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Ringworld by Larry Niven

Ringworld (1970)

by Larry Niven (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ringworld (1), Known Space (8)

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6,187None661 (3.83)148
aliens (49) classic (35) ebook (30) fantasy (28) fiction (473) hard sf (39) Hugo (33) Hugo Award (38) hugo winner (39) Known Space (127) Larry Niven (65) Nebula (23) Nebula Award (32) nebula winner (33) novel (85) own (36) paperback (49) read (109) Ringworld (187) science fiction (1,501) series (42) sf (277) SF Masterworks (28) sff (74) space (42) space opera (30) space travel (25) speculative fiction (28) to-read (77) unread (29)
  1. 101
    Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (codeeater)
    codeeater: Another story about a mysterious alien artefact.
  2. 70
    The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another hard science fiction book about a fully realized world with lots of technical details.
  3. 40
    Eon by Greg Bear (santhony)
    santhony: If you enjoy the science fiction genre featuring huge, interstellar habitats, this fits the bill.
  4. 30
    Titan by John Varley (lquilter)
    lquilter: If you liked the gee-whizziness and adventure / exploration of RINGWORLD, but couldn't stomach the sexism, try Varley's TITAN (and sequels in the trilogy, WIZARD and DEMON) -- all the fun but only a fraction of the annoying ideology.
  5. 20
    Sundiver by David Brin (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it. Sound familiar?
  6. 20
    Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it. Sound familiar?
  7. 00
    Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement (Michael.Rimmer)
  8. 22
    Foundation by Isaac Asimov (nar_)
    nar_: Space travelling and interminable, huge lands and space... so huge !
  9. 00
    A World Too Near by Kay Kenyon (mentatjack)
    mentatjack: One of the blurbs on the cover of A World Too Near compares The Entire and the Rose favorably to The Ringworld series by Larry Niven.

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English (83)  Spanish (2)  Hungarian (2)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (89)
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Originally posted at FanLit.

2850 AD, Louis Wu is at his 200th birthday party and thinking about how bored he is. The world has become homogeneous — everyone on Earth uses the same language, everything is available everywhere, and all the cities have lost their unique flavor. Life is dull. That’s why Louis Wu is a perfect candidate for the alien Nessus (a Pierson’s Puppeteer) who wants to take a manned spaceship to explore a strange phenomenon in space.

Nessus also recruits a Kzin named Speaker-to-Animals who is a feline alien from a warlike culture, and the beautiful 20-year-old human woman named Teela Brown that Louis Wu has been sleeping with. She’s so silly that at first it’s not clear what she offers the mission other than good looks, “conical breasts,” a giggle soundtrack, and sexual gratification for Louis Wu (this is something I hate about science fiction written by men in the 1960s), but later we discover that Nessus knows that Teela Brown has lucky genes and he thinks having her along will make the voyage lucky.

When the group stops off at the Puppeteer planet, they learn about their mission. They will investigate the Ringworld. Photos from space show that it looks like a blue ribbon arranged around a star. It’s about the size of the Earth’s orbit around the sun and it’s obviously artificial. The living area inside the ring provides about three times the Earth’s surface area, there’s gravity due to the ring’s centripetal force, and day and light cycles are created by shading the sun with huge panels. (Find the physics of Ringworld here.) The mission seeks to discover who created the Ringworld, why they created it, and whether they’re friendly or threatening.

Ringworld is a high concept novel and I generally love high concept novels. Ringworld has big ideas in a grand setting. Images of Ringworld will stay with me forever. Unfortunately, the characters are dull and the actual action in Ringworld would fill only a few pages. While I wanted to explore and experiment on Ringworld, the characters were usually discussing, bickering, arguing, and philosophizing. Some of this was interesting, such as the discovery that the Puppeteers were covertly performing genetics experiments on other species, the contemplation of what factors might make civilizations rise and fall (cycles of culture and barbarism is also a theme in the last Niven book I read, The Mote in God’s Eye). But much of it was teachy as characters spent too much time explaining evolution, genetics, meteorology, geology, and the physics and mathematics of the shape of orbits, velocities, heat transfer, and tensile strength. Worse, some discussion topics that started out interesting became repetitive and tiresome, especially the philosophical discussions about Teela’s luck which kept coming up and lasting too long.

I love Larry Niven’s big ideas and I know he can write really exciting science fiction even if he can’t write decent female characters. Ringworld is a great idea that gets obliterated by dull characters and too much talking. (Yet it won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and Locus Award.) There are several prequels and sequels to Ringworld in Larry Niven’s RINGWORLD and KNOWN SPACE universes. I listened to Blackstone Audio’s production which was nicely narrated by Tom Parker. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
A classic of the genre, engineering flaws and all. The concept was breathtaking at the time, and though needing up-dates, was adequately supported by sequels and prequels. Louis Wu and his friends have entered the mind of the audience. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 19, 2014 |
1 ( )
  PhotoS | Feb 17, 2014 |
I loved the overall story, I did, I did. Louis and Speaker were awesome. Less so with the rest of the group. It had some amazing concepts. I actually read the foreword for book 2, and Niven mentions all the people that independently provided science(y) proofs to him.

That being said, I couldn't follow most of the story. The way things were written, combined with the way my brain works, I got lost a lot.

I'm kinda tempted to read the next book, but considering I kinda struggled to stay focused on this one, I will probably read something else and try book two in the future. ( )
  halkeye | Feb 6, 2014 |
This is one of those books that's on everyone's must-read sci-fi list. It had good science to it.

Ringworld is like a strip of a Dyson Sphere and the book does a good job of explaining how it could exist, what it would need, and what could go wrong. And these all weave well into the plot.

The problem is that I had trouble connecting with the characters and the stakes. And for me, that is a necessity to make any novel a good one. Characters + setting = plot. This book was setting first. Then it added characters. Then Niven needed something for the characters to do, so he threw in things that would equal a plot. So, I'm not impressed with it as far as a founding sci-fi trope. ( )
1 vote theWallflower | Dec 26, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Niven, LarryAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, DonCover printingsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Steven VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parker, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sternbach,RickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the night-time heart of Beirut, in one of a row of general-address transfer booths, Louis Wu flicked into reality.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345333926, Mass Market Paperback)

A new place is being built, a world of huge dimensions, encompassing millions of miles, stronger than any planet before it. There is gravity, and with high walls and its proximity to the sun, a livable new planet that is three million times the area of the Earth can be formed. We can start again!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Two humans and two aliens, who are traveling to distant reaches of space to prevent a future catastrophe, crash on a ringworld apparently created by superior technologies.

» see all 8 descriptions

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