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Writing separately, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are responsible for a number of science fiction classics, such as the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning
Ringworld, Debt of Honor, and
The Integral Trees. Together they have written the critically acclaimed best-sellers
Inferno, Footfall, and
The Legacy of Heorot, among others.
The Mote In God's Eye is their acknowledged masterpiece, an epic novel of mankind's first encounter with alien life that transcends the genre. No lesser an authority than Robert A. Heinlein called it "possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read".
Academic tour de force
The human civilisation, outspread in the galaxy - so far in the future that no one remembers our origins, encounters another sentient species for the first time. They're much more intelligent and sensible, a civilisation millions of years older than ours. Only fate has provides humans with the means to spread among the stars and left the aliens - the "moties" - bottled up in an isolated solar system.
But they've got secrets. Well worth your time to discover, if you can bear the with the rather crudely written but likeable characters in the story.
Unlike much SF today, the authors let the cultural clash between the two civilisations develop to a certain depth. Not bad.
To be honest, some of the writings are truly dated. It is sometimes hilarious, sometimes annoying to find the authors' perception of male and female behaviour stereotypes conserved unscathed thousands of years in the future. It's obvious they've tried to create a (one!) female autonomous character, but fails completely.
For us who're really interested in what would happen if the human civilisation encountered another highly evolved culture, this is mandatory reading. Enjoy!