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Ringworld (1970)

by Larry Niven

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,231147689 (3.79)222
For use in schools and libraries only. A two-headed creature and a large, red-furred carnivore are among the members of a party that arrives to explore a mysterious world created in the shape of a ring.
  1. 131
    Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (codeeater)
    codeeater: Another story about a mysterious alien artefact.
  2. 110
    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. 51
    Foundation by Isaac Asimov (nar_)
    nar_: Space travelling and interminable, huge lands and space... so huge !
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 20
    Gateway by Frederik Pohl (sturlington)
  8. 20
    Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement (Michael.Rimmer)
  9. 31
    Sundiver by David Brin (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it. Sound familiar?
  10. 10
    Dune by Frank Herbert (sturlington)
  11. 10
    Ring of Swords by Eleanor Arnason (libron)
    libron: Cat people! Sentient bipedal tiger aliens!
  12. 10
    The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks (LamontCranston)
  13. 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 222 mentions

English (138)  Hungarian (2)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
Good 70s Sci Fi ( )
  jamespurcell | Aug 9, 2020 |
This is not what I expected when I picked it up, and despite all this book’s flaws, I mean that in a good way. For one thing, the Ringworld doesn’t even turn up until about halfway through and the themes are largely about eugenics and colonialism and the decline of civilization, instead of, as I’d assumed, being about recovering alien tech or simply exploring the artifact. For another, there’s actual character development and the plot is surprisingly intricate. Things happen or are said that seem to be entirely meaningless, only to come back later, that sort of thing.

Plus the characters themselves, aliens and otherwise, were interesting in a “haven’t seen this before” sort of way and interesting enough in terms of their character dynamics, and the central mysteries of who built Ringworld and what happened to them were enough to pull me along. Niven did a lot of speculation about human civilization and contact with aliens and the possibilities of technological advances, too, a lot of which continues to be pretty cool.

So I completely see why this is a classic. However.

I’d expected the dated writing and descriptions, the way everyone has vocal epiphanies and argues in logical frameworks and are really big fans of the scientific method, and the way incredible things are described in what read now as very emotionless terms. I’d even expected a certain amount of sexism and casual racism, and characters who were largely one-note—the aggressive one, the timid one, etc. I’d forgotten just how stilted mid-century SF can get sometimes and the one major female character was, um, Very Um. She’s as beautiful as she is naive, moody and hot-tempered, sort of just stumbling through life, in a relationship with a guy literally ten times her age, and that’s only scratching the surface.

Points to said guy for apologizing when he hurts her and for learning to treat her better throughout the book, but still.

So yeah, I am conflicted about this book. I’m not sorry to have read it by any means and like I said, it does a lot of stuff well compared to other classic SF I’ve read. It’s definitely dated though, and between the writing and the less great aspects of the characters, I did find my attention flagging. I also think I got to a plot twist well before I was meant to. If you’re looking to pick up some older science fiction, this would be a decent one to go with—it does do speculation and science very well—but it’s not one I can get myself excited to recommend, either.

To bear in mind: This was published in 1970 and it shows. Expect flattened personalities, outdated racial terminology, techno-supremacist attitudes, and objectified women with no agency, little personality that doesn’t play straight into a power fantasy, and a tendency to, erm, indulge other power fantasies, if you know what I mean. Also massive relationship age-gaps.

5/10 ( )
  NinjaMuse | Jul 26, 2020 |
I'm unsure how I feel about Ringworld. On the one hand, I enjoyed imagining a futuristic world while simultaneously transporting myself back to a 70s mindset, but there were a few things that I really didn't like about it:

- too much focus on the technology, which seemed to cover for some lack of plot
- the whole book revolved around a ludicrous concept (see below for spoiler)
- everybody in the story seemed unintelligent
- sex was far too prevalent in the book (didn't seem to add much to the story)


I really didn't like the part about the "luck of Teela Brown" and the "luck" gene. It made absolutely no sense and seemed an odd plot device that seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Perhaps this was believable in the 70s, but it really didn't work for me, and since the whole book seemed to revolve around it, the plot fell flat for me.


All in all though, I thought it was an enjoyable read and I'm glad I listened to it on my bike commute instead of devoting valuable time at home reading. ( )
  beatgammit | Mar 22, 2020 |
Re-read this just because I picked it up in a used bookstore and wanted something to read. Light and fun SF.

There is one plot point that rather bugs me, but I won't go into it so as not to spoil anything. ( )
  livingtech | Mar 18, 2020 |
This reads like an extended Star Trek episode, which puts it into a category of fluff I usually don't mind. Unfortunately, the scope of the Ringworld, often touted as the reason this became a classic, didn't blow me away as it might have in 1970. Larry Niven relies heavily on the awe and mystery of this world yet doesn't bring the sort of gravitas a novel like Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama uses to impose his ancient floating structure. Part of the problem is how I just can't take these characters very seriously. The women are either dumb blonde archetypes or whores, anyway they seem to exist only to be sexed on. The male protagonists are too narrowly drawn to relate to. Sci-fi authors from this time period often sacrificed character for big ideas, and sometimes that's fine, but I wasn't getting enough trade off here.

I guess I'm glad I read it but I doubt I'll remember it. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 138 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Niven, Larryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baumann, BodoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, DonCover printingsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foss, ChrisCover artistsecondary 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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