The Novels and stories by Larry Niven and collaborators and The Fictional World of Archives

As of 2008, Larry Niven has been publishing science fiction for more than four decades (40+ years). He is best known for his invention of the Ringworld, as well as for novels and stories set in his universe of Known Space.

Novels and stories by Larry Niven and his collaborators featuring or mentioning archivists, curators, archives, museums or records as characters plot devices include:

The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1970) features alien museums

Protector by Larry Niven (1973) contains an alien library that also functions as an archives

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven (1980) describes the library/archives system and librarian/archivists on the Ringworld

Destiny's Road by Larry Niven (1997) examines a human colony on the planet Destiny with a secret hidden in its archival records

Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (2007) introduces us to Sven Hebert-Draskovics, a human archivist among the alien species known as Pierson's Puppeteers

You can follow Larry Niven's writing career on his Web site, Known Space: The Future Worlds of Larry Niven.

Original Novel Title: Fleet of Worlds

Authors: Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner

Publisher: New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates, 2007 (hardcover)

Set 200 years before the events of Niven's Ringworld novel or in the 2650s of Known Space Earth-standard time, this remarkable novel introduces us to the culture and civilization of the cowardly extraterrestrial species known as Pierson's Puppeteers. Among their less than heroic accomplishments while fleeing a supernovae chain reaction at the center of the Milky Way galaxy was the capture, subjugation and resettlement of the crew and its precious cargo of a human colony starship. The novel revolves around a trio of humans descended, bred and raised from the captured Long Pass embryos who have been trained to perform scouting missions in front of the Fleet of Worlds, the group of traveling worlds on which the Puppeteers have lived and have pinned their hopes that they can flee the supernovae shock wave and raditaion. As the novel progresses we are introduced to the human Colonial archivist, Sven Hebert-Draskovics.

Kirsten Quinn-Kovacs, navigator of the scout ship Explorer, decides to arrange a meeting with the archivist in order to gather more information about the circumstances the humans find themselves in, especially the fact that the Puppeteers have hidden much information from her and the other colonists. She learns that "her cousin's next-door neighbor's visiting friend's mate ... just happened to be the chief archivist for Arcadia," the human colony world within the Fleet of Worlds (p. 86). Kirsten decides that "The trick was to talk with the archivist without leaving an audit trail." (p. 86) Attending a community party, she manages to wedge her way into a conversation with the archivist:

     "What do you do?" she asked after a while.

     "Nothing interesting, I'm afraid," he answered. "I keep dustry old records."


     Sven laughed. "Pardon my whimsy. Of course, most records are compuerized. That was a metaphor, to denote age."

     "You lost me," Kirsten said.

     "That's one of my skills." He glanced about for someplace to exchange his empty beer bulb for a full one. "I deal with obscurity for a living. I'm the Colony archivist."

     "I didn't know we had an archivist," she lied. "Dusty old records, you say. You must know all about the founding of the colony, with all that information at your disposal."

     "I generally deal with more modern times. Production data, census compilations, weather statistics, that sort of thing. Still, I may know more than most about the early days." He looked a bit wistful. "That may be less than you would expect. ...  Few records and artifacts survive from those early times."

     Despite herself, Kirsten blinked in surprise. "I didn't think information was ever lost. Citizens have backups and backups of backups."

     "Of course," Sven agreed. "That is, Citizen computers are massively redundant and frequently backed up. The Citizens who established Arcadia colony chose not to interface the recovered computers to their own networks. They were concerend a connection would be unsafe. Events proved them correct." (p. 87)

     What would the archivist have to say about the extensive, if inaccessible, pre-NP4 history files she had unveiled aboard Explorer?" (p. 88)

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Stories by Larry Niven featuring or mentioning archivists, curators, archives, museums or records as characters plot devices include:

"Bird in the Hand" (1970)

CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by David Mattison, 2008.03.31. Updated 2008.03.31.