Ringworld Engineers, the sequel to Larry Niven’s classic science fiction novel, Ringworld continues the tale of Louis Wu, and the alien explorers. Twenty-three years after leaving the Ringworld behind them, Louis, Nessus’s ex-lover, Hindmost to the Pierson’s Puppeteer race and the catlike kzinti, travel back to the massive alien construction.
…beware of possible spoilers for those not familiar with book 1, Ringworld…
The Ringworld system is in danger, the sun is off centre causing chaos in the Ringworld surface. With limited time available to them, the explorers search for a way to save it.
Ringworld Engineers moves the story forward a little from events in its predecessor, however once the explorers reach and embark upon the Ringworld the book becomes a bit too similar. There’s too much time spent just travelling around, marvelling at new discoveries and ruminating on past events, as the characters attempt to mull over its mysteries before their time runs out. I feel a bit too much déjà vu, reading this novel. Also, there is far, far too much sex; every new alien species Louis encounters wishes to mate with him as a form of bargaining, almost like an exchange of currency, or to show appreciation for trade.
I really wanted to enjoy this book, having been a big fan of Larry Niven’s original Ringworld novel, but this sequel just seems to be a right slog to trudge through. I had to keep taking regular breaks in my reading, to go away and review a different book, before coming back to this one.
There is an even larger variety of alien beings and strange species with difficult to pronounce names in Ringworld Engineers, which further compounds the difficulties in reading it, and I found myself persistently shortening those names to make the reading easier and simpler.
I’d rate Ringworld Engineers at about 2 out of 5 stars, as it’s readable, and somewhat enjoyable to a point, but could probably have done with being condensed in size. Streamlining of the plot, with less sex would be my suggestion.
The next book in the series is The Ringworld Throne and since my partner struggled his way through that instalment, before eventually admitting defeat three-quarters of the way in, I’m not sure if I’ll fare any better. As a result my reviews of this series may end here.
Book 3: The Ringworld Throne
Book 4: Ringworld’s Children