On Our Bookshelves: Ringworld

NOVEL: Ringworld

AUTHOR: Larry Niven


If your planet is running out of resources, you dump it and search for a more bountiful replacement, right?  Selfish thought, but quite natural.

And if you manage to spot a likely substitute world, you’d probably go on a field trip to check it out first, wouldn’t you?  If you can afford the space travel, that is…

And if you receive a carte blanche sponsorship for your quest, sort of like what Christopher Columbus did, who would you bring along?  Someone brave, someone smart and someone fit, physically and mentally at least (financially aside, of course).  Maybe, by luck or by design, you will pick up someone “useful” along the way.

This is pretty much the set-up for Larry Niven’s legendary 1970 science fiction classic, “Ringworld,” which earned him the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel.

“Ringworld” follows the exploits of a three-legged “Puppeteer” alien, a tiger-face humanoid and a pair of Earthlings who are looking for the next homeland for the endangered Puppeteer species.

What the merry party finds is an abandoned, artificially-made structure with crisp, fresh air, clean water, clear sky, abundant vegetation, and, above all, almost an unlimited supply of flat, undeveloped land.

But their real adventure only begins after they set foot on this distant world.

“Ringworld” has a straightforward plot – and  may not be the ideal bedtime reading for hardcore real estate developers – but it has enough to satiate the imagination of most science and engineering geeks with mind-boggling concepts like Dyson spheres, Lagrangian points,  and other space-age ideas that have since become part of popular culture.

The moral of this sci-fi story? When it comes to survival, it’s luck that counts.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Five Whistles.



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