|Laurence van Cott Niven was perhaps the first bright light of the science fiction sub-genre of "hard science." His work has focused on technological possibilities and how humans (or, more accurately, their descendants) might relate to those possibilities. Somewhat atypically for hard science writers, Niven flunked out of his first attempt at higher education, the California Institute of Technology. In 1962 though, he graduated with a B.A. in mathematics from Washburn University in Kansas, and two years later published his first science fiction, a short story called "The Coldest Place." This story was the first in what would become the umbrella for most of Niven's writing, the Tales of Known Space. This series--consisting of a number of award-winning short stores and more than 10 novels, including the Hugo and Nebula award-winner and science fiction classic RINGWORLD--traces the development of the universe from approximately 9 billion years B.C. to A.D. 120,000, though most of it is centered between 2000 and 3000. This series was one of the first, and remains one of the best, examples of a cohesive "future history" in all of fiction. While most of Niven's solo writing has been set within this series, he has written numerous collaborations outside of it--with Steven Barnes and Jerry Pournelle, among others. Though his writing has been criticized for right-wing tendencies (most obviously in the Pournelle collaborations THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE and OATH OF FEALTY), few authors have had Niven's skill at rendering hard science elements and plain old exciting adventures with such convincing ease. His influence has been instrumental in the popularity and continued success of the hard science fiction styles of Greg Bear and others.