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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Larry Niven

The first gallery in a while and the first relating to a living author. Just so happens, Larry Niven is one of my favourite writers. When I was working on the Sci-Fi Art book, I dug out all my old SF books—which led to the first of these cover art galleries. I re-discovered a lot of books I'd not seen in a long time and had a good wallow in nostalgia with some old favourites. I sat down and re-read some: Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement, The Paradox Men by Charles L. Harness and a whole bunch of stories by Larry Niven. Of course, Niven is still with us and still writing, so I headed over to Amazon and picked up some of his more recent titles—Scatterbrain, Crashlander, The Draco Tavern and his latest novel in paperback, Fleet of Worlds, co-written with Edward M. Lerner, to catch up on his more recent work. Having now read the collections I'm pleased to say his work still fills me with that sense of wonder.

In the 1980s I was living in a tiny little flat and most of my books had to be stashed away in boxes; after a couple of moves, I got so fed-up with lugging boxes around that I sold off most of my SF collection. However, I allowed myself to keep a select few titles: most of the Hugo and Nebula award winners, a few good anthologies and a small selection of authors. Niven was one author I held onto.

When I started reading SF in the early 1970s, I tended towards the hard SF end of the spectrum, probably because Arthur C. Clarke was my first obsession, followed by Isaac Asimov. I read quite a lot of their non-fiction, too, so I started to get to grips with all sorts of astronomical terminology. I knew what a neutron star was before I discovered a story with that title. From memory, it must have been in the Asimov-edited Hugo Winners anthology reprinted by Sphere in 1971 but which I must have picked up second-hand a few years later. I've just managed to track down copies recently (see below). Anyway, I loved that story and before long had started picking up more of Niven's short stories and novels. Inconstant Moon was, I think, the first and that was in 1976. Loved that Eddie Jones spaceship on the cover and swapped 65p for it. Jones was also the artist on the Asimov anthologies.

My copy of Niven's Ringworld also dates from 1976 and was at the time the biggest alien artifact I'd ever read about (bigger than Rama in Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, which I must have read in the summer of '75. Sorry about all the dates but it's the only way I can keep things straight in my head). For anyone who hasn't read the book, the Ringworld is literally a ring 190 million miles in diameter that orbits around a sun, with a series of evenly spaced screens orbiting closer to the sun that simulate night and day. The surface area is 3 million times that of Earth and has an incredibly diverse range of life-forms living on its inner surface. Our heroes—Louis Wu, a Pierson's puppeteer (a bizarre three-legged, two-headed alien species; see Peter Jones' cover for the Neutron Star collection), a kzin (think eight-foot tabby cat with needle-sharp teeth and an unremitting desire to kill you) called Speaker-to-Animals and Teela Brown who has a very useful power—crashland and have to journey across the ring to safety. Niven followed up with three sequels, The Ringworld Engineers, The Ringworld Throne and The Ringworld Children.

The Ringworld books take place in a late period of Niven's future history, the tales of Known Space, which also encompasses many of his other novels (The World of Ptavvs, A Gift from Earth, Protector, the recent Fleet of Worlds) and two of his finest stories: 'Neutron Star' and 'The Borderland of Sol'; Ringworld won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, one of only a handful of novels to win both (Niven has won the Hugo five times in all, so I'm far from being alone in liking his stories).

Niven's background is available elsewhere (see, for instance, his entry on Wikipedia) so I'll limit myself to a quick version. He was born Laurence van Cott Niven on 30 April 1938, the son of a lawyer, and was raised in Beverly Hills. He attended schools in Beverly Hills and Carpinteria, flunked out of the California Institute for Technology, having spent too much time reading SF, but subsequently graduated in mathematics from Washburn University, Kansas. He did a year's graduate work in maths at the University of California before deciding to drop out and devote himself to writing full time.

He sold his first story, "The Coldest Place", to If in 1964 and made further sales to If, Worlds of Tomorrow, Galaxy, F&SF and Harlan Ellison's monumental Dangerous Visions anthology over the next few years. "World of Ptavvs" (Worlds of Tomorrow, Mar 1965) was expanded into a novel, published by Ballantine in 1966 and A Gift from Earth (originally serialised in If as "Slowboat Cargo") followed in 1968.

Niven also brought his hard science approach to fantasy and wrote a series of stories, collected in The Flight of the Horse, featuring a harassed time retrieval expert called Svetz who encounters a variety of mythical creatures on his trips; the novel The Magic Goes Away treats magic as a finite resource and four magicians have to get together to replenish the world's supply of mana. The series was spun out into a couple of anthologies with other authors like Fred Saberhagen, Dean Ing, Poul Anderson, Bob Shaw and Roger Zelazny contributing. Another anthology series, The Man-Kzin Wars has run to 12 volumes (XII is due next February) and spin-off novels.

I'm not a huge fan of shared universe stories and collaborative novels as they're very rarely a sum of the parts. I did like the Niven/Pournelle blockbusters that came out in the 1970s and 1980s: The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer and Footfall. I still favour Niven on his own but, as mentioned above, I'm just about to give Fleet of Worlds a try; there simply haven't been that many solo Niven novels in recent decades: 12 collaborations vs. 4 solo in 20 years.

Niven hasn't limited himself to novels and short stories: he is also the screenwriter of a classic episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series which linked the Trek universe with his Known Space tales with a Trek tale based on his story "The Soft Weapon". He has also written for Land of the Lost and The Outer Limits, comic strips for DC Comics (including a revamp of the Green Lantern series) and is currently working on a game for Xbox and Playstation called Larry Niven's Free Fall.

Pre-production art from Free Fall (by, I believe, Aldo Spadoni)

Niven has two further books announced: Escape from Hell with Jerry Pournelle, a sequel to Inferno due in February 2009, and Destroyer of Worlds, his third collaboration with Edward M. Lerner which is in some part a sequel to Protector, due in 2010. There also appear to have possibly been e-book publications entitled Larry Niven Short Stories Volume 1 and Volume 2 (possibly also a Volume 3) published in 2003; I've no idea if these were official.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels (series: Dream Park; Heorot; Known Space; Magic; Moties; Hanville Svetz)
World of Ptavvs (Space). New York, Ballantine, Aug 1966; London, Macdonald, 1968.
A Gift From Earth (Space). New York, Ballantine, Sep 1968; London, Macdonald, 1969.
Ringworld (Space). New York, Ballantine, Oct 1970; London, Gollancz, 1972.
The Flying Sorcerers, with David Gerrold. New York, Ballantine, Aug 1971; London, Corgi, 1975.
Protector (Space). New York, Ballantine, Sep 1973; Tilsbury, Wiltshire, Compton Russell, 1976.
The Mote in God’s Eye, with Jerry Pournelle (Moties). New York, Simon & Schuster, Oct 1974; London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1975.
Inferno, with Jerry Pournelle. New York, Pocket Books, 1976; London, Wingate, 1977.
A World Out of Time. New York, Holt Rinehart, 1976; London, Macdonald & Jane’s, 1977.
Lucifer’s Hammer, with Jerry Pournelle. Chicago, Playboy Press, 1977.
The Magic Goes Away (Magic). New York, Ace, Oct 1978; London, Futura, 1982.
The Ringworld Engineers (Space). West Bloomfield, Michigan, Phantasia Press, Jul 1979; London, Gollancz, 1980.
The Patchwork Girl (Space). New York, Ace, 1980; London, Macdonald, 1982.
Dream Park, with Steven Barnes (Park). Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, 1981; London, Macdonald, 1983.
Oath of Fealty, with Jerry Pournelle. Huntington Woods, Michigan, Phantasia Press, Oct 1981; London, Macdonald, 1982.
The Descent of Anansi, with Steven Barnes. New York, Tor Books, Oct 1982; London, Orbit, 1984.
The Integral Trees (Trees). New York, Ballantine, Apr 1984; London, Macdonald, 1984.
Footfall, with Jerry Pournelle. New York, Ballantine, Jun 1985; London, Gollancz, Sep 1985.
The Legacy of Heorot, with Jerry Pournelle & Steven Barnes (Heorot). London, Gollancz, May 1987; New York, Simon & Schuster, Jul 1987.
The Smoke Ring (Trees). New York, Ballantine, May 1987; London, Macdonald, Aug 1987.
The Barsoom Project, with Steven Barnes (Park). New York, Ace, Sep 1989; London, Pan, Apr 1990.
Achilles’ Choice, with Steven Barnes. New York, Tor, Mar 1991; London, Pan, Jan 1993.
Fallen Angels, with Jerry Pournelle & Michael Flynn. New York, Baen Books, Jul 1991; London, Pan, Nov 1993.
Dream Park: The Voodoo Game, with Steven Barnes (Park). London, Pan, Dec 1991; as The California Voodoo Game, New York, Ballantine, Feb 1992.
The Gripping Hand, with Jerry Pournelle (Moties). New York, Pocket Books, Feb 1993; as The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye, London, HarperCollins, Apr 1993.
The Dragons of Heorot, with Jerry Pournelle & Steven Barnes (Heorot). London, Gollancz, Apr 1995; as Beowulf’s Children, New York, Tor Books, Nov 1995.
The Ringworld Throne (Space). New York, Ballantine, Jun 1996; London, Orbit, Jul 1996.
Destiny’s Road. New York, Tor Books, Jun 1997; London, Orbit, Dec 1997.
Rainbow Mars [and 5 stories previously collected in The Flight of the Horse] (Svetz). New York, Tor Books, Mar 1999; novel only, London, Orbit, Mar 1999.
The Burning City, with Jerry Pournelle (Magic). New York, Pocket Books, Mar 2000; London, Orbit, Apr 2000.
Saturn’s Race, with Steven Barnes. New York, Tor Books, May 2000.
Ringworld’s Children (Space). New York, Tor Books, Jun 2004; London, Time Warner UK/Orbit, Jul 2004.
The Burning Tower, with Jerry Pournell (Magic). London, Time Warner UK/Orbit, Dec 2004.
Building Harlequin’s Moon, with Brenda Cooper. New York, Tor Books, Jun 2006.
Fleet of Worlds, with Edward M. Lerner (Space). New York, Tor Books, Oct 2007.
Juggler of Worlds, with Edward M. Lerner (Space). New York, Tor Books, Sep 2008.

Omnibus
World of Ptavvs / A Gift from Earth / Neutron Star. New York, BOMC, Jun 1991.
Three Books of Known Space (contains: World of Ptavvs, A Gift from Earth, Tales of Known Space). New York, Ballantine, Sep 1996.
The Integral Trees (contains: The Integral Trees, The Smoke Ring). New York, Ballantine, Aug 2003.
The Magic Goes Away Collection (contains The Magic Goes Away, The Magic May Return, More Magic). New York, Pocket Books, Feb 2005.

Collections
Neutron Star (Space). New York, Ballantine, Apr 1968; London, Macdonald, 1969.
(contains: Neutron Star; At the Core; A Relic of the Empire; The Soft Weapon; Flatlander; The Ethics of Madness; The Handicapped; Grendel)
The Shape of Space
(Space). New York, Ballantine, Jan 1969.
(contains: At the Bottom of a Hole; Bordered in Black; The Deadlier Weapon; Dry Run; How the Heroes Die; Like Banquo's Ghost; The Long Night; The Meddler; One Face; The Organleggers; Safe at Any Speed; The Warriors)
All the Myriad Ways. New York, Ballantine, Jun 1971.
(contains: All the Myriad Ways; Passerby; For a Foggy Night; Wait it Out; The Jigsaw Man; Not Long Before the End; Unfinished Story #1; Unfinished Story #2; Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex; Exercise in Speculation: The Theory and Practice of Teleportation; The Theory and Practice of Time Travel; Inconstant Moon; What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?; Becalmed in Hell)
Inconstant Moon. London, Gollancz, Feb 1973; abridged, London, Sphere, May 1975.
(contains: Inconstant Moon; Death by Ecstacy; Wait It Out*; How the Heroes Die; At the Bottom of a Hole; One Face; The Deadlier Weapon*; Passerby*; Not Long Before the End*; Convergent Series*; Bordered in Black; Becalmed in Hell; * stories omitted from Sphere edition)
The Flight of the Horse (Svetz). New York, Ballantine, Sep 1973; London, Futura, 1975.
(contains: Get a Horse!; Bird in the Hand; Leviathan!; There's a Wolf in My Time Machine; Death in a Cage; What Good is a Glass Dagger?; Flash Crowd; Afterword)
A Hole in Space. New York, Ballantine, Jun 1974; London, Futura, 1975.
(contains: Rammer; The Alibi Machine; The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club; A Kind of Murder; All the Bridges Rusting; There is a Tide; Bigger Than Worlds; $16,940; The Hole Man; The Fourth Profession)
De Straden Van Serius Vier. Holland, Meulenhoff Science Fiction, 1975.
(contents not known)
Tales of Known Space (Space). New York, Ballantine, Aug 1975; London, Orbit, Feb 1992.
(contains: Timeline of Known Space; My Universe and Welcome To It!; The Coldest Place; Becalmed in Hell; Wait it Out; Eye of an Octopus; How the Heroes Die; The Jigsaw Man; At the Bottom of a Hole; The Deceivers; Cloak of Anarchy; The Warriors; The Borderland of Sol; There is a Tide; Safe at Any Speed; Afterthoughts; Bibliography: The Worlds of Larry Niven)
The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton (Space). New York, Ballantine, Feb 1976; London, Futura, 1980.
(contains: The Organleggers; The Defenseless Dead; ARM; Afterword: The Last Word About SF Detectives)
Convergent Series (Space). New York, Ballantine, Mar 1979; London, Orbit, 1986.
(contains: Introduction; Bordered in Black; One Face; Like Banquo’s Ghost; The Meddler; Dry Run; Convergent Series; The Deadlier Weapon; The Nonesuch; Singularities Make Me Nervous; The Schumann Computer; Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing!; Grammar Lesson; The Subject is Closed; Cruel and Unusual; Transfer of Power; Cautionary Tales; Rotating Cylinders and the Possibility of Global Causality Violation; Plaything; Mistake; Night on Mispec Moor; Wrong-Way Street)
The Time of the Warlock, illus. Dennis Wolf. Minneapolis, Steel Dragon Press, Dec 1984.
(contains: Not Long Before the End; What Good is a Glass Dagger?; The Magic Goes Away; Unfinished Story; Notes for Contributors to The Magic May Return; Afterword)
Niven’s Laws. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, Dec 1984.
(contains: Introduction: Larry Niven (by Jerry Pournelle); The Schumann Computer; Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing!; Grammar Lesson; The Subject Is Closed; Cruel and Unusual; The Green Marauder; Limits; War Movie; The Real Thing; Folk Tale; Niven’s Laws; Convention Stories; Staying Rich; The Theory and Practice of Instant Learning; If Idi Amin Had Had the Bomb…; Yet Another Modest Proposal: The Roentgen Standard; In Memorium: Howard Grote Littlemead; Why Men Fight Wars and What You Can Do About It; Collaborations; Five Years to Infinity)
Limits. New York, Ballantine, Feb 1985; London, Futura, Aug 1986.
(contains: Introduction; The Lion in His Attic; Spirals (with Jerry Pournelle); A Teardrop Falls; Talisman (with Dian Girard); Flare Time; The Locusts (with Steven Barnes); Yet Another Modest Proposal: The Roentgen Standard; Folk Tale; The Green Marauders; War Movie; The Real Thing; Limits)
N-Space. New York, Tor Books, Sep 1990; London, Orbit, Jan 1992.
(contains: Introduction: The Maker of Worlds (by Tom Clancy); On Niven (by David Brin, Gregory Benford, Wendy All, John Hertz, Steven Barnes, Frederik Pohl); Dramatis Personae; Foreword: Playgrounds for the Mind; From World of Ptavvs (extract); Bordered in Black; Convergent Series; All the Myriad Ways; From A Gift From Earth (extract); The Meddler; Passerby; Down in Flames; From Ringworld (extract); The Fourth Profession; “Shall We Indulge in Rishathra?” (illustrated by William Rotsler); Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex; Inconstant Moon; What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?; Cloak of Anarchy; From Protector (extract); The Hole Man; Night on Mispec Moor; Flare Time; The Locusts (with Steven Barnes); From The Mote in God’s Eye (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); Building the Mote in God’s Eye (with Jerry Pournelle), Brenda; The Return of William Proxmire; The Tale of the Jinni and the Sisters; Madness Has Its Palce; Niven’s Laws; The Kiteman; The Alien in Our Minds; Space; Bibliography of Larry Niven)
Playgrounds of the Mind. New York, Tor Books, Oct 1991.
(contains: Thraxisp: A Memoir; A Teardrop Falls; From Inferno (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); Rammer; From “The Ethics of Madness” (extract); Becalmed in Hell; Wait It Out; A Relic of the Empire; From Lucifer’s Hammer (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); The Soft Weapon; The Borderland of Sol; From The Ringworld Engineers (extract); What Good is a Glass Dagger?; From The Magic Goes Away (extract); The Defenseless Dead; From The Patchwork Girl (extract); Leviathan!; From Oath of Fealty (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); Unfinished Story; Cautionary Tales; The Dreadful White Page; Retrospective; The Green Marauder; Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing!; War Movie; Limits; The Lost Ideas; Bigger Than Worlds; Ghetto? But I Thought…; Adrienne and Irish Coffee; One Night at the Draco Tavern; TrantorCon Report; Why Men Fight Wars and What You Can Do About It!; Comics; From Green Lantern Bible; Criticism; From The Legacy of Heorot (extract; with Jerry Pournelle & Steven Barnes); The Portrait of Daryanree the King; The Wishing Game; The Lion in His Attic; From Footfall (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); From The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); From Fallen Angels (extract; with Jerry Pournelle & Michael Flynn); Wanted Fan; From The California Voodoo Game (extract; with Steven Barnes); Letter)
Bridging the Galaxies. San Francisco, ConFrancisco, Nov 1993.
(contains: Introduction; Procrusties; Where Next, Columbus?; The Color of Sunfire; The L├ęshy Circuit: Unfinished Script for Planetarium Show; Tabletop Fusion; The South Los Angeles Broadcasting System; It’s Only a Story; Intercon Trip Report: August 12, 1991; All the Bridges Rusting; Bibliography)
Crashlander (Space). New York, Ballantine, Apr 1994.
(contains: Ghost (linking story); Neutron Star; At the Core; Flatlander; Grendel; The Borderland of Sol; Procrusties)
Flatlander (Space). New York, Ballantine, Jun 1995.
(contains: Death by Ecstasy; The Defenseless Dead; ARM; The Patchwork Girl; The Woman in Del Rey Crater)
Scatterbrain. New York, Tor Books, Aug 2003.
(contains: Introduction: Where Do I Get My Crazy Ideas?; Destiny’s Road (extract); The Ringworld Throne (extract); The Woman in Del Rey Crater; Loki; Procrusties; Mars: Who Needs It?; How to Save Civilizations and Save a Little Money; The Burning City (extract; with Jerry Pournelle); Saturn’s Race: Collaboration with Steven Barnes; Saturn’s Race (excerpt; with Steven Barnes); Ice and Mirrors (with Brenda Cooper); Discussion with Brenda Cooper; Smut Talk; Telepresence (with Marvin Minsky); Learning to Love the Space Station; Autograph Etiquette; Tabletop Fusion; Collaboration; Intercon Report; Handicap; Did the Moon Move for You Too?; Hugo Award Anecdotes; Introduction to Peter Hamilton Story “Watching Trees Grow”; Introductory Material from Man-Kzin Wars II; Canon for the Man-Kzin Wars; Epilogue: What I Tell Librarians)
The Draco Tavern. New York, Tor Books, Jan 2006.
(contains: Introduction; The Subject is Closed; Grammar Lesson; Assimilating Our Culture, That’s What They’re Doing; The Schumann Computer; The Green Marauder; The Real Thing; Limits; Table Manners; One Night at the Draco Tavern; The Heights; The Wisdom of Demons; Smut Talk; Ssoroghod’s People; The Missing Mass; The Convergence of the Old Mind; Chrysalis; The Death Addict; Storm Front; The Slow Ones; Cruel and Unusual; The Ones Who Stay Home; Breeding Maze; Playhouse; Lost; Losing Mars; Playground Earth)

Others
Mordred (Buck Rogers) by John Eric Holmes; from an outline by Niven & Jerry Pournelle. New York, Ace, 1980.
Warrior’s Blood (Buck Rogers) by Richard S. McEnroe; from an outline by Niven & Jerry Pournelle. New York, Ace, 1981.
Warrior’s World (Buck Rogers) by Richard S. McEnroe; from an outline by Niven & Jerry Pournelle. New York, Ace, 1981.
Rogers’ Rangers (Buck Rogers) by John Silbersack; from an outline by Niven & Jerry Pournelle. New York, Ace, 1983.

Others, as Editor
The Magic May Return. New York, Ace, 1981.
More Magic. New York, Berkley, Jun 1984.

Others, set in Niven’s Known Space universe
The Man-Kzin Wars. New York, Baen, Jun 1988; London, Orbit, Nov 1989.
Man-Kzin Wars II. New York, Baen, Aug 1989; London, Orbit, May 1991.
Man-Kzin Wars III. New York, Baen, Aug 1990.
Man-Kzin Wars IV. Riverdale, NY, Baen, Sep 1991.
Man-Kzin Wars V. Riverdale, NY, Baen, Oct 1992.
Man-Kzin Wars VI. Riverdale, NY, Baen, Jul 1994.
Man-Kzin Wars VII. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Jul 1995.
A Darker Geometry by Gregory Benford & Mark O. Martin. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Sep 1996.
Man-Kzin Wars VIII: Choosing Names. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Sep 1998.
Man-Kzin Wars: The Best of All Possible Wars. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Jun 1998.
Man-Kzin Wars IX. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Jan 2002.
The Houses of the Kzinti. Riversale, NY, Baen Books, Dec 2002.
Man-Kzin Wars X: The Wunder War by Hal Colebatch. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Aug 2003.
Man-Kzin Wars XI. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Oct 2005.
Destiny’s Forge by Paul Chafe. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Jul 2006.
Man-Kzin Wars XII. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Feb 2009.

Comics
Green Lantern: Ganthet’s Tale. New York, DC Comics, 1992.

Television Plays
Star Trek: The Animated Series:
__The Slaver Weapon (15 Dec 1973)
Land of the Lost:
__Downstream (28 Sep 1974)
__Hurricane, with David Gerrold (21 Dec 1974)
__Circle, with David Gerrold (28 Dec 1974)
The Outer Limits:
__Inconstant Moon (12 Apr 1996)

About
The Guide to Larry Niven’s Ringworld, by Kevin T. Stein. Riverdale, NY, Baen Books, Feb 1994.

Further Information
larryniven.org. Sanctioned by Niven, with news and a comprehensive bibliography.

Interviews
Space.com. 10 Feb 2000 interview by S. James Blackman.
Silver Bullet Comics. 2003 interview by Marv Wolfman.
Slashdot. 10 Mar 2003 interview by Slashdot readers.
Sci-Fi.com. 2004 interview by Michale McCarty.
Fantastic Reviews. August 2004 interview by Aaron Hughes.
Hour 25. Audio interview from 21 Feb 2005.
Farsector. August 2006 interview by Shaun Farrell.
Macmillan.com. Audio chat between Niven and Tom Doherty in Yokohama, Japan, 13 September 2007.
Adventures in SciFi Publishing. Audio interview by Shaun Farrell from Conjecture, 29 Sep 2007.

Books
Larry Niven's books at Amazon.co.uk. Go try some!

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