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Ringworld's Children Hardcover – June 1, 2004

92 customer reviews
Book 4 of 4 in the Ringworld Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Larry Niven may be America's greatest living hard-SF writer. Much of his SF belongs to his famous future history, the Tales of Known Space. His preeminent creation is the Ringworld: an immense, artificial, ring-shaped planet that circles a Known Space star. Possibly SF's greatest feat of world-building, the Ringworld is featured in four novels: the Hugo and Nebula Award winner Ringworld (1970); The Ringworld Engineers (1980); The Ringworld Throne (1996); and Ringworld's Children (2004).

Ringworld's Children returns series protagonist Louis Wu to the titular world. Louis and his friend The Hindmost, an alien of the Pierson's puppeteer race, are prisoners of the Ghoul protector Tunesmith, a Ringworld native, who is deliberately provoking the warships that surround his world. All the star-faring races of Known Space have sent warships to the Ringworld, and they are already at the brink of war. If fighting breaks out, the near-indestructible Ringworld will be destroyed: dissolved by antimatter weapons.

The Ringworld series is so complex and ambitious that Ringworld's Children opens with a glossary and a cast of characters, inclusions that even many Known Space fans will need. Newcomers to Niven's artificial planet should start with Ringworld. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

Ringworld (1970) and its many offspring (The Ringworld Engineers, etc.) are an SF institution. Unfortunately, bestseller Niven's first Ringworld installment in 10 years combines the worst qualities of hard SF (i.e., cardboard characters, a plot propelled primarily by technological infodumps) with the least appealing characteristics of sequelitis (i.e., a story no one can follow without fanatic dedication to earlier books). In the year 2893, 67 Ringworld days after Louis Wu, badly wounded in battle with "the Vampire protector, Bram," stepped into a healing autodoc, our hero awakens with a restored, younger body. The passive Louis and several alien companions soon get caught up in a war involving weaponery that could destroy Ringworld. The novel finally comes into its own about midway through, while a glossary and a cast of characters will help orient those new to the series.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765301679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765301673
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LARRY NIVEN is the multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces. He lives in Chatsworth, California. JERRY POURNELLE is an essayist, journalist, and science fiction author. He has advanced degrees in psychology, statistics, engineering, and political science. Together Niven and Pournelle are the authors of many New York Times bestsellers including Inferno, The Mote in God's Eye, Footfall, and Lucifer's Hammer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Holland on December 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Once there was a sci-fi writer called Larry Niven who wrote some of the most imaginative hard sci-fi of his day. Never mind that the stories were badly written, the characters two-dimensional, and the societies that he described were little more than a teen-aged boy's wet dream; the stories were so chock-full of big ideas that I avidly hunted down everything that he wrote. Then came the Larry Niven who collaborated with Jerry Pournelle. This Larry Niven was a much better writer, but his ideas became smaller and smaller until we saw sad little political tirades like "Fallen Angels". I, like so many others, have spent twenty years hoping that the old Larry Niven would return from the literary wasteland. With "Ringworld's Children" the old Niven has at least sent us a postcard.

The first Ringworld book was one of the old Larry Niven's later stories and is perhaps his grandest vision. The story is set on an artificial world that was created by building a ring around a star. The ring has the diameter of Earth's orbit, the inside is habitable, and there is enough room for almost anything to happen. Over the years Niven wrote two sequels: each less imaginative than the previous one. When "Ringworld's Children" appeared at my local library I ignored it because I was so tired of reading the awful books that Larry Niven has written over the past two decades. However, the other day I sat down and read the book and found that I could not put it down. The book is not a true return to form for Mr Niven, but it is
far better than anything that he has written since the early 1970s, and it does have the feel of his early work, right down to the bad writing.

If you like Larry Niven's early work then read this book. If you think that the Pournelle/Niven collaborations were the gospels of sci-fi then this book is probably not for you.
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85 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Murphy on June 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ringworld's Children is half a book. The first half was the previous "Ringworld Throne." Unfortunately, Niven didn't combine them, toss out the filler in "Throne", and write the book that would have been the worthy successor to "Ringworld" and "Ringworld Engineers." But he didn't, and the two half books don't make a whole one.
What we have instead is (like "Throne") the outline of a great novel, a few sketches of characters (and not even that for some: Chmee's son whatsisname), and Louis Wu solving a few puzzles with clues we never see.
Larry Niven once said that the Ringworld offered so many opportunities for sequels that it would make Edgar Rice Burroughs look like a case of "writer's block." Sadly, having created such a mental playground, Niven is unable to capitalize on it.
3 stars because it's Ringworld. But only just.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Addison Phillips on June 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ringworld's Children is a pleasant revisit to our old friend Louis Wu and his motley crew, still bopping around the Ringworld. Like many others, I looked forward to the chance to see what new and interesting scrapes Larry Niven would get him into this time and seized the book at first opportunity.
Overall it was a pleasant diversion and a nice read. The ring is really fascinating as a place and here Niven makes it the most realistic its ever been. I don't mean the "additions" to make it more scientifically accurate, but rather the way he treats the slow degradation over the aeons and the way that various people have evolved to fit their world.
Alas... this book is too short and doesn't really contain new ideas. It does bring a lot of old Known Space ideas together in one place and the logical interplay of things like the anti-matter star system, super auto-doc, QII hyperdrive, and the ring itself is kind of fun. On the other hand, there are lots of elements (the Fringe War in particular) that are just there on the page, rather lifeless. The hyperspace monster thing (more-or-less a throwaway in any case) didn't amuse me (except: Beowulf Shaeffer was right and Carlos Wu was wrong in "Borderland of Sol", who'da thunk it?) for more than a second. In fact it rather annoyed me. I hope Niven has something interesting to do with the beasties in some future story.
I still like Niven's clear, affectation-free prose. This book doesn't rise to the level of the original and I'd much rather have had something heftier with some more interesting new ideas, but...
Sour grapes aside, Niven's "playspace" still has amazing flexibility. Rather than "down in flames", this book seems to open up various possible additional storylines in the future. I hope that Louis Wu does, in fact, live forever. (Secretly I'm pining for him to meet "dad" for a shared adventure.)
Wait for this one in paperback, my friends, but you'll want to read it nonetheless.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on June 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Known Space novel to disappoint me. Not only did it do that, it killed my interest in reading Larry Niven. One of the blurbs quoted when you open the book says this book has "enough mind-boggling ideas to keep a dozen lesser writers working for years". What?

What new ideas? The nanotech 'doc? I've read about nanotech medics many times before, first in a robot story from Asimov where a robot goes mini to kill a cancer spread and later in a military SF book where a major businessman is restored to life as a cyborg after experiencing a heart attack.

Rishathra? No, I won't tell you what it is. I'll just tell you it's one of those things you see a lot of in science fiction.

Hyperspace predators? Yep, there's a new one all right--and it's going right back into the pit of Tartarus from which it came. I mean seriously, if you actually read the book (which I hope you don't), you'll be laughing.

The worst part about this, though, is that every probelm can be solved in a few chapters. You want to rescue the Long Shot from the alien Patriarchy? Hop aboard! You want to save the Ringworld from the gaping air drainage? Easy! We'll use a plug! In fact, the only thing that ever stands between our heroes and a perfect solution to everything is a few annoying side-characters, some sex, and the aforementioned hyperspace predators that do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to help the story. In fact, over 200 pages of this book could be trashed and the story would still be pretty much the same. The pacing is terrible. In fact, the entire story reminds me of Dragonball GT. Remember how they manage to take everyone off the Earth to another planet in a few days? There was NO politcal resistance, the millions of spaceships neccesary came outta nowhere, and somehow they got the message to everyone on Earth, no matter how isolated they might be, and the series just takes it for granted. This book is about that intelligent...but maybe less.
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