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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Destiny's Road

Destiny's Road by Larry Niven

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

May 6, 2001

Destiny's Road is without a doubt one of the most boring books I have ever read. When I bought this book, I thought that it was about a young man who explores this mysterious road, finds out its secrets, and matures and grows as a person along the way. Instead, what I got was a 432-page ramble that lacked any sort of direction and purpose. Our hero, Jemmy Bloocher-Tim Hann-Tim Bednacourt-Jeremy Bloocher-Jeremy Hearst/Winslow, kills a man by accident, eventually flees to the Road created long ago by a colonizing space shuttle, and then settles down and marries a woman at the first town he runs across.

Jemmy/Tim/Jeremy has no interest in exploring the road, or uncovering any secrets. He only leaves the first town he came across after the town traded him to a merchant caravan for some knives, then after about a year of living with the caravan and joining a jailbreak from a colony workfarm, he eventually settles down with another wife for 27 years. Only then does he uncover the "secrets" of the Road, purely by accident of course. And what is the "secret"? That one part of the planet is hoarding "speckles", a plant that contains the potassium humans need to survive, from the other part of the colony, using it to control those without the speckles. At the end, our "hero" decides that he'll be Johnny Speckleseed, sowing some of the plants across the colony to break the stranglehold on the speckles.

This book, much like Jemmy/Tim/Jeremy's journey across Destiny, lacked any sort of real purpose. This book didn't need to be 432 pages, it didn't even need to be 2 pages, the author gave the reader no reason to keep reading. The Road's secret turned out to be no big deal, so one part of the colony is withholding technology and speckles? That was the groundshaking discovery I read through 400 pages for?

Honestly, the only purpose in this book was for Niven to show off his "skills" at creating intricate alien worlds, which he did with great effectiveness. That was not the problem, the problem was there was no story to go with this intricate alien world.

The big problem with the story, to me, is that it's been 250 years since this colony started and absolutely no contact with Earth. So we here on Earth send out a colonizing party and never send another expedition, or even a probe to check on them? The point of colonization is to create something valuable, primarily new markets for trade, no one colonizes just for the heck of it. Even if the rulers back on Earth think that the colony went belly-up, why wouldn't they send some kind of unmanned mission or a probe? That just doesn't make sense.

My advice is to cross this book off of your to-read list, and avoid any future sequels. It is too long, too dull to waste your time on.

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