1. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    The Mote In God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by murasaki_sama, Mar 17, 2013.

    I read this book once about 8 or so years ago (and its sequel, The Gripping Hand). I am rereading it now for a school project. Currently I am looking for scenes with intercultural communication barriers, and I figured a sci-fi book about first contact with aliens would work. That is neither here nor there, however.

    Has anyone ever read this book? I am asking because I have also been paying attention to the writing style of the book. There are several things I would like to discuss with other writers and/or sci-fi fans.

    Like who exactly is the protagonist? The story starts with Rod Blaine, and a sub-plot is Rod's romance with Sally. However, the book seems to follow Whitbeard's actions more often than any other character, at least in the first half of things. It also spends a lot of time with Renner.

    Additionally, when a new setting is introduced, the authors use a data dump that is sort of like what one would expect from an encylopedia; at one point, at least, one of the characters is reading that data dump, but this is not explicitly stated every time.

    There are a few other fun things I wouldn't mind discussing, but I suppose someone might want to be passingly familiar with the story before I do. I would hate to provide spoilers, and I am only halfway through it again right now. So no spoilers for me, eh? I still remember mostly what happens, but not entirely.
     
  2. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Although I appreciated the story, I have a number of issues with Niven's writing. However, I haven't read his work in a long time so I'll just leave it at that.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have read it. The original story was good; I couldn't hold interest in The Gripping Hand. I would say the writing style was far more Pournelle than Niven.

    As for the infodumping - At least it was done in story context, for the most part. Some of the dumping in New Scotland was unnecessary, but the authors managed to keep it interesting and fairly relevant. Once they reached the Motie system, it made sense that they;d be cataloguing and summarizing their observations, from both the human and Motie perspectives.

    Normally I hate infodumping, but they mostly managed to make it work. That alone makes it worth studying, when a generally good recommendation is ignored, and still manages to work.

    One thing I liked about Mote is that it managed to effectively convey a very alien mindset and society. Here you have a likeable alien race that at the same time is a terrible threat.
     
  4. murasaki_sama
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    murasaki_sama Senior Member

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    I just finished the book. I agree, that studying how they managed to pull of info-dumping without boring the reader is worth while. I especially like how alien the Moties were. I am even going to use that to my advantage in my paper, by writing at least one part of it from the Motie perspective.

    From what I can tell, this story is about an idea, not an event or any one character (or characters). It isn't even really about the world of the Moties, although it does go into a great deal of detail not really needed. The whole book, in my mind, seems to be about communication barriers. And maybe that is a bias on my part, since I was reading with communication barriers in mind; but it still holds true. The scientists do not agree with the soldiers, and the trader does not agree with the scientists; neither group seems willing to see things from the other side. They argue endlessly about the same thing, again and again. And then the Moties intentionally lie and mislead them, while the humans are also trying to conceal information, but not doing so nearly as successfully. I suppose I should save that assessment for my essay.

    You are right about the aliens, as well. They were very likeable, but the threat they posed was so terrifying... It was very well done.
     

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