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Book Chronicles #1 [2002-02-20]

I figured that many Musique[Machine] readers could be interested by book suggestions/reviews so today I present you an old sci-fi classic: Ringworld by Larry Niven. Here's what the author has to say about Ringworld on the back cover of the book:

"I myself have dreamed up an intermediate step between Dyson Spheres and planets. Build a ring ninety three million miles in radius -- one Earth orbit -- which would make it six hundred million miles long.

If we have the mass of Jupiter to work with, and if we make it a million miles wide, we get a thickness of about a thousand meters. The Ringworld would thus be much sturdier than a Dyson sphere.

"There are other advantages. We can spin it for gravity. A rotation on its axis of seven hundred seventy miles per second would give the Ringworld on gravity outward. We wouldn't even have to have a roof over it. Put walls a thousand miles high at each rim, aim it at the sun, and very little air will leak over the edges.

"The thing is roomy enough: three million times the area of Earth. It will be some time before anyone complains of the crowding." -Larry Niven

I must admit that this book, winner of the 1970 Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel, surprised me. After hearing some ambiguous opinions about it, I was expecting a dry book with a brilliant concept -- which could explain the big impact it had when released -- and a bad execution which only started to show now, years later, after the dust has settled.

But this is not what I found in Ringworld. Mr. Niven doesn't use this book just to show off his theories about the said Ringworld, he made a good epic story of it too. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he can be very funny and witty at times, especially in the scenes involving interaction between different species of aliens; lets call it a shock of cultures.

I think that it is best, and the author seemed to think so too since the back cover of the book only has the quote included at the beginning of this article, that the reader doesn't start reading the book with too much information about the plot. A big part of the fun is to discover things at the same time the characters do, so a big synopsis would effectively ruin the desired effect.

Anybody looking to go on a journey can escape reality, for at least a few hours, with Larry Niven's Ringworld. After that, if you really liked it, you'll be happy to learn that there are countless sequels and related books. I can't say how they compare to the original Ringworld, as I haven't read them yet, but I intend to remedy to that soon.

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