Starting on an unusual note; The Mote In God's Eye is the only SF book I have ever bought before reading. This may seem stupid, but I'm very glad I did it. Niven and Pournelle have succeeded in knocking Frank Herbert's Dune off my mental 'Best Books Ever!' list's top spot.
It's a fascinating tale of mankind's first contact with an utterly alien race - and for once, these aliens aren't all-powerful conquerers of worlds with but one weakness. Indeed, in many respects the Moties have problems similar to human difficulties...although that's not to say the Moties are at all similar to human beings. Oh no.
I won't go into depth about the alien society - that might spoil the book for you! The human society, however, is nearly as interesting as the alien.
At this point, I think back to comments I've heard about the book - that the human society is still plagued with today's problems (but of course - human society will not change radically in 1000 years, merely adjust to accept technological changes. And, of course, as the authors mention, an advanced human society will not evolve as natural selection can no longer apply [civilised societies care for the weaker members]). Another comment that sticks in my mind is that planets which belong exclusively to one ancestral faction from Earth are absurd. I beg to differ - those with similar cultural heritages would stick together, and countries would, I believe, launch individual colonisation programs, meaning that all the colonists on one world might indeed share their cultural heritage. And as a final note on the subject, the worlds with a single 'nationality' are few and far between; more than 200 worlds are colonised by mankind.
But back to the book. The expedition by the human science/military team is made up of a mixture of characters - an extremist admiral, who puts the safety of the Empire before his own beliefs, a captain belonging to the royalty, an exasperatingly narrow-minded science minister, and a reclusive astrologer are just a few of these.
The novel contains just the right amount of mystery and revelation to keep you trapped and spellbound right the way through - even up to the very last few pages. In conclusion, the Moties and the novel they reside within are well worth a look. More than that, they deserve many hours of your undivided attention.