Protectorby Larry Niven
ISBN 0 8600 7060 3
I used to read a lot of Larry Niven back in the ‘80’s. I particularly enjoyed his Known Space cycle of stories with their Hard Science edge.
Having just finished “Mote in God’s Eye” and “The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye”, I suddenly remembered the Pak and wondered how similar they were to the Moties. So, I dug out my copy of “Protector” and finished reading it in three days
“Protector” is set in the early days of Known Space – 2125 – 2350 AD - and humanity has pretty much divided into ‘Flatlanders’ and ‘Belters’. There are at least four extra-solar colonies, apparently settled by slow boat (sublight ships carrying colonists in stasis) and supported by robot ramships (able to travel at velocities closer to light, with an increased risk from radiation).
There are a couple of descriptions of Belter single-ships which make them sound rather like some of the Motie craft encountered in “Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye” which leads me to believe that Niven has a very well defined view on what a fusion powered in-system ship would look like.
The only technology howler, for me, was the fact that Vandervecken/Brennan uses a tape machine to leave a message for Roy Truesdale – oh, and Nick Sohl makes a bit of fuss about the cost of having the Martian expedition records sent to him via com laser (obviously the bit rate wasn’t very high and they had to leave the laser on for a while).
Incidentally, the setting is actually rather similar to that of Alastair Reynold’s “Revelation Space” series, though without the gothic air of post-cyberpunk decay that seems to permeate the latter.
There's a full review at Wikipedia.
Other books by Larry Niven: A Gift from Earth
Other books by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle: The Moat Around Murcheson's Eye     The Mote in God's Eye