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Ringworld by Larry Niven

Ringworld (1970)

by Larry Niven

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,814105541 (3.81)173
  1. 111
    Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (codeeater)
    codeeater: Another story about a mysterious alien artefact.
  2. 80
    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
    Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it. Sound familiar?
  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. 31
    Foundation by Isaac Asimov (nar_)
    nar_: Space travelling and interminable, huge lands and space... so huge !
  7. 20
    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.
  8. 10
    Mission of gravity by Hal Clement (Michael.Rimmer)
  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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» See also 173 mentions

English (98)  Spanish (2)  Hungarian (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
Very good science fiction.Louis figures out the secret of the Puppeterrs and Teela's luck. ( )
  nx74defiant | Jan 23, 2016 |
Ringworld is definitely a sci-fi classic, a monumental achievement in world building. Any sci-fi aficionados who don’t like it should be ashamed of themselves.

Argh! It’s never pleasant to go against the conventional wisdom but over at PrintSF (online SF discussion community) I see a lot of comments along the line of “I really want to like this book because everybody say it’s great, what am I missing?” I think a lot of people try too hard to like certain books and I don’t know why, it does not entail that you are wrong or even that you are right and everybody else is wrong. You like what you like, leave it at that.

OK, enough of the irrelevant opening. There is no denying that Ringworld is a major work in the history of sci-fi. A ginormous artificial ring-shaped planet encircling a star is an amazing concept, especially as Larry Niven is able to back up the concept with real world science. Gravity generated from the centrifugal force of the planet’s programmed rotation speed, an inner ring of shadow squares to create nights, a weird "horizon" due to the shape of the planet etc. These are mind blowing concepts and very influential for later generations of sci-fi authors.

The Ringworld itself is a monumental sci-fi creation.

Where it falls down for me is the story and the characters. Having built this amazing world I don’t think the events that take place on it make for a very compelling narrative. The characters do get into a lot of trouble but their adventures do not read like edge of the seat thrills. I am having a lot of trouble explaining why the plot does not excite me here, there are many wild inventions here which are almost as awesome as the basic premise itself but I just felt detached from the narrative. Certainly part of it is the characterization, characterization is not indispensable for good sci-fi, the likes of Asimov and Clarke were mostly able to get away with quite perfunctory character developments. However, I think they told very riveting stories with the right pacing and at modest page counts. Niven’s characters in Ringworld are quite colorful but I did not care for any of them and did not give a monkey whether any or all of them snuff it through the course of the narrative.

One problem I perceive is that Niven uses the sci-fi trope of each alien species having one type of overriding character trait. The kzinti are all warlike, the puppeteers are all cowards etc. Why then are humans so diverse in personalities? Real aliens may turn out that way I don’t know but it is hard to believe in a species with one personality. Consequently the alien characters come across as a little “one note”, but come to think of it the human characters are kind of “one note” too. They don’t feel like vivid, complex believable characters, they are just there to drive the plot. By the end of the book I was feeling quite impatient to be done with it.

For “Big Dumb Object” books I much prefer Clarke’s [b: Rendezvous with Rama|112537|Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)|Arthur C. Clarke|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405456427s/112537.jpg|1882772], the characters are equally flat but the book somehow feels alive and the sense of wonder is more palpable. As for Larry Niven I am a big fan of his collaborations with [a: Jerry Pournelle|39099|Jerry Pournelle|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1216417671p2/39099.jpg], especially [b: The Mote in God's Eye|100365|The Mote in God's Eye (Moties, #1)|Larry Niven|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1399490037s/100365.jpg|2190500] which is one of my all time favorites.

Ringworld is not “bad” by any stretch of imagination, it’s me, I’m the bad one.

5 Stars for the Ringworld planet.
3 Stars for the storyline
2 Stars for the characters
= 3.3333 (etc.) neutron stars
Another Ringworld art, this depicts a view from the surface of the planet:

Ringworld's "horizon" is interesting to imagine. Given the shape of the planet it does not really have a horizon! The above artwork is probably inaccurate though because the Ringworld is many times the size of Earth (600 million miles in diameter, one million miles wide) so you probably would not be able to see the so much of the upward curvature. I am not sure what you would see but it would look awesome and weird! ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It...

This book is considered Hard SF, and I can understand why, but to me Ringworld feels more as Sesame Street SF. I feel that if one wants to write Hard SF, the social science part of the science has to check out as well – for human societies and alien societies alike. Yet, in this book the characters are caricatures, and the aliens are just odd (orange fur and a ratlike tail!) and different (two heads! 3 legs!), but not alien, since they are just versions of human stereotypes (aggressive brutes, smart cowards).

Niven’s vision of future humanity is far off anything really conceivably possible, and falls flat on its face because of details that seem cute or original at first, but in the end just expose Niven as a very superficial social thinker: in the book, individual humans enter voluntarily into televised battles to the death, just for the right to have three children? Yet, everybody is allowed 1 child, without the need to risk death at all. What sane person would do that?

It’s not only the social science that’s lacking, it’s also (...) ( )
1 vote bormgans | Dec 15, 2015 |
I absolutely loved it. What more is there to say? ( )
  lente | Dec 6, 2015 |
A good story, but not the enduring classic that I imagined when I first read this 20+ years ago.
Read Samoa Aug 2002 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Niven, Larryprimary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:32 -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 9 descriptions

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