Gift from Earth, A  (#34) 

1968-09Known Space [all] Novelpaper, Ballantine; cloth MacDonald; cloth SFBC (British book club); cloth, Walker (American); paper, Sphere
K.S. 21 (2410)

0-7088-8012-6Larry Niven

Paper, from Bastei Lube, as Planet Der Verlornen, 1972 & 1982;
Italian, as Uno Donan Dalla Terra, from Futuro, 1973;
as Een Geschenk Van De Aarde, paper, Meulenhoff Amsterdam, 1976;
Japanese edition, paper, 1979, Hayakawa Publishing, Inc.;
Three Books of Known Space
World of Ptavvs/A Gift from Earth/Neutron Star
Matthew Keller;
Jesus Pietro Castro;
Millard Parlette;
Harry Kane, Jayhawk Hood;
Laney Mattson;
Polly Tournquist;
Major Jansen
detailed description of Mt. Lookatthat and Matt Keller's psychic power: "Plateau Eyes"


A Gift from Earth is about the social upheaval on the colony world of Plateau, and is set in the early days of Known Space. The only livable area on the planet is a large mountainous area (Mount Lookitthat) which rises forty miles above the hot poisonous atmosphere below. Plateau is about half the size of California, and with such space restrictions, nothing can be wasted in the colony, least of all body parts. The biggest crime on Plateau is to commit suicide by jumping off the edge and therefore preventing your body parts from being re-used via the organ banks. Most crimes, even insignificant ones, therefore, have capital punishment as the deterrent.

The political structure of Plateau is divided in half, with the descendants of the original Crew having the upper slice of the cake. With the organbanks at their whim, Crew live long healthy lives. On the other end of the scale are the colonists, who do the majority of the work and serve as fodder for the organbanks, and only get to benefit from them themselves if they are extremely loyal, or wealthy.

Such a structure can't last forever, and when young Matthew Keller (himself the nephew of a revolutionary) exhibits some rare talents, both sides see him as the lynchpin in a new Civil War.

This story originally appeared under the title "Slowboat Cargo" in Galaxy, serialised throughout February, March and April of 1968 (#24). This title is becoming rare, although it was recently republished in the collection Three Books of Known Space.