- WI, USA
- member since August 10, 2007
Michael E reviewed a book.
“Through my reading of this I achieved apotheosis and was able to bid farewell to a cast of characters who have engaged me since the 70’s. This book could be read as a free-standing story given the background provided in the narrative, but real satisfaction with it can only come from a reader...”
“Through my reading of this I achieved apotheosis and was able to bid farewell to a cast of characters who have engaged me since the 70’s. This book could be read as a free-standing story given the background provided in the narrative, but real satisfaction with it can only come from a reader already invested in the characters and vision from reading one or more of the four in the Ringworld series and/or of the recent four novels of the prequel Fleet of Worlds series. \
Personally, I was bored a bit with Ringworld, as its plot didn’t have much depth beyond discovery of the wonders of the constructed ribbon-like world around a star with the surface area of a million earths. Among the 38 books by Niven I’ve read, my favorites are his those done in collaboration with Jerry Pournelle , notably “The Mote in God’s Eye”, a tale of first contact with aliens with a military overlay, and Lucifer’s Hammer, a story of an apocalyptic comet strike of Earth and its aftermath.
Yet Ringworld had its charm in the collaboration between humans and the neurotic but brilliant Puppeteers. And the physics of this variant of Dyson’s ideas led real physicists to help advance Niven’s technology elaborations to make the Ringworld more plausible. Such forms the thrust of 1979’s “The Ringworld Engineers”. It took the set of the Fleet of Worlds novels, published between 2007 and 2010, to engage my interest again in the Ringworld, and, more accurately, in the true subject of interspecies relations and competition for technology with the fate of each species at stake. So I binged with pleasure on that set this year. And then prepared the way for the grand conclusion in the current book by reading 2004’s “Ringworld’s Children”, which was a delight and proof of the fruitfulness behind Niven’s confession that Ringworld was for him mainly a playground for ideas, a Lego-land for imagination.
The closure and apex of two series that spanned the decades since Ringworld bears a heavy load of expectation. There is a certain truth to the maxim about the value of the journey over the destination. Still, inquiring minds want to know about the fate of the Ringworld, which “disappeared” in “Ringworld’s Children”. And what of the fate of the Puppeteer’s Fleet of Worlds, which becomes the target of all the alien space navies involved in fighting over the technology goldmine of the Ringworld after it has disappeared? Most of all, readers from the two series seek some kind of closure in terms of a “reunion” between the New Terran descendants of the slave colony established by the Puppeteers and the humans from Earth.
The latter includes current forces from UN security force (ARM) and Louis Wu, who was manipulated by the Puppeteer Nessus to join the Ringworld mission and now has spent many decades and books of adventures there in a teamwork with the Puppeteer Hindmost (aka Baedeker). Among the New Terrans in this merger of story streams is former ARM agent Sigmund Ausfaller, who was absconded there by Nessus to harness his paranoid brilliance. Memory wipes of key humans such as Sigmund and Louis by the defensive Puppeteers maintain at all costs the wall of ignorance for both New Terrans about Old Earth and its location and for humans in colonies of Known Space about the Fleet of Worlds and its location. But now it comes to a time for a change, as when Reagan said: “Gorbachav, tear down this wall!”
Amidst all theses prospect for healing transformations is the bad karma of destruction headed for the Puppeteer’s home worlds in flight, just what they feared for all along. This crises heightens the significance of two love stories in the mix. One is the love between Nessus and Bedecker, interrupted by the latter’s long enthrallment to Ringworld defense and repair by a superior race. The other is the revival of love held by Louis for Alice, who was when he first fell for her a New Terran diplomat to the Gw’oth but originally was an asteroid-belt miner from Old Earth and awoken from stasis centuries later.
It’s quite a juggling act for Niven and Lerner to master as well as they do all the narrative threads and characters. There are good guys and bad guys within each species. Okay, even I got a little dizzy sometimes. Part of the problem is that the main characters can live for centuries with technology like the nanotech autodoc, anti-aging drugs, and stasis fields. The ending is dramatic and nicely resolves all the threads. But no glory was to be had in 2012 in the form of a Nebula or Hugo Award (“Ringworld” got a Nebula and a Hugo; “The Ringworld Engineers” a Hugo in 1981).
Ultimately, the pleasure of the whole series comes down to the fun of experiencing the bringing of potential technologies alive in a rich set of scenarios and the play in a vision of human nature facing the threats and opportunities presented by powerful alien civilizations. That humans might work together with alien species to avert apocalypse and can still retain their questing, humorous, and loving ways in such a far flung future of advanced technology is a welcome positive outlook not so common in the dark visions that predominate in sci fi today.
SmilingSally rated a book.
Michael E reviewed a book.
“I didn’t like this as well as the three preceding ones in the series that represents a prequel to 1970’s Ringworld. But in for a penny, in for a pound. It still satisfies my craving for space opera with big stakes for competing or cooperating alien races and fascinating technologies. If...”
“I didn’t like this as well as the three preceding ones in the series that represents a prequel to 1970’s Ringworld. But in for a penny, in for a pound. It still satisfies my craving for space opera with big stakes for competing or cooperating alien races and fascinating technologies. If you’ve been reading the series, you will want to read this. It brings Louis Wu on the scene for the first time, a central figure on the later exploratory mission to Ringworld. If you have not read from this prequel series, it’s probably best to start with one or two of the earlier ones before reading this one. That said, material in the rest of this review will be spoilers for those books.
As in the previous books, the core focus of this tale lies in the complex relationship between humans and the Puppeteer species, the two-headed, ostrich-like herbivores who are technologically advanced but cowardly in outlook . A working balance of power and compromise has been established between the Puppeteers and the former slave population of humans they raised on their “Fleet of Worlds”, five planets under acceleration away from the supernovae storm at the galactic core. The human planet broke away as New Terra, but they work with the Puppeteers to deal with threats of species in path of migration. The threat from the aquatic species, the Gw’oth, is on the agenda here.
In the previous books, the Gw’oth were introduced as an aquatic species with tubeworm-like arms in a starfish configuration that could achieve high intelligence by joining together to make a hive-mind. Nice try on a truly alien alien, Larry, but they just didn’t capture my imagination. And ultimately they seem almost human in the way they manipulate and work to dominate other species to assure their survival. Here they are provoked by threats carried out by the dastardly, power-hungry Puppeteer Achilles. The Gw’oth’s propensity to reverse-engineer any technology they encounter leads them to attain quite an upper hand.
The Puppeteer Nessus is the main character most worthy of our empathy and concern, and well known from his appearance in numerous novels in the broader set of books set in the “Known Space” universe. He is a security agent skilled in working with the “regular” humans of Known Space and the New Terrans (while keeping their knowledge of each other secure). Nessus tracks down Louis Wu, son of the brilliant inventor of the nanotech autodoc, and manipulates him to help deal with the threats to the Fleet of Worlds. We know he will develop into an engaging hero in the Ringworld saga, but here he is fairly bland and not very engaging. We do come to see how he has the “right stuff” to team effectively with Nessus and help cut through the madness of interspecies warfare.
With my recent read of “Ringworld’s Children” from the “regular” Ringworld series, I am now in a position to read “The Fate of Worlds”, the merger and culmination both series. The end of a long satisfying ride begun decades ago.
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SilverTill reviewed a book.
“You are sitting in 6th grade class and everyone is talking about the one thing that has been the best for them over the past 12 months. Before you know it you blurt out the you live in an underground castle. But, everyone knows you live on the outskirts of town in a very tiny house at the end of...”
“You are sitting in 6th grade class and everyone is talking about the one thing that has been the best for them over the past 12 months. Before you know it you blurt out the you live in an underground castle. But, everyone knows you live on the outskirts of town in a very tiny house at the end of the bus route!
Wow, talk about a big problem and an even bigger reason to solve it Garden Irene has a Whopper. Great read, about truthfulness, friendship and family relations.”
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