The Descent of Anansi

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First edition (publ. Tor Books)
Cover art by Howard Chaykin

The Descent of Anansi is a 1982 science fiction novel by American writers Steven Barnes and Larry Niven.

Plot summary[edit]

A space station-manufactury attempts to become commercially independent from its Government backers by exporting super-strong nanowire that can only be manufactured in free-fall.

Following an attempt to sabotage their first delivery and hijack the cargo, the intrepid crew realise they can escape the hijackers. Their shuttle Anansi can become a modern-day version of its namesake, an African Spider-god, by descending to Earth on a thread.

The physics of tidal forces are explained, and the possibilities of orbital tethers to accelerate payloads into higher orbits (or indeed de-orbit shuttles without retro-rockets) are woven into a hard science fiction thriller. The Anansi incident, Falling Angel, and other elements of the story are used as background in the Dream Park series, also written by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes - particularly The Barsoom Project, the second of the series.

External links[edit]