My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine; (fortunately) everybody drinks water. - Mark Twain
Lack good memorable characters. I have read Niven books that had much more endearing characters.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I guess I'm glad I finally got around to reading this. I can't help feeling I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was younger.
There are some genuinely interesting ideas here. The key one being how to construct a vastly larger world than Earth on which we could still function. The parts where Niven explores how this world would differ from our own show some serious thought. We can ignore the technical difficulties such as how to keep it in a stable orbit.
The characters were marginally interesting, although in fairness I do have to note that recent sci-fi shows all seem to have similar conglomerations of personalities so maybe Niven deserves credit for being so influential. All the same I couldn't get especially invested in any of their supposed agendas. Why is it that alien races all have to be so simplistically monolithic in their interests, personalities, and outlooks?
There seems to be a recurring interest in granting human beings increased longevity while maintaining the physical bodies of the young. I suppose this is very appealing to the core audience for this kind of book. What is baffling is that these very old humans seem to have no acquired wisdom, judgment, skill set, or cultural depth that would correspond to this increase in lifespan.
Where the book really let me down was in the absence of any kind of compelling story. I kept waiting for a plot to develop, but it was just a basic adventure story pasted onto a very thin excuse to motivate the action. Niven fans will no doubt take me to task for overlooking the very compelling reasons these alien races had for undertaking this mission, but as I said the imaginary forces working on imaginary races using imaginary technology just doesn't excite me.
Still, this is an acknowledged sci-fi classic and spawned a series of other books exploring the premise, so it must be appealing to someone out there.
Obviously inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's 'Rendezvous With Rama', with a dash of stock Babylon-Star-Trek-Wars alien characters.
Some interesting concepts folded in, such as luck, and some obligatory Robert Heinlein casual sex, but the story ultimately amounts to a proverbial fly-over.
So much description, so little significance.
Really interesting science fiction, but the story around the science fiction is atrocious and paper thin. The four companions on the journey are so 2 dimensional to almost be laughable with the dashing older Earthman and his completely incompetent barely legal Earthwoman, an overly cautious Vulcan-esque being with less personality and a Klingon-esque Catman who wants to fight fight fight. They are all set up in very contrived dialogue that enables the author to use them as mouthpieces for his thought experiments in sci-fi. All that said, the thought experiment is compelling and worthwhile. Just prepare yourself to read the material that Douglas Adams lampooned so brilliantly in Hitchiker's.
I might give it a shot, but not for a while
salesman, authoritative, disinterested
YES because they would have to update it out of necessity. The science fiction is still good, but the story could use a good going over.
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
Ringworld was obviously good when it came out 44 years ago, but it doesn't have that timeless quality that some other dated novels have. I did not care much for the characters, the dialogue, and the whole bit about luck. I did like some of the ideas presented like the construction of the ring and the rationale for why things are the way the are. Overall, it was OK.
Yes, because Niven has a knack for storytelling. And make no mistake, it is a great story. Is it great literature? No. There is no significant character arc. Louis Wu may be iconic, but he does not really change. And that's a shame.
The interplay among Wu, the Puppeteer and the Kzin. And, of course, Ringworld itself is an amazing setting to immerse yourself in.
I don't think I would recommend this book to a friend. I've listened to this book twice (many years apart) and both times I came away from it feeling the same way about, it was only so-so and very confusing.
I have just started "Into The Black - Odyssey One" by Evan Currie, as Ringworld did not quench my thirst for a great Sci-Fi.
I don't know that it was worth the time it took to listen to it to just verify what I had originally thought was a mediocre tale. I did however feel that as I have grown up maybe my understand of the world in general would allow me to give this book a more fair shake with a different perspective a second time around. (It would be good to note that I originally listened to the story from the audio library of a local library, so the tapes were worn and scratchy). I had thought that the jumps in the story was the fault of the age of the tapes and that they may have been rolled or "repaired" over time, as it turns out the story is just that spotty.
The story was too disjointed. Being that this is book 1 of a series I would expect it to reveal lots of information to help the universe come into existence in the reader/listeners mind. This book didn't explain as much as I would like it to. I genuinely feel like the author had wanted to write several different tales and then just tried to glue them together in this fantastical place, the Ringworld (as a concept the Ringworld would be a great place of adventures to occur).
Maybe I just missed it being explained or I may not be smart enough to put it together myself: The story goes from being an investigation of an anomalous object in space to that of a quest for a character to find their humanity or to become more "normal" in a very abrupt fashion. While we follow the character of Louis Wu he magically comes up with revelations but doesn't explain his thought processes in getting to his conclusion, however he does explain the answer to his companions to a question we as readers didn't even know was asked or what the question was.
-- WARNING SPOILER -- (problems in the continuity)
An example of a huge leap of understand was when Louis Wu described Halrloprillalar (Prill) as a ships whore, think companion from the Firefly TV series as opposed to the shady underbelly of society. In the context he appears to be accusing her of something and she took it as a compliment, turns out that really was her function, but no time earlier did we ever get a hint that was what she was. The whole thing just felt out of place, maybe that is the best way I can describe the entire book, everything just feels disconnected and out of place.
-- END SPOILER --
I am open to the possibility that the whole thing would make more sense if I had more knowledge of Niven's "Known Space" universe before getting into this particular series of his books. He had written lots of works from 1964 to 1968 before releasing Ringworld in 1970 (those dates according to wikipedia, so my information may be wrong) which I have never read or listened to.
If you like Niven yes. I probably will not read the other books in the series .
Yes I have read other books by him that I enjoyed.
In the top quartile
When the scale of the Ringworld was conveyed.
I listened to this one purely because I'd never read it, and it seemed like a gap in my sci-fi background ... It's well worth a listen, though elements of the plot may perhaps be considered a little cheesy today.