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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > 2011-11 RINGWORLD: finished reading (*SPOILERS!*)

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (last edited Nov 01, 2011 08:38AM) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Here's a topic for people who have finished reading Ringworld by Larry Niven.

CAUTION: spoilers likely!

message 2: by Banner (new)

Banner | 46 comments I just read Ringworld a few months ago or I would do a re read now. I'm posting a link that I found helpful when I was on my "Read all Ringworld" quest.

This is from a blog by Edward Lerner. He worked with Niven on several of the prequels to Ringworld (which were written years latter).

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 217 comments I read this last year, in my ongoing mission to fill in the gaps where I have somehow missed reading books considered classics of their field.

I know a lot of people love this book, but I am really not sold on Niven's writing. I'd be perfectly happy for someone to try to sell me on him, but at the moment I am unconvinced.

I found some of the concepts in Ringworld intriguing - the Ringworld itself, of course which has since been expanded upon and thought out by other authors - and Teela being the end result of being bred for 'luck' - but I really do find the writing style clunky in the extreme. For me it is an example of the view many that often used to be expressed, rightly or wrongly, in the Golden Age of SF: "Great ideas, lousy writing, terrible characterisation". Perhaps if I'd read it when I was much younger I could have been gripped by the concepts and ignored the flaws; I'm sure that was the case with much that I read, which is why I am often so cautious about revisiting old reads.

But, as I say, I'm willing to be told why I'm wrong.

message 4: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I wonder how much Niven's work suffers today because of aging. He wrote this book back in 1970 & a lot of stories today owe him a debt. From my own experience - possibly not what really happened, but as I saw it in my own life & reading - Niven was one of the pioneers of 'realistic' SF. Asimov & Heinlein had brought in a dose of realism, but Niven managed to reach further & bring it closer, at least to my mind. This might not be as much of a stretch today when we're caught up in the chaotic change that the computer age has brought, but it was a huge deal back then.

Most of the early SF I read was Golden Age space opera where there was a lot of action & cool gadgets, but the science was almost magical. We'd just landed on the moon & Niven's stories of 'Known Space' were written in a way that made space travel seem almost prosaic. He managed to do that even with Gil's arm, a psychic power in an otherwise purely SF world.

message 5: by Nikita (new)

Nikita (nikita42) | 94 comments I agree with most of what has been said above. The book wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It's a great idea, but the book could have been so much more.

I wasn't really sold on the whole breeding for luck plot point. It was an easy way for Niven to explain away coincidences and get them easily out of sticky situations.

I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to spend more time with the cultures left on Ringworld. It seemed to take forever in the book to get to the Ringworld and then there were only a couple of brief interactions.

I'm not disappointed I read the book. I enjoyed the ideas and it was a fun journey into an unusual world. I might pick up some of the other Ringworld novels, but it will probably only be if I can't find something else to read.

message 6: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments I started listening to it and after about 15%, I decided that life is too short to waste on such drivel. Sorry. Put it on my DNF shelf. It just seemed silly to me and filled with a middle aged man's unrequited sexual fantasies. And the 'creatures'. ie. 'alien species' were more fantasy than scifi. And not very good fantasy, at that.

message 7: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1348 comments Well, this was a tosser. I couldn't finish it. It annoying and not going anywhere. I couldn't stand Louis treatment of Teela. I made it to Louis and the gangs first meeting with the inhabitants.
The only redeeming portion of the book was the gangs arrival to Ringworld.

message 8: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
It's kind of a relief to find out I'm not the only one who didn't see what the big deal was here.

message 9: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1348 comments I tried, it did get interesting when they arrived and investigated the ring from the outside. But everything the came before and the few pages after was a chore to read. Very disappointing

message 10: by Kevin (last edited Nov 15, 2011 07:12PM) (new)

Kevin Xu (kxu65) | 372 comments Wow, I just can't believe that most people are saying that the book is a big waste of time and disappointing. Basically many did not like the book's idea, so some may even have finished the book.

message 11: by Ken (new)

Ken (ogi8745) | 1348 comments Kevin, the books idea was amazing. A mysterious ring. Amazing. He had some pretty cool ideas. Unfortunately Niven couldn't pull it off.
This was a chore to read. Louis was such an ass. Tessa was a child. She is 20 for crying out loud. I get that she had no idea of danger but she wasn't 10 years old.
I liked Nessus. Speaker, set up to be a tough guy but whenever anyone pushed him back he took it.

message 12: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jennyc89) | 127 comments It was different than I was expecting. The description on the back of the book made it sound like they were going to Earthers on Ringworld. I thought the luck thing was kind of cool, but Louis' thoughts on Teela were annoying. I also think Louis was pretty pompous.

message 13: by Theresa (new)

Theresa (gossamerchild) You know what I found the most annoying? Just when Teela was beginning to actually BECOME a human (or at least somebody with a personality-man, was she annoying!), he got rid of her. Convenient, I must say, to then replace her with a sex slave. Yeah, most of my beef was the dated feeling of the writing. Not a lot of feminism, or solid female characterization to keep my attention for very long. Made me think of my (perhaps mistaken) perception of Westerns and why I don't read or watch them. That being said, I did finish it and really found the concept to be amazing.

message 14: by Jim (last edited Dec 05, 2011 04:10PM) (new)

Jim Mcclanahan (clovis-man) | 480 comments Coming late to the discussion (I AM a card carrying member of Thread Killers Anonymous), I have to say that I am struck by the number of negative reactions which seem to me to be largely a result of the novel's age. From 1970 to now is more than 40 years and much in the world view of current authors is vastly different. So, in some ways, Ringworld is as antiquated as Starship Troopers or War of the Worlds. I first read it sometime in the first decade of its existence. My current re-read revealed that I have forgotten an astounding amount of the tale.

Characters: Louis Wu is almost an Ishmael. He is more a note keeper than a protagonist. Nessus is the catalyst behind most of what takes place, including the human breeding program for luck (a way to keep the Puppeteers safer) and the domestication of the Kzin. All with an eye toward ensuring a smooth future for Nessus and his even more paranoid kin. Teela Brown Is pretty much a cardboard cut-out and it only took me a few pages to come up with the "How lucky is she if she ended up on this mission" awareness. Of course, she proves to be lucky to the nth degree, which disturbs everyone in the group. Prill is an add-on who doesn't serve much of a purpose except to fill in some of the late Ringworld history. In the "natives", I found myself comparing them to the fuzzy headed little critturs in the locker ala Men In Black II: "All hail J!"

The hard SF credenntials of the story are a different matter. The concept of a manufactured world which requires all the raw materials from several worlds and the abandonment of all of them is intriguing. The conclusion that entropy is inevitable because the engineers put all their eggs in one basket is, perhaps disappointing, but logical.

Maybe the Ringworld was built by the Krell (just before they gave it all up).

An interesting book to revisit. Some features stand the test of time fairly well. Others don't. But I'm not sure it's fair to condemn it just because it's out of date.

message 15: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 57 comments Jim wrote: "An interesting book to revisit. Some features stand the test of time fairly well. Others don't. But I'm not sure it's fair to condemn it just because it's out of date."

Niven doesn't age well. We all agree on that. However, I think he doesn't age well because the SF community has gotten more sophisticated and not because SF itself was clunky in 1970. There was an awful lot of great SF written before then that was not clunky. Ray Bradbury and Robert A Heinlein come to mind. I really think we have to fess up here and say that Niven is regarded as classic because we, as fans, just didn't care about characterization and subtlety in 1970.

Personally, I thought this book was just okay. Some people are defending it as a hard SF entry, but I didn't find the science to be hard enough to seem real or engaging. It was just good enough to give them a big ring to run around on, and then the stuff that happened on the ring was only moderately interesting.

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