Destiny's Road 

1997-06Avalon NovelA Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., June 1997
A. 3

0-312-85122-7Larry Niven

Mass-market paperback, Tor Science Fiction, May 1998;
Orbit, paper, May 1998
Stand-alone set in the same universe as the Heorot books


Destiny is a human colony world seeded by a single slowboat from Earth, the Argos, which arrived in the Apollo star system approximately three-hundred years before the story opens.

The story follows the life of Jemmy Bloocher, a resident of Spiral Town in his journey through life and along the Road. As a young man, Jemmy accidentally kills a merchant and must flee, and he resolves to find all the answers to the enigmas of his world. Through one semi-reclusive society after another, all compellingly detailed, a travelling Jemmy makes his way. In each he tries to adapt to local customs, even to the point of getting married to fit in a new home.

With typically unrelenting scientific realism, Niven presents his adventurers with an alien ecology featuring lifeforms almost completely unassimilable by human metabolisms. Moreover, thanks to a fluke of biology, one trace element essential to human health—potassium—is almost entirely missing from the native lifecycle, dooming humanity to a slow mental extinction.

Eventually ending up in a Prison Farm, Jemmy learns the secret of speckles, a knowledge that will eventual allow him to liberate his homeland.

Andrew Love (member of the Larry Niven Mailing List) has also reviewed this story and come up with an extensive list of plot nitpicks.