The Integral Trees
And the Smoke Ring
By Larry Niven
(Del Rey Books, Paperback, 9780345460363, 459pp.)
Publication Date: July 29, 2003
List Price: $17.00*
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"When leaving Earth, the crew of the spaceship "Discipline" was prepared for a routine assignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission of interstellar exploration and colonization, "Discipline" was aided (and secretly spied upon) by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionless computer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedience of the crew. But what they weren t prepared for was the smoke ring an immense gaseous envelope that had formed around a neutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to a variety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditions of continual free-fall. When "Discipline" encountered it, something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikely space oasis.
Five hundred years later, the descendants of the "Discipline" crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remember their origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection of the State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the Smoke Ring, "Discipline" waits patiently to make contact with its wayward children.