A Gift from Earth (Known Space) by Larry Niven

By Larry Niven

The area named Mount Lookitthat was once by no means intended for humans--it used to be shrouded in deadly mists. existence existed purely on one plateau, unreachable other than from house. however the disastrous determination to colonize the planet couldn't be reversed. So the settlers survived somehow--under a ruthless dictatorship.

Mount Lookitthat used to be rebellion-proof.

Then destiny dealt the colonists a wild card named Matthew Keller, who had a expertise that neither he nor anyone else knew about.

At final the colonists had a glimmer of hope!

First released 1968.

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He is wittering gruffly in triumph and ushering me quickly ashore and away and I alight, as slowly as if onto coals, picking my way through the rubbish and the broken glass. He is happy with the stones I have given him. I am in Smog Bend, he tells me, and I make myself look away as he points my direction so he will not know I am lost, that I am new in the city, that I am afraid of these dark and threatening edifices of which I cannot kick free, that I am nauseous with claustrophobia and foreboding.

It brought home to him, again, how much mainstream science was bunk, how much “analysis” was just description—often bad description—hiding behind obfuscatory rubbish. His favourite example of the genre came from Benchamburg’s Hydrophysiconometricia, a hugely respected textbook. He had howled when he read it, copied it out carefully and pinned it to his wall. The vodyanoi, by means of what is called their watercræft, are able to manipulate the plasticity and sustain the surface tension of water such that a quantity will hold any shape the manipulator might give it for a short time.

She could orient herself by the Ribs. She looked up and found them above her, shoving vastly into the sky. Only one side of the cage was visible, the bleached and blistered curves poised like a bone wave about to break over the buildings to the east. Lin made her way for them. The streets opened out around her and she found herself before another abandoned-looking lot, but larger than the others by a huge factor. It did not look like a square but a massive unfinished hole in the city. The buildings at its edge did not show their faces but their backs and their sides, as if they had been promised neighbours with elegant façades that had never arrived.

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