Book Review: Ringworld - Larry Niven

Published: July 2019

3.5 - Stars

My book review policy

I’ve always loved the imagination and the scope of this book. I think this is the second or third time I’ve read it.

The Ringworld just sounds majestic. It does make me wish we got a little more description of the world itself though. Niven seems more interested in the function of his ideas rather than their grandeur and that makes me a little sad. I kept waiting for this word-painting of the Ringworld to be splashed across the canvas of my mind. But it never really happened.

I feel like this happens to the narrative as well. The plot was interesting and inventive and the characters seem like they have so much potential. But the story just didn’t grip me in the way that a lot of other books do.

Again I think this comes back to perhaps the reason behind Niven’s writing. In many ways, I feel like his books are just the vehicle for big ideas and the story is a second class citizen. Whether it be the Ringworld itself or the interesting alien races that he’s created in the Puppeteers or the Kzin the actors and settings in the book have so many cool attributes that their personalities seem flat.

Even Louis Wu, who I really enjoyed at the beginning of the book, seems to flatten out as it progresses. His relationship with Teela seems forced and weird to me.

Overall though you can’t discredit the sheer inventiveness in the book. The Ringworld universe and all its races and characters are certainly different and complex. I just wish they had more interesting personalities.

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Rob Skidmore writes science fiction stories about being human.

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