The World of Ptavvs (1966)
Written in a time when books were shorter, Niven's first published novel is a swift little space opera set in the Known Space universe, at the beginning of humanity's expansion to the stars. There are some weaknesses whenever Niven strays briefly and pointlessly from the main plot, and the ending feels somewhat anticlimactic despite a burning planet, but altogether it is a pleasant, if unambitious book.
Larry Greenberg has a telepathic talent. Supported by an amplifiying "contact machine" he can exchange memories with other persons, including nonhumans. So when an alien who spent eons in a time-retarding field turns up on Earth, Greenberg is chosen for the initial contact. There things take an unexpected turn when Greenberg is possessed by the psyche of the alien, and the extraterrestrial himself, a strong telepath who can impress his will onto other beings, is set free shortly afterwards. The two incarnations of an ancient Slaver start a race through the solar system, hunting for a psionic device enclosed long ago in another stasis field, which when found would allow them to enslave all of humanity. Hot on their heels are the old ARM Lucas Garner and several ships from the Belt, adding another crisis by bringing the already strained relations between Earth and Belt close to war.
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