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Fate of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner – Review – Douglas R. Cobb
You know a SF series is über popular when a prequel series is written because the original has become so beloved that the fans demand more. Such was the case with Star Wars and also with Larry Niven’s famed “Hugo” and Nebula Award-winning Ringworld books. Niven and author Edward M. Lerner teamed up to write the ambitious and universe-spanning Fleet of Worlds series, where planets become spaceships, capable of transporting the population of entire worlds from place to place at incredible rates of speed. This series began in 2007 with the Sci-Fi Essential book Fleet of Worlds, and continued with Juggler of Worlds (Tor, 2008), Destroyer of Worlds (Tor, 2009), and Betrayer of Worlds (Tor, 2010). Finally, fans can enjoy the satisfying and remarkable conclusion to the series, with Fate of Worlds (Tor, 2012).
With the newest Known Space novel, Fate of Worlds, we learn yet more about the highly technological race, the Puppeteers, and their doings behind the scenes of human history. What’s more, we get to read more about many of the recurring main characters of the series, like the adventurer Louis Wu; the exiled Puppeteer Hindmost; Ol’t'ro, the brilliant Gw’oth ensemble mind (and Fleet of Worlds’ unsuspected puppet master for a century), and lots more. The cast of characters is large, the scale and breadth of this book and the entire series is epic, and the depiction of Ringworld and New Terra are proof that Niven and Lerner are masters at the craft of world-building.
The two-headed equine-appearing Puppeteers are supposedly cowards, who would rather run than face the determined onslaught of battleships that they’ve faced in the past; yet, they are able to mount an extremely formidable defense if they are attacked on their own turf. They also have managed for generations to manipulate and control entire worlds, no mean feat for anyone to accomplish.
In Fate of Worlds, the fabled race of Puppeteers may have come to the end of their days.
Three rival war fleets are after as much of the secrets and technology of Ringworld as they can plunder. The three fleets, failing to obtain what they desire from Ringworld, would have no compunction about trying to use their vast armada to defeat the Puppeteers and gain their technology and secrets.
Niven and Lerner succeed in making us relate to their characters because, no matter how alien they may be in appearance, they are motivated by desires we can all understand and relate to, like power, greed, the thirst for knowledge, and that of defending or protecting their own worlds and self-interests from anyone who dares to attack them.
Fate of Worlds wraps up most of the loose ends and ties together the many diverse subplots Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner have developed over the course of the Fleet of Worlds series. It can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone, but the rich storylines, background information, and intricately wrought plots of the preceding novels in the series, demands that they be read first. If you’re a fan of the Ringworld series, and have read the other novels in the Fleet of Worlds series, then Fate of Worlds is a book that you will crave like a junkie needs his fix. If you haven’t yet read these books by Niven and Lerner, but you love science fiction, then these novels should be added to your Must Read lists. What’re ya waitin’ for? Get Fate of Worlds today!