Friday, April 11, 2014

Ringworld by Larry Niven (audiobook narrated by Tom Parker) - Paul's Review

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Title: Ringworld
Author: Larry Niven
Year Published: 1970

Narrator: Tom Parker
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 22 minutes

Synopsis: Pierson's puppeteers, strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens, have discovered an immense structure in a hitherto unexplored part of the universe. Frightened of meeting the builders of such a structure, the puppeteers set about assembling a team consisting of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, an alien not unlike an eight-foot-tall, red-furred cat, to explore it. The artefact is a vast circular ribbon of matter, some 180 million miles across, with a sun at its centre - the Ringworld. But the expedition goes disastrously wrong when the ship crashlands and its motley crew faces a trek across thousands of miles of the Ringworld's surface.

Review: This book was published in 1970 and here I am listening to it in 2014. I realize that my perspective is completely different now from those readers that picked up the first run of the book. I've probably read or watched things that were influenced directly by this novel. Some things that are now tropes or cliches were revolutionary over 40 years ago. But, I only have my own perspective and although I did enjoy this novel, I am only going to give it a 3/5.

This was a slow listen for me. Many audiobooks I've listened to lately I can't stop listening to. I find moments to thrust the ear buds back into my ears. For this one, I stopped midchapter quite a few times. The pacing was too slow for me. I guess I've been conditioned to enjoy fast paced entertainment, but it wasn't that things weren't happening. It was that I didn't really care about the things that were happening. And I didn't care about the people the things were happening to. 

I had a problem with the way women and sex were portrayed. This is one thing from the 70's that didn't translate to modern times. Another thing was the pace of the writing and the amount of explanation. The science of the science-fiction was interesting, but so much of it was explained. I wanted to see the science in action instead of just facts. It didn't flow for me. 

I did enjoy the aliens. They were unique and each had their own culturally based views. I was familiar with the Kzinti though because I'm a Star Trek nerd. Yes, I have watched Star Trek: The Animated Series (my dad had old tapes from when it showed on Nickelodean). I also spent way too much time on the Star Trek wiki, Memory Alpha, when I was younger. The Kzinti Empire almost even made it back into Enterprise, but this is all beside the point. The first few chapters I was trying to figure out if this story somehow took place in the Star Trek universe. 

Overall, I am glad I listened to this book. It was an educational experience in sci-fi of the past. And I was entertained. This novel gets a 3/5 from me.   


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