Larry Niven

One of the famed American science fiction writers of our time is Larry Niven whose real names are Laurence Van Cott Niven. He was born in Los Angeles California, United States, on April 30th 1938 and studied at Washburn University, and California institute of technology. Larry dropped out from the California institute of Technology only after one year and a half once he discovered a book store full of used science fiction magazines. This is where his passion for Sci-Fi’s was birthed. Funny enough Larry graduated with a B.A in mathematics, minoring in psychology. He undertook some graduate work in mathematics for one year then went on to full time writing. His first sale was the story titled ‘The Coldest Place’ which he wrote 1964 selling it for only $25.

The Coldest Place was based on the planet mercury which was believed to be the coldest on the solar system. At the time this story hit the market, scientists discovered that mercury in deed revolved around the sun and was not that cold as had been perceived previously. Without being deterred, he continued to write about the wonders of the universe for over four decades making him one of the most celebrated writers of this age.

Larry’s love for science and scientific discoveries drove him to write fiction stories throughout his life. He wrote about the modern day theories of neutron stars, dark matters, solar flares and the rings found on the planet Saturn. In his early years, when he started out, he knew exactly what he was interested in and what he wanted to write. An example in 1966 was the story ‘World of Ptavvs’ which was about an alien that had been stranded in space for over 3 billion years. Larry brings the alien called slaverer in to civilized life in an interesting future solar system. He interestingly intertwines the past and the future creating an epic story line that goes on and on.

In the World of Ptavvs, the slavers (characters created by Larry) grew some rocket boosters, which were a version of trees with solid fuel cones. This was just before he began to dream of bon fire made of stage trees. With time, Larry’s stories began to evolve into what is known as ‘Known Space’ timeline. The Known Space started to be populated with brazen images of aliens and description of far off worlds. Fans began to digest these concepts with a hunger not knowing that there was more to this reality.


Between 1968 and 1970, Larry published the Ringworld which became an instant hit. He then went on to publish a ring of stories that were rich and deep as their predecessors the Known Space. The ‘Organleggers’ and the ‘Jigsawman’ explored the fact that there could be organ transplants and eventually exploited the crime of organ crimes and sales in the future. He also came up with ‘Gil’ the detective who investigated and tracked down organ smugglers. Later Larry would start receiving fan mails from china, India and other parts of the world with real life storied of the organ trade.


In another twist, Larry released the novel ‘Protector’ returning back to the Known Space theory. In the first part he comes up with the story ‘Adult’ which describes an alien race known as the Pak who are the ancestors of the human race. The Pak belonged to an infant stage of life, but when they develop some craving of a certain yam root they transform into hyper intelligent, super strong creatures with war like tendencies.

The soft weapon

This one was released after the protector and took on another dimension all together as Larry’s carrier continued to blossom. This was the story line that broke him out into the movie world as it was adopted into the animated series known as ‘Star Trek’. Even today, many fans still debate the existence of the characters known as Niven who inhabit the universe far away.

The Hole Man

This book was published in analog form and it ended up earning Larry a Hugo award. This book is a straight forward crime story with a unique crime weapon. The weapon is similar to what scientists call today the black hole which made this book very unique as scientists had at that time just discovered its existence.

His next story was ‘$16,940’ which did not have any scientific themes. It was just a normal crime story. At the same time he was working on the TV series ‘Land of the Lost’.

Dream Park

In the 1980’s Larry began to collaborate with other writers and this time worked with Steven Barnes to write the dream park. The theme to this story was to use holograms to bring up real characters.

Draco Tavern

Larry also has a set of short stories that have not come into the limelight. Draco Tavern is a collection of short stories about a fictitious bar serving many aliens. A collection of about five pages dealing with virtual reality, human evolution, existence of God, has not yet been collected previously.


As time went on his fans dived deeper into his stories getting possessed with some of his characters. This drove him to writing the Ringworld series. . There is perhaps none of his works that generated as much discussion and heated debate like this one. Fans all over the world started talking about the series. Many times fans even wrote to him upgrades of this series as Larry recounts. Some even became fanatical and would chant that the Ringworld was unstable and throwing messages to his hotel rooms wherever he would visit. Later in that decade he released the ring world engineers which seemed to calm down the nerves of his fans. The Ringworld, due to its success, evolved and other series arose from it. The Ringworld throne came out in 1996 while in 2004 he released the Ringworld’s children. These future releases were never ruled out either and went out to become big hits as well. Though not yet in a movie, the Ringworld movie rumors still persist and we just have to wait and see what will come of it. Larry has continued to write other short stories with great success. His energy never seems to dissipate and probably another block buster is on the making.

Books in order of publication by series:

Known Space Books

World of Ptavvs(1966) 
A Gift from Earth(1968) 
The Patchwork Girl(1980) 

Ringworld Prequel Books

Fleet of Worlds(2007) 
Juggler of Worlds(2008) 
Destroyer of Worlds(2009) 
Betrayer of Worlds(2010) 

Ringworld Books

The Ringworld Engineers(1980) 
The Ringworld Throne(1996) 
Ringworld’s Children(2004) 
Fate of Worlds(2012) 

Heorot Books

The Legacy of Heorot(1987) 
Beowulf’s Children(1995) 
Destiny’s Road(1997) 
Starborn and Godsons(2020) 

Moties Books

The Mote in God’s Eye(1974) 
The Gripping Hand(1993) 

Golden Road Books

The Burning City(2000) 
Burning Tower(2005) 

Dream Park Books

Dream Park(1981) 
The Barsoom Project(1989) 
The California Voodoo Game(1992) 
The Moon Maze Game(2011) 

The State Books

A World Out of Time(1976) 
The Integral Trees(1984) 
The Smoke Ring(1987) 

Bowl of Heaven Books

Bowl of Heaven(2012) 

Stellar Guild Books

Red Tide(2014)

Magic Goes Away Books

The Seascape Tattoo(2016) 

Standalone Novels

The Flying Sorcerers(1971) 
Lucifer’s Hammer(1977) 
Oath of Fealty(1982) 
The Descent of Anansi(1982) 
Fallen Angels(1991) 
Achilles’ Choice(1991) 
Rainbow Mars(1999) 
Saturn’s Race(2001) 
Building Harlequin’s Moon(2005) 
Escape from Hell(2009) 
The Goliath Stone(2013) 
Maddness from the Inconstant Moon(2017) 

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) 
Man-Kzin Wars IX(2001) 
Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War(2003) 
Man-Kzin Wars XI(2005) 
Man-Kzin Wars XII(2008) 
Man-Kzin Wars XIII(2012) 
Man-Kzin Wars XIV(2013)
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