Discussion is open.
Discussion is open.
I guess I will start
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. The writing is pretty straightforward and well written. I enjoyed the characters, they are likeable and tend to grow on you throughout the story. Niven also tries to develop his characters throughout the plotline and brings up a number of social issues by showing diversities between different cultures and races.
Although the book occasionally feels cartoonish in some aspects, Niven exaggerates and plays with some of his character qualities in order to give them certain depth, which makes them more interesting.
I couldnt help but get a mental image of Louis Wu looking like Professor Farnsworth from Futurama! I also didn't care for the age differene between Louis and Teela. I guess I would have preffered if Louis was aged between 30-40years old. But the differences in these things and characters made them interesting. What it lacks in character development, it gains in vast Sci-fi ideas.
I feel this book is truly a timeless sci-fi classic. One thing that amazes me is that this book was written over 35 years ago. It does not appear dated. It is written as if it could have been written in today’s times. It touches on such concepts and terminology used today and in other science fiction works.
I look forward to reading other books in the series.
Last edited by Paladin; November 1st, 2005 at 10:33 AM.
Before I read it I'd heard many references to the characters holding a cartoon-like quality (which really interested me) and having read it I know what they mean. The characters, in my opinion, are the book's cream. In all honesty, I thought the story was pretty mediocre (ranging from fairly exciting to fairly tedious) - nothing too special, but nontheless enjoyable.
Although it wasn't an especially long read, I do remember wanting to to move faster in some places, and hoping that they'd soon make a huge story-changing discovery. If anything, it was a very fresh and unusual read - Niven had an interesting imagination - though I can't deny that I hoped the ending would be a little more fulfilling. I didn't get the impression that I could be fully satisfied with it unless I'd read the remaining books in the series, which I didn't really want to do, and thus I suppose a lot of the Ringworld mysteries will remain for me.
Also, even though it's mind-boggling and something you don't come accross in other SF novels, the whole unimaginable size of the Ringworld was both awing and a little irrelivant, as by the end they've hardly travelled any of it (in comparison to its size anyway). I felt the idea of Teela remaining behind with Seeker to walk round the entire world was asinine and not at all how I imagined Niven to dismiss her (though I'm told we meet her in later novels). Still relating to the sheer size of Ringworld, everywhere seems to be uninhabitted and thus most of their journeying is filled with empty land which isn't at all exciting.
I think it's fair to say that there were aspects I didn't quite grasp (the last chapter was a little blurry - though I got the main gist) and will probably require a re-read sometime. Overall I enjoyed it but wouldn't be able to say it was a favourite.... not even sure I'd call it a classic, though for the time it was written I guess it was very impressive and unlike a lot of other work. Still, I'm glad to have read it and get it off my chest - I'd heard too much about it not to do so!
I look forward to reading what others thought and couldn't agree more with Paladin's reference to Futurama!
Last edited by Monty Mike; November 1st, 2005 at 10:14 AM.
I have enjoyed most of Nivens work, I like his ideas and his storytelling abilities. The first sequel is quite good, the second ok but the last is truly dreadful. Now I know that Niven can be criticised from all sorts of angles but I really feel that his books' entertainment quotient is right up there.
Critically I expect to see people knocking his characterisation, alien creations, dialogue and prose. For me his ideas are good enough to circumvent all the rest:-
Top BDO the Ringworld itself
Explanation for human ageing process via Pak
Pupetteers - I love a cowardly creature
Breeding for luck
Breeding tame cats or Kzint
I could go on but do feel that you need to read most of his books to really appreciate his Known Universe timelines and the depth of some of the ideas.
For me this is a classic choice between read and enjoy or overanalyse and destroy.
I have to say my experience with Ringworld is closest to Monty Mike's, though I did find the characters in equal parts interesting and plain irritating. The exciting bits of plot were very exciting, especially racing towards and past the Puppeteers' planet and crashing on the Ringworld, but for me the novel got dull and contrived towards the end and I didn't like the characters from the Ringworld itself.
Still, I'd probably try some of the sequels if I really couldn't think of anything else to read...
I'd give it 3/5, or 6.5/10, or 66%, whichever you prefer
Last edited by Ropie; November 1st, 2005 at 04:57 PM.
First, let me admit that I haven't read this book in years. I do hope to get a reread done this month, which would refresh the details. But I have probably read it a half or dozen times overall, and I definitely think of Ringworld is one of my favorites.
I agree with homosap on this one. To me it is a book that is driven by really cool concepts, things like The Pierson Puppeteers (the ultimate proof that evolution favors cowardice), the concept of the Ringworld itself and Niven's efforts to make it honest to god hard science functional (given the right materials and enough energy), and the very concept of breeding for luck and the unintended consequences thereof. There is something truly delicious about a book that throws concepts like that at you one after another.
I can see that there is almost something of a comic book feel to it. And I can see that, if you are looking for realistic characters, it might disappoint. But somehow that is not what I expect or need out of this book. Teela is in many ways particularly weak character, but when all is said and done that's because she's more of a concept than a character.
I also remember thinking that the plotting is very effective, and that there is an economy of narrative that works well. Each chapter is important to the story and most bring some kind of surprise.
I gave it a similar grade 7/10, and for much the same reasons as Ropie.
The ringworld was cool, the diversification of a single animal species (humans) to fill the available niches was interesting, and the Pupeteers were brilliant.
But Teela's luck was a bit spurious and completely underused, and the Kzinn are such a huge stereotype (aliens similar to particular animals in looks and temperament, yawn).
The ending mostly left me thinking: what was the point of the whole adventure? The plot itself wasn't exciting enough, and the character growth was minimal.
So althought i enjoyed it, and think its esential to read for a dedicated SF fan because of all the crazy ideas, its not in my top 50 SF and i wouldn't generally recommend it.
I've read 2 of the sequels, the last of which was rubbish (way to much obsession with interspecies sex - equivalent to humans shagging chimps)
I do agree about The Ringworld Throne. Worst piece of garbage Niven ever wrote (far worse than Rainbow Mars, IMO). I haven't read Ringworld's Children yet, but it is sitting in my to-be-read stack.Originally Posted by Yobmod
Exactly! Which is basically why I also gave it a 7/10Originally Posted by Yobmod
I really thought that in the end the whole thing was strangely pointless.... It felt like this:
1) They crash
2) They travel to a point very far away
3) They travel back to the original point
4) They escape
Obviously that's a terrible plot overview and unfair to Niven, but in years I bet that's how I remember it
I'd probably have prefered that they all died and rotted on the planet rather than escaped. At least it would have been more dramatic/unexpected than what happened. Basically, I don't think the ending did the book justice, and it's not really like the ending is a part which can be easily overlooked - in many stories it will make or break the book. Fortunately it doesn't quite break this one, but it does lower its score. All the way through I thought Niven was going to pull it together with a crazy twist right at the ending which would leave me extremely satisfied and impressed, but as it approached I realised it was not to be.
Did that even make sense?
Last edited by Monty Mike; November 1st, 2005 at 12:30 PM.
I think this is a situation where Niven came up with the idea for the Ringworld and wrote his characters around this central idea. This would explain the weaker characters. So then he tried to make the characters more outlandish to make up for it. He had a great idea but didn't know where to take it to the next level.
I think also though however that you have to put the work in context with the timeperiod it was written.
Last edited by Paladin; November 1st, 2005 at 02:10 PM.
If I remember correctly, someplace I read an interview with Niven in which he explained that at least to some degree the genesis for the second and third books was driven by input on the practicality of operating the BDO (i.e., on reasons that fans had come up with why the Ringworld wouldn't be functional, and his efforts to come up with solutions to these problems to show that the Ringworld really could "work").
I just didn't get the whole luck idea. Why was it so important to push this idea in the context of this story, which is supposed to be about an intergalactic ring??Originally Posted by Yobmod
I kept thinking of Klingons. i agree, the bestiality was a bit tedious.and the Kzinn are such a huge stereotype (aliens similar to particular animals in looks and temperament, yawn).
As an idea i think the 'luck is a genetic trait' is actually very interesting, and the way it was brought about (aliens setting up a lottery to affect natural selection) was funny, like somethink Voggenut would come up with. But it just didn't fit in the book. In fact i think it could make the basis of a book all by itself.I just didn't get the whole luck idea. Why was it so important to push this idea in the context of this story, which is supposed to be about an intergalactic ring??
Ringworld being sooo huge didn't seem to have much of an impact, which i thought was disapointing. As a setting i think it would have suited a more episodic story, featuring all the diferent socieites that developed because of their massive isolation.
On some level Teela's luck is what drives the entire plot of the book. The Puppeteers thought they were creating a tool that they would manipulate, and instead the tool manipulated them.
As for the ending, it may be a bit anticlimactic, but figuring out a way off the Ringworld is hardly trivial to Louis and the rest of the party (sans Teela). And I for one, didn't figure out what the Fist of God (or whatever that the giant volcano was called) was until the Niven had resolved their problem. And using the frictionless cable to move the ship was clever.
I'm with the people who thought it was a little more blah than spectacular. I nearly tossed it aside as I neared the end and decided there wasn't really much of a plot there at all. Let's just go out to the ringworld a romp around for a while then go home. As far as "plot" goes, the only thing that the book really seemed geared toward to me was Teela -- getting her to Ringworld, figuring out how the lottery and all worked, etc. There were some interesting ideas, but the book couldn't seem to decide (to me) whether it wanted to be about the ringworld ideas, which seemed unexplored; the characters, which seemed undeveloped and simple; or the history of the human/alien interaction, which to me seemed like the strongest thing going, but Niven seemed to disagree.
As to the Fist of God, I thought it was rediculously blatant how Niven mentioned it in the "fly-under" of Ringworld before they landed, to the point that I knew what the mountain was well before the characters did (especially since it was mysteriously called Fist of God) and was onto the "big mysterious plan" as soon as the bare bones of it were assembled.
I did find the "genetic luck" idea to be pretty interesting myself, if a bit gimmicky.
clong, no matter how important something is to the characters, if the author doesn't make it important to the reader, it doesn't matter. And he didn't really make it all that important to me. There could be a person in the world for whom the most important thing is whether they see a slug turn left or right when it gets to a fence, but that doesn't make it interesting to read about.
All that said, I am glad I read the book, as it's a "classic" and it had some interesting moments to it, but I don't think I'll rush out to read any more Ringworld books for a while.
The ideas were nice and all, but I felt they needed more of a context. It seemed that the ideas were a little too big for their context. They only explored a little chunk of the ring and really didn't get any idea about the people and the way things developed there. The alien interaction was interesting, but none of it really affected anyone but the four in the expedition. I guess it could be argued that they needed to get off to get the FTL ships to save humanity from the core novas, but that threat was 20,000 years off and wasn't really impressive as a big, bad threat.
I'd also go in the 65-70 range for this one.