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The Mote in God's Eye

A science fiction novel by Larry Niven

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The Mote in Man's Eye

  • Nov 18, 2012
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The Mote in God's Eye is a better science fiction book than many SF books that are more famous.  This would include 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Neuromancer and many more.

Although it might have been guessed at in 1974, when Mote was published, the fundamental allegory is much more obvious now.  In 1974 the world population reached 4 billion.  We are now at 7 billion.  Although there were oil embargoes in 1974 no one was talking about Peak Oil.  No one was talking about Anthropogenic Global Warming.  Well it has been 38 years since we heard about the Moties and we have met the enemy and the Moties are us.

This tale is set 900 years in the future.  Mankind has discovered faster than light travel and explored and colonized hundreds of worlds but no intelligent life had been found, until now.  The Moties are in an unusual stellar location and consequently trapped in their own solar system.  But the Moties have a devastating biological problem, they cannot hold their population in check.  So they have gone through uncounted rises and falls of civilizations and used up much of their systems natural resources.

Of course they do not explain all of this to their visitors and the humans have to figure out what is going and how much of a threat the Moties actually are and come up with a strategy for dealing with it.  But even Robert Heinlein said this was one of the best first contact stories ever written.  But in the 21st century that is not what it is about.

What will we do with another billion people taking the total population to double what it was in 1974?  What will we do if the climate gets worse in the ten years it takes to grow that extra billion?  What if climate change makes it more difficult to feed that extra billion?

Are we the Moties waiting for our technological civilization to come apart?  This is more real, immediate and important than 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.  If  the choice comes down between kill or starve what will most of us do?

I am not the only reader to see this in The Mote in God's Eye.


This would go well with The Long Tomorrow.  Thought provoking about truly possible human futures.
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