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Encyclopedia > The Mote In God's Eye
The Mote in God's Eye

Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Simon and Schuster
Publication date 1974
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 537 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-671-21833-6
Followed by The Gripping Hand, 1993

The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, is a science fiction novel that was first published in 1974. The story is set in the distant future of Pournelle's CoDominium universe, and charts the first contact between Mankind and an alien species. The title of the novel is a wordplay on Luke 6:41. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 364 × 600 pixelsFull resolution‎ (800 × 1,318 pixels, file size: 215 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Cover of the original hardcover edition, created from a scan of my personal copy. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Jerry Eugene Pournelle, Ph. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article is about the literary concept. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Jean-François Millet Le Semeur (The Sower) Simon & Schuster logo, circa 1961. ... Hardcover books A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN redirects here. ... The Gripping Hand is a 1993 novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Jerry Eugene Pournelle, Ph. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... This article is about the literary concept. ... Year 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the 1974 Gregorian calendar. ... The fictional CoDominium universe is a future history (now alternate history) setting for the books in the CoDominium Series by Jerry Pournelle. ... First contact is a term used to describe a first meeting of two previously unknown cultures. ... The Gospel of Luke is a synoptic Gospel, and the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament. ...


The book describes a complex alien civilization, the Moties. The Moties are radically different (both physically and psychologically) from humanity in ways that become clearer over the course of the book. The human characters range from the typical hero-type in Captain Roderick Blaine to the much more ambiguous merchant prince and suspected traitor Horace Bury. Robert A. Heinlein, who gave the authors extensive, detailed advice on the novel, blurbed the story as "possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read". It has been suggested that Horace Bury be merged into this article or section. ... Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of hard science fiction. ... Look up blurb in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The novel is an example of hard science fiction in that close attention is paid to scientific detail. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are noted for writing in this genre, and it is especially evident in this work with regard to the theoretical mechanics and physics of interplanetary travel. The book's Alderson Drive and Langston Field are literary inventions, but they are presented against a background of established science knowledge. This article is about the literary concept. ... Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both. ... A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor demonstrates the Meissner effect. ... By definition, interplanetary travel is travel between bodies in a given star system; especially the solar system. ... The Alderson drive is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ... The Langston Field is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ...


One interesting aspect of the novel — in comparison to other works of science fiction — is how the alien race's psychology is influenced by its physiology. Prior to this work, most aliens in science fiction would have a physiology radically different from human, but act and think in much the same way.


A sequel to The Mote in God's Eye, entitled The Gripping Hand, was written by the same authors over twenty years later. It was published in the UK and other countries as The Moat around Murcheson's Eye. The Gripping Hand is a 1993 novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. ...

Contents

Plot summary

The book is split up into four parts.


The Crazy Eddie Probe

In the year AD 3017, Mankind is recovering slowly from an interstellar civil war that tore apart the first Empire of Man. A new Empire has risen and is occupied in establishing control over the remnants of its predecessor, by force if needed.


Commander Lord Roderick Blaine, having participated in the suppression of a rebellion on the planet of New Chicago, is given command of an Imperial battlecruiser INSS MacArthur when the captain has to stay behind to restore order on the planet. Blaine is given secret orders to take Horace Hussein Bury, a powerful interstellar merchant who is suspected of fomenting the revolt for his own profit, to the Imperial capital, Sparta. Blaine is one of the few people wealthier than Bury, so he is the ideal man for the mission since he can't be bribed. MacArthur is to be repaired in the New Caledonia system, then proceed to the capital. Another passenger is Lady Sandra Bright "Sally" Fowler, the niece of an Imperial Senator and a rescued prisoner of the rebels. [[Image:HMS Hood and HMS Barham. ... Depiction of the INSS MacArthur, based on the Lief Ericson space cruiser model kit. ... Bury, Horace Hussein Chamoun al-Shamlan: Imperial Trader and Magnate; Chairman of the Board, Imperial Autonetics Ltd; native of the planet Levant; educated on Sparta, the Imperial capital; owner of the space yacht Sinbad. ...

An alternate depiction of the INSS MacArthur, based on the Leif Ericson space cruiser model kit.

New Caledonia is the capital of the Trans-Coalsack sector, located on the opposite side of the Coalsack Nebula from Earth. Also in the sector is a red supergiant star known as Murcheson's Eye. Associated with it is a yellow Sun-like star. From New Caledonia, the yellow star appears in front of the Eye. Since some see the Eye and the Coalsack as the face of a hooded man, perhaps even the face of God, the yellow star is known as the Mote in God's Eye. Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The Coalsack Dark Nebula (or simply the Coalsack) is the most prominent dark nebula in the skies, easily visible to the naked eye as a dark patch silhouetted against the southern Milky Way. ...


While in the New Caledonia system, Blaine receives a message saying that an alien spacecraft has been detected, and includes an order that MacArthur intercept it. Human ships use the Alderson Drive, which allows them to "jump" instantaneously between points in specific star systems. The alien craft, by contrast, is propelled by a solar sail, taking 150 years to cross between stars at sublight speed. MacArthur duly intercepts the craft and is fired upon by its automated systems, but manages to capture it relatively intact. However, on arrival at the planet New Scotland, its single occupant, evidently the pilot, is found to be dead. The Alderson drive is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ... A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars that orbit each other,[1] bound by gravitational attraction. ... Solar sails (also called light sails or photon sails, especially when they use light sources other than the Sun) are a proposed form of spacecraft propulsion using large membrane mirrors. ...


The alien is bizarrely asymmetric, with two delicate arms on one side of its body and a single, much larger and stronger arm on the other. Although it is bipedal and has a head and face similar to humans, its anatomy is entirely different. It has no flexible spine and the face is capable of little expression. It is the first alien race that humans have come into contact with. The ship itself is composed of alloys with remarkable properties and designed around unique, custom-built parts, no two alike, that perform multiple unrelated tasks simultaneously. First contact may refer to: In science: First contact (anthropology), a first meeting of two previously unknown cultures First contact (astronomy), the moment in astronomy during a transit or eclipse when the apparent positions of the two bodies first touch In Star Trek: First Contact (TNG episode), a fourth season...


The Crazy Eddie Point

MacArthur and the battleship Lenin are sent to the Mote: the star from which the alien ship came. MacArthur carries civilian research teams intended to meet with and investigate the Moties, while Lenin is there to "ride shotgun" on the mission, avoiding all contact with the aliens. Aboard Lenin is the commander in charge of the mission, Admiral Lavrenti Kutuzov, a ruthless, supremely loyal officer who had already sterilized one rebellious colony planet to safeguard Imperial Reunification. Bury goes along (since they need a merchant to assess the trade possibilities and also because there is nobody trustworthy enough to take him to the capital), as does Sally, a trained anthropologist. Despite (or, rather due to) the civilians' distrust, Blaine remains in command of MacArthur. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a... It has been suggested that Horace Bury be merged into this article or section. ...


The Mote has only one Alderson point leading to it, and to reach it, the ships must actually enter the outer layers of the red supergiant itself before activating the drive. This is only possible because they also have the Langston Field for protection. Supergiant stars are up to 500 million km in diameter, but the outer layers are basically a hot vacuum. Betelgeuse, viewed from a distance of 8 AU. By comparison, this is our own Sun, and how it would appear when viewed from the same distance. ... The Langston Field is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ...


MacArthur successfully makes contact with the Moties. They have advanced technology (in some areas superior to that of the First Empire, much less the current Second), but seem friendly and willing to share it. Indeed, they would have been a formidable threat to Humanity, had they not been bottled up in their home system. They had independently invented the Alderson Drive, calling it the "Crazy Eddie" Drive, but the ships that used it had all disappeared and never come back. In fact, they were destroyed because the other end of the tramline ended inside the supergiant. The Moties deduce that humans use the drive because MacArthur and Lenin appear at the "Crazy Eddie Point".


Meet Crazy Eddie

The Moties are an old species that has evolved into many specialized subspecies. The first encountered is an Engineer, a brown form with amazing technical abilities but limited speech. The Engineer brings along a pair of tiny Motie Watchmakers that are astonishingly adept at modifying and customizing items (such as custom taylering guns to Renner's hand). The next are Mediators, brown and white forms like the dead pilot, who have astounding communication and negotiation skills. Each one adopts a particular human in the contact party, becoming his (her in Sally's case) Fyunch(click), studying its subject and learning how to think like him or her, even to the point of exactly reproducing voices and mannerisms. Other forms include the white Masters and non-sapient versions kept for menial work. Clicks are stops produced with two articulatory closures in the oral cavity. ...


These and others are encountered when the contact party visits the planet Mote Prime at the invitation of the Moties. They reside in a special building created for them, protected from the polluted and poisonous atmosphere. From there, they are taken to places of interest in the surrounding city, such as an "art gallery", which seems to be more of a monument to events in history. The Moties attempt to interest their visitors, especially Bury, in the commercial possibilities of continued contact between the civilizations. It has been suggested that Horace Bury be merged into this article or section. ...


Back on MacArthur, disaster strikes. The Watchmakers had escaped, and although it was assumed they had died, they had actually been breeding furiously. Despite several attempts to rid the MacArthur of the infestation, the Watchmakers, unknown to the human crew, had been quietly redesigning and rebuilding MacArthur — whilst continuing to breed. When they are discovered, there are already large numbers aboard, and a furious battle for control of the ship breaks out. The crew is eventually forced to abandon ship; Lenin has no choice but to destroy MacArthur — an incredibly difficult act, as one of the improvements made to the ship was to its Langston Field. The field now expands as it absorbs energy, increasing its surface area and dissipating heat faster. Lenin, however, does not ceases its attack, and the MacArthur is eventually destroyed. The contact party is then recalled without explanation and told to rendezvous directly with Lenin.


Three MacArthur midshipmen who managed to escape from the ship in lifeboats (ironically enough, lifeboats reconstructed by the descendants of the escaped Watchmakers) land in an unpopulated area of Mote Prime. Exploring unsupervised for the first time, they find a fortified structure, locked by an equation that required relatively advanced knowledge of astronomy to solve. It is a perfectly maintained yet completely deserted structure that can only be described as a museum. Every aspect of Motie civilization is preserved in detail, and they almost immediately realize that though the Moties had carefully portrayed themselves as peaceful, nothing could be further from the truth. And perhaps the worst part of it is, this is not even malicious, but simply a fluke of biology. For other uses, see Astronomy (disambiguation). ...


The Moties are sequential hermaphrodites, changing sex over and over again over the course of their lives — with one quirk: if a Motie remains female for too long without becoming pregnant, the hormone imbalance will kill her. This ensures a never-ending population explosion. Attempts at population control through chemicals or infanticide have always failed for the Moties, because those who (secretly or openly) breed uncontrolled eventually swamp those Moties who complied. Once the population pressure rises high enough, massive wars inevitably result. And the Moties are very good at war. In zoology, a hermaphrodite is a species that contains both male and female sexual organs at some point during their lives. ... A pregnant woman Pregnancy is the process by which a mammalian female carries a live offspring from conception until it develops to the point where the offspring is capable of living outside the womb. ... Overpopulation may indicate any case in which the population of any species of animal may exceed the carrying capacity of its ecological niche. ...


Humans have encountered eight distinct Motie subspecies, and occasional hybrids such as the Mediators. But there is also a ninth - the Warriors. And they are far superior in combat to any human soldier. To Engineers and Watchmakers, a weapon is just something else to build and/or repair. There are no fissionables remaining in the Mote system, but asteroid bombardments are more than adequate weapons of mass destruction. It has been suggested that Horace Bury be merged into this article or section. ... This article or section should include material from Fissile material In nuclear engineering, a fissile material is one that is capable of sustaining a chain reaction of nuclear fission. ... For the Xzibit album, see Weapons of Mass Destruction (album). ...


As one would expect, these wars always end in the complete and total destruction of the current Motie civilization. However, Moties are unbelievably capable survivors, and enough always survive that reconstruction proceeds quickly — especially with the aid of the museums, as this is their intended purpose. They are located in unpopulated areas so as not to be targets during collapses. Population is controlled by disease and injury between collapses and reconstructions, but it obviously never lasts.


The Cycles of civilization, war, and collapse have apparently been going on for millions of years. They are so devastating that in the past, Mote Prime has been completely sterilized several times, to be repopulated by those living in hollowed-out asteroids. In the process, the Moties mutated from earlier symmetrical forms. Every civilization arose, unlocked the museums, and discovered that that unless they could solve a problem that had plagued literally countless others, they were doomed. Thus, the Moties have become fatalistically resigned to the never-ending Cycles. Only a mythical character called "Crazy Eddie" believes there is a way out, and any Motie who comes to believe a way out is possible is labeled as insane and a "Crazy Eddie." This is why they call the system's Alderson point(which, unbeknownst to the Moties until human contact, leads into the photosphere of Murcheson's Eye) the "Crazy Eddie Point". The Alderson drive is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ...


The Keeper, the museum's caretaker, then reveals itself, confirming all of this. It states that the whole charade is the work of a coalition of Motie Masters who have seized the opportunity the Lenin and the MacArthur represent in order to save themselves by escaping into the universe at large. But the Keeper is a childless Motie Master who has voluntarily been sterilized, and thus considers the well-being of his entire race, and as such, disagrees with such a plan.


The Moties can not stop breeding, so expansion to other planets would only postpone the Cycles. Nearby planets would soon be filled with Moties, and the Alderson Drive takes time to use — years of travel across systems from tramline to tramline to reach distant planets. Eventually, it would be easier for Moties to challenge humans for their planets, especially since humans cannot compete with Moties, technologically, biologically, or even numerically. Motie victory would be inevitable. The Alderson drive is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ...


But then each Motie world would be left waiting for its neighbors to collapse, after which the survivors fight each other for the scorched ground, while their neighbors wait for them to collapse... Endless war. The Cycles, devastating as they are, have been confined to the Mote System. What the Keeper truly fears is a universe of Cycles!


However, humans have outperformed Moties before — when they created the Langston Field. Maybe, just maybe, they can outperform Moties again. Maybe they can free the Moties from the Cycles. But they certainly won't do it if they're exterminated by the Moties — or if they fear being exterminated by the Moties. That is the reason the Keeper wants to help the three humans return to the Empire of Man with the truth. The Langston Field is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ...


But the rogue Masters have tracked the humans — and they have sent their Warriors to deal with them. The battle lasts only seconds, and the Keeper is killed with the humans. Two of the Mediators protest and are killed, dubbed "Crazy Eddies". But the last, known as Charlie, though still affected by the Keeper's argument keeps its mouth shut. It is returned to its Master and sent as one of the ambassadors to Lenin.


Crazy Eddie's Answer

Lenin returns home, taking with it — in violation of explicit orders to avoid contact at all costs — three Motie ambassadors. Kutuzov takes this step only after much debate.


The Motie party consists of two Mediators, called Charlie and Jock, and a sterile white Master, known as Ivan. Their mission is to open the galaxy to their ships while concealing from the humans the frightening facts about the Moties: the Cycles, the wars and the Warriors. They have to deal with problems ranging from the conditions in their quarters, where the atmosphere is breathable but too pure, to their inability to fully understand human motives. When the Alderson Drive is used to Jump out of Mote System, it becomes obvious that as bad as the Jump is for humans, it is worse for Moties due to their more complex nervous systems. In fact, after a Jump they remain incapacitated for a much longer period of time.


Back on New Caledonia, the Empire holds talks aimed at establishing trade and peaceful relations with the Moties, not realizing the danger. Fortunately, MacArthur’s sailing master, the unconventional Kevin Renner, manages to put together various clues they had picked up during the expedition — in particular a series of images taken by MacArthur's cameras as it was attacked by the Motie probe ship (showing, in detail, the well-kept secret of the Motie Warrior caste) — and proves to the others in the nick of time the magnitude of the threat from the Moties.


It seems that they will have no choice but to send the Fleet in to destroy the Motie civilization totally. Protest that "But the Moties are not monsters!" is answered by "No, they are just enemies." — the social and political philosophy underlying Pournelle's works in a nutshell. This is when Charlie requests asylum, and once separated from his fellow Moties, it passes on the Keeper's plea for help. This convinces the humans to instead blockade the Alderson point, and keep their people confined to their own system for the foreseeable future. A blockade is any effort to prevent supplies, troops, information or aid from reaching an opposing force. ...


The Moties are so helpless for so long after a Jump that the ships of the human blockade can easily destroy theirs — especially within the superheated photosphere of Murcheson's Eye. Even the Moties' improvement on the Langston Field — causing it to expand as it absorbs energy so as to faster dissipate heat — is useless. Within the red giant's photosphere, this simply causes it to absorb heat faster, resulting in a chain reaction that instantly destroys ships attempting to use it. The photosphere of an astronomical object is the region at which the optical depth becomes one for a photon of wavelength equal to 5000 angstroms. ...


The book ends with Charlie predicting that the humans will take over the Motie civilization after the next collapse, and wondering if perhaps the Keeper was right — maybe the humans might be able to end the Cycles once and for all.


Notes

Cover of 1991-03-01 paperback edition

Image File history File links Download high resolution version (800x1305, 223 KB)Cover of The Mote in Gods Eye. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (800x1305, 223 KB)Cover of The Mote in Gods Eye. ... Year 1991 (MCMXCI) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the 1991 Gregorian calendar). ... is the 60th day of the year (61st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

Setting

The original intent of the authors was to write the ultimate First Contact novel. Casting around for a model society, they decided to use the CoDominium future history already written by Pournelle. Various features of this, particularly the form of government, the Alderson Drive and Langston Field technology, and the existence of Murcheson's Eye on the other side of the Coalsack, were ideal for their purposes. The fictional CoDominium universe is a future history (now alternate history) setting for the books in the CoDominium Series by Jerry Pournelle. ...


Technology

Although they invented the Alderson Drive and the Langston Field technology, the authors go to great lengths to keep the rest of the novel within the bounds of known science. The spaceships, in particular, have significant limitations despite having highly efficient nuclear propulsion systems based on hydrogen fusion, aided by the ability of the Langston Field to confine and direct hot plasma. They cannot zip from planet to planet in mere hours. In pursuit of the Motie probe, MacArthur accelerates at up to 4 g for five days to match velocities at about 6% of the speed of light, then has to decelerate to reach New Scotland safely, arriving more or less out of fuel. Warships like MacArthur tend to get to their destinations as fast as possible using constant acceleration and deceleration, while commercial ships coast on long transfer orbits to conserve fuel. When artificial gravity is needed, the ships are spun to produce centrifugal force. The Alderson drive is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ... The Langston Field is a fictional device featured in the CoDominium series of science-fiction novels. ... The deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion reaction is considered the most promising for producing fusion power. ... The term g force or gee force refers to the symbol g, the force of acceleration due to gravity at the earths surface. ... In astronautics and aerospace engineering, the Hohmann transfer orbit is an orbital maneuver that moves a spacecraft from one orbit to another using the lowest possible delta-v for the specific transfer. ... Artificial gravity is a simulation of gravity in outer space or free-fall. ... Centrifugal force (from Latin centrum centre and fugere to flee) is a term which may refer to two different forces which are related to rotation. ...


The Alderson Drive and Langston field also have their drawbacks. Alderson Jumps are bad for delicate electronics and biological systems, especially nerves. Electronic equipment has to be shut down for the duration of a Jump and carefully restarted afterwards. For this reason, the crews of Navy ships are quite young, as the young recover faster than their elders. Blaine is only 25 standard years old. His junior officers range down to midshipmen in their mid-teens. It turns out that the Moties suffer much worse than humans in this respect.


Jumps can also only be performed from specific jump points or Alderson Points. These are said to be points of equipotential thermonuclear flux between two stars and can be difficult to find. Thus, escaping a battle by "jumping to lightspeed" is nearly impossible in this universe.


In effect, space as traversed by this type of technolgy is not the equivalent of a wide-open ocean where ships can choose from countless possible routes, but of a series of discrete narrow seas connected by specific channels which can be easily blockaded by a superior naval force. Without this basic feature, the book's resolution which provides the Moties' salvation would not have worked.


The Langston field can absorb energy, but must store it somewhere or re-radiate it away to the outside, otherwise the field will overload and collapse, with all the energy released in a burst, destroying the ship.


In spite of these limitations, the ships are immensely powerful, not only with their armaments of high-power lasers and nuclear missiles, but with the fusion drives that can themselves be used as plasma weapons, especially against unprotected ground targets. These plasma beams can also be used to burn roadways across the landscape to help in terraforming a world. This is mentioned during the MacArthur’s stopover at New Scotland in the New Caledonia system. While the ships seem to have vast reserves of power, from time to time, all engine power has to be allocated to send a message across interplanetary distances using a maser. The Langston Field or some variant thereof is used within the fusion drive, presumably to contain a fusion reaction sufficiently intense to provide enough energy to power the ship. Artists conception of a terraformed Mars in four stages of development. ... A hydrogen radio frequency discharge, the first element inside a hydrogen maser (see description below) A maser is a device that produces coherent electromagnetic waves through amplification due to stimulated emission. ...


Some other technologies of the Second Empire of Man are mentioned. Marines are armed with lasers and laser resistant armor. People use PDA-like pocket computers, which at the time of the novel’s writing, was considered futuristic and fantastic. Despite this, the Second Empire is not quite as advanced as the First Empire. Some knowledge, such as the fabrication of ultrastrong materials, has been lost. Due to interstellar war, some worlds have even reverted to primitive levels of civilization. Look up Personal digital assistant in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Motie culture

Masters command the loyalty and obedience of groups of other kinds of Moties, such as Engineers, Warriors, Doctors, etc. However they are not good negotiators, Mediators were created as sterile hybrids of the white Masters and brown Engineers to minimize the number of wars between rival Masters. Mediators will always obey Masters, so they cannot themselves change the direction of Motie civilization, but they have considerable latitude to do their job. There is no money economy as such, but Masters barter prestige, material goods, etc. A few sterile Masters (unlikely to attempt a takeover for their children) are designated as Keepers and given control of the Museums where knowledge is carefully stored to aid recovery after collapse. When a civilization is doing well, alliances of Masters can cooperate to achieve great things, but the urge to reproduce always causes the alliances to break down, usually resulting in catastrophic wars.


Motie technology

After thousands of Cycles, the Motie system has depleted its natural reserves of important materials. When humans arrive in the system, consumables such as fossil fuels and radioactives had long since been exhausted. As the Moties are said to be using all of the easily-accessible metal in the system, making something new invariably involves dismantling something else, rendering metal quite valuable. Where human technology relies on specialized devices, often with multi-redundant backups, Moties rely on the technological idiot savant Engineers, assisted by the semi-intelligent miniature Watchmakers, to constantly build and rebuild devices to order, recycling existing parts that are not needed at the moment. For instance, rather than have a programmable autopilot in a ship, an Engineer would build one to send a ship to a new location, using its ever-present kit of tools and advanced materials. Moties do not use computers as such, relying on the instincts of their specialized castes for jobs such as space navigation. On the ground, Engineers drive at breakneck speed on crowded roads without fear of collision, and upon reaching destination, will dismantle their cars so they won’t take too much parking space. An autistic savant (formerly called idiot savant) is a person who expresses extraordinary mental abilities, often in the fields of numerical calculation (not to be confused with mathematics) (see also mental calculator), art, or music but usually set within the context of autism or mental retardation. ...


Another feature of Motie technology is that, to save material and weight, devices perform multiple functions simultaneously, such as being both structural components and sensors. However, having adapted to space, the off-planet Moties are at home in zero gravity and do not have to spin their ships. This has important consequences for the structure of their ships, which are always in flux in any case.


One of the complaints of the ambassadors is they have no Engineer with them to customize their cabin and beds, and to build them devices to help them live more comfortably. An Engineer would have given away the secrets of Motie biology, especially the reproductive compulsion.


Crazy Eddie

This is a translation of the term the Moties use for any exercise in futility, or any attempt to do, or even think about doing, anything to try to stop the inevitable collapse of their current civilization which is war driven by overpopulation. Their version of the Alderson Drive was called the Crazy Eddie Drive. The spaceship sent to New Caledonia was called the Crazy Eddie Probe, particularly since the effort needed to send it on its way with huge lasers caused a collapse all by itself. The Mediator assigned to Rod Blaine goes Crazy Eddie, infected by Blaine's idealism. Going Crazy Eddie is an occupational hazard for these Mediators, who cannot deal with humans ability to switch between different roles in their society, or who succumb to the optimism inherent to human nature. For other uses, see Laser (disambiguation). ... “Positive Attitude” redirects here. ...


It is unknown whether the term "Crazy Eddie" was conceived independently of the electronics discount store of the same name or inspired by it. While at the time the novel was written, the Crazy Eddie stores were confined to a small part of New York City and the authors lived in California, the Crazy Eddie brand had become a pop culture phenomenon appearing in comedy routines and trivia references. This article is about the electronics store. ...


Awards and nominations

The Nebula is an award given each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), for the best science fiction/fantasy fiction published in the United States during the two previous years (see rolling eligibility below). ... Winners of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. ... The 2005 Hugo Award with base designed by Deb Kosiba. ... The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works. ...

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