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The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven
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The Ringworld Engineers (1980)

by Larry Niven

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ringworld (2), Known Space (9)

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3,018211,897 (3.55)28
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» See also 28 mentions

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Sometimes, it's better not to go back home. Ringworld Engineers is one of those times. In addition to other flaws, Niven contradicts the precepts of his own Known Space universe in order to reach a dramatic plot point. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Jan 9, 2014 |
Since the originally-written Ringworld was unstable, Mr. Niven creates a plausible fiction to explain some necessary safety features. I found it a pretty good book, and read it twice over the years. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Nov 13, 2013 |
I didn't really enjoy the original Ringworld, and this book, the sequel, was a little worse. I only persevered in reading it out of a sense of duty: given that the Ringworld is so famously unstable, I wanted to see how Niven had responded to fans' engineering tips. Call it reading the primary source materials behind an episode in nerd history.

In his preamble, Niven states that he had had no intention to write a sequel to the earlier book, and that he only wrote Engineers to quiet down the clamoring hordes. Cue a mixture of back-pedalling, retconning and infodumps, all lacking even the modicum of inspiration that characterized Ringworld.

The storyline seemed much less self-contained than the original book: it felt as though Niven was cramming as much corrective physics and engineering into this volume as possible in order to please the many fans who'd mailed him their suggestions; plots and events and even character development (e.g. a recovering drug addict) took a back seat and were often mere excuses for exposition and infodumping. Just about the only thing about Engineers where it outclasses the previous volume is the moral issues: the main character does contemplate the death and destruction that the troupe's earlier romping about had caused. In a similar vein, the ending to this instalment is a little stronger than the first in that it invokes moral dilemmas; if only it wouldn't then casually brush them aside after a paragraph's shallow consideration.

One thing that Engineers did so much worse than the original was the attitudes surrounding sex -- and especially the part where the main character, as a red-blooded male, can't be expected to not have any. Ringworld had two women explicitly stating they would join the main character (Gary Stu in all but name) on a long voyage in a cramped space ship partially so he wouldn't have to sleep alone. Engineers turned that up to eleven, by introducing the concept of rishathra: ritualized inter-species sex between various species of hominids to seal agreements, solve diplomatic issues, or for anticonception purposes (due to interspecies infertility). Naturally, Mr. Stu gets to sample a wide selection of local females, because Niven keeps introducing rationalizations for why rishathra is necessary in Mr. Stu's dealings with any species he comes across.

So. I've now read two famous sf classics that come with an amusing anecdote in nerd history, and I've now more than fulfilled my nerd duties. I will not be reading the next instalments in this series. ( )
  Petroglyph | Sep 8, 2013 |
I can't believe no other reviews have mentioned the rishathra. It's nonstop rishathra, rishathra, rishathra! Serves its purpose as a continuation of the Ringworld story, but man, way too much rishathra. ( )
1 vote wweisser | Jul 6, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Larry Nivenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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[a page and a half of detailing comment]

You who did all that work and wrote all those letters: be warned that this book would not exist without your unsolicited help. I hadn't the slightest intention of writing a sequel to Ringworld

I dedicate this book to you.
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Louis Wu was under the wire when two men came to invade his privacy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
RETURN TO THE RINGWORLD

It's been 20 years since the quixotic and worldsweary Louis Wu discovers the Ringworld.
Now he and Speaker-To-Animals are going back, captives of The Hindmost, a deposed puppeteer leader.
With Louis' help, it intends to regain its status by bringing back such extraordinary treasures from the Ringworld that its fellows will have to be impressed.

But when they arrive, Louis discovers that the Ringworld is no longer stable... and will destroy itself within months. To survive, he must locate ht control center of the legendary engineers who build the planet.
His quest becomes a wild and gripping venture, blended with mysteries and spectacular technologies that only Niven can conjure.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345334302, Mass Market Paperback)

"This rousing sequel to the classic Ringworld continues the adventures of Louis Wu and Speaker-to-Animals on that fantastic planet."--School Library Journal An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:32 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

To house the dying Earth's inhabitants, a huge architectural ring is constructed in outer space. With gravity, an atmosphere, and a temperate climate, Ringworld gives humanity a new lease on life, but not without frightening consequences.

» see all 2 descriptions

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