Friday Forgotten Book – The Man-Kzin Wars by Larry Niven et. al.

the-man-kzin-warsThe Man-Kzin Wars by Larry Niven, Poul Anderson, Dean Ing, Baen Books, 1988, paperback, science fiction

This is the first book in the franchise portion of Niven’s Known Space universe. It opens with his short story “The Warriors” and that’s followed by two novellas, “Iron” by Poul Anderson and “Cathouse” by Dean Ing. All are enjoyable, Niven’s is the least of the 3.

The Kzin are a feline, catlike race that man encounters quite a while after moving into space, though before managing to create a Faster Than Light drive (it’s called hyperdrive in these books).

The Kzin are unrelentingly warlike though bound by a code of honor. Each story tells of an encounter between the two species, Man and Kzin, and it’s outcome which in all instances in these three stories is a matter of intellect overcoming brawn. That doesn’t necessarily mean the humans always win.

The series of Man-Kzin stories now stretches to 14 volumes plus a novel. Some of these are collected in omnibus volumes. These are really enjoyable slightly old fashioned science fiction, especially for those who don’t want a lot of grimdark, nasty or “literary SF” reading. The paperbacks are easy to find, fun to read. Start at the beginning for the best understanding of the two races/species involved and the progression of the conflict between them.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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19 Responses to Friday Forgotten Book – The Man-Kzin Wars by Larry Niven et. al.

  1. I read a bunch of Niven’s work in the Seventies and really liked it. The Gil Hamilton stories were probably my favorites. But I haven’t read much by him since then. I probably should.

  2. Wow – must be three decades since I read anything by Niven. Happy memories, thanks Richard.

  3. The first of the Man-Kzin Wars volumes were fun, but I stopping reading this series after the first three books. I like Larry Niven’s short stories.

    • I have the first 8 of them, George, but have only read 5, according to my records. I liked them fairly well. Though as Jerry says further down in the comments, sometimes these shared universe things can get beaten to death.

  4. Jeff Meyerson says:

    It does sound like fun. I don’t think I’ve read much Niven (maybe a few stories).

  5. Jerry House says:

    Like George, I’ve stopped reading the Man-Kzin volumes, and like others, I stopped reading Niven some time ago. I should give both another try, (Baen Books does however have a talent for taking a shared universe and beating it to death with a stick.)

    • Jerry, see my comment to George, above. I have also enjoyed, more recently, the Worlds series co-written with Edward Lerner. What made me think of this for a FFB is that I’m going to be reading Dream Park written with Steven Barnes.

      Another book I really love is The Legend of Heorot written with Barnes and Pournelle. I’ve read it two or three times and it never loses it’s punch for me. A real favorite.

  6. tracybham says:

    The only books I have read by Larry Niven are the Dream Park series, which my son loaned to me. Just the first three.

  7. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    I think Niven is at his best writing short fiction. Novels tend to expose his weaknesses such as poor characterization, misogyny and bad dialogue. Tried Ringworld last year and couldn’t get past a couple chapters.

    • Ringworld takes a while to get into, Steve, I’m not sure you gave it a chance. That said, in spite of it’s “fame”, it’s not one of his best, nor the rest of the Ringworld series. Yes, his short fiction is good. I also recommend Legend of Heorot.

  8. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I did read and enjoy THE DRACO TAVERN a few years ago.

  9. I’ve got to get back to these soon, especially since the onset of cooler weather has been fueling my science fiction urges. Currently reading Startide Rising by David Brin. Read this first volume a couple of years back and loved it, and found several volumes at Uncle Hugo’s in Minnesota when I visited in the spring of 2015.

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