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.
Totally uninteresting characters. Pointless narrative. Some say this is more about the science than the characters. However, I find a story lacking without characters that are interesting or at least doing something interesting. I was so un-enthralled with the story that I frequently found myself not paying attention. But I listened to the end to find out what happened and Spoiler Alert?? nothing happened. The only reason I did not return the book is because I did listen to the end.
As to the narrator, again quite uninteresting. Unlike better narrators, his characters all spoke in so nearly the same voice that it was difficult at times to determine who was speaking. But not the worst narrator, by far, so gave him a middling three stars.
The pacing was great. Solid science.
The Ringworld itself took on an aspect of character, mysterious and consistent.
Exploration of the Ring World, the logic and dimensions of the thing made is surprisingly viable.
"We were never alone..."
Good science fiction, interesting characters that consistently reflect an evolved societies world view. Exploration and trial. A perfect example of the heroic journey without the heavy handed tropes of typical "space opera" or contemporary fiction.
"I'll be a story in your head, but that's OK. We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? The Doctor
First, I love Tom Parker/Grover Gardner reading anything! He brings such life into anything he reads. His different voices for the characters, is distinguishable, but not oddly so. I find some narrators try to make the voices so different that it is distracting or seems like they are trying too hard. Especially when attempting different genders. Parker/Gardner lulls me into the story like no other.
Despite my 3 stars I actually liked the story of Ringworld. Audible should break down rating into “story” and “characters”. The story I enjoyed. A little adventure in space… What could be better?
I should always consider the publication year when I read books (or never consider anything by B V Larson). Sometimes, not frequently, I run into what I like to call the “Madmen” phenomena: Stories set, or written in a time where women who are just there to be pretty and have “relations” with the men. This story was a bit like that.
Poor pitiful Teela too unadventurous to have ever left her world, falls in “love” , and like a puppy, follows a man across the universe. Then her naiveté puts her in danger constantly (you know, because she is a silly women) and her over-dramatic behavior has her crying all the time (SUCK IT UP), and her feeling are hurt constantly. What this!.... she falls in “love” again in a mere week! Silly women and their unformed brains, unable to be in anyway alone or independent! We should use them as chattel! At the end did she grow as a person?...NOPE! She again decides to follow a random man on his adventure. I would have just as soon left her out.
Everyone else I liked… Louis was a little “madmen” for having a 20 year old girl-friend. Plus I would have thought he would have better taste than the insipid, whinny little Teela. Nessus and Speaker where interesting counterpoints to each other. I enjoyed their argument quite a lot.
All in all, not a bad read.
Such a memorable book but I almost gave up. I started this audio book several times and had a hard time "grabbing hold" of what was going on. Maybe it was a little "too sci-fi" for me or maybe Tom Parker just wasn't dynamic enough to help me picture it, but it was really hard to keep names, places, and all the future technologies sorted in my mind.
I persevered and was glad I did. The scale of the story is epic and I couldn't believe that when it was over, I immediately considered continuing with Niven's next book in the timeline.
It's that strange book that you can really enjoy but is still hard to recommend. Listen to the sample and if you don't think you can spend 11 hours with Parker, get the paperback.
I'm not sure if it's the story or the performance, but I don't care what happens to these characters. Listening to the book is a way to pass the time, nothing more.
Tom Parker seems to pause for a second (or even two) between sentences. I like the story, and Tom's voice, but the pauses started driving me nutty.
Thankfully, Audible allows books to be returned so try giving it a read. Maybe it's just me.