Sunday 9 December 2012

Ringworld - Larry Niven

Louis has left his own party celebrating his 200th birthday. He is bored and is thinking that it might be time to take one of his own adventures. As he contemplates this as he travels round Earth he somehow ends up in a room with a Puppeteer, an alien everyone believed had disappeared a long time ago. The Puppeteer, Nessus, has a task for Louis. He wants him to travel to a sun which has a metal ring constructed around it. The Puppeteers are a fearful race and they want him to find out if it will be a threat. Along with Speaker (a Kzin) and Louis' 29 year old girlfriend, Teela, they head out. There Louis and friends meet the unexpected and the strange. A world constructed by unknown beings and filled with plants and animals from other worlds.

I have to say that this wasn't my favourite sci fi book  that I have ever read. Having said that the more time passes the more favourably I look on it. My thoughts at the time were that it was far too simply written. I was expecting a piece of classic sci fi. What I got was something that was almost written for children (if you take out the discussions on mating). The dialogue and the language itself was very simple. On the plus side it did make it for an easy read and it made the technological aspects of it easier to take (for those who don't like the technobabble).

We all know that in sci fi and fantasy we have to sometimes take things with a pinch of salt or to just let reality go. I could do that with a metal world constructed round a sun with it's own oceans and mountains. I could do that with an alien race called Puppeteers (although it turns out that name is quite apt). I could do that with a 200 year old man having a relationship with a 20 year old (that really isn't new when you read Peter F. Hamilton). I could do that with sunflowers which store up sunlight and shoot at anything that moves. What I found difficult to take was that the human race had evolved luck. A lottery in place to allow people to have a second child (for population control) has meant that those who win it are lucky and this luck grows as it is passed genetically on to their children. That had me almost wanting to through the book across the room.

Glad I didn't though as I did enjoy the four characters travelling across the Ringworld. This part of the book was an interesting plotline. Ringworld is clearly a technological marvel however society has broken down on it. It makes for an interesting read. I also liked the interaction between the four characters and any of the people they found on Ringworld. People who have forgotten that their ancestors created the world they live on.

I do have to defend it a little from one review. I read one that said that they found it very sexist in terms of the relationship between Louis and Teela. I can see how they came to feel that but it wasn't the impression I got. Human's now have access to longevity treatment and so age differences in relationships don't matter so much. Like I mentioned earlier this really isn't new. Peter F. Hamilton and other authors have done something similar in their books. I also don't think Teela was portrayed as just a silly young girl. She said came across as just as intelligent and actually seemed to get things far faster than some of the others. I think that the point the author was trying to get across is that she is young with no responsibilities other than to enjoy everything out of life.

I read this as part of the sci fi challenge hosted by Ellie of Curiosity Killed the Bookworm. It was for November's choice and I did read it last month. This is just the first opportunity I have had to get typing. If you want to see what others read last month you can do so here. Decembers choice is to read a sci fi book with a Christmas theme. I haven't picked my book yet and at this point in time I'm not sure I will have a chance to read one.

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