NESFA Members' Reviews


Ringworld's Children

by Larry Niven

A book review by Mark L. Olson

Tor, 2004, $24.95, 284 pp

When I read the previous Ringworld book, Ringworld's Throne I thought that Niven had lost it completely. If he had lost it, then with Ringworld's Children, he's back on track.

This book is a more-or-less straight-forward continuation of the previous book: Louis Wu wakes up in an autodoc, having been repaired from his wounds from the previous book and things go on.

The main problem in this book is the Fringe War. By now, the existence of Ringworld is known to all of Known Space, and every power (and would-be power) in Known Space has ships in the Ringworld system observing Ringworld and observing everyone else. There's occasional fighting and occasional attempts to land on Ringworld which are beaten off by Tunesmith, the protector created by Louis Wu to run things.

(Parenthetically, I wonder why all of the intelligent space-going species are in this one tight cluster of stars? Shouldn't the fringe of Known Space intersect the Known Spaces of other races?)

But the Fringe War is heating up and the ARM (the Human military) has developed anti-matter weapons which are powerful enough to threaten Ringworld. (That's a cute touch – one of Beowulf Shaeffer's adventures involved finding an interloper anti-matter solar system. Apparently someone realized its potential.)

There's the usual too-ing and fro-ing, chases and complex maneuvering with the ARM, some kzinti, the Hindmost, Louis and friends and a batch of protectors. And Niven does a little more repair work on Ringworld. (In the thirty or so years since the book Ringworld was published, the concept of the Ringworld has been dissected and a variety of problems in its design have been found. Niven continues to be busy writing them into the novels, either having the heroes discover that the Pak who built Ringworld had a workaround, or making it be the driver of a story.)

All in all, an enjoyable romp in what is still one of the most fascinating worlds ever devised.

See also my review of Niven's The Burning City

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