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Building Harlequin's Moon PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Building Harlequin's Moon
Author: Larry Niven
Publisher: Published April 4th 2006 by Tor Science Fiction (first published June 1st 2005)
ISBN: 9780765351296
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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The first interstellar starship, John Glenn, fled a Solar System populated by rogue AIs and machine/human hybrids, threatened by too much nanotechnology and rife with political dangers. The John Glenn's crew intended to terraform the nearly pristine planet Ymir, in hopes of creating a utopian society that will limit intelligent technology. But by some miscalculation they h The first interstellar starship, John Glenn, fled a Solar System populated by rogue AIs and machine/human hybrids, threatened by too much nanotechnology and rife with political dangers. The John Glenn's crew intended to terraform the nearly pristine planet Ymir, in hopes of creating a utopian society that will limit intelligent technology. But by some miscalculation they have landed in another solar system, and extremely low on the antimatter needed to continue to Ymir, they must shape the nearby planet Harlequin's moon, Selene, into a new, temporary home. Their only hope of ever reaching Ymir is to rebuild their store of antimatter through decades of terraforming the moon. Gabriel, the head terraformer, must lead this nearly impossible task, with all the wrong materials. His primary tools are the uneducated and nearly illiterate children of the original colonists, born and bred to build Harlequin's moon into a virtual antimatter factory. With no concept of the future and with life defined as duty, one girl, Rachel Vanowen, begins to ask herself the question: what will become of the children of Selene once the terraforming is complete.

30 review for Building Harlequin's Moon

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    Niven is at his best in collaboration, and this is no exception. Building Harlequin’s Moon is is a story in many layers. The main plot line is about the first interstellar starship, escaping a Sol System full of renegade AIs and nanotech, escaping to reclaim humanity. But there is a malfunction and the starship is stranded in a barren star system partway to its goal. More antimatter is needed to refuel the ship, and the colonists refuse to use nanotech due to their belief that nanotech leads to Niven is at his best in collaboration, and this is no exception. Building Harlequin’s Moon is is a story in many layers. The main plot line is about the first interstellar starship, escaping a Sol System full of renegade AIs and nanotech, escaping to reclaim humanity. But there is a malfunction and the starship is stranded in a barren star system partway to its goal. More antimatter is needed to refuel the ship, and the colonists refuse to use nanotech due to their belief that nanotech leads to evil. The only option is to spend sixty thousand years (yes it’s a long time but they can extend their lifespans indefinitely) building a habitable moon out of smaller ones, and then populating it with flora, fauna, humans, and then finally industrializing and constructing a huge collider to make antimatter. Rachel is a “Moon Born” “Child”, basically a slave to the goal of ultimately fueling the ship. But what no colonist counted on was that the Children are human too, and once the cogs in the plan are live humans, you have to look them in the eye. The titanic endeavor is ambitious in the extreme, but is it worth the cost to their souls? On another level, the story is about Rachel, from her rather innocent teenage years to her coming of age as a leader of her people. And on yet another level, it’s about what makes us human. Our values, our biology, our goals? The rather slow style of the book suits the story well, and events are followed in a careful fashion as we move, never too fast, through the action. Building Harlequin’s Moon is full of wonderful three dimensional characters. Niven & Cooper ensure that even the most seemingly irrational and heartless protagonist is well understood by the reader as they delve deeply into her motivations. This novel shows humans at their best and worst, and it is impossible not to be entranced by the adventures of Rachel, Gabriel and the others. This is quite simply a masterpiece. http://www.books.rosboch.net/?p=264

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ralph McEwen

    Sorry, I forgot to attribute this, and unfortunately I also forget where I saw it. But it says exactly what I would say if I could write that well. "Building Harlequin's Moon is one of those "the less famous writer does the real work" collaborations. Brenda Cooper's thank-you notes at the beginning make it clear this was mostly her baby, shepherded not only by Niven but apparently hordes of contributors to Niven's website forums. So, if it's apropos to consider this Cooper's debut novel, then let Sorry, I forgot to attribute this, and unfortunately I also forget where I saw it. But it says exactly what I would say if I could write that well. "Building Harlequin's Moon is one of those "the less famous writer does the real work" collaborations. Brenda Cooper's thank-you notes at the beginning make it clear this was mostly her baby, shepherded not only by Niven but apparently hordes of contributors to Niven's website forums. So, if it's apropos to consider this Cooper's debut novel, then let me say what a fine debut it is. Building Harlequin's Moon is what the best hard SF ought to be: bristling with stimulating scientific ideas while never losing sight of the humanity at the core of every scientific endeavor. It's an absorbing adventure of survival in the harshest environments of deep space, and a compassionate drama about how the best laid plans of AI's and men can go horribly awry."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    What does it mean to create people and intentionally doom them to enhance our own lives? 2/3 of the way through, I wrote to Stan: "Pretty good, as expected. There are a couple of things about the main premise that strain credulity a bit, but I'm willing to let those go for the sake of the story. There are no bits of "magic, totally unexplained" technology like General Products hulls or scrith. No aliens either. So it definitely has a different feel from some of Niven's other stuff. Main character What does it mean to create people and intentionally doom them to enhance our own lives? 2/3 of the way through, I wrote to Stan: "Pretty good, as expected. There are a couple of things about the main premise that strain credulity a bit, but I'm willing to let those go for the sake of the story. There are no bits of "magic, totally unexplained" technology like General Products hulls or scrith. No aliens either. So it definitely has a different feel from some of Niven's other stuff. Main character is only about 17, so it has a bit of the feel of a juvenile novel, but that's OK too -- it is what it is. The book depicts a lot of terraforming, and it's probably the most entertaining discussion of that technology that I've ever read. "We start off with a typical scenario: sub-FTL sleeper-colony-ship -- couple of thousand folks get frozen, loaded on a ship, ship takes off for some star, takes for-freakin'-ever to get there, folks get thawed out, reenact Plymouth Rock scene. Variation 1: three ships depart for the same destination. Variation 2: one ship breaks down and has to stop 1/2 way there. Due to the long accel/decel times, it takes them almost as long to reach their hastily-selected stopover stellar system as it takes the other two ships to reach their ultimate destination. The stranded folks also don't have enough fuel to finish the trip, since they burned most of it for their unplanned deceleration. The fuel was a form of anti-matter requiring extremely high tech to make. Such tech is not available to them where they have landed. But they form a plan: thaw out some of the colonists, have them live planetside (oh, by the way, they have to CREATE a suitable planet first by smashing comets & asteroids together) and reproduce, effectively starting a mini-colony right here, for the sole purpose of creating a society capable of building the tech they need to create the fuel they need in order to resume their trip and reach their final destination. Of course this will take many years, but that's not a huge problem because those who plan to finish the trip can just sleep most of it away. (They also can be periodically thawed to check up on things, and get a nice rejuvenation out of each thawing. How convenient! That's probably the most "magical" technology in the book.) Eventually, so the plan goes, the colony will reach a point where they, together with the ship's original population, will be able to build the tech to create the fuel. So then the ship can continue on its journey. But then what will happen to the unplanned colony? It is made clear that it probably will not be able to survive very long w/o the ship present. And the original travelers do NOT plan to take the new additions with them. So we have a morally complex situation. Excellent! "I suppose this scenario is somewhat analogous to making a clone of yourself for the sole purpose of harvesting its organs to prolong your own life -- but many people are involved instead of just two, and the time scales are longer. What does it mean to create people and intentionally doom them to enhance our own lives?" Once I finished the book, I wrote: "Pretty good. Left some avenues unexplored, but I suppose with a scenario that rich, it was bound to -- or be really long. As usual for Niven, many concepts tossed in are themselves enough to write entire novels about. For example, the notion that you can put yourself to sleep for some number of years, get "refreshed" while sleeping, and thus awaken effectively younger than when you went to sleep -- well, that makes you effectively immortal. Though in a serial fashion. Your "lifeline" is no longer a single line, but a bunch of segments, with gaps in between. Your life has "interruptions". And if your wake/sleep periods differ from those of people you know, well, then when you both happen to be awake, your effective ages may differ each time. Anyway, good stuff...."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hugh Long

    An insightful and fascinating look at terraforming and generation starships. It follows travelers as they skip and hop across the galaxy, across the light years, and through tens of thousands of years. It's also a beautiful story about coming of age and emancipation. Niven and Cooper were a perfect match - what a great book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Russ Tarvin

    Seems to meander a little in the middle. Great story of humanity and making similar mistakes and the cost of being driven by fear. I did want closure to know if the ship makes it, so there was investment into the story and the characters.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This book has a bit of genre schizophrenia, but luckily for me, it was genres I happen to love. I kind of wish the book had been expanded to twice its length, perhaps in two books, so more justice could've been done to parts that were boiled down to skimmable exposition. It breaks the "show me, don't tell me" rule several times. Thankfully, the well-developed "show me" parts were compelling and immersive. Hard Sci Fi --------- Imagination-sparking, epic ideas about terraforming and the evolution of This book has a bit of genre schizophrenia, but luckily for me, it was genres I happen to love. I kind of wish the book had been expanded to twice its length, perhaps in two books, so more justice could've been done to parts that were boiled down to skimmable exposition. It breaks the "show me, don't tell me" rule several times. Thankfully, the well-developed "show me" parts were compelling and immersive. Hard Sci Fi --------- Imagination-sparking, epic ideas about terraforming and the evolution of an extraterrestrial ecosystem. Comparable to the thoughtfully considered, well-written ideas in Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson and Integral Trees by Larry Niven. There was the opportunity to expand further on what seemed like an amazing idea about a flare kite, but I felt like it was sacrificed in favor of a rushed ending with too much exposition about relationships. I whole-heartedly agree with others who felt the rejuvenation technology was a contradicting mess of opaque voodoo, but it was a key plot device so I suspended my disbelief. Some of the cliches of hard sci fi and space opera are present. Plenty of characters are included that serve no plot purpose and are painfully two-dimensional. The sex positive heterosexual polyfidelity idealism is in swing (pun intended), and there's still That Guy who Gets All the Girls. At least this time there's a Girl who Gets All the Guys as an interesting counterbalance. On the other hand, there are a few incredibly rich, lovable characters creating a steady heart beat where hard sci fi is usually accused of being cold. And the women! The women are actual, life-sized women. Not uber indestructible space babes or nymphomaniac nerds in lab coats as can be found in many a sci fi novel. Just women. Some of them are nice and some of them aren't. All of them are human, fallible, convinced of their own righteousness. Social Anthropology (Speculative Sci Fi) --------------------------------- As others have mentioned, this was an uncommon in-depth look at non-violent protest in a sci fi context that had a lot of potential to devolve into a violent military sci fi. Resource access and power disparity themes throughout the book put it on the playing field with books like The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin, the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov and Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler. There were some thought-provoking but under-explored themes about data access and artificial intelligence as well. Young Adult ----------- I really wasn't expecting a good chunk of the book to conform to young adult themes, but it did. I had mixed feelings about it at first, but then I realized something: when was the last time that I got to read a book in my favourite genre (hard sci fi) where the protagonist was a teenage girl? Hermione Granger (Rachel Vanowen) *finally* gets her own adventure. We need more books like this (Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi is pretty awesome in this regard too). The more I've thought about it, the more I want to hug Brenda Cooper and Larry Niven for breaking out of the expected character stereotypes in hard sci fi and trying something different. It reminded me a bit of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins throughout. On the upside: moments of unexpected kindness that left me teary-eyed. On the downside: some plot paradoxes. A little suspension of disbelief here and there is in order; poverty and fancy cakes don't make sense, and neither does a rejuvenation technology that both does and doesn't reverse aging.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Servius Heiner

    I wish we could give half stars… The basic plot is this, Earth is approaching singularity. AI’s start getting “board”, nano-bots start altering machines and people with out permission. (3) Ships are built and they flee to save humanity from its own creations. Something happens to one of the ships along the way, so that ship makes an unscheduled stop. The only way to continue on to their final destination is too create a planet and build up its industrial capacity in order to produce the ships life I wish we could give half stars… The basic plot is this, Earth is approaching singularity. AI’s start getting “board”, nano-bots start altering machines and people with out permission. (3) Ships are built and they flee to save humanity from its own creations. Something happens to one of the ships along the way, so that ship makes an unscheduled stop. The only way to continue on to their final destination is too create a planet and build up its industrial capacity in order to produce the ships life blood (anti-matter) The people in charge call themselves the Order of Humanity and their sole purpose is to preserve humanity as they think it should be… without technology. The conflict in the story is that in order to rescue themselves they have to either unleash nano-bots and AI technologies to build what they need or expend thousands of years building a planet and a population base large enough to build it for them. They choose the second. But they get sloppy and USE technologies that they have already deemed un-useable. They also start breeding a population of slaves to live on the surface of the planet they created. Their purpose is to construct everything needed. Including an ecosystem capable of supporting the population. Their use of slaves seemed very strange to me. For an order that is supposed to be preserving humanity, slave labor seems like a strange method. As the story progresses more and more conflicts arise due to the orders policies. The “moon born” start to resist the orders directives and ultimately revolt. A few of the orders “consols” jump the fence and start working with the moon born against the Earth born. They try to do this through education (the Order has kept the Moon born ignorant of everything except the knowledge needed to do their pacific task) teaching the moon born the history of earth and why they left Sol System. Over all, I would say this is a good book with an interesting premise, however I thought the ending was pretty weak and left allot of loose strings. The book could have used another 100-150 pages or so. 3.5 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Moon was a collaborative effort between Niven, one of the old masters of hard s.f., and Cooper, a newcomer. Stylistically, this book is Cooper's, I gather: In his previous work, Niven rarely focused on character development to the extent or in the manner this book does so. In its tone and themes, however, Moon does remind me of the heyday of space-travel themed s.f. in the late 1960s, '70s and '80s. It's interesting to note that the interstellar colonists of this book are fleeing Sol system on th Moon was a collaborative effort between Niven, one of the old masters of hard s.f., and Cooper, a newcomer. Stylistically, this book is Cooper's, I gather: In his previous work, Niven rarely focused on character development to the extent or in the manner this book does so. In its tone and themes, however, Moon does remind me of the heyday of space-travel themed s.f. in the late 1960s, '70s and '80s. It's interesting to note that the interstellar colonists of this book are fleeing Sol system on the verge of a technological singularity. As I recall, the colonists of Niven's past fiction were for the most part bold, forward-looking explorers and pioneers who embraced technology and its blessings (even as they dealt with its occasional negative consequences). The neo-Luddites of Moon, on the other hand, are fleeing the destruction of humanity, a fate for which they blame mankind's too-trusting relationship with technology (especially artificial intelligence). These dour pioneers want to start civilization over again and keep their distance from the machines this time. One can't help but wonder if this represents a longing on the part of one or both of the authors themselves to flee from all the singularity fiction in s.f. today.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darth

    I was between 3 and 4 stars on this, and when it's close, I round up for anything Larry Niven. This had a very interesting idea at the heart of the story. A ship worth of humans flee Sol system, and get an interstellar flat tire - so to speak. So they use the technology at their disposal and make a habitable moon in orbit around a gas giant, and get started on the process to make some more fuel to get back on the way to where they were headed to start. Their problem is, they need the people on the I was between 3 and 4 stars on this, and when it's close, I round up for anything Larry Niven. This had a very interesting idea at the heart of the story. A ship worth of humans flee Sol system, and get an interstellar flat tire - so to speak. So they use the technology at their disposal and make a habitable moon in orbit around a gas giant, and get started on the process to make some more fuel to get back on the way to where they were headed to start. Their problem is, they need the people on the ship for when they get to their new colony world. So they start breeding people to work on the fuel, and then things fall apart when they do not treat these people well. This felt right on the edge of a fantastic creation myth, but instead it went on to follow the slave race track instead and ended up much less interesting for it. Still interesting enough to be a 3.5 star read, 4 on my biased Niven curve grading.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    This book moved sooooo slooooooowly. I couldn't find any characters or plot devices to hook me. Yes, the concept behind the book is interesting, but that by itself wasn't enough to keep me engaged given the complete lack of any hook-me developments by about a 1/3 of the way into the book. I can't be sure, but this felt like one of those collaborations where the lesser-known author brings the bulk of the manuscript and details to the table, and the more famous author puts their name & editing This book moved sooooo slooooooowly. I couldn't find any characters or plot devices to hook me. Yes, the concept behind the book is interesting, but that by itself wasn't enough to keep me engaged given the complete lack of any hook-me developments by about a 1/3 of the way into the book. I can't be sure, but this felt like one of those collaborations where the lesser-known author brings the bulk of the manuscript and details to the table, and the more famous author puts their name & editing & personal touches on it. Compared to some of the other collaborations Niven has done (with Jerry Pournelle, Steven Barnes, etc) this one just felt like it didn't live up to the Niven name.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I'm a sucker for anything involving terraforming, so I'm willing to overlook some of the book's flaws. I enjoyed the hints of history and backstory moreso than the human drama unfolding on the colony itself. A lot of science fiction dwells on the horror and un-humanity ahead of us in a post-singularity society; this book, about those fleeing it, tried to show that fear and mistrust of technology can lead to a loss of humanity as well.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Novels that consciously advocate non-violence are rare, in science fiction or any other genre. This one does just that, offering in its narrative a recap of successful nonviolent social movements, despite some climactic violence.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Good collaboration. Thought provoking.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michel

    I liked the book. However, the ending is a bit loose. Seems to me there could be another book to take the story to a conclusion of sorts.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Hopwood

    Great look at how small communities can fracture when elitism is allowed to run amok.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rob Markley

    The review sounds like a great concept but frankly I don't even remember reading this. I remember most books if they are pretty good

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bookbrow

    Reminds me of Kim Stanely Robinson's Mars trio, only better. World building in the literal sense.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pat Cummings

    Utopia always goes wrong; the best laid plans, etc. is truth as well as a cliché. Sometimes it can take generations for the plans to go awry. In Building Harlequin's Moon , a novel by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper, the plan to build utopia goes off the rails right away for the John Glenn, a colony ship fleeing a Solar System filled with rogue AIs. They were supposed to come out at the planet Ymir side-by-side with another colony ship, ready to deploy nanotechnology to terraform Ymir into an idea Utopia always goes wrong; the best laid plans, etc. is truth as well as a cliché. Sometimes it can take generations for the plans to go awry. In Building Harlequin's Moon , a novel by Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper, the plan to build utopia goes off the rails right away for the John Glenn, a colony ship fleeing a Solar System filled with rogue AIs. They were supposed to come out at the planet Ymir side-by-side with another colony ship, ready to deploy nanotechnology to terraform Ymir into an ideal place to build a new Earth. Instead, their engines go out of kilter, delivering them to Harlequin. Their only option is to assemble the material from Harlequin's rings into a moon, then wake the frozen colonists and lead them through terraforming the new moon, Selene. It will take generations of effort to re-create the supplies and fuel they need to go on to Ymir — which by this time, may be already terraformed by the crew and colonists from their sister ship. It will mean centuries, even milennia, of effort. They must take care not to let the AI tools they have grow too intelligent, lest the same thing that happened on Earth occur in the Harlequin system. And there will not be room in the rebuilt ship for all the colonists on Selene when they are done. How they balance the needs of the ship with the needs of the colony, the growing tension between the Earth-born ruling elite from the original ship's crew (who seem to live forever due to repeated freezings) and the Children of Selene (the short-lived colonists), and the dawning realization that Ymir might not be the last best hope for the human race after all, give this novel a strength that we haven't seen since Ringworld . I had trouble getting into the novel; there is a confusion of flash-back and dreaming in the opening chapters that takes some deciphering. Once I had these sorted out in my mind, however, the remainder of the story was very engrossing. This is mostly due to strong characters. An Earth-born woman refuses to take take further restorative Sleep, Selene's Children are growing aware of the way they are being short-changed by the ship's crew, and Gabriel, the leader of the Earth-born crew and the teacher of Selene's Children, will have to make a drastic decision about the future of Selene itself. It is also absorbing because of Niven's strength in describing future technology and cosmic-sized engineering works. We are there for the building of a planetoid from what is essentially space-dust; we come along while the assembled moon cools and is made habitable. This story is even more enjoyable because all the engineering is the work of Man — no aliens lurk in the corners of the narrative. The closest thing to an alien is the deliberately-crippled AI pilot of the John Glenn, Astronaut, a character strongly reminiscent of Heinlein's Mike in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress . Larry Niven has a genuine talent for finding collaborative writers and nurturing them, to match with his other well-known talent: creating elaborate, but believable, technological cultures. With Brenda Cooper, he has written a worthy shelf-mate to Ringworld.

  19. 4 out of 5

    le-trombone

    Three ships left the Solar system, running away from out-of-control nanotechnology and computer intelligences (we only have the characters' word for it, but it looks like an particularly virulent mirror-image Singularity). The interstellar ship John Glenn was, with two other ships, on its way to the (hypothetical) planet Ymir, when it experienced a failure in its drive. They were able to re-direct themselves to another system, but now they have a problem: how to build up enough fuel, antimatter, Three ships left the Solar system, running away from out-of-control nanotechnology and computer intelligences (we only have the characters' word for it, but it looks like an particularly virulent mirror-image Singularity). The interstellar ship John Glenn was, with two other ships, on its way to the (hypothetical) planet Ymir, when it experienced a failure in its drive. They were able to re-direct themselves to another system, but now they have a problem: how to build up enough fuel, antimatter, to resume their journey after they've made the changes to their ship. The first chapter covers the surface meaning of the title: Gabriel and his team literally build a large enough moon for habitation out of the available debris around the gas giant Harlequin. The second chapter begins over fifty-nine thousand years later, as the first generation of the colonists gradually build up an ecology on that moon, named Selene, that can sustain them. But inconsistent beliefs are taking their toll on the crew. They fled the Solar system out of fear of an out-of-control nanotechnology, but the crew still uses it to maintain their own health and to allow them to hibernate over the centuries it takes to run the project. They fear artificial intelligences, but they rely on one to handle their ship's systems. Then there is the matter of the moon itself. Rachel, and others born on Selene, find themselves increasingly viewed as second-class citizens, and as more people come out of hibernation, the more apparent the divisions become between the Crew, Earth-born, and Moon-born. Rachel has to find a way to change the plans set nearly sixty thousand years ago, or else a whole generation of people may be left behind to die. This is an interesting book for several reasons. Niven is not known for having children as characters, nor for that matter for complex character interactions, so I credit Cooper for that. The background setting is shown to us gradually instead of in infodumps, so we see how much the Crew and Earth-born instinctively fear very advanced technology, and hate having to use it -- at first. The gradual setting-up of what is at heart a caste system is well done, and the conflict that results seems inevitable and necessary. It's a good hard science fiction book with good characters, a rare combination.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charles Zigmund

    The best science fiction book I've read in a long time. Desultorily reading a number of the second-rate SF novels around today, I had even mostly forgotten how intense was my hunger for really good SF. This book not only reawakened it but satisfied it. You can get a rundown of the plot premise from the other reviews here, so I won't repeat it. Larry Niven, when he is not indulging in wild speculation mostly for the sake of it -- worlds made up of floating trees, worlds populated by sex-crazy vam The best science fiction book I've read in a long time. Desultorily reading a number of the second-rate SF novels around today, I had even mostly forgotten how intense was my hunger for really good SF. This book not only reawakened it but satisfied it. You can get a rundown of the plot premise from the other reviews here, so I won't repeat it. Larry Niven, when he is not indulging in wild speculation mostly for the sake of it -- worlds made up of floating trees, worlds populated by sex-crazy vampires, and so on, without much human interest, is one of the great hard SF writers, but you have to catch him when he cares and is readable, since he also sometimes likes to challenge the reader to unpack what he's talking about, with wild flights of technological fancy presented as puzzles to solve. Happily these tendencies are in tight rein here, and the techno is powerful, understandable and is in the service of a good strong human interest story. The latter I suspect is mostly the contribution of co-author Brenda Cooper, who has way outdone the Hunger Games in the creation of a strong, rounded young woman character, an affecting girl coming of age in a time of crisis. How she meets her intense, dangerous challenges while leading a mostly peaceful revolt against suppressive overlords is an inspiring story set against the wallpaper of Niven's majestically done science. The tough technological choices that must be made here are also highly believable moral ones. A triumph of a novel.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Not many novels cover a span of time that this novel does although most of it is a span of a few generations. The main plot is about an effort of colonists who have left earth for a distant system and a planet they can call their new home. three ships leave but this story focuses on one. That ship ran into problems and ran out of enough fuel to make it to its destination and now they have had to create a moon that was life-sustaining so they can grow a population of workers to build the equipmen Not many novels cover a span of time that this novel does although most of it is a span of a few generations. The main plot is about an effort of colonists who have left earth for a distant system and a planet they can call their new home. three ships leave but this story focuses on one. That ship ran into problems and ran out of enough fuel to make it to its destination and now they have had to create a moon that was life-sustaining so they can grow a population of workers to build the equipment to make more fuel. As you can imagine this takes a while. The sub-plots are about the relationships between the moon born and the earth born and it is complex as the earth born mate with moon born to populate the moon and the moon also requires the knowledge and tech that only the earth born have and they don't wish to share. the other big question is what happens when the fuel is finally made and the earth born continue their journey? The characters are well written and the balance of all the plot elements is handled well. The story moves at a reasonable pace and the science is interesting. The only issue i have with the book is that the ending left too many questions and seems to have left the door open for a sequel that never came. If you are a hard science fiction fan this is a book you will enjoy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book took a little while for me to really get into, but once the ball got rolling, the plot ended up being pretty good. I really enjoyed seeing the development of the characters as the story progressed, and I also thought Selene was described in a very tangible way that made it believable as a beloved home. The social conflict was also done very well, with both sides having understandable (if extreme) viewpoints rather than simply creating an all-out evil Council who oppressed for no other This book took a little while for me to really get into, but once the ball got rolling, the plot ended up being pretty good. I really enjoyed seeing the development of the characters as the story progressed, and I also thought Selene was described in a very tangible way that made it believable as a beloved home. The social conflict was also done very well, with both sides having understandable (if extreme) viewpoints rather than simply creating an all-out evil Council who oppressed for no other reason than the perception of superiority. The drawback for me was the relationships, which made me uncomfortable enough as to be almost a distraction throughout the novel. I understand that incorporating cryo time blurs the lines between generations and makes romance more open-ended and challenging, but the main romantic relationships, to me, felt forced and immature, to put it as mildly as possible. Honestly, with all the positive things this book had going in terms of plot, the romances just added (borderline creepy) clutter. And it's only because of all those positive things I mentioned before that I consider this book to have been a solid read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Brenda Cooper has done an excellent job with this book. I can see the strong, familiar and welcome hand of Larry Niven in the story, but the details are definitely hers. The characters are strong enough to reach into my heart, and the conflicts wrench me apart in sympathy for them. The story line is creative, fantastic and yet believable. In the stress of being stuck in a death-threatening dead end, believing that they may be all that is left of humanity, the Council make hard choices of self-sa Brenda Cooper has done an excellent job with this book. I can see the strong, familiar and welcome hand of Larry Niven in the story, but the details are definitely hers. The characters are strong enough to reach into my heart, and the conflicts wrench me apart in sympathy for them. The story line is creative, fantastic and yet believable. In the stress of being stuck in a death-threatening dead end, believing that they may be all that is left of humanity, the Council make hard choices of self-sacrifice to terraform a moon into their only hope. Along the way, however, they need more people to be free of their dilemma - and they make the unfortunate decision to treat those people as throw-away tools. This sets up deep conflicts that echo the human race's long history of treating "others" as something less than human. Each of the characters, Moon Born and Council, has to deal with the external and internal problems. Cooper writes a rich variety of responses in the characters, from noble to petty. This story is well worth the read, and I am looking for more from Brenda Cooper, with or without Niven's help.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Graham Crawford

    A good solid little book - I haven't read Niven before, This novel was co-written by Brenda Cooper and my suspicion is she wrote the characterisations and Niven provided the science info dumps. Wasn't terribly deep or new but had some good Big Dumb Objects and reasonably believable protagonists. I do have a problem with some of the political assumptions in this book - even though the scenario is presented as dystopian. Compared to writers like Banks and Egan, its pretty shallow. It also has a pr A good solid little book - I haven't read Niven before, This novel was co-written by Brenda Cooper and my suspicion is she wrote the characterisations and Niven provided the science info dumps. Wasn't terribly deep or new but had some good Big Dumb Objects and reasonably believable protagonists. I do have a problem with some of the political assumptions in this book - even though the scenario is presented as dystopian. Compared to writers like Banks and Egan, its pretty shallow. It also has a pretty old fashioned view of AI which grates with my understanding of memetics. I also have a gripe with humans who live for thousands of years and appear to have the same psychology as good ol' normal 20th century folk. Very few sci-fi writers have been able to make me believe in immortal characters. So far I think trashy vampire novels have better handle on that trick of post/trans humanity. Structurally its all reasonably well crafted and paced, except the writing at the end gets a little scrappy. If you ask me what it was all about in a years time, I might struggle to remember.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kenzie Lamar

    Building Harlequin's moon was very good hard sci-fi. I could see it being a movie or TV series. The book ends totally open and their could be many more books. I wish there were. I want to know what happens next. The science fiction in the book is really just the setting. This book is about relationships with people. Different perspectives and what brings us together. Much better than Ringworld by the same author. The tone of the book is that of a drama. Don't expect Star Wars or even Star Trek. Building Harlequin's moon was very good hard sci-fi. I could see it being a movie or TV series. The book ends totally open and their could be many more books. I wish there were. I want to know what happens next. The science fiction in the book is really just the setting. This book is about relationships with people. Different perspectives and what brings us together. Much better than Ringworld by the same author. The tone of the book is that of a drama. Don't expect Star Wars or even Star Trek. The closest series I can think of to compare it to would be the Mars sereies(Red Mars, Blue Mars and Green Mars) but it moves at a much faster pace and is more interesting. The universe created in this series makes me want to know everything about it. That is a sign to me that it is a great book. Check it out. Definitely worth the read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emerson Fortier

    An entertaining piece of science fiction but really little else. The first fifteen pages in which they build the planet was exciting enough to plant this book's name in my brain for the last five years before I finally found a copy at a bookstore and finish the read. The story is fun. It's functionally just a power struggle between a planet and the planet's parents on a spaceship. There are a handful of really big plotholes that were somewhat annoying, particularly in the backstory, but overall An entertaining piece of science fiction but really little else. The first fifteen pages in which they build the planet was exciting enough to plant this book's name in my brain for the last five years before I finally found a copy at a bookstore and finish the read. The story is fun. It's functionally just a power struggle between a planet and the planet's parents on a spaceship. There are a handful of really big plotholes that were somewhat annoying, particularly in the backstory, but overall its the first book I've read with any serious "terraforming" as the central activity, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It just didn't blow my mind. I would put it on par with star wars or star trek. Pulpy, but with a little more science than those two.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Very interesting story. I liked how everyone that is running away from Earth seem to become the things that they ran away from. And the Children had become the same slaves that they felt most Humans were becoming on Earth. Written in third person there was a huge feeling that the perspective felt first person. A small issue was the non-development of some, seemingly central, characters. It was easy to figure out where they fit into the plot points since they seemed to be central but were never de Very interesting story. I liked how everyone that is running away from Earth seem to become the things that they ran away from. And the Children had become the same slaves that they felt most Humans were becoming on Earth. Written in third person there was a huge feeling that the perspective felt first person. A small issue was the non-development of some, seemingly central, characters. It was easy to figure out where they fit into the plot points since they seemed to be central but were never developed and kind of cast away from the story. All in all it was very good and a story that shows that fear can make slaves of us all.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lsilberman

    Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper wrote an excellent sci fi yarn about a shipload of people who try to escape the take-over of Earth by robots and other artificial intelligences, and get stranded when there's a serious malfunction. They terraform a world from asteroids, etc., and take turns “cold” (in cryogenic storage) while they spend literally thousands of years trying to create the means to replenish their antimatter so that they can finally get to Ymir. Problem: The humans whom they breed to se Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper wrote an excellent sci fi yarn about a shipload of people who try to escape the take-over of Earth by robots and other artificial intelligences, and get stranded when there's a serious malfunction. They terraform a world from asteroids, etc., and take turns “cold” (in cryogenic storage) while they spend literally thousands of years trying to create the means to replenish their antimatter so that they can finally get to Ymir. Problem: The humans whom they breed to serve as their slaves in the effort, with the intention of abandoning them upon departure, don’t take kindly to being either enslaved or left with no means of long-term survival.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    One of Larry's better collaborations. We see the story though the eyes of a young woman and how she grows up under Alien conditions. The basic premise is that for some reason the John Glenn can't make it to it's destination, so it has to undergo a multi-generation overhaul (3 generations really) and how tensions develop between those who live on the ship and those who eventually inhabit a 'literally' man made world, which is a moon orbiting a super-Jovian which makes Jupiter look small. It is Br One of Larry's better collaborations. We see the story though the eyes of a young woman and how she grows up under Alien conditions. The basic premise is that for some reason the John Glenn can't make it to it's destination, so it has to undergo a multi-generation overhaul (3 generations really) and how tensions develop between those who live on the ship and those who eventually inhabit a 'literally' man made world, which is a moon orbiting a super-Jovian which makes Jupiter look small. It is Brenda's gift of creating people and making the reader care which sets this apart from the Standard BIG idea stuff which Larry is known for. I'd give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul (formerly known as Current)

    What I liked, a list, rather than a review: 1) The description of the making of Harlequin's Moon -- terraforming 2) The glimpse into backstory of why the ship fled earth 3) The fragmented life and relationships that the technology of cryogenics creates and how this raises the question of whether people who can do this are still human in the same way as those who live their lives in a single solid line 4) The problem of what we want, what we are willing to give up, and what "rules" we give ourselves What I liked, a list, rather than a review: 1) The description of the making of Harlequin's Moon -- terraforming 2) The glimpse into backstory of why the ship fled earth 3) The fragmented life and relationships that the technology of cryogenics creates and how this raises the question of whether people who can do this are still human in the same way as those who live their lives in a single solid line 4) The problem of what we want, what we are willing to give up, and what "rules" we give ourselves and allow ourselves to break.

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