This is science fiction at its science fictioniest. What a ride. Alien races, space exploration, complicated scientific discussions, and a weird focus on sex occasionally.
The future is an amazing place. But Louis Wu is a little bored at 200 years old. That is until a Puppeteer alien crashes his birthday party with an extraordinary deal. Join him on an exploratory quest to investigate a newly discovered “ringworld” and he will give Louis a new kind of spaceship. One that will help humanity escape the impending collapse of the galactic core in 20,000 years. Louis, more out of a spirit of excitement rather than advancing his species, accepts. So does Speaker-to-animals, a Kzin who resembles a large cat, is very aggressive and fought several wars with humans over the centuries. And finally Teela Brown, a young, brash human who Nessus the Puppeteer is convinced has supernatural luck.
Science is going to come at you thick and fast. Dyson spheres, nexus plates, other words and phrases I’m failing to remember. Ringworld is thick and rife with scientific discussion and theory. Current theory really that has become fact in the advanced stage of evolution our characters are in.
I love how the novel does its damndest to show us why we should be terrified of a ringworld. Firstly, through the Puppeteer race, whose entire existence is based around not dying, as they are ‘cowards’. But second, reminding us that whoever built the “Ringworld” is technologically superior to anything currently invented, that they could wipe the universe clean if they wanted to. The novel also does a great job balancing the three different species represented. They all have unique personalities: the war hungry Kzin, the cowardly Puppeteer, the emotional Louis, and the naive Teela. As they explore the Ringworld we learn just as much about them as we do their species and how they got to this point. It’s a very detailed novel.
I have noticed a weird trend in older science fiction novels. A weird obsession with sex for male characters. Since the point of view is mostly through Louis, he describes nearly everything. And he freely admits he wouldn’t survive in a spaceship for months without sex. And I know this was written like right after the first Apollo mission but current astronauts go long times without sex. Abstinence sucks but it’s not impossible. For all the scientific advances you’d think human society would be a little less laser focused on this one aspect.
Still, great science fiction for folks who really like their science fiction thick with science.
3.5 out of 4 stars