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Really good, but flawed

Footfall - Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

First, what I love about this book:


the aliens! I've never read such a believable account of what aliens might be like. The ETs in this book are totally believable. They're brilliantly described and conceived. That's because they're conceived as biological animals with the same ultimate needs as humans. The authors cleverly exploit the biology of these beings to weave a highly credible take on their hubris, culture, customs, politics, and basic needs and wants as living, breathing organisms.


Secondly, I really like the way the warfare is described, and the way in which the aliens use their technology to compensate for their numerical inferiority. The aliens are technologically advanced (though there's a twist in there), but not invincible. And they're far from perfect themselves.


Third, I love the finale.


Now what I hate:


this book DRAGS ON in places. You're treated to pages of insipid drivel about what people are having for dinner and sexual jealousy. I kept rolling my eyes when I read much of the human dialogue, which was plain boring for the most part. The Soviets were mildly interesting, but the right-wing bias of the authors shines through. At times, I had to ask myself if Ronald Reagan was the real author of this book. The venality of the Soviets is simply comical at times.


I did enjoy the character named Harry, though. He was perhaps the only likeable person in the whole book. Overall, the human characters were whiny, irritating, and obnoxious.


Read this book for the ET biology and the warfare, but be prepared for a long, loooooooong slog in a book that could easily have been a third shorter.