Larry Niven at Stanford University in May 2006
|Born||Laurence van Cott Niven
April 30, 1938
Los Angeles, California
|Genres||Hard science fiction|
|Notable work(s)||Ringworld (1970), The Mote in God's Eye (1974)|
Laurence van Cott Niven (pron.: //; born April 30, 1938) is an American science fiction author. His best-known work is Ringworld (1970), which received Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. It also often includes elements of detective fiction and adventure stories. His fantasy includes the series The Magic Goes Away, rational fantasy dealing with magic as a non-renewable resource.
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Niven is a great-grandson of oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny, an important figure in the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s. He is also a great great grandson of Mormon Pioneer John Van Cott. He briefly attended the California Institute of Technology and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics (with a minor in psychology) from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas, in 1962. He did a year of graduate work in mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has since lived in Los Angeles suburbs, including Chatsworth and Tarzana, as a full-time writer. He married Marilyn Joyce "Fuzzy Pink" Wisowaty, herself a well-known science fiction and Regency literature fan, on September 6, 1969. He is an agnostic.
Niven is the author of numerous science fiction short stories and novels, beginning with his 1964 story "The Coldest Place". In this story, the coldest place concerned is the dark side of Mercury, which at the time the story was written was thought to be tidally locked with the Sun (it was found to rotate in a 2:3 resonance after Niven received payment for the story, but before it was published).
In addition to the Nebula award in 1970 and the Hugo and Locus awards in 1971 for Ringworld, Niven won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story for "Neutron Star" in 1967. He won the same award in 1972, for "Inconstant Moon", and in 1975 for "The Hole Man". In 1976, he won the Hugo Award for Best Novelette for "The Borderland of Sol".
Niven has written scripts for various science fiction television shows, including the original Land of the Lost series and Star Trek: The Animated Series, for which he adapted his early story "The Soft Weapon". He adapted his story "Inconstant Moon" for an episode of the television series The Outer Limits in 1996.
Many of Niven's stories take place in his Known Space universe, in which humanity shares the several habitable solar systems nearest to the Sun with over a dozen alien species, including the aggressive feline Kzinti and the very intelligent but cowardly Pierson's Puppeteers, which are frequently central characters. The Ringworld series is set in the Known Space universe.
Niven has also written a logical fantasy series The Magic Goes Away, which utilizes an exhaustible resource called Mana to power a rule-based "technological" magic. The Draco Tavern series of short stories take place in a more light-hearted science fiction universe, and are told from the point of view of the proprietor of an omni-species bar. The whimsical Svetz series consists of a collection of short stories, The Flight of the Horse, and a novel, Rainbow Mars, which involve a nominal time machine sent back to retrieve long-extinct animals, but which travels, in fact, into alternative realities and brings back mythical creatures such as a Roc and a Unicorn. Much of his writing since the 1970s has been in collaboration, particularly with Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes, but also Brenda Cooper and Edward M. Lerner.
The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths.
Niven's most famous contribution to the SF genre is his concept of the Ringworld, a band of approximately the same diameter as Earth's orbit rotating around a star. The idea's genesis came from Niven's attempts to imagine a more efficient version of a Dyson Sphere, which could produce the effect of surface gravity through rotation. Given that spinning a Dyson Sphere would result in the atmosphere pooling around the equator, the Ringworld removes all the extraneous parts of the structure, leaving a spinning band landscaped on the sun-facing side, with the atmosphere and inhabitants kept in place through centrifugal force and 1000 mile high perimeter walls (rim walls). When it was pointed out to Niven that the Ringworld was dynamically unstable, in that once the center of rotation drifted away from the central sun, gravity would pull the ring into contact with the star, he used this as a plot element in the sequel novel, The Ringworld Engineers.
This idea proved influential, serving as an alternative to a full Dyson Sphere that required fewer assumptions (such as artificial gravity) and allowed a day/night cycle to be introduced (through the use of a smaller ring of "shadow squares", rotating between the ring and its sun). This was further developed by Iain M. Banks in his Culture series, which features about 1/100th ringworld–size megastructures called Orbitals that orbit a star rather than encircling it entirely (actual "Rings" and Dyson "Spheres" are also mentioned but are much rarer). Alastair Reynolds also uses ringworlds in his 2008 novel House of Suns. The Ringworld-like namesake of the Halo video game series is the eponymous Halo megastructure/superweapon.
The original release of Magic: The Gathering paid homage to Larry Niven on a card called "Nevinyrral's Disk," with Nevinyrral being "Larry Niven" spelled backwards. Subsequent sets have featured no new cards featuring Nevinyrral, although the character is sporadically quoted on the flavor text of various cards. Netrunner paid a similar homage to Larry Niven with the card "Nevinyrral".
Policy involvement 
According to author Michael Moorcock, in 1967 Niven was among those Science Fiction Writers of America members who voiced opposition to the Vietnam War. However, in 1968 Niven's name appeared in a pro-war ad in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine.
Niven was an adviser to Ronald Reagan on the creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative anti missile policy, as part of the Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy - as covered in the BBC documentary Pandora's Box by Adam Curtis. The council also convinced Vice President Dan Quayle to support the Single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) concept for a reusable space ship that led to the building of the DC-X.
In 2007, Niven, in conjunction with a group of science fiction writers known as SIGMA, led by Pournelle, began advising the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as to future trends affecting terror policy and other topics.
Other works 
One of Niven's best known humorous works is "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex", in which he uses real-world physics to underline the difficulties of Superman and a human woman (Lois Lane or Lana Lang) mating.
Larry Niven's novels frequently make use of the stasis field concept, which he also popularized.
In several titles and elsewhere Niven employs terms that are double entendre in that they are apparently metaphorical, but are in fact, meant to be taken literally, or sometimes vice versa. A few examples of this are:
- The novel Destiny's Road is in fact about a road on a planet called Destiny.
- In the Ringworld's past there was an event known as "The Fall of the Cities", in which floating cities literally fell out of the sky and crashed to the ground.
- The short story "There is a Tide" begins by speaking of a metaphorical tide of fate which guides one's destiny, but the existence of literal tides on a planet in the story is a key to the plot.
- The novel The Integral Trees features long straight floating trees which are curved at each end in opposite directions, giving them the shape of the mathematical integral sign, but are themselves integral to the life cycle of the inhabitants.
- The novel Footfall at first seems to refer to the elephantine Fithp invaders striding across the Earth, but is actually revealed to be the aliens dropping an asteroid nicknamed the Foot onto the Earth.
- He also appeared in the science documentary film Target...Earth? (1980).
Niven's Laws 
Larry Niven is also known in science fiction fandom for "Niven's Law": There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it. Over the course of his career Niven has added to this first law a list of Niven's Laws which he describes as "how the Universe works" as far as he can tell.
Known Space 
- World of Ptavvs (1966)
- A Gift from Earth (1968)
- Neutron Star (1968 collection)
- The Shape of Space (1969 collection)
- Protector (1973)—Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1974
- Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven (1975 collection)
- Three Books of Known Space (1996 reprint of Tales of Known Space, with "Madness Has Its Place" in place of "The Borderland of Sol", packed with World of Ptavvs and A Gift from Earth)
- The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton (1976 collection, reprinted as Flatlander, 1995 omnibus)
- The Patchwork Girl (1980)
- World of Ptavvs / A Gift From Earth / Neutron Star (1991 omnibus)
- Crashlander: The Collected Tales of Beowulf Shaeffer (1994 collection)
Ringworld companion series (with Edward M. Lerner)
- Fleet of Worlds (2007)
- Juggler of Worlds (2008)
- Destroyer of Worlds (2009)
- Betrayer of Worlds (2010)
- Fate of Worlds (2012)
- Ringworld (1970)— Nebula Award, 1970 Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1971
- The Ringworld Engineers (1979)—Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1981
- Guide to Larry Niven's Ringworld (1994, with Kevin Stein)
- The Ringworld Throne (1996)
- Ringworld's Children (2004)
- Man-Kzin anthologies
- The Man-Kzin Wars (1988)
- Man-Kzin Wars II (1989)
- Man-Kzin Wars III (1990)
- Man-Kzin Wars IV (1991)
- Man-Kzin Wars V (1992)
- Man-Kzin Wars VI (1994)
- Man-Kzin Wars VII (1995)
- Man-Kzin Wars VIII: Choosing Names (1998)
- The Best of All Possible Wars: The Best of the Man-Kzin Wars (1998)
- Man-Kzin Wars IX (2002)
- Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War (2003)
- Man-Kzin Wars XI (2005)
- Man-Kzin Wars XII (2009)
- Man-Kzin Wars XIII (2012)
- Man-Kzin novels
- Cathouse: A Novel of the Man Kzin-Wars (1990, with Dean Ing)
- "Cathouse" compiles two stories from the first two "Man-Kzin Wars" books and contains no new material.
- The Children's Hour: A Novel of the Man-Kzin Wars (1991, with Jerry Pournelle and S. M. Stirling)
- "The Children's Hour" contains some material previously published in "Man-Kzin Wars" volumes II and III.
- Inconstant Star (1991, with Poul Anderson)
- "Inconstant Star" compiles two stories from "Man-Kzin Wars" volumes I and III and contains no new material.
- A Darker Geometry (1996, with Mark O. Martin and Gregory Benford)
- "A Darker Geometry" contains some material previously published in "Man-Kzin Wars" volume VII.
- The Houses of the Kzinti (2002, with Dean Ing, Jerry Pournelle, S. M. Stirling)
- "Houses of the Kzinti" is a compiled edition of the previously-published "Cathouse" and "The Children's Hour" and contains no new material.
- Destiny's Forge: A Man-Kzin Wars Novel (2007, with Paul Chafe)
- The Legacy of Heorot (1987)
- Beowulf's Children (1995, UK: The Dragons of Heorot)
- Destiny's Road (1997, by Niven alone; not precisely a continuation of the Heorot series: located in the same universe, events from the first two novels are briefly mentioned)
with Jerry Pournelle 
- Inferno (1976)—Hugo and Nebula Awards nominee, 1976
- Lucifer's Hammer (1977)—Hugo Award nominee, 1978
- Oath of Fealty (1982)
- Footfall (1985)—Hugo and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1986
- Escape from Hell (2009, sequel to Inferno)
- Moties — part of Pournelle's CoDominium fictional universe
- The Mote in God's Eye (1974)—Hugo, Nebula and Locus SF Awards nominee, 1975
- The Gripping Hand (1993, UK: The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye)
- Golden Road (set in the same "Magic Universe" as The Magic Goes Away)
with Steven Barnes 
- Dream Park (1981)—Locus SF Award nominee, 1982
- The Barsoom Project (1989)
- The California Voodoo Game (1992, UK: The Voodoo Game)
- The Moon Maze Game (2011)
The State 
- A World Out of Time (1976)—Locus SF Award nominee, 1977
- The Integral Trees (1984)—Nebula Award nominee, 1984; Locus SF Award winner, and Hugo nominee, 1985
- The Smoke Ring (1987)
Magic Goes Away 
- Not Long before the End (1969)
- What Good Is a Glass Dagger? (1972)
- The Magic Goes Away (1978)
- The Magic May Return (1981)
- More Magic (1984)
- The Time of the Warlock (1984)
- The Magic Goes Away Collection (2005 omnibus)
Other novels 
- The Flying Sorcerers (1971, with David Gerrold), previously serialised as "The Misspelled Magishun", includes portraits of other SF authors—e.g. the lead character name becomes translated into the local language as "As a color, shade of purple-gray" (or Purple for short), that is, "As-A-Mauve"
- Berserker Base: A Collaborative Novel (1984, with Poul Anderson, Edward Bryant, Stephen R. Donaldson, Fred Saberhagen, Connie Willis, and Roger Zelazny)
- Fallen Angels (1991, with Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn)
- Rainbow Mars (1999)
- Building Harlequin's Moon (2005, with Brenda Cooper)
- "Bowl of Heaven" (2012, with Gregory Benford)
- The Goliath Stone (2013, with Matthew Joseph Harrington)
Other collections 
- All the Myriad Ways (1971)
- The Flight of the Horse (1973)
- Inconstant Moon (1973)
- A Hole in Space (1974)
- Convergent Series (1979)
- Niven's Laws (1984)
- Limits (1985)
- N-Space (1990)
- Playgrounds of the Mind (1991)
- Bridging the Galaxies (1993)
- Scatterbrain (2003)
- Larry Niven Short Stories Volume 1 (2003)
- Larry Niven Short Stories Volume 2 (2003)
- Larry Niven Short Stories Volume 3 (2003)
- The Draco Tavern (2006)
- Stars and Gods (August 2010, ISBN 0-7653-0864-9)
- The Best of Larry Niven (November 2010, ISBN 978-1-59606-331-0)
Graphic novels and comics adaptations 
- Death by Ecstasy: Illustrated Adaptation of the Larry Niven Novella (1991)
- Green Lantern: Ganthet's Tale (1992, DC Comics, ISBN 1-56389-026-7) (with John Byrne)
- The Magic Goes Away, graphic novel illustrated by Jan Duursema, DC Comics
- "Not Long before the End" was adapted by Doug Moench and Vicente Alcazar, and "All the Myriad Ways" by writer-artist Howard Chaykin, both for Marvel Comics' black-and-white anthology magazine Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction.
- "The religion of Larry Niven, science fiction author". Adherents.com. July 28, 2005. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "the Planet Mercury. Tidally locked?". www.kidsnewsroom.org. Archived from the original on 2012-06-24. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "1970 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1971 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- Starship Stormtroopers
- "Nat Tilander Writer, Author, Articles, Non-Fiction, Galaxy Magazine and the Viet Nam War". Natsmusic.net. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- Pandora's Box (television documentary series)#To The Brink of Eternity
- Hall, Mimi (May 31, 2007). "Sci-fi writers join war on terror". USA Today. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
- "1974 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1981 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1976 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1978 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1986 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1975 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1982 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1977 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1984 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
- "1985 Award Winners & Nominees | Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award | WWEnd". Worldswithoutend.com. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Larry Niven|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Larry Niven|
- Official website
- Bibliography on larryniven.net
- Larry Niven at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Larry Niven at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- Audio interview with Larry Niven
- An audio interview with Larry Niven (MP3 format) from Hour 25
- Works by Larry Niven on Open Library at the Internet Archive
- Larry Niven on Fantastic Fiction
- Larry Niven at the Internet Movie Database