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Ringworld (Sf Masterworks) Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575082542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575082540
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,073,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers Larry Niven created Known Space, a universe in the distant future with a distinctive and complicated history. The centre of this universe is Ringworld, an expansive hoop-shaped relic 1 million miles across and 600 million miles in circumference that is home to some 30 trillion diverse inhabitants. As in his past novels, Niven's characters in The Ringworld Throne spend their time unravelling the complex problems posed by their society. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

In Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers Larry Niven created Known Space, a universe in the distant future with a distinctive and complicated history. The centre of this universe is Ringworld, an expansive hoop-shaped relic 1 million miles across and 600 million miles in circumference that is home to some 30 trillion diverse inhabitants. As in his past novels, Niven's characters in The Ringworld Throne spend their time unravelling the complex problems posed by their society. (AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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By A Customer on 28 May 2001
Format: Paperback
Niven is not wthout his problems as a writer. His characters are thin, his prose undistinguished to the point of brevity, and anybody reading him expecting the depth of Banks or even Hamilton will be sorely disappointed. On top of this, much of the science in Niven's early work is now severely out of date. So having dissed the guy utterly, why should I recommend this book? Well, because it's fab, that's why. This, for me is Nivens most successful novel; he does actually have a way with language and he is the master of the classic guy-in-a-situation short story - this is what his technique is built around - his strengths are speed, clarity, economy. This novel dumps you into the thick of known space intrigue. It's actually as sixties a universe as anything by Moorcock, but in a totally different way; a free swinging californian universe full of, well, fun. Mind battering super-science sits so happily with the surreal aliens, humorous touches, and sheer zest of the book, that it's just impossible not to like it. The plot is simple, but perfectly effective, and frames a simple road-journey/travel narrative through one of SF's most singular domains. For those tired of po-faced 'literary' SF on one hand, or multi-volume doorstop space-opera on the other, why not put your literary snobbery in stasis, and go have some fun in Niven's playground.
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Format: Paperback
Ringworld is an adventure/discovery book. It tells the story of 200 year-old Louis Wu who is contacted by a curious 2 headed turkey-like alien called Nessus who wants to assemble a team to explore the eponymous Ringworld his species has recently discovered. The other members of his team include an 8 foot high, orange cat-like alien called Speaker-To-Animals and a naïve, 20 year old girl called Teela Brown we learn is chosen for her luck. The book then proceeds to follow their journey to the Ringworld itself and subsequently across it.
The idea itself, the Dyson sphere, is both imaginative and awe-inspiring. Its humongous scale is exemplified by the huge rim walls and a colossal mountain (over a 1000 miles high) called the Fist-Of-God. It would have been impossible for Niven to flesh out the entire world as there would be too much to cover so it is told from the viewpoint of the four members’ expedition through a limited section of the ‘artifact’. In this respect it succeeds admirably in world-building in a supposedly ‘hard’ science context.
But I gave this 3.5 stars because a good idea itself is not enough to make it REALLY good. The characters for one thing are atrociously developed and two dimensional. This would be forgivable if Niven focussed on furthering the plot but he delves too much into the character’s relationship with each other including a rather odd romance (if that) between a 200 year old man and a girl one tenth his age. Similarly Nessus suffers from seemingly bipolar disorder which seemed completely out of place. The most interesting being for me was Speaker.
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Ringworld is, on it's surface, a fun space opera with some "real science" thrown in. The worlds are imaginatively built, the pace is good and there is a nice feel of mystery and fun.

The book hasn't aged well in the respect that it's plainly aimed at the adolescent male, brimful with reported or implied sexual encounters, none of which serve the plot in any way. The two female characters are both beautiful (what's the point of an ugly woman, right?) and shallow; one is a petulant brat whose charmed life has left her bereft of humanity, the other is a spaceship's doxy who sees herself as some sort of sexual ambassador -- I mean, really!? ...But at least Niven reveals that the hero is a little insecure about his sexual prowess.

Anyway, I'm making a big deal out the misogyny, which isn't all that bad, for sci-fi of the period. What really ticked me off was that, in-between all the naked swimming and humping, no-one says a sexual swearword! No, really; to avoid using obscenities, Niven invents "tanj", a catch-all swear-word that has no explicit meaning and is hugely irritating to read over and over again. Because casual sex is fine, as long as there's no dirty words.

Writers: for tanj's sake, use an honest-to-goodness four-letter word, use reported speech, or just don't have your characters swear at all. Please!

What else? Oh yeah! Remember I mentioned a character that has led a charmed life? Well, the big revelation at the end of the novel involves Teela (wasn't that the girl in He-Man?)and it explains why she's such an airhead. It is also utterly illogical and a massive anticlimax.

This book won both the Hugo and Nebula awards!? I much prefer Tower Of Glass (Gollancz SF collector's edition) by Robert Silverberg.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This may not be the most original or profound book you will ever read, but it keeps you interested throughout, in a fun and not too taxing way. I enjoyed it. It's a bit dated in parts, with regard to gender, but so is a lot of fiction that's still good in other respects. It becomes a bit of a 'road movie' in an alien landscape, in a way that keeps giving you enough new scenarios / encounters for you to stay intrigued enough to want to read on. I would recommend to anyone who likes sci fi of the exploring an alien world type, which is not so complicated that you have to wait ages to figure who the helm is who or how strands will come together, but is more than just a simplistic comic strip style adventure. Good to unwind with.
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