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The Integral Trees

The State: Book 2

Larry Niven

"Niven has come up with an idea about as far out as one can get.... This is certainly classic science fiction-the idea is truly the hero." -Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

When leaving Earth, the crew of the spaceship Discipline was prepared for a routine assignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission of interstellar exploration and colonization, Discipline was aided (and secretly spied upon) by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionless computer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedience of the crew. But what they weren't prepared for was the smoke ring-an immense gaseous envelope that had formed around a neutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to a variety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditions of continual free-fall. When Discipline encountered it, something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikely space oasis.

Five hundred years later, the descendants of the Discipline crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remember their origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection of the State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the Smoke Ring, Discipline waits patiently to make contact with its wayward children.

The Smoke Ring

The State: Book 3

Larry Niven

In the free-fall environment of the Smoke Ring, the descendants of the crew of the Discipline no longer remembered their Earth roots -- or the existence of Sharls Davis Kendy, the computer-program despot of the ship. Until Kendy initiated contact once more.

Fourteen years later, only Jeffer, the Citizens Tree Scientist, knew that Kendy was still watching -- and waiting. Then the Citizens Tree people rescued a family of loggers and learned for the first time of the Admiralty, a large society living in free fall amid the floating debris called the Clump. And it was likely that the Admiralty had maintained, intact, Discipline's original computer library.

Exploration was a temptation neither Jeffer nor Kendy could resist, and neither Citizens Tree nor Sharls Davis Kendy would ever be the same again...

A Gift from Earth

Known Space: Book 3

Larry Niven

Plateau, a colony in the Tau Ceti system, was settled by humans some 300 years before the plot begins. The colony world itself is a Venusian type planet with a dense, hot, poisonous atmosphere. It would be otherwise uninhabitable, except for a tall monolithic mesa that rises 40 miles up into a breathable layer in the upper atmosphere. This gives the planet a habitable area about half the size of California. The Captain of the first colony vessel named the feature Mount Lookitthat (from his interjection at first sight of it), and the colony became known as Plateau.

After landing the slower-than-light ships, the Crew sign an agreement, called the Covenant of Planetfall, with their former passengers (who had just emerged from suspended animation and were in a weak bargaining position). This agreement gives the Crew (and their descendants in perpetuity) all control over the new colony. A system of medical care evolves, in which organ transplantation is the only method of treatment, even for cosmetic defects (such as baldness); a justice system evolves, with all crimes punishable by death, followed by involuntary donation of the decedent's transplantable organs (including skin, scalp, and teeth). Not surprisingly, only Colonists are ever arrested for crimes; and only Crew are eligible to receive transplants. Some Colonists become dissatisfied with the system and form a dissident group called the "Sons of Earth."