Larry Niven

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Larry Niven

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106 Quotations from Larry Niven

alien life form n. 1965 L. Niven in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 25/1 If Kzanol had not spent so many years controlling alien life forms, growing used to the feel of alien thoughts, his whole personality would have been drowned.
astrogate v. 2000 L. Niven Fly-By-Night in Asimov’s Science Fiction Oct.–Nov. 39 When Kzinti acquired hyperdrive, they learned that most cannot astrogate through hyperspace.
autodoc n. 1966 L. Niven Warriors in Worlds of If Feb. 155/2 To each patient Doctor Davis handed a tiny pink pill from the dispenser slot of the huge autodoc which covered the back wall of the infirmary.
beanstalk n. 1989 L. Niven & S. Barnes Barsoom Project xxii. 201 Of all these proposed skyhooks, the Beanstalk is the most difficult to build. It must stand the greatest stresses. But the Beanstalk can lift cargo from ground to orbit, and fling them out to the stars, for the cost of the electricity, a few dollars a pound. But that cost is deceptive. The Beanstalk is also the most dangerous of the skyhooks. For if the cable ever snapped—
Belter n. 1966 L. Niven in Galaxy Magazine Dec. 100/1 Those hotels, and the scattered hotels in the other bubbleworld, served every Belter’s occasional need for an Earthlike environment.
Belter n. 1966 L. Niven Warriors in Worlds of If Science Fiction Feb. 152/2 You noticed a habit of mine once. I never make gestures. All Belters have that trait. It’s because on a small mining ship you could hit something waving your arms around.
Belter n. 1966 L. Niven Bordered in Black in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Apr. 127/1 When a Belter stops being neat it’s like suicide.
Belter n. 1965 L. Niven World of Ptavvs in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 56/1 They’ll be armed for us, and a weapon is a weapon…. Belters, they’re always waiting for the first ET. They’ll be armed for bear.
BEM n. 1965 L. Niven in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 71/2 I've been ordered not to move by a BEM that doesn’t take No for an answer.
cold sleep n. 1993 L. Niven Procrustes in Crashlander (1994) 224 I got hold of a little stealth lander, Fourth War vintage, with a cold sleep box in back for you, Sharrol.
con n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 89 A public venue was naturally out of the question; and very few fen owned homes large enough to house even a small con.
core n. 1966 L. Niven At the Core in Worlds of If Science Fiction Nov. 33/1 But the Core! Ignoring refueling and reprovisioning problems, my old ship could have reached the galaxy’s core in three hundred years. No known species had ever seen the Core! It hid behind layer on layer of tenuous gas and dust clouds.
corpsicle n. 1971 L. Niven in Galaxy Nov. 52/1 ‘Your newstapers called you people corpsicles… I never understood what the tapes meant.’ ‘It comes from popsicle. Frozen sherbet.’ Corbett had used the word himself before he had became one of them. One of the corpsicles, frozen dead.
corpsicle n. 1973 L. Niven Defenseless Dead in Long ARM Gil Hamilton (1976) 66 ‘People used to call them corpsicles, frozen dead. Or Homo snapiens. You can imagine what would happen if you dropped them.’ Mr. Restarick did not smile. These people were in his charge, and he took his task seriously.
cryosleep n. 1987 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & S. Barnes Legacy of Heorot iii. 46 Were there dreams in cryosleep? The neurologists said no, but his memory said yes.
cyberpunk n. 1 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 89 It’s the ultimate synthesis between science fiction, cyberpunk, and horror.
disintegrator n. 1979 L. Niven Ringworld Engineers in Galileo July 57/1 Where a disintegrator beam falls, solid matter is rendered suddenly and violently positive. It tears itself into a fog of monatomic particles.
Dyson sphere n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld 106 But there’s more to a Dyson sphere than collecting solar power. Say you make the sphere one astronomical unit in radius. You've got to clear out the solar system anyway, so you use all the solar planets in the construction. That gives you a shell of, say, chrome steel a few yards thick. Now you put gravity generators all over the shell. You'd have a surface area a billion times as big as the Earth’s surface. A trillion people could wander all their lives without ever meeting one another.
Dyson sphere n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld 105 The Ringworld is a compromise, an engineering compromise between a Dyson sphere and a normal planet. Dyson was one of the ancient natural philosophers, pre-Belt, almost pre-atomic. He pointed out that a civilization is limited by the energy available to it. The way for the human race to use all the energy within its reach, he said, is to build a spherical shell around the sun and trap every ray of sunlight.
fanac n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 22 Typical fanac, she thought.
fanac n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 24 That was like Bruce, to evaluate everything, even her personal life, in terms of its utility to the current fanac.
fanac n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 74 When Bruce raised this expedition, it sounded like good fanac.
fandom n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 86 Chuck Umber had published fandom’s most successful news magazine for more than twenty years, in formats growing steadily more cryptic and secretive for an audience growing gradually smaller.
fannish adj. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 131 You should see my collection of fannish art.
fannishness n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 24 Eventually she had had to watch what she said around him because she couldn’t be sure that he wouldn’t denounce her for fannishness to the University.
faster-than-light adj. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld 106 There wasn’t even a theoretical basis for faster-than-light travel. We never did invent hyperdrive, if you'll recall. We'd never have discovered it by accident, either, because we'd never have thought to do our experiments out beyond the singularity.
faster than light adv. 1966 L. Niven in If Oct. 17/2 Imagine light falling into a savagely steep gravitational well. It won’t accelerate. Light can’t move faster than light. But it can gain in energy, in frequency.
femmefan n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 87 A semicircle of femmefans twisted in their chairs to stare at him.
femmefan n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 328 Downstairs in one of the function rooms, he found Dinsby in a circle of femmefans surrounding Gordon.
fen n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 19 But why tell me, Bob? I'm fafiated. It’s been years since I've dared associate with fen.
fen n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 21 A person could get into a lot of trouble for reading SF or for associating with known fen.
fen n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 89 A public venue was naturally out of the question; and very few fen owned homes large enough to house even a small con.
filker n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 321 Filkers were gearing up out by the pool; the laughter was louder than the singing.
filking n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 27 His fingers fluttered through a few traditional tunes: jigs and reels and such; then he started in one some serious filking.
free fall n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 9 Gordon had been born in free fall and thrust was new to him.
fugghead n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 357 Niven’s law. No cause is so noble that it won’t attract fuggheads.
fuggheaded adj. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 357 Some fuggheaded Green Police.
future history n. 1975 L. Niven Tales of Known Space p. xi Future histories tend to be chaotic. They grow from a common base, from individual stories with common assumptions; but each story must—to be fair to readers—stand by itself. The future history chronicled in the Known Space Series is as chaotic as real history.
gafiate v. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 23–4 ‘We heard you'd gafiated.’ ‘Fafiated.’ She looked him straight in the eye, daring him to disagree. She hadn’t gotten away from it all; she'd been forced away from it all.
gafiate v. 2011 L. Niven & S. Barnes Moon Maze Game xv. 127 They had once been married, but then one of them had lost interest in gaming, and the relationship had drifted apart. If memory served, it was Maud who had gafiated.
gee n. 2 1965 L. Niven in Galaxy Magazine June 179/2 And without the artificial gravity to protect us it would take over years to reach the right velocity. The drive gives us a good one hundred gee in uncluttered space.
gengineer v. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 363 Those mice are gengineered to produce juvenile growth hormone.
grandfather paradox n. 1971 L. Niven All Myriad Ways 111 The Grandfather Paradox is basic to any discussion of time travel… We will call any such interference with the past, especially self-cancelling interference, a Grandfather Paradox.
grav n. 2 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1975) iv. xlvii. 447 It’s going to be tough facing three gravs after that dinner.
graviton n. 1990 L. Niven Madness Has Its Place in L. Niven et al. Man-Kzin Wars III (1992) i. 15 A lot of those photos show what’s maybe a graviton generator, maybe not.
gravity n. 1965 L. Niven World of Ptavvs in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 54/1 Two gravities! Twelve hours ago, he would have sneered at himself. Two gravities, lying on his back? He could have done it on his head. But that was twelve hours ago, twelve hours of double weight and throbbing metal and noise and no sleep…. It would be a day and a half before ship weight returned to normal.
gravity well n. 1966 L. Niven in Galaxy Dec. 102/1 Even the ships of Earth use only a little of their fuel getting in and out of their pet gravity well. Most of it gets burned getting them from place to place fast. And Mars is lighter than Earth.
gripping hand n. [1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye 167 It left the Motie standing comically on vacuum, its big left hand gripping a ring that jutted out from the hull.]
gripping hand n. 1993 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Gripping Hand 7 On the one hand, if they shimmy too hard, they may be diseased. On the other, if they don’t shimmy, they haven’t eaten well. On the gripping hand, if they’re too young and healthy they will escape and attempt to eat you.
groundside adv. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 46 Things wouldn’t behave naturally groundside.
holo n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld 31 You may examine the holo Louis Wu is carrying. That is the only information I can give you at this time.
hyperdrive n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld 106 There wasn’t even a theoretical basis for faster-than-light travel. We never did invent hyperdrive, if you'll recall. We'd never have discovered it by accident, either, because we'd never have thought to do our experiments out beyond the singularity.
in-system adj. 1968 L. Niven Slowboat Cargo in World of If Feb. 10/1 The ship began to drag a little, a very little, as the cone scooped up interstellar dust and hydrogen. She was still accelerating. Her insystem tank was idle now, and would be for the next twelve years. Her food would be the thin stuff she scooped out between the stars.
jump v. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye 103 First Jump was routine. The transfer point to Murcheson’s Eye was well located. New Caledonia was a magnificent white point source in the moment before MacArthur Jumped. Then Murcheson’s Eye was a wide red glare the size of a baseball held at arm’s length.
laser cannon n. 1966 L. Niven in If Oct. 17/1 Below me was the length of the fusion tube; to the left, the laser cannon.
laser cannon n. 1971 L. Niven Fourth Profession in Quark Aug. 209 ‘Jerome Finney…showed that the spectrum was the light of our own sun, drastically blue-shifted. Some kind of mirror was coming at us, moving at a hell of a clip, but slowing as it came.’ ‘That would mean a light-sail! ’ ‘Why the big deal, Frazer? I thought you already knew. ’ ‘No. This is the first I've heard of it. I don’t read the Sunday supplements. ’ Morris was exasperated. ‘But you knew enough to call a laser cannon a launching laser! ’
launching laser n. 1971 L. Niven Fourth Profession in Quark Aug. 209 ‘Jerome Finney…showed that the spectrum was the light of our own sun, drastically blue-shifted. Some kind of mirror was coming at us, moving at a hell of a clip, but slowing as it came.’ ‘That would mean a light-sail! ’ ‘Why the big deal, Frazer? I thought you already knew. ’ ‘No. This is the first I've heard of it. I don’t read the Sunday supplements. ’ Morris was exasperated. ‘But you knew enough to call a laser cannon a launching laser! ’
light n. 1 1965 L. Niven World of Ptavvs in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 8/2 At .93 lights…the stars become unrecognizable.
light-day n. 2012 L. Niven & E. M. Lerner Fate of Worlds viii. 68 A very thin line encircled the bridge: short navy-blue dashes alternating with longer pale blue dashes. The Ringworld. Or, rather, Endurance having exited hyperspace sixty light-days from its destination, the Ringworld as it had appeared sixty days earlier.
light sail n. 1971 L. Niven in Quark 4 Aug. 208 That’s the solar wind. You get the same problem around any yellow sun. With a light-sail you can get push from the solar wind as well as from light pressure. The trouble is, the solar wind is just stripped hydrogen atoms. Light bounces from a light-sail, but the solar wind just hits the sail and sticks.
light sail n. 1971 L. Niven Fourth Profession in Quark Aug. 209 ‘Jerome Finney…showed that the spectrum was the light of our own sun, drastically blue-shifted. Some kind of mirror was coming at us, moving at a hell of a clip, but slowing as it came.’ ‘That would mean a light-sail! ’ ‘Why the big deal, Frazer? I thought you already knew. ’ ‘No. This is the first I've heard of it. I don’t read the Sunday supplements. ’ Morris was exasperated. ‘But you knew enough to call a laser cannon a launching laser! ’
light sail n. 1971 L. Niven Fourth Profession in Hole in Space (1974) 169 ‘The spectrum was the light of our own sun, drastically blue-shifted. Some kind of mirror was coming at us, moving at a hell of a clip, but slowing as it came.’ ‘Oh,’ I got it then. ‘That would mean a light sail.’
light sail n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1976) 48 ‘You knew we were dealing with a light-sail propulsion system, sir?… Sunlight per square centimeter falling on a light sail decreases as the square of the distance from the star. Acceleration varies directly as the sunlight reflected from the sail.’… Renner made another parabola, very like the first, but in blue. ‘The stellar wind can also propel a light sail. Thrust varies about the same way. The important difference is that the stellar wind is atomic nuclei. They stick where they hit the sail. The momentum is transferred directly—and it’s all radial to the sun.’
light sail n. 1990 L. Niven Madness Has Its Place in L. Niven et al. Man-Kzin Wars III (1992) iii. 29 Light-sails are rare in the inner solar system. Between Venus and Mercury there are still light-sail races, an expensive, uncomfortable and dangerous sport… The last refuge of the light-sail is a huge, empty region: the cometary halo, Pluto and beyond. The light-sails are all cargo craft.
light-speed n. 2 1966 L. Niven in If Oct. 20/1 I might well put the…hull to its toughest test yet: smashing it into a neutron star at half lightspeed.
light-week n. 1973 L. Niven Protector (1980) 179 We're only a couple of light-weeks out from Sol, and he’s a light-year away, and I think he’s decelerating.
needle-beam n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld (1984) 232 Louis clawed the flashlight-laser from his belt, used its green needle beam to free Speaker from his balloons.
neofan n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 91 ‘I just dropped in recently.’ A neofan, then.
neutronium n. 1966 L. Niven in If Oct. 18/2 The rocket motor would send the Skydiver crashing into eleven miles of neutronium.
null-g n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1975) iii. xxxi. 316 Null-gee races were a favorite if slightly nonregulation game with midshipmen.
offworlder n. 1967 L. Niven in If Mar. 81/2 She looked startled. ‘Oh! You're an offworlder… Look, you can’t go around town with an offworldder’s [sic] wallet.’
organlegger n. 1967 L. Niven Jigsaw Man in H. Ellison Dangerous Visions 220 If the odds broke right, if the right people came down with the right diseases at the right time, the organlegger might save more lives than he had taken.
organlegger n. 1969 L. Niven in Galaxy Jan. 142/1 For instant replacement of your ruined digestive system, for a young healthy heart, for a whole liver when you'd ruined yours with alcohol—you had to go to an organlegger.
organlegging n. 1969 L. Niven Organleggers in Galaxy Jan. 118/1 It involved an organlegging gang, apparently run by a single man, yet big enough to cover half the North American west coast.
organlegging n. 1969 L. Niven Organleggers in Galaxy Jan. 140/2 The crime of organlegging was the result of thousands of years of medical progress, of millions of lives selflessly dedicated to the ideals of healing the sick.
planetography n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1975) iii. xxvi. 244 The physical features of Mote Prime are of some interest, particularly to ecologists concerned with the effects of intelligent life on planetography.
ramscoop n. 1966 L. Niven in If Feb. 154/1 It’s a light pressure drive powered by incomplete hydrogen fusion. They use an electromagnetic ramscoop to get their own hydrogen from space.
ramscoop n. 1965 L. Niven World of Ptavvs in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 33/1 The interstellar ramscoop robots had been searching out man-habitable systems for nearly a century.
sapient adj. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld (1976) 73 Speaker, no sapient being ever interrupts a defense mechanism.
sapient adj. 2003 L. Niven Ones Who Stay Home in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact Jan. 78/1 Most sapient species can’t travel. They would need life support so extensive that they could not perceive the Universe beyond.
scanner n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1975) i. vi. 59 The forward scanners were operative and recording.
scout ship n. 1967 L. Niven Soft Weapon in Worlds of If Feb. 9/2 He had come running back to the scout ship, breathless and terrified, screaming, ‘Take off! The planet’s full of monsters!’
sercon n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 92 Chuck laughed. ‘Sercon,’ he explained. ‘˜Serious and constructive activities.’
sercon adj. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 92 You'll find plenty to entertain you. Not every fan activity is sercon.
Singularity n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld 106 There wasn’t even a theoretical basis for faster-than-light travel. We never did invent hyperdrive, if you'll recall. We'd never have discovered it by accident, either, because we'd never have thought to do our experiments out beyond the singularity.
slidewalk n. 1973 L. Niven ARM in Long ARM Gil Hamilton (1976) 117 They'd been found on the Wilshire slidewalk in West Los Angeles around 4:30 A.M. People don’t use the slidewalks that late. They're afraid of organleggers. The bodies could have traveled up to a couple miles before anyone saw them.
slideway n. 2014 G. Benford & L. Niven Shipstar xxvii. 214 For many hours they had crawled through some conduits and once had to wade through a sewer to get onto a fast-moving slideway.
space v. 2 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye 485 ‘Curse. And how many Mediator pups when they returned?’ ‘I had four sisters.’ ‘Curse!’ Mediators identified with Masters. They held the usual Master emotions about children. Though sterile from an early age, Ivan was not immune to those emotions; but he knew. The children should have been spaced.
space-travelling adj. 1966 L. Niven Relic of the Empire in Worlds of If Dec. 80/1 I never heard of a space-traveling race that builds such big things for mere monuments.
stasis field n. 1965 L. Niven in Worlds of Tomorrow Mar. 12/1 The ship had power, probably, to reach several worlds, but not to slow him down to the speed of any known world. Well, that was all right. In his stasis field Kzanol wouldn’t care how hard he hit.
suit n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 11 Five times his suit had leaked air while they worked to save Freedom Station.
supernova n. 1965 L. Niven in Galaxy Magazine June 189/1 It could have left the Main Sequence by going supernova or by suddenly expanding into a red giant, but if it had there wouldn’t be any inner planets.
supernova n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God's Eye (1976) 278 For astrophysics, perhaps verra important, Captain. They hae been watching yon supergiant for aye their history as it passed across the Coal Sack. ‘Twill go supernova and then become a black hole—and the Moties say they know when.
superpower n. 1971 L. Niven Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex in All Myriad Ways (1975) 77 All known forms of kryptonian life have super-powers.
teleporting n. 1966 L. Niven By Mind Alone in Worlds of If June 155/1 ‘Take the car!’ Larsen ordered. ‘Don’t try any more teleporting.’
teleporting adj. 1966 L. Niven By Mind Alone in Worlds of If June 151 You'd hear a skinny senior describing the teleporting society in Bester’s The Stars My Destination.
temporal paradox n. 1970 L. Niven Bird in Hand in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct. 124/1 Unless that was a side effect of the paradox. Unless the paradox had chopped away Zeera’s extension cage and left her stranded in the past, or cast off into an alternate world line, or…. There had never been a temporal paradox. [ellipsis in original]
terraform v. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye (1975) i. iv. 33 The middle two planets are inhabited, both terraformed by First Empire scientists after Jasper Murcheson.
tesseract n. 2007 E. M. Lerner & L. Niven Fleet of Worlds xxvii. 215 Forward patted the tesseract; his fingertips bent oddly as they entered the volume of manipulated space.
thruster n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye xiv. 113 Whitbread coasted slowly inward. He rode a space-to-space taxi, the cabin a polarized plastic bubble, the short hull studded with ‘thruster clusters’—arrays of attitude jets.
thruster n. 1970 L. Niven Ringworld (1973) viii. 99 Speaker ran the big fusion motors up to full power. He tilted the flat thruster discs out of the plane of the wing, lining their axes along ship’s aft, and added their thrust to the rockets. The Liar backed into the system blazing like twin suns, decelerating at nearly two hundred gravities.
torch drive n. 1976 L. Niven Words in Science Fiction in Craft of Science Fiction 182 Simple description. Torch drive, duplicator, flying belt. Dolphins’ hands and telepathically operated tools on tractor treads.
tridee n. 1966 L. Niven World of Ptavvs (1977) 46 She leaned forward and turned on the tridee screen in the seat ahead.
tri-v n. 1974 L. Niven & J. Pournelle Mote in God’s Eye 448 They have given us a tri-v…and it is obviously what the humans watch. There were spokesmen for many Masters. You saw.
trufan n. 1991 L. Niven, J. Pournelle, & M. Flynn Fallen Angels 89 Without Tremont J. Fielding—3MJ as he was known to all trufans—and his sprawling mansion, Minicon might not have come off at all.
xenopsychologist n. 2005 L. Niven Breeding Maze in Analog Science Fiction & Fact Sept. 51/2 Hsenshesist Brill is a famous xenopsychologist. Ship law restricts him because he runs uncomfortable experiments on sapient entities, but his lectures rank high. Many will attend when he tells us what he has done on your world.