In another short break from the Halloween schedule,
we’ve got some Larry Niven.

General Information

Title: World of Ptavvs

Author: Larry Niven

Original Publication Date: 1965 on its own. 1996 in
the Three
Books of Known Space
collection described

ISBN: 0-345-40448-3

Cover Price: $12.95 USA, $17.95 Canada

Buy from:

Past fiction reviews can be found here.


A telepathic alien finds himself alone on Earth.
This disturbs him
almost as much as it disturbs the humans who have to
deal with him.

High Point

The scorching.

Low Point

Kzanol’s problem solving abilities in the first few
pages seem to be
much better developed than they were later. (He can
figure out the
course-setting computer’s issues, but doesn’t notice

The Scores

The originality of this is quite good. Most
stories I’ve
seen about telepaths treat them as highly intelligent
and highly
developed, while this one seems to have more
realistic side effects of
the ability. I give it 5 out of 6.

The imagery is fair. We get good
descriptions of Garner,
Kzanol, the Greenbergs, the Bandersnatchi, and the
. The rest are not described in detail,
but detailed
descriptions wouldn’t be necessary. I give it 4 out
of 6.

The story is well written. Niven considers
the implications
of things like telepathy more completely and
carefully than most
writers, leaving us with a lot more food for thought
than many other
writers. The details hold together, both in terms of
story structure,
and in terms of plausibility. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is not quite as strong
as later Niven
works. Kzanol seems inconsistent as mentioned in the
Low Point, and
the transformation near the end comes on a little
suddenly. (I don’t
think it should have happened off page.) I give it 4
out of 6.

The emotional response is strong, despite
the above
quibbles. The description in the High Point is
great. The chase is
suspenseful without violating the physics of
travelling those
distances in those ships. I give it 6 out of 6.

The editing is fair. Again, those quibbles
I mentioned in
the characterization category could have been a
little smoother, but
the complete package is quite good. I give it 5 out
of 6.

Overall, this isn’t Niven’s best, but it’s
still very good,
particularly for having come so early in his career.
I give it 5 out
of 6.

In total, World of Ptavvs receives 34 out of