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4.1 out of 5 stars
Fate of Worlds (Ringworld)
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Let me contextualise this review first. I grew up reading Larry Niven, the first full length novel I read was Ringworld aged eight and since then I've consumed all of his works, the good stuff, the odd stuff, the stuff with Jerry Pournelle, the stuff with Steven Barnes, the dodgy wizard stuff, the weird 60s stuff, the down-right strange stuff and the weird alien sex stuff. I loved the mystifying artifacts, the semi plausible technologies, the ethical and logical conundrums, well etched characters, the genuinely alien aliens, the space operas and the short stories. I've loved the vast majority of his work but at the core was the Known Space series and the immense playground for the imagination which was the Ringworld.

Ringworld itself is a classic, possibly one of the best science/speculative fiction works of all time. It is followed by three progressively weaker sequels as the plot expands and mystery was stripped from the gargantuan object and its history. The series ended in good order with Ringworld's children despite a few plot holes and some shaky logic, the magic was still there and the known universe was crowned. Complete. Done.

Along the way Niven had published a null-treatment of the known space series, like Agatha Christie's demolition of Hercule Poirot in Curtain, it was a fully-fledged deconstruction of the things we thought we knew of known space, from how the hyper drives work to the aeon dead slaver wars and the outsiders. It was published as a joke, a tease to interest readers who may have become bored with the antics within known space. Roll on thirty five years and this treatment has been incorporated into the "worlds" series of books which have successfully ruined ninety percent of the imaginative magic which underpinned Niven's greatest works.

Collaborating with Ed Lerner the five novels seek to tie up every loose end, strand and logical grey area into one fan fiction like cohesive narrative. From ARM, to the Puppeteers everything is bent and twisted to fit into one stranded stream, every motive, detail and character fitted into this new structure, whether they liked it or not.

This work ends this, tying the puppeteers, the Ringworld, Hindmost, Nessus, Austfaller and Louis Wu into a great messy narrative tangle. Sure there is a workable plot, sure it's actually slightly better written than the rest of the series and sure it's a page turner which you will read in one sitting. But it's gutted the works I loved as a child. I feel older and more staid having read it than before. The writing is better but it's still not a patch on earlier works. The logic is a bit more realistic but there are still massive problems with causality and motivation. The characterisation is a bit more balanced but the aliens are still humans in fancy dress and Louis Wu in particular appears to have lost a lot of IQ points since he was first crafted, and he's been a protector along the way.

So dear reader, if you liked Niven's works and enjoyed Known space, don't start here, there are too many references and insider contexts to let you fully grasp this book. If you loved Niven's work and wanted to see, hear and smell the worlds of Known space for real don't buy this book at all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2014
Unpronounceable names for one of the alien races. Too 'busy' and too long which detracts from the thrust of the storyline. I've found this before where well known authors have collaborated with another author. It relies too heavily on jumps into hyperspace. Not a patch on the previous Ringworld books as far as story telling goes.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2012
This one is the pay-off on four previous "Worlds" novels, co-written by Niven and Lerner, as well as continuing the "Ringworld" story Niven has told in four novels of his own.
That's a lot of background, and the authors quite rightly don't rehearse it all for new readers. As someone who has read all eight precursor novels, I spent much of the first third of the book wracking memory for the necessary background as previously known characters and situations slotted into the new story. When time permits, I'll perhaps sit down and read all nine in order - there's a sense of missing the occasional reference in this story when working from old memory.
The latter two-thirds of the novel builds to a complex and involving climax, although the general shape of the ending is evident to the reader for some time before the pay-off.
The authors leave one thread dangling suspiciously, and leave major characters scattered in five separate locations, any of which could potentially take the story forward. Although Niven foresaw the Known Space universe finally sinking into the stagnation of his short story "Safe At Any Speed", there's still a couple of centuries in the Known Space timeline before that happens. The authors still have plenty of room for more developments in the current storyline, if they choose to exploit it. I hope they do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2015
As with all L Niven books the reader gets drawn into worlds of strange creatures, no apparent super heroes. There are heroes but they are not willing, moral or righteous, and like all his books everything is on a grand scale,. the futuristic governments and rulers are as corrupt and inept as any that exist today. Mr Niven also avoids the traps of dystopian and utopian societies. In Fate of the Worlds ram ships and Einstein and hyper space are background to the storey, this story is full of characters and events that make for absorbing and entertaining reading for any sc-fi addict and is a wonderful distraction for an OAP, a book to be enjoyed and leaves one desiring more.
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on 5 March 2015
where to start? Ringworld? or Neutron Star? Protector?
They ALL link to the Fleet of Worlds series, and culminate in Fate of Worlds. Which is a fitting climax to what's been a stupendous voyage over so many years since I first read Ringworld. To get the best out of these last 5 books (the "Fleet of Worlds" series) you do have to have read all the others - Neutron Star, Tales of Known Space, the 4 Ringworld books, Protector, and Crashlander.
I've read them all, multiple times, and still enjoy them. But now I've read the Fleet series I'll be looking at them with a different perspective.
Larry Niven's writings are a towering achievement, and it's amazing how he's intertwined all of the plots of the earlier novels into Crashlander and the Fleet series.
Hats off to Larry...!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2015
The fate of the ringworld is left to the imagination and as a fan of that series and not the "world's" books, it was disappointing. That aside, very well written and imaginative.
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on 10 August 2014
Great addition to the series. Mr Niven and Mr Lerner give us even more background on the Ringworld and produces a book of top quality.
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on 8 January 2014
The book was physically perfect, the delivery was fine but disappointingly the story is not a patch on the earlier Ringworld series.
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on 15 October 2014
Niven at his extraordinary best again you can feel the follow up stories waiting to be written
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2012
Well thank goodness I read the previous "of Worlds" books recently which spurred me to try to once again finish Ringworld Thone (failed) and then Ringworld's Children (success and enjoyed) so that I could keep up with the hugly complex jumble of plot threads and references! I am very glad that Edward M Lerner started collaborating with Larry Niven on this series of books - it was a refreshing revamp of the series which was getting tired (as witnessed in the poor writing of Ringwolrd Thone). That it also kept LN away from the embarrassing alien sex that seemed to inhabit the middle Ringworld books (Engineers and Throne) and keep him focused on what made Known Space stories originally so great - complex storytelling, fascinating aliens, intriguing technologies and a sense of historical development. Over the years I've pretty much read everything thats been published about Known Space from the books by Niven to the Shared World of Man-Kzin Wars to the long out of date Ringworld role-playing game. Indeed many years ago I wrote my own RPG campaign for friends set in the middle of the Man-Kzin wars. If this is where the Known SPace series ends, I will be happy as it has gone out on a high-note.
Unlike other reviewers I don't think there needs to be any more sequels, its all complicated enough and I think Louis Wu and Sigmund Ausfaller deserve a rest after all thats happened to both of them over the last century or so!
It was good to see Trinocs make a reappearance - after all it was Louis Wu who first made contact with them :)
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