Larry Niven has great ideas but, in my opinion, he’s weak with characters and plot. The Ringworld, a huge artificial ring that surrounds a star, is Niven’s greatest creation and accounts for the success of his most famous novel, Ringworld, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1970. As I explained in my review, it’s the Ringworld itself that’s exciting, not the actual events that happen upon it.
The sequel, The Ringworld Engineers, was written ten years later to address several Ringworld stability issues that scientists, including some rowdy MIT students, leveled at Niven’s creation (pun intended). This sequel did deal with those issues and probably satisfied the friendly detractors, but it was boring.
In 1996 Niven released a third RINGWORLD novel: The Ringworld Throne. Niven couldn’t finish the novel he was contracted for, so he wrote and submitted The Ringworld Throne instead… which just might tell you something…
I gave The Ringworld Throne a chance, but couldn’t finish it. It’s even more boring than The Ringworld Engineers. In this story, vampires (not like Twilight) are terrorizing the Ringworld, the ghouls are up to something, and some other boring stuff is going on, too. Louis Wu travels around some more and everyone has sex with people from other species because that’s how they negotiate. This custom, which they call Rishathra, has always perplexed me because all of these different species have totally different cultures and customs (not to mention anatomies and physiologies), so why is it this one custom that every species adopts? Clearly the answer is: so there can be lots of inter-species sex, and talking about inter-species sex, in the RINGWORLD books. I’m certain of it. And, wow, is it boring. Excruciatingly boring. Just not sexy at all. And boring.
I think I’m finished with RINGWORLD. It’s so disappointing that Niven has created such an awesome setting but hasn’t been able to set an engaging story in it.
I listened to Blackstone Audio’s 14 hour long audio edition which is nicely narrated by Paul Michael Garcia.