Does Ringworld have an amazing ending?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Andols, May 9, 2008.

  1. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    No spoilers please, but does it have one of those jaw dropping endings?

    I'm just over half way through and I am at a total loss as to how it won anything. Was it just a right place/right time kind of novel?
     
  2. MrBF1V3

    MrBF1V3 aka. Stephen B5 Jones

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    What Ringworld has is an amazing setting, it beats the 'eck out of a cramped old mechanical space ship any day of the week. Yes, there's kind of an interesting situation in there, and characters who, um ... have names. But the big thing is the setting.

    Without spoiling, it has one of those "I should have seen that coming" endings. Oh, and the situation has a "I did not guess that" kind of conclusion too.

    B5
     
  3. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    I haven't read it in a long, long time but if memory serves I would call it more "neat trick" than "jaw dropping".

    psik
     
  4. RimWorlder

    RimWorlder Old Fogey Fan

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    "and characters who, um ... have names" !?!

    Come on. Characters who go through a lot of logical twists and turns, some of which are non-obvious - and some of those are red herrings.

    Nessus is featured in numerous stories, as is Louis Wu and Speaker-to-Animals. Teela Brown comes back in R.E.

    At a loss as to why it won anything. OMG
     
  5. phil_geo

    phil_geo Rat Thing

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    I would say yes, it has an ending that is a big surprise and one of the most original concepts in sci-fi (or literature); one I think about all the time. I do some work using genetic algorithms for software, and without giving anything away, the end of Ringworld relates.
     
  6. Yobmod

    Yobmod Yobmod

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    Twists and turns etc are plot, not characterisation, which i also found Ringworld to be lacking.

    I don't remember anything especially mind-blowing about the ending - it is just a logical continuation of the plot. Which is fine, but it isn't going to impress anyone who doesn't like the plot of the first half.
     
  7. RimWorlder

    RimWorlder Old Fogey Fan

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    I know the difference between plot and characterization; the characters mental and psychological condition goes through numerous twists and turns - heck, half the novel is Louis Wu cogitating and trying to analyze the psychology of two very different aliens and one very a-typical human.
     
  8. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Maybe, but they are still very cartoonish and lacking in what one could call strong "characterization".

    I read it a few years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit but for me parts of it were excessively dull compared to the background of the Ringworld and its exploration. All that stuff about genetic luck didn't interest me at all. As far as I remember the ending is quite good but getting there was a drag as I found the final quarter of the novel a bit tedious.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2008
  9. phil_geo

    phil_geo Rat Thing

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    oh noes

    ropie said:
    :eek:
     
  10. RimWorlder

    RimWorlder Old Fogey Fan

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    while recognizing the 'ridiculousness' of the basic concept (in-bred luck), once past the premise, I found it a very interesting and compelling idea.

    In fact, in many respects, it is a concept that embodies much of science fiction, at least on a global, genre level:

    we get 'after the apocolypse' stories because some are lucky enough to survive.

    we get vast galactic empires because some scientist, somewhere, was luck enough to stumble onto the ftl secret

    humanity is saved from the alien threat because some heroes got lucky and found/exploited their weakness

    the rebellion was saved because luke and the force got lucky enough for that one 'photon torpedo' to make its way into, all the way down the pipe and into the reactor core

    'Luck' as a "genetic" trait of the human race (in science fiction) has always served as a deus ex machina. All Niven really did was embody all of that into a single character.

    Its probably going to turn out that 'luck', defined as a series of low-order probabilities all occurring in the proper sequence, is responsible for the origin of a universe that supports life and for the origination of us - so at least in that respect, 'genetic luck' is built into all of us and not all that far-fetched.
     
  11. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Maybe 'genetic luck' in itself is an interesting concept but in the context of a story about a fantastic, extraordinary, unimaginably large structure like the Ringworld, it was just breadcrumbs. I wanted to know more about Ringworld and less about the idiots wandering around it.
     
  12. RimWorlder

    RimWorlder Old Fogey Fan

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    And if it had been nothing more than a travelogue and engineering treatise, no doubt you'd have had some bones to pick about that.
     
  13. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Probably yes, because Niven's writing was never going to set any tale fully alight. Anyway, a more focused novel does not make a treatise.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2008
  14. RimWorlder

    RimWorlder Old Fogey Fan

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    sorry - early morning grumpiness.

    I should have said something more general.

    Like - readers that take issue with (that) are bound to be disappointed not matter what he (Niven) does.

    I think my enjoyment trumps anyone else's dislike.
     
  15. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    This thread looks like a transcript of my inner monologue over the last week.

    I don't find any aspect of the book amazing. The characters are decent, nothing superb. The story has some great elements although they don't get explored as much as I would like.

    I'll finish it tonight and maybe it will redeem itself.
     
  16. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    I was far from disappointed with Ringworld: for me it is a good, middle of the road SF novel, having elements that make truly great SF as well as being a good example of the problems that are often cited as common criticisms of the genre as a whole. For that reason I think it is probably essential reading for anyone interested in SF not just as 'entertainment'. I have heard good things about some of the follow-ups too and will probably read them one day.

    I'd say it's 50/50 ;)
     
  17. Ropie

    Ropie Member of the Month™

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    Perhaps this is something taken up in the sequels..? I'd say Niven is good enough to carry on reading.
     
  18. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    Did the sequels win it a set of awards? :)

    I'm not going to quit a Hugo/Nebula winner. I've gone through about 30 so far, with a few endings that justified the grind.

    I just don't see the usual shining aspects that make it a winner. This is the first oddity in my awards collection.
     
  19. Andols

    Andols I like stories

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    I'm with Ropie on this one:)

    Your enjoyment hasn't done a thing for me so far.
     
  20. RimWorlder

    RimWorlder Old Fogey Fan

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    darn it, its a Hugo winner - therefore, you MUST like it.

    Don't get upset - I know science fiction fans are about the last group you can expect conformity and respect for authority from.

    On the other hand - Hugo-Zombies do sound somewhat compelling...

    Being former fans of course, they'd be FAST Hugo-Zombies, and selective when eating brains. They only eat the part of the cortex where critical faculties reside - and only that portion that engenders dislike for Hugo-winning stories.

    Closely allied to Nebula-Zombies, but less viscious.