This is a collection of short
stories about Niven's character Beowulf. In addition to the six previously
published stories, Niven added a metastory to link the others together. The
stories tend to have a puzzle or mystery, the solution of which sometimes tells
the reader something about physics or science. I did not find that the
metastory was of equal quality as the original stories. The six stories were
1) Neutron Star
A research trip to a neutron
star ended in the death of the crew. Beowulf is hired take a ship there to
find out what happened.
2) At the Core
The Puppeteers have a new FTL
drive that can travel much faster than other starships. Their experimental ship
is almost entirely full of equipment leaving little room for a single pilot.
The Puppeteers hire / coerce Beowulf into flying it on a demonstration trip to
the galactic core. There, he makes a major discovery.
Beowulf goes to visit Earth.
On the way, he meets a man called Elephant. Elephant wants to have a great
adventure. Beowulf suggests he ask the Outsiders what the most unusual planet
they know is, and then go there. Beowulf ends up going as the pilot for
Elephant. They find the Puppeteers’ supposedly invulnerable starship hulls
have one shortcoming.
Beowulf is a passenger on a
starship when knock-out gas puts everyone to sleep and an alien artist is
kidnapped. Beowulf (reluctantly) joins another passenger's efforts to find the
kidnappers. A lot is at stake as the alien race the artist belongs to won’t
look kindly on humans if this case goes wrong.
5) Borderland of Sol
Starships are disappearing as
they leave or enter the solar system. The leading theory is pirates. But
physicist Carlos Wu has another theory he isn't sharing. Beowulf and Carlos
want to return to Earth, but the only ship going there is one seeking out the
pirates. When that ship finds itself mysteriously pulled out of hyperspace on
the fringes of the solar system, they have to discover and confront the cause.
Beowulf, his wife, his
children, their friend Carlos Wu and Carlos’ woman companion secretly travel to
another planet. They land on a remote island. The woman is a mentally ill
member from the ARM military force. She shoots a hole through Beowulf. He
wakes up months later in an automated medical unit the group had brought with
them. Nobody else is on the island. Beowulf must find a way off the island
and learn what happened without becoming a target again. And, hopefully, find