a real alien sound – I had no idea how to pronounce names like “Phssthpok”, but Mark Sherman does a great job in putting voice to it and numerous other unpronounceable words. Blackstone Audiobooks’s production is super smooth, sound quality is terrific, the cassettes come packaged in the awesome library style clamshell case and the original cover art is simply amazing to behold. For those who prefer other formats, Blackstone has also released Protector in two other media types, a 6 CD set or a single MP3-CD. Whatever format you choose you must choose one as this production of Larry Niven’s Protector is nigh unto perfect.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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