Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Larry Niven : "Ringworld" review

This is a strange one : I read it first in 1970 and loved it : A whole new, strange, wonderful BIG new world to explore.

Coming back to it now, it's still entertaining in a shallow way : it reads like, and feels like, an episodic TV series with a new peril every episode, or perhaps an RPG : A defined party with racial & other characteristic differences built in (Speaker, my favourite character, could be Worf or Teal'c) have to explore a potentially infinite alien world/artifact, with limited chances of ever surviving or making it back home.

The major theme of breeding for defined characteristics (lucky human, docile kzin) is uncomfortable from 2006, but to be fair, the punchline on Teela's luck only occurs in "Ringworld Engineers" and I will say no more.

The Ringworld itself must stand as one of SF's better attempts at a BDO story: along wirh Rama. From the view of hindsight, the writing, especially the character development, could have been much improved.

Random species (Slavers, Outsiders) exist only to provide technology or creatures or move the plot along. (I know there is more information in the rest of LN's "Tales of known Space")

I enjoyed revisiting the Ringworld, but ended up unsatisfied as the book wasn't as good as I remembered. This could be partly my fault as I have just reluctantly emerged from the end of "Jonathan Strange" : a novel you can live in. I will read "Ringworld Engineers" again. in the hope that that will work better._________________

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