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Ringworld (Ringworld #1)

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  71,733 Ratings  ·  2,127 Reviews
Pierson's puppeteers, three-leg two-head aliens find immense structure in unexplored part of the universe. Frightened of meeting the builders, they send a team of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, eight-foot red-fur catlike alien. Ringworld is 180 million miles across, sun at center. But the expedition crashes, and crew face disastrously long trek.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 9th 2005 by Gollancz (first published 1970)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 14, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
Recommended to Katie by: Olivia
A very interesting concept....BUT, I have to get on my soapbox for a minute. After reading a few of his books, I have to say that Larry Niven's attitude towards women, what they are like and what they are capable of, is sadly lacking. Though his male characters seem to be pretty well fleshed out (human--even if they are alien--fallible and interesting), his female characters are sadly one-dimensional. It seems to me that most the female character in his books are either clueless, idiot savants, ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Baelor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, science-fiction
I started this book expecting an awesome experience -- it won the Hugo AND Nebula awards, after all.

Too bad it was a hot mess.

The smile is because the book was lighthearted.

What to say of Niven's prose, other than that it is horrible? The dialog is stilted; often it is impossible to tell what the characters are talking about because their references are unclear or new information necessary to understand WTF is going on passes through the cardboard cutout/protagonist's head only after the page-l
Mar 03, 2011 Kemper rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, space, aliens
I’d wanted to read this because I’m a fan of the Halo video games, and I’d heard that it was a big influence on those. I gotta say that I’d have liked it more if the Master Chief would have shown up and started chucking some plasma grenades around.

Set in 2855, human Louis Wu is recruited by an alien named Nessus to go on a hazardous mission to explore a strange structure that rings a distant star. Another alien called Speaker-To-Animals from a warrior race apparently descended from some really t
Aug 02, 2012 TK421 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
On Luis Wu’s 200th birthday, he is approached by Nessus, a quasi-equine alien species knows as Puppeteers because of the two heads sprouting from their backs that are tethered by strands of skin, to undertake a remarkable journey. Being 200 years old, Luis has seen his share of the universe, so he is a bit skeptical when Nessus asks him to join a force of beings to explore the mysterious Ringworld.

So far so good.

Enter the rest of the cast.

First off, I have no problem with how any alien is cre
Dirk Grobbelaar
Not much I can say about this.

It blew my mind.

In order for you to truly appreciate Ringworld you would have to mentally backtrack forty-odd years.

Big Ideas in Science Fiction are a dime a dozen.

But in 1970…?

Perhaps Niven’s vision upstaged his characters. Perhaps. But I could still lose myself on the ring. It fascinated me then; it fascinates me now. This novel made authors sit up and pay attention to just how big you could think if you really applied your imagination. Also, I’ve spent y
I can't believe this won three big awards.

The story is about as interesting as the trade war minutia of Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars. In non-geeky terms, not very interesting. Actually as I went out to buy a cup of coffee this morning I thought that if Larry Niven had teamed up with George Lucas the prequel episodes of Star Wars could have been totally ruined, and maybe episodes 4-6 could have been reworked too to make them completely insipid and unwatchable. How? Well, Larry Niven seems to be rea
Jun 21, 2015 Apatt rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, pre-80s-sf
Ringworld is definitely a sci-fi classic, a monumental achievement in world building. Any sci-fi aficionados who don’t like it should be ashamed of themselves.

Argh! It’s never pleasant to go against the conventional wisdom but over at PrintSF (online SF discussion community) I see a lot of comments along the line of “I really want to like this book because everybody say it’s great, what am I missing?” I think a lot of people try too hard to like certain books and I don’t know why, it does not en
J.G. Keely
Radio waves move at the speed of light. This is not particularly noticeable on Earth, but if you were at the sun, it would take eight and a half minutes for a signal to reach you, which would make a phonecall rather awkward. It would be even worse at the next closest star, Proxima Centauri, where messages take four years. Thus, the speed of light is the rate at which information moves, at which change change can propagate.

But most people don't think, when watching Star Trek, that Captain Picard
Jul 21, 2008 Mark rated it it was ok
this book was silly. the ringworld was a cool idea, and the interplay between the species was intriguing, but there were a lot of strikes against this book.

* anthropomorphic cat people that are fierce proud warriors; i imagine the furry contingent had a field day with this one
* not much happens in the latter half of this book - mostly a lot of traveling across the ringworld
* at several points there are lengthy sections where i'm unable to tell what's going on because i can't visualize the strang
Paul Bryant
Jan 10, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: 12 year olds
Shelves: sf-novels-aaargh
I have a lot of faith in science fiction but this one dented it - it's a daft cartoon of a novel in which there's this really big, you know, I mean giant big big enormous, like, world, and these aliens go there, and they droop and mumble about in it, and it's really big, and one of them looks like a carpet and the other looks like a diplodocus, and the other like an old chinaman cause you got to have an old chinaman in your far future novels, yeah. It was showered with awards but i would have sh ...more
Sep 09, 2012 Andrea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I'm afraid this made me want to punch Larry Niven in the stomach on the behalf of all women everywhere. Along with people who aren't so privileged that life bores them with its comforts, but mostly on behalf of women.

A 180 year old man sleeping with a 20 year old woman? Just so wrong, and it keeps going more wrong. He writes things about Teela like

"Her lips, he saw, were perfect for pouting. She was one of those rare, lucky women whom crying does not make ugly."

It is painfully condescending, ev
Ben Babcock
There's a word often bandied about when people discuss books, particularly fantasy and science fiction books, which often involve the creation of worlds unlike our own. That term is (perhaps unsurprisingly) worldbuilding. And if ever there were a paradigm case for worldbuilding, Ringworld would be it. The eponymous structure is not a planet but, for all intents and purposes, functions as one. With a simple concept and a little bit of physics, Larry Niven has a striking novum that's brand, settin ...more
May 26, 2013 Guillermo rated it really liked it

This was a blast to read. It was great, escapist, old school science fiction at its best. It's a pretty light read, with fast moving short chapters all in single narrative. The story is a classic exploration tale taking place on an alien artefact that is one of the most amazing concepts ever imagined in my opinion. The Ringworld is an enormous artificial ribbon one million miles wide with the diameter of Earth's orbit. It's basically a partial dyson sphere.

"Take Christmas ribbon, an inch wide,
Jul 26, 2008 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently reread this and it's still delightful after all these years. Niven is so much fun because of his fascinating ideas, and the playfulness with which he approaches them. The ringworld is a beautiful work of art, technology, and imagination. Ditto time stasis fields, mirrored focusing sunflowers, using generated gravity as an art form, hurricanes shaped like giant human eyes. Even more fun are the glories of the Puppeteer home planets flying to the edge of the galaxy in a kemplerer rosett ...more
David Sven
Dec 16, 2012 David Sven rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
The world is coming to an end. A chain reaction of exploding stars at the galactic core threatens to swamp earth and most of known human space. What!? When? Oh in 20000 years or so. Whew, don’t scare me like that. So what’s the rush? Well, there’s no point waiting till the last minute. Or so the cowardly Puppeteer aliens reckon as they hit the panic button, pick up stakes, and make like a chook with its head cut off – make that two heads.

Oh but wait, one brave (insane) puppeteer volunteers to h

What is Ringworld?

Ringworld is a curiously contradictory science fiction novel. For a novel so concerned with the finer details of the exact science of alien technology it also features some bizarrely pseudo-scientific fantasy conceptions. However, it's use of technology and its ideas are an indication alone as to why it should be read despite some major flaws which become more obvious as the reader delves further into the story.

Larry Niven's novel is claimed as a major influence of the critic
Mar 24, 2013 Ric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ringworld - a Young Adult book that exemplifies the key elements of technology-driven fiction, and so embodies the new generation of science fiction and SF writers. Ok, that may be how the review would start if this book were written in the 2010s. But Ringworld is from a different era (the 1970s), a different world altogether (pre-Microsoft Earth). What was then hailed as an innovative narrative style may now be viewed as stunted and disjointed. But for a young mind just opening to the wonders ...more
Executive Summary: This book is a lot of big ideas, and not a lot of depth of character or plot. If you like that sort of thing, you may enjoy this.

Full Review
This book was a tough one for me. It makes it a tough one to review as well.

I had been meaning to check this one out for awhile, but didn't make time for it. It ended up being one of the picks for July in Sword & Laser so I finally fit it in.

I read it over the course of 2 weekends, which with the way I've been lately is a really long

The magic intersection point of the old and new styles of SF... basically, Golden Age space opera with cool aliens, but also including sex. (The sex isn't with the cool aliens, in case you were wondering - that's James Tiptree Jr. you're thinking of).

If you are an SF fan and have never been to the Ringworld, try and visit them some time! If you're not particularly into SF, well, these days Iain M. Banks does the same kind of thing better, so I would recommend reading "Consider Phlebas", "Player
May 03, 2013 Flink rated it it was ok
Oh TANJ! Why did I read this book?! It should have been titled BoRingworld!
Jul 05, 2011 Nathaniel rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Niven's Ringworld idea is really, really cool. Cool enough that he got the Hugo for this book in 1970. I know he got the Hugo for the Ringworld concept, because nothing else in the book conceivably justifies it.

Wading through the book was very difficult for me mostly because of Niven's Dirty Old Man Syndrome. That's the way I refer to his incredibly chauvinistic depictions of women. The protagonist is a 200-year old cynical man who manages to snag a 20-year-old, naive young lady as his sex-toy
Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann

I liked this book, in fact I got hooked at so many parts. As I am a slow reader and me having finished this book in a couple of days should tell ya something. The book is mainly an exploration novel of another land during the earth year of 2850. The exploration of the Ringwold is magnificent and is detailed crisply into my imagination.
It is also about the characters too; a great character building story I must say. In a way I found that the characters in the book and their interactions between e
Nandakishore Varma
I don't remember anything of the story, let me say at the outset. I think it was entirely forgettable.

The only things I remember are the kzin - the huge catlike alien - and Ringworld itself. From an engineer's point of view, this world is an absolute delight: a ring circling a sun at the centre, a whole world existing on it; with shades provided at uniform intervals to simulate night...

What I wouldn't have given to be part of the engineering team that designed it!
James Parsons
Jan 16, 2015 James Parsons rated it really liked it
I had read for a while that this book was some kind of modern science fiction classic and wanted to know why. I had seen it and heard of it years ago, but only in more recent years have I started to read older and more respected old SF authors such as Heinlein, Asimov, and Niven now.
I had just before this, been reading Arthur C Clarke, and there are some similarities certainly, and it was from the same period.
In some ways, it is like Arthur C Clarke with better or more interesting or entertain
On balance, I do like Ringworld, or at least the concept of the ringworld. The idea is that a forgotten race of wildly talented engineers have built a complete ring around a star and outfitted it with gravity, atmosphere, vegetation, animals, and even sentient life. The scale is so vast that it's nearly impossible to comprehend. (The ring, Niven tells us, has the surface area of roughly three million earths. There are mountains thousands of miles high.) I give Niven a lot of credit for the thoug ...more
Jun 02, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-sf
After re-reading Niven's most famous novel, one that I truly adored as a kid, I'm forced to drop one (one and a half, if I could) from my initial rating.

I still love SF books about Big Dumb Objects. There are some great stories about BDOs out there. Ringworld is still a good STORY with lots of great concepts. It's not a great book, though. The single female character is a dunce. The other characters aren't much more three-dimensional. The setup seems to take forever. I don't care how many nerds
Jun 10, 2015 Nikki rated it liked it
Read this for the Cardiff SF/F book club! I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, since it’s in the SF Masterworks list — and deservedly so, I think. Some of the attitudes to the female characters grossed me out, and there is a casual rape joke thrown in — basically a recurring theme is that it’s a woman’s job to keep the men on her team from going nuts. By having sex with them. Still, the main female character does have an arc of her own through the story which is all tied up with her chara ...more
Jan 14, 2011 Kane rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people worried about overcrowding
This is a hard science fiction novel to be enjoyed for its concepts. I read it to ensure that I had a good sci-fi foundation because it is of course on many lists of top works and was critically acclaimed. Who am I to critique Larry Niven and his shelf full of awards? Oh well, here goes. In doing so I keep in mind Niven's sixth law from Known Space: "It is easier to destroy than create.".

The introduction of the ringworld concept and it's engineering is the contribution of this book. I'm afraid
Dec 17, 2012 Candace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Candace by: Lee
Disclosure - This is my first hard science- fiction book; so while I am unable to review it against other books in this sub-genre, I'm going to review it as I would any other book. The science was a little out of my league, but it was nothing that some computer searches wouldn't clear up.

Niven is a great descriptive writer. The book was well worth reading to meet Nessus and Speaker-to-Animals, the two aliens who make up half of the team of four travelers to Ringworld. This team (also comprised
Jan 02, 2008 Stephen rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hardcore sci fi fans
Shelves: sci-fi
This book is good when it comes to the science of science fiction.

The Ringworld is interesting and well described, but the book really falls short in explaining the how and why questions that are constantly coming up.

The characters are shallow and pretty boring in general and are merely weak vehicles in a vague and more or less unexplained plot for exploring the mysterious Ringworld.

Overall this book is ok. It has its fun moments when reading about the mechanisms and design of the Ringworld or
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Laurence van Cott Niven's best known work is Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths ...more
More about Larry Niven...

Other Books in the Series

Ringworld (5 books)
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Ringworld, #2)
  • The Ringworld Throne (Ringworld, #3)
  • Ringworld's Children (Ringworld, #4)
  • Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld (Ringworld, #5)

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“The gods do not protect fools. Fools are protected by more capable fools.” 121 likes
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