Rainbow Mars

Rainbow Mars

3.3 3
by Larry Niven

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Five-time Hugo Award-winner Larry Niven weaves together time travel and fantasy to create an utterly unique novel on the origin of the Martian "canals."

Hanville Svetz was born into a future earth that matches the sorriest predictions of Greenpeace. With most of Earth's original species extinct, Svetz travels back and forth in time retrieving them. Svetz


Five-time Hugo Award-winner Larry Niven weaves together time travel and fantasy to create an utterly unique novel on the origin of the Martian "canals."

Hanville Svetz was born into a future earth that matches the sorriest predictions of Greenpeace. With most of Earth's original species extinct, Svetz travels back and forth in time retrieving them. Svetz learns that Mars was inhabited, and how the sapient Martian species were wiped out. He forsees that Earth could soon fall victim to the same fate.

Editorial Reviews

Carolyn Cushman
...[I]t's great to have a new Svetz tale to savor, with all its Martian variations, and...all his misadventures...in a single volume.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Time, space and a reader's patience become vertiginously distorted in this dizzying compilation of six linked tales written over a 30-year time span by Niven (Destiny's Road), winner of five Hugo Awards. Five short stories written between 1969 and 1973 follow the title novella...but relate events predating its Martian adventures of Niven's klutzy time-traveler hero, Hanville Svetz, as he scours previous centuries for animals extinct in his environmentally devastated 2300 A.D. Earth. When Svetz's Institute for Temporal Research is transferred to the Bureau for Sky Domains, the resulting power struggle launches Svetz into Mars's inhabited past, accompanied by two lissome, stretch-suited astronauts, Zeera and Miya, on a mission to save Earth from Mars's dried-up fate and to colonize the solar system. After surviving Miya's lusty libido and multitudinous hokey alien monsters, Svetz solves one of the chief mysteries of Niven's universe, that of the Beanstalk stretching from earth to the heavens. Occasional satiric sparks light up Svetz's perils, but internal consistency is weak, while a generally gluey pace retards Niven's intended flights of imagination.
This set of short stories deals with a center where time machines (called "extensive cages") enable the traveler to transport items from other periods. Niven wrote these stories to show how time travel could be considered literally a fantasy vehicle. In this collection, the earliest story, "Flight of the Horse," dates from 1969; his latest entry is contemporaneous. The protagonist is Svetz, a mild-mannered "gopher" who picks up exotic animals for the local childlike dictator. There's a "Jack and the Beanstalk" flavor to the stories as Svetz tries to escape with these treasures from hostile environments. Unfortunately, Svetz tends to accidentally make extinct the mythical animals he encounters along the way. So the last medieval unicorn is taken from the English countryside, a phoenix is spirited away, a mythical leviathan is captured, and even werewolves aren't safe around this guy. In a way, the stories act as pourquoi tales for the demise of mythological creatures. The underlying thesis is a fun one, and the myth-savvy reader should enjoy the tales. The writing is offbeat enough, poking fun at societal screw-ups, to evoke an ironic chuckle. KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Tor, 369p, 18cm, 98-41613, $6.99. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Lesley Farmer; Lib. Media Teacher Svcs., Cal. State Univ., Long Beach, CA, September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
Library Journal
As a member of the Institute of Temporal Research, Hanville Svetz explores Earth's past on a regular basis--to satisfy the whims of the current secretary-general (whomever he might happen to be). From retrieving the seeds of a Martian world-tree to capturing a "horse" from preatomic Earth, Svetz risks life, limb, and sanity in the pursuit of his duty. SF veteran Niven's latest effort combines an original novella and five related short stories revolving around the concept of time travel--with a fantastic twist. Known for his hard science and imaginative storytelling, Niven now illustrates his skill at offbeat seriocomic sf in a story cycle recommended for most sf collections.
Los Angeles Times
Niven's masterly use of SF strategies hits every note, springing surprises and plot turns with dizzying pace. Niven...lifts the reader far from the conventional world -- and does it with dash.
Todd Richmond
Rainbow Mars takes a light-hearted look at time travel, environmentalism, and the possibility of life on Mars...Niven take the concept of an orbital tower, an elevator to the stars, and plays with the idea of it being organic rather than mechanical. Kind of turning the whole Ringworld concept on its ear. What if instead of constructing a huge technological wonder, you grow it? Then throw in time travel and all of the complications that accompany it. Thankfully the story is not filled with painful, mind-wrenching time-paradoxes that can make time travel tedious and confusing...I think you'll enjoy Rainbow Mars. It's clever, humorous and an enjoyable book. Just remember to start at the end before you go to the beginning.
— SF Site
Kirkus Reviews
Almost 30 years ago, Niven (the splendid Destiny's Road.) wrote a handful of stories featuring Hanville Svetz of the Institute for Temporal Research. These reappear here as a sort of postscript, but the main attraction is a new full-length adventure.

By the 31st century, Earth is polluted nearly to death, most species are extinct, and the office of U.N. Secretary-General has become hereditary. Under Waldemar the Tenth, Svetz roamed the past seeking wonderful animals to retrieve for Waldemar's delectation. Waldemar the Eleventh, though, wants space travel and aliens-but the space program is nonexistent. So, what if the Martian canals observed by Lowell really were evidence of a dying civilization? Svetz and astronaut Miya Thorsven arrive on Mars in the year 1500. This Mars is inhabited, crisscrossed by canals, and sports a Beanstalk, a space elevator that seems to be a colossal space-going alien plant. The Martians, however, are mostly hostile and belong to a bewildering number of different species. Svetz and Miya must obtain Beanstalk seeds: if such a structure could be grown on Earth, it would yield cheap, painless access to space and its limitless resources. Several Martian species have already colonized this Beanstalk, which breaks free and sails off into space. When Svetz and Miya arrive at Earth a century later they watch the Beanstalk attach itself and grow. Mission accomplished? Well, not exactly. By the time they struggle back to the 31st century-not the same future they left-the Earth is dying, the Beanstalk having absorbed most of the planet's water. Worse, the Beanstalk swarms with hostile Martians and is useless as a space elevator. Somehow, Svetz and Miya mustchange the past once again to remove the troublesome Beanstalk and find a way to make Mars live once more. A brilliantly conceived, funny, exciting, nail-biting, heart-warming jaunt through weird and wonderful histories that never were.

From the Publisher
"A writer of supreme talent." -Tom Clancy

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Meet the Author

Larry Niven is the multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces. His Beowulf's Children, co-authored with Jeery Pournelle and Steven Barnes was a New York Times bestseller. He lives in Chatsworth, California.

Larry Niven is the award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces and fantasy including the Magic Goes Away series. His Beowulf's Children, co-authored with Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes, was a New York Times bestseller. He has received the Nebula Award, five Hugos, four Locus Awards, two Ditmars, the Prometheus, and the Robert A. Heinlein Award, among other honors. He lives in Chatsworth, California.

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Rainbow Mars 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago

**If you have not read this book yet, I recommend jumping past 'Rainbow Mars' (the first story) and read the shorter stories first.**

I really don't have any complaints about Mr. Niven's style of writing, but it's the way the novel is set up. I personally feel it would have been more enjoyable to read if the publisher had set up the stories in sequence with 'Flight of the Horse' first, and then the one about the whale. My reason being, certain descriptions of characters are totally missed in the 'Rainbow Mars' segment, but defined better in the shorter stories.
They all link together, and the 'Rainbow Mars' story does link the other stories together, but the mystery and delivery of the other stories was killed because you are just 'given' the information straight in 'Rainbow Mars' as opposed to the obvious mystery involved that Mr. Niven clearly put in the smaller stories. I hope what I am saying makes sense. I didn't like the title much either, because I don't feel it applies to the story.

On the positive side, you have Mr. Niven's interesting ideas, and the skyhook plant was just a wild concept that I loved. I also liked the future society and their viewpoints on old Earth nature...the atmospheric differences between the past and future were a nice touch as well.

Overall, I am a big Niven fan, especially of the 'Known Space' novels, and he always contructs a believable psychology behind his characters. I just feel the stories could have been shuffled better, and placed in a sort of a chronological order.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Larry Niven fan, but his last 3 books have been poor. Rainbow Mars has a ridiculously bad premise, even for science fiction. Niven should have written it as a comedy.