SFRC Working for the MandroidThe eponomous Ringworld on Larry Niven’s book is a constructed world in the shape of a ring. It is built around a small star, its motion is what gives it gravity and the walls surrounding the expanse of foundation material allow it to maintain an atmosphere. Louis Wu is a 200-year old man who’s getting antsy and bored when an alien of the Puppeteer race comes to him wih an offer he won’t refuse. They soon put together a small band of explorers made up of the Puppeteer, another alien of the Kzin race and a second human, Teela Brown. They move through countless miles of space to find the Ringworld and find the truth about its builders.

Ringworld is an odd book. I listened to the audio and the first two or so hours of the 11+ hour long audiobook sounded more or less like a civics essay. It took me very long to get past that point. Much longer than it should have because I kept cheating on the book with others. But once I did, boy howdy was I glad I stuck it out. After the civics essay Ringworld is a book about Big Ideas, aliens, rocket ships, adventure and, surprisingly, about playing at being God. It is, in short, everything a good science-fiction book should be. There are things that I would like to geek out about because they were done so well although some were a little heavy-handed with the clues, but they’re full of spoilers and so I won’t.

What I do want to say about this book is that I was a little surprised about how forward thinking (for its time) it is about gender relations. Human women are more or less equal in the Ringworld universe and sex is recreation as well as reproduction. The book was published in 1970. Much like Niven didn’t assume that technology would be the same everywhere, he didn’t assume that gender relations would remain the same even at a time when space flight is commonplace a long time before something like women in armed forces was even a glint in the feminist’s eyes. That, as much as his technological inventions, makes him a science fiction visionary in my eyes even though the tech is what I’ll remember from this book.

YA/MG Science Fiction
Adult Science Fiction
Hugo Winner
Science Fiction Classic – Pre-1950s
Science Fiction Modern Classic – 1951-1992
Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe
Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster