Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Gift from Earth

By Larry Niven

A colony has been established on a hostile planet. The only place fit for humans is on a high plateau. Below the plateau, the atmosphere is deadly and it is boiling hot.
After being established, a peculiar social system arose in the colony. The space ship crew became the elites, and the settlers the downtrodden masses. As a result, the punishment for crimes, even fairly mild crimes, such as traffic tickets, was death. The reason for the harsh punishment was to supply the crew with body parts for transplants to extend their lives beyond the normal seventy to eighty years. Needless to say, this created a lot of anger and resentment among the settlers. And of course, rebels.
Matthew Keller, a miner, accidentally fell in among the rebels when he came to a party at rebel headquarters. The police raided and captured most of the rebels but Matthew managed to escape. Problem is, he is now a hunted man. And since he now has nothing to lose and nowhere to run he decides on a bold plan: he will try to rescue the captives before they are executed and cut up for their organs. And why does he decide to risk his life for a bunch of people he barely knows? Because there was this really cute girl at the party and he just has to get to know her better.

The premise of this book doesn't really ring true and neither does Matthew's decision to stage a one-man raid on police headquarters to rescue his lady love who seemed completely indifferent to his charms. But despite that, this is an interesting and exciting story even though set in a rather unlikely location. I mean, why would any one establish a colony on a planet that only has one small location that is livable? However, if you can accept the premise, it makes for a very good read. I liked Matthew and his weird talent and I enjoyed reading his story.

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