• Ringworld

  • By: Larry Niven
  • Narrated by: Tom Parker
  • Length: 11 hrs and 15 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (8,544 ratings)
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Ringworld  By  cover art

Ringworld

By: Larry Niven
Narrated by: Tom Parker
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Publisher's summary

Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel, Ringworld remains a favorite among science fiction readers and listeners.

The artifact is a vast circular ribbon of matter, some 180 million miles across, with a sun at its center. Pierson’s puppeteers—strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens—discovered this “Ringworld” in a hitherto unexplored part of the galaxy. Curious about the immense structure, but frightened by the prospect of meeting the builders, they set about assembling a team to explore it:

Louis Wu, human—old and bored with having lived too fully for too many years, seeking an adventure, and all too capable of handling it.

Nessus, puppeteer—a trembling coward from a species with an inbuilt survival pattern of nonviolence. This particular puppeteer, however, is insane.

Speaker-to-Animals, kzin—large, orange-furred, and carnivorous. The kzin are one of the most savage life-forms known.

The party’s expedition, however, goes disastrously wrong when their ship crash-lands and its motley crew faces a daunting trek across thousands of miles of Ringworld territory.

©1970 Larry Niven (P)1996 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about Ringworld

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,791
  • 4 Stars
    2,761
  • 3 Stars
    1,434
  • 2 Stars
    394
  • 1 Stars
    164
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    3,455
  • 4 Stars
    2,092
  • 3 Stars
    809
  • 2 Stars
    176
  • 1 Stars
    67
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,048
  • 4 Stars
    2,014
  • 3 Stars
    1,070
  • 2 Stars
    338
  • 1 Stars
    153

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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.

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195 people found this 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.

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73 people found this 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!

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57 people found this helpful

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

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.

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44 people found this helpful

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

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40 people found this 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.

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27 people found this 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.

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19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Story

I read this some 3 years back, so I don't remember all of the details, but I found the book to be the type of thing I enjoy from a science fiction book: entertaining, possessing strong characters, smart plot, and mixed with interesting technical details.

It was a little long at times, but the overall effect was very good.

The story took me took me to the "ring world".

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Ringed Disappointment

I'm 51 so I grew up in the golden era of the Hugo and Nebula awards. Ringworld was always on my list of books I wanted to read but never quite got to. When it was recommended on a recent TWIT podcast, I snapped up the audio book to fill that old omission. Now I wish I hadn't.

Yes, I am older now with a more critical mind, but Ringworld suffers from a couple of flaws of its own making. First, it hasn't aged well. Characters refer to technology that was very much an artifact of the 1960's and 70's. "Tapes" are a good example. Even if the listener mentally updates the technology used, parts of the story fall flat because we already have better solutions. I've written just enough scifi to appreciate how hard it is to predict future tech, but Ringworld feels "phoned in."

The greater difficulty I have with Ringworld is that Niven ends up turning Luck into a controling deity with free will being an illusion. Ok, that is a hypothesis to be made, but Niven never does. His climatic resolution drives the reader right up to the cliff's edge and then strands him there. Quite annoying.

I realize Audible has Ringworld Children, but I'm not sure I could stomach Teela's "luck" another microsecond!

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13 people found this helpful

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

How did this win an award? (Spoilers)

The author only had one decent idea in the entire book, the ringworld. The characters had as much depth as a piece of cardboard, from the big warrior cat obsessed with honor, the intelligent alien who goes into panic attacks at the first sign of danger, and the woman that is either having sex at the drop of a hat or getting herself into danger from her own ineptitude. The beginning of the story is decent enough with the introduction of characters, but these characters quickly become tiresome with page after page of questionable decisions. Teela Browns character is written so poorly is comes off as insulting. This reads like a young adult novel from the 50's except for the awkward sex scenes that happen way too often The characters in the book are on a hostile alien world but cant help but have sex out in the open every five minutes. The author had a wonderful opportunity to fill his ringworld with anything really, he chose to have natives who think they are gods (twice for some reason) and deadly sunflowers. If you have read the title of the book you have already gotten past the best part, dont read this unless you are a glutton for bad sci-fi.

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12 people found this helpful