Sunday, February 7, 2010

Larry Niven's "Plaything" (flash fiction, hard sf): Mars rover meet Martians

Paul@Marooned drew my attention to a comment on publisher's site on "Joyride", the story I wrote about yesterday. Comment says that said story is plagiarized from this Niven original. That's how I looked this up in one of Niven's collections.
Update 8 February 2010: The comment referred to above seems to have been deleted from publisher's site!

Having read it now, I would call "Joyride" inspired by this Niven original but not a work of plagiarism. Niven's version, far more interesting of the two, gives careful attention to some details of putting a rover on Mars decades before NASA actually did it; "Joyride" just tries to bring out smiles.

Story summary.

When ABEL ("Automated Biological Laboratory" - that's the rover) touched down on Mars, it was noticed by a group of Martian children playing nearby. They got interested in the lab; story is mostly of kids antics with the lab.

We also meet a couple of Martian adults who know about earth & humans (though we don't know about them). They can actually see, with naked eye! - human activity "on the inner moon" & are now expecting human visitors anytime.

Fact sheet.

First published: Worlds of If, July/August 1974.
Rating: A.
Related: Stories of Larry Niven; Mars & its moons in fiction; fiction from 1970s.