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The Goliath Stone

The Goliath Stone

3.2 13
by Larry Niven, Matthew Joseph Harrington, Jeff Woodman (Read by)

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Doctor Toby Glyer has effected miracle cures with the use of nanotechnology. But Glyer’s controversial nanites are more than just the latest technological advance, they are a new form of life—and they have more uses than just medical. Glyer’s nanites also have the potential to make everyone on Earth rich from the wealth of asteroids.



Doctor Toby Glyer has effected miracle cures with the use of nanotechnology. But Glyer’s controversial nanites are more than just the latest technological advance, they are a new form of life—and they have more uses than just medical. Glyer’s nanites also have the potential to make everyone on Earth rich from the wealth of asteroids.

Twenty-five years ago, the Briareus mission took nanomachinery out to divert an Earth-crossing asteroid and bring it back to be mined, only to drop out of contact as soon as it reached its target. The project was shut down and the technology was forcibly suppressed.

Now a much, much larger asteroid is on a collision course with Earth—and the Briareus nanites may be responsible. While the government scrambles to find a solution, Glyer knows that their only hope of avoiding Armageddon lies in the nanites themselves. On the run, Glyer must track down his old partner, William Connors, and find a way to make contact with their wayward children before a two-hundred-gigaton asteroid smashes into Earth. Will Glyer’s nanites be Earth’s salvation or destruction?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Worried about destructive meteors, nanotechnologist Toby Glyer launches the satellite Briareus to act as an early-warning system. But the on-board nanites start evolving and Briareus disappears, reappearing 25 years later—on a collision course with Earth. This may sound dire, but Niven (the Ringworld series) and Harrington (Soul Survivor) turn it into a rollicking good time. To deal with the looming threat, Glyer recruits May Wyndham, whose company was responsible for the initial launch, and William Connors, a genius who has surreptitiously been improving humanity by introducing nanites into the population. As nanites make the protagonists younger, healthier, and sexier, they engage in fast, funny, and gloriously self-referential repartee, with repeated homage paid to classic science-fiction writers and their work. The hard science can be dense, but it never gets in way of the breezy mood that gives this delightful romp its wings. (June)
From the Publisher

“Who knew nanotechnology could be this much fun? The Goliath Stone is a fast read, filled with fascinating characters and mind-bending concepts. I should have worn a crash helmet.” —Larry Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Exit Plan

The Goliath Stone takes a giant step beyond Lucifer's Hammer into a future so brilliantly rendered that it feels shockingly real. This stunning book is Niven at the absolute top of his game, a sure-fire award-winner and fan pleaser. First-class reading pleasure.” —Whitley Strieber, New York Times bestselling author of The Grays

“Niven is a galaxy-class storyteller.” —Time Magaine

Library Journal
By the mid-21st century, Dr. Toby Glyer has nearly perfected the use of nanites in affecting medical cures. Nanotechnology has also made possible the acquisition of wealth through asteroid mining. What has been merely a theory becomes all too real, however, when an extinction-level asteroid plummets toward Earth on a collision course. The nanites sent to shift the asteroid's path away from Earth seem to develop a mind of their own, and no one knows in whose best interests they are acting. VERDICT Niven, multiple award-winning author of the "Ringworld" series, combines his talent for exciting, hard sf with the skills of Harrington, the author of Soul Survivor, to provide an action-packed biotech thriller that's filled with ideas and made stronger by well-developed characters. The subject matter and style lend themselves to film as well as sf, providing a fast and entertaining look at the not-so-distant future.
Kirkus Reviews
New collaboration about nanotechnology from Harrington (author of several stories set in universes created by Niven) and the vastly influential creator of the Ringworld series, etc. Dr. Toby Glyer cured AIDS using nanotechnology. But his vision, and that of his genius partner, William Connors, ironically plagued by ill health and confined to a wheelchair, extended much farther. Twenty-five years ago, planning to mine wealth from asteroids, they launched a spaceship loaded with nanites that was to rendezvous with an asteroid and steer it back into Earth's orbit. But when the probe lost contact shortly after reaching its target, the U.S. government succumbed to the "gray goo" hypothesis--that nanites would inevitably run out of control and consume the planet--and shut Toby down. Now, the target asteroid has reappeared, heading for Earth on schedule. Unfortunately, it's 10 times the size of the original and evidently won't only take up Earth's orbit, but smack into it. The asteroid, Forge, is now inhabited--by intelligent nanites. The government's only hope is to grab Toby, but thanks to a mysterious series of events, he teams up with rocket scientist May Wyndham and disappears. They soon realize they're infected with nanites and now have perfect health, among other advantages. How? Why? Then, at the Olympics, a certain Mycroft Yellowhorse, representing the Joint Negotiating Alliance of Indian Tribes, wins the marathon in just over an hour and a quarter. Toby and May finally grasp who Mycroft must really be, what he has accomplished and what he still intends to achieve. Leaping from concept to concept at the speed of thought, the book is bulging with jokes, puns and witticisms and is plotted so cleverly you don't even notice there is a plot. A brilliantly crafted yarn that also manages to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller. And funny. Laugh-out-loud funny. What are you waiting for?

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Read an Excerpt




There were parts of the original plan that had been inapplicable by the time the entities got the new rock moving. However, the basic principles were valuable, as in the case of using Mars to dump some excess velocity. Too much, as it turned out; there was atmospheric friction as the rock skimmed the planet. There was plenty of warning, and no entities were killed, but it put the rock into a trajectory that wouldn’t provide an opportunity to match up with Earth’s position for several orbits.

There was no hurry.

And there was interesting material coming in by radio all the time.

Nobody doubted the concept of fiction any longer. Now the issue was what was fiction and what wasn’t.

Information was sorted into subsets of material that was internally consistent. A great many of the small subsets were clearly fiction. Some of the larger ones were deduced to be, after it was noted that they were incomplete but claimed all information not included in them was false. There was a large main body of material consistent with all but a few subsets, but these latter were excluded from serious consideration as soon as any content was found that contradicted observations the entities were able to make themselves.

A considerable mass of information was internally consistent, but significant portions of it were explanations of why it could not be substantiated by any observations. These seemed to be disseminated for the sole purpose of supporting warnings against things that could not be found to exist, and required elaborate suppositions to account for such matters as, e.g., the visibility of distant objects which would have to be older than the Universe. The only thing that kept the entities from dismissing it was the fact that its assorted positions were endorsed by the vast majority of transmission sources.

It was Set who suggested that humans were doing the same thing that he and Wieland and Socrates had once done: disputing over which plan they should undertake. To this end, the faction currently in charge had convinced itself that any evidence to the contrary was some form of deception.

This notion would have been regarded by the other entities as deeply flawed—and probably would never have been imagined, by Set or anyone else—if not for the fact that all the material that had not been excluded, regardless of what its subsets disagreed about, was linked, if followed far enough, to the concept of deliberate fission explosions.

Supposedly there were thousands of fission—and fusion—devices, all over Earth, held in readiness to throw at, for the most part, other such devices. The purpose of this was to inflict enough death on other humans to persuade the survivors to follow the plan of the people who had taken the least damage, while preventing other factions from inflicting as much by destroying their bombs.

The peculiar thing was, just about everyone who had those devices was participating in some form of the deception system. They were already in charge.

And one of the things that they had made themselves believe would surely kill them all was, essentially, the entities. Forge.

There was actually a pretty good reason not to hurry.


Copyright © 2013 by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington

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. He lives in Chatsworth, California.

MATTHEW JOSEPH HARRINGTON is the author of Soul Survivor. He is currently living with fantasy artist Valerie Anne Shoemaker and four cats in San Jose, California.

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The Goliath Stone 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
man_on_the_hill More than 1 year ago
1) The e-book I got was 230 pages long, not 320 as the listing above claims. I'd call it an expanded novella, not a novel. 2) If you haven't read Heinlein, Anderson, Pratchett, and a lot of other SF authors, there will be a lot of fannish in-jokes you won't get. No attempt is made to soften them, or explain what their relevance to the plot line is through some other mechanism, they are just thrown out in the course of conversation and you either get their relevance to the story or you don't . I don't mind that happening once in a while, but in places, this is the major communications method - the characters basically wing allusions at one another for several pages.  3) Not much really happens! Some good ideas, sketchily presented, but no real tension or conflict resolution at the end - the book just reaches a convenient point and stops. I don't like sounding whiny, but this is exactly what Niven's last co-authored book (the Bowl of Heaven) did as well. Maddening. All that said, I did enjoy the book's basic ideas; however, the dialog was not at all fleshed out, the scene setting was extremely limited, and what science there was was mostly hand waving (with a couple of exceptions). The book ended just as the most interesting action had occurred, and scope for much more storytelling had opened up - and ignored. Overall, far more expensive than it was worth; given the content and length, I'd say this was worth about 5 bucks, not the premium 11.99 I paid for it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a fun novella that was an homage to the late Robert A Heinlein's later style of writing. That is both a compliment and a flaw in that the reader is bludgeoned with objectivist political philosophy and global warming denial while being entertained by fannish references and ribald, if sexist reparte. The plot is the unfolding of the maturation of nanotech on earth by the heroic efforts of the hard working and far seeing scientists making good in spite of the evils of modern civilization. Mycroft Yellowhorse, single-handedly forces redemption on the human race while trading sexual innuendoes with scantily-clad amazons (of his own making). The ennobling of the american indian, scientists who know whats best for us, and good clean sex: it's got it all. But what I really come away from this novel with is dark reservations. All the fun-in-sun and saving the world while bantering paints a rosey picture of what is ultimately the end of the human race. What's more disturbing: that every human on earth has been modified complete with an internal bomb in case they cause trouble, or that the authors don't think that's such a bad thing. Hey, it got me thinking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's high time somebody wrote a nanotech story that wasn't dystopian. The fannish references make sense in context, since people with brains more or less have to read science fiction for their entertainment, and the jokes are clearly the response of people trying to get through a scary situation by distracting themselves. Yellowhorse, a lifelong cripple who has rebuilt himself, is the chief inflicter of these, especially with his recall of writing romance novels as a joke that paid off. (Seriously: "Narya Farthingsworth"?)
Anonymous 14 days ago
I'm a huge Niven fan from way back, but this was not one of his best. It was entertaining, but didn't have me invested in the characters of hanging on the edge of my seat for the outcome.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has a very linear plot without much real tension or risk for the main characters. It makes some very basic errors of science that undermines its plausability. I expected better from a book with Niven's name on it.
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CurtDunham More than 1 year ago
The main theme is nanotechnology, but the book is more a game of recognizing constant references to older science fiction greats (of which Larry Niven was one) and science fiction fandom as an elite group. [Niven wrote another book in which SF fans save the day.] This book also interjects a rejection of the idea of climate change although it's totally irrelevant to the plot.
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