Growing up, I was a big fan of Ringworld by Larry Niven–so much that I also owned the role-playing game based on it. Alas, my involvement with the game didn’t go beyond reading the rules. When it came to playing RPGs, I was strictly a D&D guy, with a little Gamma World also thrown in.
So it was a thrill to interview Niven in my latest NRO podcast. We talked about his new short story collection, libertarian politics, and his involvement in President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.
Three years ago, I mentioned Niven on the pages of National Review. I had written an essay on Robert Heinlein, on the occasion of his centennial. The article discusses Heinlein’s own involvement with SDI. As a sidebar (scroll to the bottom of the Heinlein link), I added a short list of “sci-fi novels that resonate with conservatives.” Here’s the section on Niven:
The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle: It’s hard to go wrong with Niven and Pournelle, whether they’re writing separately or as a team. This 1974 novel of first contact carries lessons for conservative hawks and liberal doves. Heinlein called it “possibly the best science-fiction novel I have ever read.” Other Niven-Pournelle collaborations worth checking out include Oath of Fealty, about urban conflict in the future, and Fallen Angels (with a third co-author, Michael Flynn), which is a forerunner to Michael Crichton’s anti-global-warming thriller State of Fear.
Next week’s podcast: Jeffrey Meyers on George Orwell.