Flying Sorcerers, The (#53) 

1971-08stand-alone NovelBallantine, 1971

0-345-28039-3Larry Niven and David Gerrold

Purple Collaboration, co-written with David Gerrold, expanded version of Misspelled Magician, The


David Gerrold, a science fiction author in his own right, and probably will be most remembered for penning the script for the hilarious Star Trek episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles" worked with Larry in this novel which is a lighthearted romp with the magic of a primitive people coming into conflict with modern technology. Written in 1971, this was Larry's first collaborative work.

A human explorer/anthropologist discovers indigenous bronze-age hominids on a planet he is surveying. He treats them with indulgent bemusement, until one of them manages to blow up his shuttlecraft. Now he must arrange for pickup by his orbital craft, but he is thousands of miles from the pickup point. So he enlists their aid.

The humor which made "Tribbles" such a successful episode of Star Trek is very apparent with violations of the Star Trek Prime Directive abounding frequently, as Purple teaches the backward but very bright natives advanced principles, like electricity and assembly-lines. Along the way, a great deal of fun is had with the literal nature of the human's translator, and great puns occur. (Two of the bright, inventive native characters, for example, are named Wilville and Orbur. Get it?) In fact, the human is called "Purple" by the natives because that's how his translator rendered it. His real name turns out to be very familiar to most science fiction readers.

Fluffy, but very logical and consistent, and a very fun read.