I just finished reading Ringworld by Larry Niven. The copy I had was part of a masterworks collection by the Science Fiction Book Club. I thought the characters and their interaction was all very good and Ringworld was a great setting for the book.

However, there were some problems that kept me from really liking this book. From the beginning I felt this was hard sci-fi. There were very complicated ideas mentioned with very complicated technology. That is all fine and good, but trying to understand some of this became tedious and detracted from my enjoyment of the book. The mystery of the Ringworld engineers and how Ringworld came to be in its current condition was finally explained toward the end, but it was explained in such complicated terms that while I think I understand what happened I don’t feel fully comfortable with it.

Also, the ending of the book felt very rushed. After setting up the characters, their journey to Ringworld, and their exploration of Ringworld, the final attempt to leave Ringworld was put together in about 20 pages of a 280+ page book. Even the final paragraphs leave the story open for a sequel (Niven wrote three more books about Ringworld). I just didn’t like the lack of finality at the end.

If you like older sci-fi or hard sci-fi you will probably like Ringworld. I came away from the book with mixed feelings and no desire to read any of the other books about Ringworld.

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