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The Mote in God’s Eye

Thu 29th May 2014

The Mote in God's Eye (Moties, #1)The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Mote in God’s Eye is an incredibly well written sci-fi about 4th millennium humanity making first contact with aliens from the a planet that is described as the “mote” in Murcheson’s eye, a stellar system discovered by it’s namesake. Colloquially the aliens are known as Moties. After intercepting a probe ship assumed to be from the Motie system, the human Empire launches a mission to investigate, which we follow as the main story. I’ll leave you to find out what happens next by reading the book!

The story is well written, remaining clear throughout. Even details which you might have forgotten are skilfully reminded as needed. It investigates a number of ideas surrounding the potential differences of the Motie species, society and history such as asymmetrical physique and communication far faster than humans. While it fulfils the common fantasy of the aliens we eventually meet, far in the future, as being hyper advanced, there are also aspects that make the Motie species inferior to humans. But the details of that are crucial to the story so I won’t spoil that for you.

The Mote in God’s Eye is entertaining to read, but overall is not massively inspiring. If there were any use of the contrast with an alien species to make comment about the state of humanity, then it was incredibly subtle. Sadly it felt like the ending was a little rushed; having spent 500 pages setting up the entire scenario and building a complex universe, heroes and anti-heroes, the human Empire’s decision about what to do about the Moties felt like it was based on unsubstantiated guesses, which we as the reader knew were right (having read the sub-plots), but which the characters had no evidence for. I kept waiting for the bigger twist, but the finale was fairly straightforward.

I definitely enjoyed reading this book, though it doesn’t stick in my mind as something I would love to go back and read again. I don’t think I missed anything, and I don’t think another read-through would help me consider a different perspective on the world. I would recommend it though: read it, enjoy the aliens, enjoy the action and enjoy the prospect of first contact!

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From → Books

3 Comments
  1. Ooh. I’m tempted to read this book: I read it before, but it must have been in my early teens. Love a bit of Niven.

    btw, the ad being displayed to me on your post is for Charlie’s new sleeping bag. That’s what I get for following his link!

    • Your filter bubble is your own problem 😉

      It’s definitely an entertaining read, but if you’ve read it once, there’s probably something better out there?

      • Heh, probably so. But occasionally I read for fun rather than self-betterment 🙂

        Still, you’re right… maybe I’ll reminisce with some different Niven — or Asimov!

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