What Is A Ptavv?

9 Jun

This web site used to be www.ptavv.org




Why? good question. My original rationale for “Ptavv” was this somewhat puzzling bit of “logic:”

Why pick something obvious when you can have a domain name that is not only odd looking and difficult to pronounce but obscure to all but SF fans.

Fast Forward to today, I have gotten totally sick of not being able to even pronounce my own domain name (hey we all grow up, eventually) so I went looking on the new .US TLD for a suitable domain name. As long as you aren’t looking for something like “Amazon.us” or “Quick-Sue-Me.us” domain names are pretty cheap. And this time my name wasn’t already taken. JOY!

So in the spirit of not ever throwing anything away (unless it is really embarrassing), below is the rest of the explanation of what exactly a Ptavv is.

Exciting huh?

One of my favorite authors is Larry Niven. He is one of the best writers of what is called “Hard” SF (Science Fiction). Not SF that is difficult but SF that is not filled with Star Trek Like implausibilities, dragons, fairies, trolls, magick, vampyres and other things borrowed from pure fantasy.

Hard SF is that peculiar type of SF that tries to be true to a -not completely unreasonable- extrapolation of scientific knowledge at the time of publication. SF that tends to be as internally consistent as possible. Larry is very good at that kind of SF. Very good.

Pick up the book “World of Ptavvs” (Copyright 1996 by Larry Niven, published by Ballantine Books SBN 345-24591-1-150) and on the inside you will see this drawing of a “Thrint” painted by Bonnie Dalzel.




A Thrint is a member of a race of telepaths that ran amok in our galaxy over a billion years ago. They controlled their slave races with some sort of telepathic mind control. Needless to say when a Thrint is born with no or limited telepathic powers it is A Bad Thing. Kind of like being born blind or deaf.


A Thrint without this power is called a Ptavv.
(Bear with me here, I am almost done…)


In the story, a particular Thrint that was preserved in a stasis field for a billion years (time does not pass inside a stasis field, hence the name) is released on Earth. His race is dead and he is all alone in the universe. And to make matters even more interesting the planet on which he finds himself (Earth) is occupied by beings without a trace of telepathic ability, in essence “A World of Ptavvs.” Which means that everyone planet Earth (from Kzanol the Thrint’s perspective) is a Ptavv.

I will leave it up to you to decide if the domain name is me being clever or merely annoying…

To the best of my knowledge the “P” is almost silent, I have always made the barest pause for a brief plosive before the final “tav.” But I suppose Larry would have the final word on pronunciation. Hopefully Mr. Niven won’t sue me or otherwise force me to stop using his copyrighted material: the word “Ptavv.” I kinda like it. But then I am a bit odd.



Originally posted before I added WordPress to this site. Published date is approximate.


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