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Reviews of Ringworld's Children (2004)

Review by clong (2006-01-07)
Ringworld's Children is a big improvement over The Ringworld Throne. The rapid pace and narrative format recall the original Ringworld, almost in the style of a comic book. We get a lot more insight into the Ringworld's history and builders, the luck of Teela Brown, and even Hindmost's motivations. And Niven manages to come up with several nice surprises along the way.

Loius Wu continues as our cynical, inventive, take it as it comes protagonist, but we also get a couple of interesting new characters in Proserpina and Hanuman. Roxanny, the new human female character who survives the crash of an ARM warship on the Ringworld surface, is far from plausible. She seems to be inserted in the story primarily to give Louis someone new to have sex with and be injured by, although in the end Roxanny is also caught by the inescapable luck of Teela Brown. If you are looking for science fiction with plausible female characters, the Ringworld series is probably not the ticket.

The bizarre obsession with interspecies sex that dominated so much of book 3 makes only a brief appearance here (in a totally unnecessary scene that runs something like this “Oh, Hi. You must be the giraffe people. Wanna f***?”)

Review by mrdude (2005-02-11)
Ringworld's Children, the Fourth book in the Ringworld Series by Larry Niven picks up right where the previous book, Ringworld Throne, left off. Louis Wu has been made young again by a nanotech repair system. Tunesmith, the new protector, has taken control of ringworld and has no intention of letting Louis travel back to human space.

This book was actually a pleasant surprise to me. I had expected something even more dull and horrible than it's preceding book. Something about a third unforeseen sequel made me somewhat weary but I couldn't resist cracking open the spine and taking a peek.

The characters presented are actually ones that readers can relate to. Most of the story revolves around Louis Wu and his motley crew, although the actual specific characters in said crew have changed a bit.

The writing itself is decent but not really fantastic. The author has always had a habit of having short breaks within chapters, mainly used to change locations in the story or character perspective. In this title he increased the number of breaks drastically and therefore made all the passages quite short. To me it seemed that he did this to please a publisher, who thought it a good idea to give the reader many easy places to stop. In some ways this made for a very segmented and interrupted feeling. I also found this really blurred a real definition of time frame. At points in the story I would suddenly realise that the last break actually picked up again many days, sometimes years, later.

Niven relies heavily on past works he''s written in this novel, so often the reader is confused as to what he is referring to. In fact at one point he makes reference to a species that is only mentioned in one short story he wrote several years ago which was only published in one edition of Asimov's Science Fiction. Although the few people who happened to read said story were probably tickled at the inclusion, folks such as myself who do not own a subscription were probably just confused and a little annoyed.

Overall I did find the book enjoyable. Despite some of it's shortcomings it was fun to be able to read another tale about Louis Wu (which is really the only reason I enjoy any of the Ringworld books). So I wouldn't exactly call this a noteworthy work by Niven, but it is definitely a nice relaxing read.

(review also posted at the IBDoF)

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