The Ringworld Engineers

It was probably 5 years ago that I read Ringworld - the tale of a group of 3 adventurers who are tempted to travel to beyond the known universe to explore a giant Ringworld in search of treasure and fame.  Unfortunately, that's about all I remembered about the first book, and so when I was looking to read the sequel last week, I decided to check Wikipedia for the details I could not recall.  To my great disappointment, Wikipedia had only an extended, spoiler free summary.  Yet another reason I wish I had started my book database years earlier!

Despite my failed memory and lack of information online, I went ahead and read The Ringworld Engineers.  In this sequel, Louis Wu and Chmee return, against their will, to the Ringworld in search of a mysterious object.  Louis and Chmee, however, spend most of their time looking for freedom from their paranoid Puppeteer captor.

Ultimately, not remembering the details of the first book was a minor point.  I wish I had, but only because I think it would have added depth to the development of Chmee and Louis Wu as characters.  As it was, I could only watch them grow within the context of the book.  And while this was an enjoyable experience, I can't help but think it would have been more meaningful if I could have seen them evolve from their original incarnations.  Of course, the possibility also exists that they behaved in foolish and unbelievable ways in comparison to the first book, but I like to remain hopeful.

While I recommend this book, I do so with the caveat that this is hardcore science fiction.  In fact, in the introduction, Niven admits that the whole reason this sequel was written was so he could deal with all the scientific and mathematical questions and concerns that readers raised after the first book.  Now, if you're like me, you just thought "Yes!  Can't wait to read it!" but if you are a normal person, feel free to pass on this series for something a little more down to earth.

"You only learn to ask more questions" (215).


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