Puppeteers are the sneakiest, most conniving -- and for many SF readers, most fascinating -- aliens in the galaxy. They're certainly the most cowardly. Arguably, they're the most ruthless.
Maybe that's why I so enjoy writing about them. As in -- just released today -- the latest installment in Larry Niven's and my epic Fleet of Worlds series: Betrayer of Worlds.
Until now, when -- like every Puppeteer's worst nightmare -- past crises have converged.
Who can possibly save the Fleet of Worlds from its greatest peril yet?
Louis Wu? Trapped in the Wunderland civil war, all he wants is to go home -- but the only possible escape will plunge him into unknowable danger.
Ol’t’ro? The Gw’oth ensemble mind fled across the stars to establish a colony world free from tyranny. But some problems cannot be left behind, and other problems -- like the Fleet of Worlds itself -- are racing straight at them.
Achilles? Despite past disgrace, the charismatic Puppeteer politician knows he is destined for greatness. He will do anything to seize power -- and to take his revenge on everyone who ever stood in his way.
Nessus? The insane Puppeteer scout is out of ideas, out of resources, with only desperation left to guide him.
Their hopes and fears, dreams and ambitions are about to collide. And the winner takes . . . worlds.
Louis Wu? you say. If that name rings a bell, it's from Larry Niven's Ringworld series. Ringworld itself first came out 40 years ago this month -- and remains wildly popular. As Ringworld opens, Louis is 200 years old. So what was he doing for the previous two centuries? Betrayer of Worlds is -- at long last -- Louis Wu's back story.
Are you curious about the story behind the story, and the connections between the two books? Then here's a short essay I wrote on the topic for Tor.com.
That said, Betrayer of Worlds opens seventy years before Ringworld. BOW stands alone from Ringworld -- as it does from Fleet / Juggler / Destroyer of Worlds. (Which isn't to say they don't complement each other.)
For the publisher's take on Betrayer of Worlds and an excerpt (with a sadly out of date bio/biblio for yours truly ... sigh), go here.
(August 21, 2012 update. Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld was released today. Fate is the final book in the Fleet of Worlds and the Ringworld series -- and so, the end of Louis Wu's story as begun in Betrayer. For more info, see today's post, "There is no fate (of worlds) but what we make ourselves.")
Betrayer of Worlds
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
Also available for the Kindle and in audio formats