My copy of Footfall was originally acquired by my father back in September 1988 – a time when this novel could have been regarded as “happening now”. The fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of the space shuttle, Challenger, place it in the past but then, hey, so was H. G. Wells.
How come there was a twist in one of Saturn’s rings? Aliens! And they aren’t coming in peace… Although the authorship of this novel is given as Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, from having read pure Niven (the various “Tales of Known Space”) and pure Pournelle (Future History), I do wonder who the main author is here; the aliens, I feel, are very much Niven’s creations, but I sense (quite possibly incorrectly) a heavier Pournelle influence than in other of their joint ventures..
In this tale, some unlikely heroes emerge – especially the team of science-fiction writers who become special presidential advisers and alien “experts”. Nearly all the characters are in some way connected with the others – something that I found confusing initially, especially as I get confused with names; perhaps I should have Xeroxed the Dramatis Personae from the beginning of the book and referred to it whilst reading. I could have even used it as a bookmark rather than the extremely dog-eared Adelaide Metro ticket that has been marking my place for the last couple of months.
Whilst Footfall lacks some of the sparkle of their other books, I’d still recommend it, especially to Niven & Pournelle fans.
Now to turn to the bookshelves and see what next takes my fancy.