Betrayer of Worlds - Larry Niven, Edward M. Lerner It's possible, that when you read this book, you would get the same sense of foreboding as Star Wars III ( In that movie, as in this book, the beginning is set by the preceding installments, Star Wars II Attack of the Clones and Destroyer of Worlds, respectively, and the endings are pre-defined by the key installments of the series, both the first and most popular releases, Star Wars IV The New Hope originally released in 1977 and Ringworld first published in 1970. So, for a 'bridge' book such as this, what is there to more to say given that the beginning has already been setup and the ending is predestined (a God-implying term, that). The temptation is to just wrap the story up, tie up loose ends, provide explanations of some matters left unclear in other releases, and generally do quite a bit of hand waving.

But the authors are smart enough not to fall into that trap, mostly. There is an engaging story of intrigue and alien politics here, that, alas, may not be noticed because of the overall finality, that seemingly, a 33-year series, is at an end. So the overall feelings are of disconsolation, that some small part of oneself, having read all the associated books, is at an end, and of disappointment, that the scope of the saga, having started out so mind-expandingly promising, is ultimately smaller than what one hoped for. Maybe these sensations are not specific to this book or, for that matter, Star Wars III. This is perhaps the case for any high-concept saga that purports to offer a lavish immersion in a new world. After we are done we are back in our mundane places with no answer to the larger questions we would have liked the writers to address. Questions such as: who created the aliens and what for? why is space so vast and empty? why is technology so easy to conjure but so hard to make real? why is our imagination moved to relating to these stories? where do our sparks of desire and understanding come from?

Ok, maybe I am asking too much. But a saga of this breadth deserves this treatment, I think, if only to derive more meaning from all the effort spent on it.

Sometimes, it may be better not to conclude a story but rather to leave it open for our individual motivations to complete. So when the curtain closes, there is more to look forward to. A bigger picture perhaps. A theology of sorts that relates us not just to the experiential part of the imagined world but to our deepest natures as spiritual creatures. So there.

In any case, thank you Larry Niven. For entertainment that spanned decades. For engaging minds and imaginations for many a lonely night. You have a unique talent that you have shared with us to our benefit.