Juggler of Worlds

Discussion in 'Larry Niven' started by oldmill, Dec 11, 2009.

  1.  
    oldmill

    oldmill New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Hi, I just finished reading Juggler and I wonder what the name of the book means. Who's the "juggler" and why? Is it Sigmund? How do you interpret the title, what's its significance? Thanx for any ideas.
  2.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2001
    Messages:
    14,167
    Hi, I really enjoyed this book. I'd actually say that they should forget the production hell surrounding 'Ringworld' and instead make these books into a series of films.

    To answer your question, I think the title works on several different levels. First, as part of a series - Fleet of Worlds, Destroyer of Worlds - then they had to come up with some kind of '.... of Worlds'. Secondly, I do think Sigmund, as an ARM is a 'juggler' with societies and local governments, and in his dealings with Beowulf Shaeffer. Thirdly, I think the Puppeteers, and specifically Nessus, are also 'jugglers of worlds' influencing the Birthright Lotteries, releasing the semiconductor virus, monopolising the spacecraft hull business with General Products and then suddenly leaving known space to an economic crash, generally manipulating both humans and kzinti for their own whims, and also by creating the human colony in the Fleet of Worlds without knowledge of their true origin.

    The book contained text taken directly out of the short story 'At the Core' and yet showed everything in a completely different light. I like all the political intrigue and find the Puppeteers are a much more believable race now. I think the Kzinti and Puppeteers are the most well thought-out aliens in SF.
  3.  
    Sparrow

    Sparrow Science fiction fantasy

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Messages:
    350
    I'll second Dave's observations!

    Fleet of Worlds, and also Ringworld's Children for that matter, were excellent in that the characters were better developed, especially Nessus in FoW... the little bugger is a real scene stealer.

    I actually had never read Ringworld until just recently, working backwards and sideways through the books after reading FoW. The only book I wouldn't recommend is Ringword, btw.

    As for who or what is the Juggler?.. I don't think there is one, leastwise not an expert juggler that never drops an apple, or three. It seems to me that FoW brought to light quite a few unintended consequence for poor Nessus and the other players... the humans are getting wise.
  4.  
    oldmill

    oldmill New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    5
    Thank you, guys. I also wonder about Feather (Fiona Filip). Did she appear as Sigmund's partner in any other books? Why is she called Feather? Is there a story behind it?
  5.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Messages:
    6,138
    I've just read this book, and admit to being disappointed with it. The first half is a retelling of a lot of his short stories (Neutron star, The Borderlands of sol, a couple more that I recognised but can't remember the names to; there is even a retake of a bit of "Flatlander", which was already a recollection of existing work...
    Not bad, as such, but without the "whodunnit – bingo!" reaction of the first discovery.

    Then the end, which gives the impression of the Ringworld sequels; explaining away errors somebody's spotted in earlier works.

    I'm glad I read it, but was never whole heartedly inspired.
  6.  
    Richard B

    Richard B New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2010
    Messages:
    11
    Is Larry Niven working on a sequel to "Destroyer of Worlds"?

    I want more!
  7.  
    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2001
    Messages:
    14,167
    I thought 'Destroyer' was even better and there is a 'Betrayer of Worlds' already out in Hardback.
  8.  
    Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2007
    Messages:
    1,085
    My take on it, similar to crispenycate's:

    Juggler of Worlds is the second of these authors' World series (there are four so far) and is the sequel to Fleet of Worlds, reviewed here in June 2011. JoW continues the story of the Puppeteers and their attempts to keep their "tame" human servants and the "wild" humans of Known Space (Earth and its independent colony worlds) from discovering each other's existence. However, there is a significant shift of focus from that in FoW, which concentrates on the story of the tame humans and their attempts to discover their origins and obtain their freedom as well as going into far more detail concerning the Puppeteers and their society and politics. While FoW fits into the long-established Known Space sequence, the material in it is mostly new.

    In contrast, JoW is principally seen through the eyes of the Earth-based paranoid ARM agent Sigmund Ausfaller, as he attempts to discover what the Puppeteers are up to and why they have suddenly closed down all of their businesses on other planets and disappeared. A number of characters familiar from Niven's original Known Space stories re-emerge, especially Beowulf Shaeffer and Carlos Wu. Not only that, but a number of familiar stories are repeated (including Shaeffer's epic flight to the galactic core and the discovery by Shaeffer and Gregory Pelton of an anti-matter star system) only this time mainly from Ausfaller's viewpoint. This is the principal weakness of JoW; much of it seems concerned with recycling familiar events to fit into the book's framework rather than telling a new story.

    As a result, I found that I was constantly distracted as I read the novel and realised I had read parts of it before in other contexts, and kept trying to recall what had happened then. This gave a very disjointed feel to the story and made it difficult for me to get involved in it. Ominously, I found that I kept losing the thread and forgetting the minor characters from one day to the next and needed to refresh my memory at the start of each reading session; a sure sign that it wasn't gripping me. I did grit my teeth and persevere with it, and fortunately was mildly rewarded at the end when the plot returned to the Puppeteer worlds and their tame humans for a dramatic finale - which also, of course, sets up the next volume.

    Despite the satisfactory ending my main feeling was relief at having finished it. I found it disappointing and will probably not bother to read the next two books in the series.

    (An extract from my SFF blog: http://sciencefictionfantasy.blogspot.co.uk/)

Share This Page