Crashlander - Larry Niven

(Re-reading this in the final days of summer 2013 as part of an unplanned Larry Niven/Known Space revanche. Have just finished [b:Ringworld|61179|Ringworld (Ringworld #1)|Larry Niven||924711] series, [b:Protector|100344|Protector|Larry Niven||2576385] and [b:A Gift from Earth|218461|A Gift from Earth|Larry Niven||211516], before discovering this fix-up novel.)

The stories in [b:Crashlander|100347|Crashlander|Larry Niven||2461592] are a product of the BI (before internet) period, from a time when readers found out about new science from pulp magazines and books, and from hard SF writers such as Niven. Revisiting the stories, forty-odd years after first publication, I was ready for the datedness of the science and the worldview, but not for the surprising breadth, vision and internal consistency of Niven's Beowolf Shaeffer adventures. The best, and the one I am most pleased to have been able to re-read, is the short "Borderland of Sol." This is the type of story that is ideal for Niven's style, with complex science, action and space adventure in a fast moving tale with a great resolution. Plus an added bonus - Borderland provides insight into the paternity of Louis Wu, the main character of the Ringworld books. 'Neutron Star,' another award-winning story, seemed a bit too short and ended abruptly. The author added a tying narrative called 'Ghost' which provided missing details and explanations (or corrections). One detail that was new to me: the real reason for the Puppeteer migration, where they are really headed. Overall, the material is uneven as short story collections, even a fit-in one, tend to be, but still vintage BI Niven. 5 stars.

Decades from now, new fans of the Known Space stories may be hard put to find inconsistencies in Niven's imagined universe. And therein perhaps lies Niven's particular genius, a nearly monomaniacal inclination to provide cogent explanations for everything while still telling a good story. What a trip.