"Juggler of Worlds"
by Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner
Read by Tom Weiner
Produced by Blackstone Audio
Approx. 13 Hours.
Be prepared to be whisked away from word one in this prequel to Larry Niven's classic sci-fi "Ringworld." I have yet to read the Ringworld series of books, but I found this book, being a prequel, did not rely on the series being required reading. This novel takes place 200 years before Ringworld and has a very interesting view of "Known Space."
"Juggler of Worlds" starts out jumping around from moment to moment, year to year, location to location. At first it was a bit hard to follow but once the story got rolling, all the pieces slipped in to place and the story was easily followed and understood. The first half of the book is basically and explanation as to why the characters act as they do in the first half.
This audio book is read by Tom Weiner. Tom's deep voice makes the book easy to listen to and his characterizations of the various humans and aliens helps to keep the story flowing with a good understanding as to who is speaking and thinking.
Sigmund Ausfaller is an Agent for the U.N. More specifically he is a highly valued Agent of the Amalgamated Regional Militia (A.R.M.). What makes him so valuable is that he is a Paranoid. Sigmund is perfect for rooting out conspiracies because he sees conspiracies in everything. The U.N. has several paranoids that are used to uncover conspiracies, these are all made to be paranoid through drugs. Sigmund is a natural paranoid, that's what makes him unique and actually better at the job.
Sigmund meets Nessus, an alien from the race known as The Puppeteers. The Puppeteers are an older race in Known Space and have sold most of the human race technology. Their biggest contribution is known as an indestructible hull space craft. Nothing (except light and gravity) can permeate the hulls thus creating a bit of peace in the universe. Nessus soon becomes Sigmund's adversary after all the Puppeteers mysteriously vanish from known space. The reason suspected is that the center of the galaxy is exploding.
After an indestructible hull returns in a deteriorated state the mystery of what could destroy the indestructible adds on to Sigmund's suspicions of the dissappearance of the Puppeteers. With an exciting chase through hyper-space and beyond Sigmund is determined to find out what is motivating Nessus and the Puppeteers .
Various jumps in space and various characters may seem confusing at first but the mystery unfolds itself with a very nice payoff to end this intelligent science fiction novel. The various aliens; including the Puppeteers, Kzinn and the Outsiders are well thought out races, especially for those of you who, like me, always wondered why every alien in Star Trek is bi-pedal. Here they are not in fact they are creatively constructed in "Juggler of Worlds."
Do yourself a favor and escape into this well written and well read audio book.