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Ringworld

Narrated by: Tom Parker
Series: Known Space, Book 12, Ringworld, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins
4 out of 5 stars (6,405 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Welcome to Ringworld, an intermediate step between Dyson Spheres and planets. Ninety-three million miles in radius - the equivalent of one Earth orbit or 600 miles long - 1,000 meters thick, and much sturdier than a Dyson sphere.

What other advantages are there to this world? The gravitational force created by a rotation on its axis of 770 miles per second means no need for a roof. Walls 1,000 miles high at each rim will let in the sun and prevent much air from escaping.

Larry Niven's novel, Ringworld, is the winner of the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1970 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1972 Ditmars, an Australian award for Best International Science Fiction.

©1970 Larry Niven (P)1996 Blackstone Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Genuinely Creative

First the bad news: The book is not world altering, life changing, deep, or otherwise valuable. It is occasionally insightful, but is primarily a romp through a novel and creative universe. As a romp it is first rate.

Niven is excellent at creating novel concepts. He avoids nearly all of the cliches of space-based science fiction. His aliens are first rate, they are truly alien in both form and behavior. His universe has some creative twists, all of which are carefully thought out and explaind to the reader. Niven has a good grasp of the basic concepts of science, technology and engineering. While some of his ideas are fantastic, none of them are laughable.

The plot is well crafted. There are few, if any, loose ends, and only a few minor inconsitencies. All the twists and turns make sense, once you hear them. He avoids the infamous "non-sequitor plot twist."

The voice acting is also quite good. The reader avoids both monotony and over-acting, making it a pleasure, not a chore, to listen to.

All in all this is one of the best quality books I've downloaded.

148 of 153 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Still Worth Listening 40 Years Later!

My husband has been telling me about Ringworld for about 10 years now, so when I saw it available on Auidble, I was excited to hear this book, which stuck with him since his teen years. This book is super unique and creative. It doesn't feel dated at all. I also found it to be a very different kind of Sci Fi book, as much about the characters and their personal curiosities as it is about the RingWorld itself.

This is not a rock 'em sock 'em space war sci fi book - it's much more cerebral and about the characters from three different species trying to relate to each other while they learn the secrets of the RingWorld.

My ONLY problem with this book was that it ended rather abruptly! I guess I have to listen to the next in the series. But this book is definitely worth the listen and totally earned it's Hugo!

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not a

I chose this book because I like science fiction, and Ringworld appears to have stood the test of time.

This book didn't exactly inspire me to want to listen to it all in one sitting, but it had enough of consistency and realism that it didn't get dull or boring either.

The strengths of Ringworld are that the framework of the universe in which it takes place is well fleshed-out, the history is developed enough to establish a backdrop for the story, the characters seem internally consistent, and the alien races don't just seem to be "humans with funny ears". Each race has their own motivations, goals, and unique characteristics, and that all combines well to propel the story line forward in a logical and consistent manner.

The primary weakness of Ringworld, in my mind, is that the story isn't exactly compelling reading. Things happen, but there aren't the plot twists, epic struggles, and so on that typically make up a piece of sci-fi....this book flows more like a historical narrative. The ending also left me feeling like there should be more; it just didn't finish well.

That all being said, it's a great book for people who like a more technical science fiction. I am definitely going to be exploring Niven's other Ringworld books. If, however, you're looking for the proverbial "page-turner", I don't think Ringworld is for you.

44 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A great listen and worth the "read".

This is one of the first audible books that I had purchased and listened to. I'd heard about this book being in the top 20 lists of many Sci-Fi fans, and decided it was time to give it a listen on Audible. I was not disappointed. The reader is one of the best. It was very easy to discern amongst the many characters because of his changes in his narration. In my minds eye, I could vividly imagine being aboard with Tila and Speaker to Animals, and could see what they looked like, even when someone gets "burned". Great stuff. I would highly recommend this to any Sci-Fi, as well as Audiblefiles must have list.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Big ideas in a grand setting

Orignally posted at FanLit

In 2850 AD, Louis Wu is at his 200th birthday party and thinking about how bored he is. The world has become homogeneous — everyone on Earth uses the same language, everything is available everywhere, and all the cities have lost their unique flavor. Life is dull. That’s why Louis Wu is a perfect candidate for the alien Nessus (a Pierson’s Puppeteer) who wants to take a manned spaceship to explore a strange phenomenon in space.

Nessus also recruits a Kzin named Speaker-to-Animals who is a feline alien from a warlike culture, and the beautiful 20-year-old human woman named Teela Brown that Louis Wu has been sleeping with. She’s so silly that at first it’s not clear what she offers the mission other than good looks, “conical breasts,” a giggle soundtrack, and sexual gratification for Louis Wu (this is something I hate about science fiction written by men in the 1960s), but later we discover that Nessus knows that Teela Brown has lucky genes and he thinks having her along will make the voyage lucky.

When the group stops off at the Puppeteer planet, they learn about their mission. They will investigate the Ringworld. Photos from space show that it looks like a blue ribbon arranged around a star. It’s about the size of the Earth’s orbit around the sun and it’s obviously artificial. The living area inside the ring provides about three times the Earth’s surface area, there’s gravity due to the ring’s centripetal force, and day and light cycles are created by shading the sun with huge panels. (Find the physics of Ringworld here.) The mission seeks to discover who created the Ringworld, why they created it, and whether they’re friendly or threatening.

Ringworld is a high concept novel and I generally love high concept novels. Ringworld has big ideas in a grand setting. Images of Ringworld will stay with me forever. Unfortunately, the characters are dull and the actual action in Ringworld would fill only a few pages. While I wanted to explore and experiment on Ringworld, the characters were usually discussing, bickering, arguing, and philosophizing. Some of this was interesting, such as the discovery that the Puppeteers were covertly performing genetics experiments on other species, the contemplation of what factors might make civilizations rise and fall (cycles of culture and barbarism is also a theme in the last Niven book I read, The Mote in God’s Eye). But much of it was teachy as characters spent too much time explaining evolution, genetics, meteorology, geology, and the physics and mathematics of the shape of orbits, velocities, heat transfer, and tensile strength. Worse, some discussion topics that started out interesting became repetitive and tiresome, especially the philosophical discussions about Teela’s luck which kept coming up and lasting too long.

I love Larry Niven’s big ideas and I know he can write really exciting science fiction even if he can’t write decent female characters. Ringworld is a great idea that gets obliterated by dull characters and too much talking. (Yet it won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and Locus Award.) There are several prequels and sequels to Ringworld in Larry Niven’s RINGWORLD and KNOWN SPACE universes. I listened to Blackstone Audio’s production which was nicely narrated by Tom Parker.

33 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Audible Echos

As far as the story goes, the Ringworld universe is a fascinating place. Unfortunately, Niven doesn't invest as much time into his character interaction as he does into the back story.

On the technical side, there is a definite, annoying ghost echo of the narrator's voice, lagging about a second behind. It's distracting and disappointing to say the least, and something that Audible could fix by running a simple audio filter on it.

The book is a must-read for any science fiction fan; however, its rich descriptions might be better served in their original book form. I often found myself wanting to skip back a few seconds and listen again to certain passages. Still, if you can't find the book, getting the audio book is definitely worth it.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent!

A most excellent story! Well developed, interesting characters, great storyline and a great concept. I've now noticed there is a whole "Ringworld" series and I hope Audible gets the rest. I would love to revisit the most interesting Ringworld. My only problem was the odd rather truncated ending. I think a few more plot points needed to be completed before he ended it like he did.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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BREEDING FOR LUCK

YOU CAN LEARN A LOT ABOUT A WORLD, BY LOOKING AT IT'S UNDERSIDE
You must keep in mind that this was published in 1970. It was an excellent book for the time. If you want to say you are a sci-fi lover, than you must do your homework and Niven and this book with The Integral Trees is a most. Even reading it today, you have to be amazed by the size and scope of this artificial world. It was a million miles across. The United States is around 3 thousand miles across. Niven uses a lot of math, but not to the point where the common layman gets lost. Today this is still an interesting read.

YING AND YANG FRIENDSHIP
I thought their was good character development in this book. I especially liked the Puppeteer and the Kzin. These were interesting characters and they added much to the story. I will admit that before it was over I was ready for it to end. Part of that reason maybe because I have read it multiple times. Today's young reader may not be as excited about it as we were in the 70's, but I believe they will still enjoy it.

42 of 54 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A thought-provoking adventure

The novel is based around travelling to and investigating a mysterious artificial world. While the ring world would seem to be the focus of the book and was, in fact, quite interesting I found that it was the, more or less, related ideas that made the story sing.

There are three intelligent species in the novel. They are quite simplistic in nature in that the Puppeteers are excessively cautious and fearful but very intelligent, the Kzin are (or were) ultra-aggressive and the humans are in between. But there are interesting caveats to these such as the only ambassadors of the Puppeteers are those that are considered by their own race to be insane because only such a one would brave close contact with such unpredictable species. Or the much discussed evolution of the Kzin toward a more reasoned nature.

The most fascinating facet of the novel to me was the discussions regarding the nature of luck that suffuse the story throughout. Earth has a complex system of laws controlling reproduction wherein each human has the right to one child and more can be won through various means such as purchase, arena combat, exceptional genes, etc., but the salient of which is by lottery. The laws in themselves are intriguing but it gets really fascinating when one human crew member is chosen because her ancestors up to 5 generations back have been lottery winners and this woman has led a particularly lucky existence thus far. The Puppeteer believes she has been bred for psychic luck via the lottery while the other human argues it is simply the far end of a probability curve. Someone out of billions of people was bound to have ended up lucky in most things even if their odds were no better than anyone else and they won't have any better odds than anyone else in the future either. Either could be right and what starts as an interesting speculative argument becomes all the more entertaining and complex as the truth is revealed. I won't ruin the magic but it's quite brilliant.

The listener will also be treated to many more mysteries and audacious ideas such as the history of the ring world and its people, conspiracies of the man and Kzin wars, future tech, traveling planets, and exploding galaxies.

The narrator was mediocre. All of the voices sound pretty much the same with the only differentiation being more or less enthusiasm or gruffness but no truly different accents or anything. He did, however, do a good job relaying the character's emotions and only the narration (not the dialogue) was monotonic.

IN SUMMARY, this is a quirky and thought-provoking adventure in the same vein as Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or Dimension of Miracles that anyone who enjoys scifi should consider worth a listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Discovery SciFi

I envisioned this book being a whole lot different coming into it. Some things like character interactions and the imaginative descriptions of worlds I liked a whole lot. While other concepts, like luck, seemed a little too silly for the rationals presented. But overall this was an unique experience and I was sufficiently drawn through with the characters presented. The ending was a little abrupt and I feel it demands a look into the sequel (which there are numerous provided).

This is an exploratory, classic, science fiction novel. We are introduced with our protagonist, Louis Wu, who is a 200 year old human. Due to the "spice" he is in the best condition of his life and has the body of a 20 year old. In the beginning he is confronted by an alien called a Puppeteer with a proposal to explore a far away world and gain his species a new space drive that could inevitably mean the salvation of his planet. The puppeteer called Nessus also recruits two other beings to the expedition. An alien named Kzin (known as the speaker) is an ambassador to Earth and is known to be from a race of warriors. The third traveler is a human woman named Teela Brown who is oddly picked for her candidacy due to her luck. If that sounds strange to you now then later when the author, Larry Niven, repeatedly brings up that luck is a powerful (almost magical) force, well, it got kind of tiring for me.

So, all four travelers set off to this strange planet and find themselves in more trouble than they had bargained. Each character has their own motives and this companionship is very tentative. The interactions between characters is what helps move the book along. They make the story interesting, but there seems to be more talk and reasoning through plots that unfold in the worlds adventured than actual action. A main theme Larry Niven tries to explore is the abuses of power and how it can make one feel god like when such decisions made can effect so many. We are introduced to various alien cultures and I really enjoyed the descriptions of future technologies, Earth, and other alien planets.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • aeromys
  • 07-21-15

Vast

The immensities of this structure never fail to amaze me, and Niven's story telling is a gentle introduction into the pure physics of its construction. Fascinating.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Celtic Exile
  • 07-10-13

Never run out of space again

What can be said about Ringworld that has not been said a thousand times before. The tale of how a rag tag band of people are selected by a mad member of paranoid reclusive alien race to travel to a distant part of the universe to 'see what's there'. This is a reflective book, interested in discussing theoretical concepts about the evolving nature of existence. The reason you have never seen the film of Ringworld is because the book is about ideas not action. Where a lot of things do happen then they are more a framework for discussing why we are who we are and what got us to where we are right now. Many of the concepts are so bizarre by modern standards such as transparent ship hulls and pleasure induced control devices but where The Ringworld is the setting it is the characters and their journey that is the tale to tell here. Some people have called this book boring and the characters unlikeable but this is a slow moving, reflective tale of the human condition as seen by a not always benevolent outsider. This book will make you think, it cannot fail to if you let it into your mind and imagine the possibilities that you can consider from the crew of The Liar.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Matt
  • 01-25-10

Superb

This is my first audio book from Audible and I have to say I'm really impressed. The narration was good, the story decent, and overall I'd really recommend this book.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ad
  • 05-16-16

A classic of science fiction

Over 40 years later, ringworld still remains relevant, intriguing and thought provoking. A great pillar of science fiction which has inspired scores of other stories and films since.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pierre
  • 02-22-11

Ringworld

Hate the accent of the narrator. The story is my absolute favourite. I really enjoyed listening to this.

I have enjoyed this so much I have planned books for the next 12 months.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-17-19

Great classic Sci-fi novel

great classic sci-fi novel. it's certainly more interested in the 'hard sci-fi' elements rather than character and story but that's not to say it lacks in the later two elements.
the performance is good but seems a little dated. world strongly recommend though

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Synaptyx
  • 03-29-17

A product of the 50s, written in 1970.

The author's attitude to women and sexual politics is extremely hard to take in 2017. Interesting premise and enjoyable story otherwise. The narrator is initially grating, but I got used to him. I don't think I'd seek out more of the narrator's work, but am interested in the rest of the Ringworld series.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-27-19

Wildly creative! 10/10

This is my first true science fiction novel. I read the Dune trilogy but there was no focus on science / technology in that so I would categorize it more as fantasy. Ringworld, on the other hand, was great! The science ideas were very interesting and not too far fetched, and there were some insightful thought experiments in the book as well. I would like to see movies/ video games set in this universe.

Overall the book was very well-written, and the storyline was interesting and well-paced. I’d say the greatest feature was the author’s creativity. I intend to read more books set in this universe in the future

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • AudiobookDevotee
  • 07-12-19

Middle of the road meets overlong prose.

This book is fairly slow going but if I hadn't made notes I might have forgotten it. This book is about exploring the "Ringworld" yet of the 12 or so hours it takes four and a half to even reach the planet. It took 8 1/2 hours before all the story set-up was finished.

The character dialogue started out very stilted but did improve over time. I'm not sure if this was intentional to make some kind of statement about the characters' growth or just bad writing.

Having said that, all of the cast are different species which are largely defined by one trait. This makes them all a bit simplistic and two dimensional. These species also seem... unrealistic... which is an odd criticism for Sci-Fi but I think valid.

While the concept is interesting and the humour good in parts, the carefree use of unknown technical words (often explained) does start to drag a bit.

Apparently, people can also fall madly in love with each other in two days. This is somewhat explained later but still seems mad. All the relationships read like someone who's never been in a relationship trying to make shit up.

Finally, the narration was mediocre. i.e: Nessus said in a flat voice. (Oh crap, that was meant to be flat) Change voice to too flat then "blah blah").

2/5 would not re-read or do prequels/sequels. You can read this without having read prequels.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • David Howard
  • 12-23-18

Good book but dated.

This series was one of my favourite reads, however it is a bit dated in 2018

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-25-18

Amazing

Great story. Even after 45+ years it is still relevant. A must read from sifi fans

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • josh
  • 08-31-16

LN's imagination for syfi is truly wonderful

loved it. short and sweet. leaves you wanting more. . . . . . .

1 of 2 people found this review helpful