86 of 112 people found the following review helpful
It won a Hugo, but not my heart,
This review is from: Ringworld (A Del Rey book) (Mass Market Paperback)
Sure, this title is considered a classic of science fiction. Sure, it has one of the neatest landscapes of any story. The truth is, however, that this is a so-so book at best, and I LOVE hard science fiction.
In the far past, I had read one of the sequels to this book, but had somehow never read the original. Having finally thought to pick it up, I looked forward to the story, based on the great reputation the book has. Ick. The characters are very, very, very UN-interesting. The story starts out to be a rollicking adventure, but ends in a way that feels as though the author was ready to be finished and move on to other things. It's long, detailed, and interesting for a good portion of the book, then, suddenly, the characters just hop off the planet. No resolution, no wrap up, and it doesn't even leave you wanting any more.
The book is filled with sex...poorly written, rather juvenile sex. Hey, I have enormous respect for smut, but this is sex as it appears to a fifteen year old boy. It is NOT titillating, and it doesn't add squat to the story. It actually has the phrase "She impaled herself..." in it. I mean come on! Did the author have a hard time with imagery?
Read it for the book's value, but don't expect great things. Ringworld is interesting for its strengths, but its weaknesses will leave you gagging.
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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 14, 2009 7:22:05 PM PDT
I do not feel that the sexual situations you allude to in the book in any way detract from the story. For me they added to the story and made it much more enjoyable.
A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
Posted on May 12, 2009 9:33:29 AM PDT
Andariel Halo says:
"Impaled herself"... huge laugh there. HAHAHAHA.
Posted on Mar 15, 2010 12:54:49 PM PDT
Stephen T. Crye says:
Maddox's comments are pure subjectivism: "...The characters are very, very, very UN-interesting.. " ..feels as though the author was ready to be finished and move on to other things" , " ...suddenly, the characters just hop off the planet" , " ... doesn't even leave you wanting any more." etc. He making assertions without justification, expressing his feelings - but feelings are not knowledge, nor are they useful in a review.
The character development in Ringworld is detailed, with numerous literary foils employed to give the reader insight into the character's mindsets. Sex is handled with a nice balance between no sex at all vs porn - I'm comfortable giving this book to my 15 year-old daughter. (Good sci-fi sex need not be explicit; consider most of Heinlein's early works). The flow of the writing, the pacing, the word selection is exquisite and compelling. The concepts presented are astonishing and mind-expanding. Niven reads like a combination of Heinlien, Asimov and Clarke, even in early works like this one, where one will find amusing things like references to "tape" for data storage.
The method of exit from Ringworld was planned from the start of the book. Many elements come together - the impact with the shadow-square wires, Fist-of-God, meeting Halriloprilralar - all combine over most of the book to yield the manner of escape.
I read them in order, and rate the four books in the series thus:
Ringworld 4 out of 5
The Ringworld Engineers 5
The Ringworld Throne 3.5 out of 5
Ringworld's Children 4.5 out of 5
Although Niven claims to have not planned a sequel, I'm convinced that he had it in his subconscious. The RW is too big to treat properly with a single novel - or even with the current count of four. I'm very interested in book five, and hope it is in the works.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 17, 2010 6:08:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 17, 2010 6:10:59 PM PDT
Bruce Stern says:
First, I have not read the book. So, my opinions here are based on two reviewers opinions, and not on the book itself.
I was disappointed to read Maddox's review because of its considerable negative comments. I was encouraged to read Crye's review for the opposite reason. And, I disagree with Crye's contention that Maddox's "assertions" are "without justification," and that "feelings are not knowledge, nor are they useful in a review."
Maddox's "assertions" are his thoughts about the book, which are most certainly justified and useful in a review, just as Crye's assertions are worthy within a review. By arguing that "feelings are not knowledge" misstates what Maddox wrote. Because Crye says someone else's opinion is a "feeling" doesn't make it so, nor should it negate the worthiness of Maddox's comments for the reasons given by Crye.
In Crye's case, he would have done his cause of lauding the book more good by writing his own review and publish it on the main review page, rather than burying it in the Comments section of another reviewer.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2010 11:18:22 AM PDT
Stephen T. Crye says:
I re-read Maddox's review, and I stand by my comments. His did not back up his assertions with facts, so therefore they are just "feelings". For example, Maddox states: "The characters are very, very, very UN-interesting", without backing up the assertion with facts or example. Therefore, he is just telling us what he feels - not useful in a review. It's pure subjectivism. It's not useful in a review of a book, an more than a statement such as "this coffee tastes terrible" is useful in a review of a specific brand of coffee. WHY were the characters uninteresting? Were there errors in character development technique? If so, what were the specific problems with the character development?
I might write a full review of the book someday, but because I had a specific problem with Maddox's misleading review, I chose to address it via comments, which was the appropriate venue.
Posted on May 21, 2011 11:26:48 AM PDT
A Critic says:
"I have enormous respect for smut" : I am still laughing about that one.
The "no resolution thing" has me pausing on the book.
Posted on Dec 16, 2011 6:33:12 AM PST
Get Back Jojo says:
"The book is filled with sex...poorly written, rather juvenile sex. Hey, I have enormous respect for smut, but this is sex as it appears to a fifteen year old boy. It is NOT titillating, and it doesn't add squat to the story. It actually has the phrase "She impaled herself..." in it. I mean come on! Did the author have a hard time with imagery?"
Haha, I gave you a POS for that alone.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2013 5:51:11 PM PST
Bill Carmack says:
I read the book and Maddox is spot on, I think his dog wrote the second half of the book.
Posted on Jul 24, 2013 9:15:49 PM PDT
I love hard sci-fi as well, and as for the ideas (which are not mind-blowing to me whatsoever), such as the evolution of a consistently cowardly race, the manipulation of alien species and breeding, they were cool.
The writing, besides that, is literally garbage that would get red-inked in my 300 level intro to fiction writing class.
The dude writes "she wept painfully, wrackingly..." Dear god, that's not even a word, and secondly, are you so awful at interpersonal description and characterization that you have to invent adverbs to describe things? Adverbs are a no-no, generally, because they give only vague notions. There's about 15 metaphors in the entire book, maybe. So for 300+ pages I'm hearing accounts of "wrackingly" "powerfully" "staggering." I literally am baffled that this is a staple in the canon. I guess since it was written about 30 years ago, and Halo straight up stole the main character (the ring), it deserves a mention, but dude I have never dropped a book to my lap, and just had to completely trash this fool as to how freaking bad he is at writing. Seriously, if this is great sci-fi... Scratch that, it's not. It's simply not. Bleh
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