1970 was an important year for a number of things: the Beatles disbanded, Apollo 13 didn’t make it to the Moon and the Concorde made its first supersonic flight. Perhaps more likely to be overlooked is that 1970 was also the year that the Known Space saga was started by Larry Niven who had a great idea: what if the world was a ring?
Put a candle in the middle of a darkened room and stand a piece of ribbon around it in a circle. Start the Ribbon spinning around the candle sun and you have the Ringworld. The idea takes a Dyson Sphere and makes it somewhat easier to make yet it still provides more living space than a species could ever need.
The first novel follows Luis Wu, recruited by Nessus the cowardly two headed puppeteer, to visit and explore the Ringworld, alongside Speaker-To-Animals, a Kzin diplomat specially trained to deal with other species without killing them, and Teela Brown, selected because she is always lucky. Of course, they crash into it and and spend the book trying to get home.
Retailer: Amazon +
Price: ± £3.49 – £8.99 per book
About Larry Niven
Award-winning science fiction writer was born in Los Angeles in 1938. He has spent decades writing stories and books that slot into the Known Space universe and its time and have constructed some truly incredible alien races and interesting planets.
- Genre: Science-fiction
- Target age: Teens, Adults, Older adults
Environment & People
The series is well-priced at around £4 for the Kindle version of Ringworld and around £9 per novel for the paperbacks in the series (not available as ebooks). Standard market price for high calibre science fiction from a multi-award winning offer is definitely a cost-effective choice.
Narrated by: Tom Parker (#1), Paul Michael Garcia (#2 & #3), Barrett Whitener (#4)
Series: Ringworld series
Pages: 349 – 384 (per book)
Listening length: 11 hrs and 22 mins – 13 hrs and 47 mins (per book)
Available formats: Unabridged audiobook, Kindle edition (Ringworld only), Paperback, Hardcover.
Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Jun. 2005)
Publisher (Audio): Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publisher (Kindle): Spectrum Literary Agency, Inc.
Release date: 1970, 1980, 1996, 2004
First edition cover art by Dean Ellis
* Kindle/Audible (free) App
The Niven Ring was a genuinely novel idea that has since spread across sci-fi and is featured in the Halo game series and Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels. It’s a particularly interesting sci-fi idea because unlike something like a faster-than-light drive, a Ring is actually buildable within our current understanding of physics if not our engineering ability.
The Ringworld series consists of 5 novels and is part of a collection of novels and short stories set in the “Known Space” universe which Niven started writing in 1966 with the most recent instalment being in 2012. It’s a universe like no other and worth exploring. Recommended.
The review is based on the Paperback edition of the series. This article was first published on 1 September 2015 and last updated on 14 November 2016.