KAMN Show #34: Ringworld

Welcome to Show #34!

Feature Discussion: David, Brian and Summer discuss the Hugo and Nebula Award winning 1970 novel Ringworld, by Larry Niven.

The Ninjas talk about this classic SF novel, and also discuss how this type of story has held up over time. David’s a big fan of the Ringworld series, and even he admits there are some issues with some of the more recent sequels.

The talk ranges from the spinoff Man-Kzin Wars novels, and the newest novel set in Known Space, Fleet of Worlds, co-authored with Edward M. Lerner (check out the Dragon Page Cover to Cover interview with Edward about Fleet of Worlds)

Who knew that there were at least 10 volumes in the Man-Kzin Wars collection?

Listener Feedback: Give us some! You can leave comments here for the show.

Books mentioned:

Link: Known Space: The Future Worlds of Larry Niven
Link: Wikipedia: Ringworld
Link: Tor-Forge Author Pages: Larry Niven


Related posts:


  1. Nicely done. I liked that although you guys didn’t entirely agree about it it didn’t get ugly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Zignamuclikclik Vacationer says:

    Congratulations to you and your good works. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the KAMN treatment of Ringworld for weeks.

    Like Summer, David & Brian I read the the novel first the first time years ago. This time around I listened to the Blackstone Audio unabridged versions of Ringworld and Protector. (Having gone this far I might be committed to finished the rest of the series). Maybe it was due to the vocal talents of the reader or that I’m a fan of classic big-idea hard sci-fi that got me past the dated characterization but I love these books.

    I think it’s worth mentioning that beyond the world-weary viewpoint of Louis Wu (coffee spigot), that each of the characters, with the exception of 20-year-old 2-dimensional Teela Brown, agrees to the trip in part in the interest of saving their species from the oncoming radiation wave from the explosion of the galactic core. Nessus is exploring the Ringworld because it’s construction material is impervious to radiation, Louis & Speaker because they’ve been offered the experimental hyperdrive.

    What are the chances that the KAMN will cover Asimov’s Foundation series?

    And thanks.

    – Snarf

  3. I agree with your summation. I really liked the series, but felt it has aged on me less well than some others.

    I think it might have been more compelling if Niven had used the structure more along the lines of Azimov’s foundation series. Where the time frame jumped around by decades or even hundreds of years at a time.

    And it might have been more interesting if Louis Wu had faded into the background, what would be wrong with more characters?

    Anyways, definitely a read.

  4. We tried to have a reasonable drinking game, a shot for every time Brian said, “basically”. Unfortunately, two guys had to be taken to the hospital in the first 10 minutes of the show. One of them, tragically, was dead on arrival at the hospital. The other, is now considered irreversibly brain damaged and only listens to old Wingin-it shows.

  5. Is anyone else just getting the FPM preroll and nothing else?

  6. I am just getting a few seconds and the rest of the show is cut off too!

  7. Yes, something seems to have broken sometime on the 15th (it was working fine before that), and I’m waiting to hear back on if it’s fixed yet.

  8. That Podango preroll has caused quite a few problems, hasn’t it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Here is the publishing timeline for Niven’s Known Space.


  10. Woohoo! It’s fixed!

  11. Yep! And some of the older shows had been truncated as well, but that’s all fixed now.

  12. So basically Icepick your trying to say what?

    I guess it’s better then uhhhhhmmm… or ahhhhh… or errrr…..

    I will work at eliminating that word from my handy dandy “I’m trying to think and talk at the same time file”

    Trust me it’s not as easy as one might think.

  13. Zignamuclikclik Vacationer says:

    I have to jump to Brian’s defense on this. How can you try to possibly try to describe something as big as the dimensions and scope of Ringworld in a 1-hour podcast and not use the term “basically”?

    I’d like to suggest 3 post-show discussion question/topics for the Voicemail show:

    1) In “Protector” they mention some kind of creature that’s trapped on Earth in a statis field. I am compelled by this idea. Do you know if this is a reference to another of Niven’s novels or short stories?

    2) Has David or any of the Ninjas ever heard of a encounter between the Puppeteers and the Pak Protectors in any of Niven’s books? Speaker-to-Animals comments on the terrible power of the Puppeteers to move worlds & manipulate other races. While that’s true, I feel certain that the Pak Protectors would “clean their clocks”.

    3) For discussion: What do you think about Louis Wu’s solution to escaping from the Ringworld in the crippled Lying Bastard? I have to say that I wonder if Louis managed to find some Tree-of-Life root on the Ringworld because his “solution” seems worthy of a Oak Protector. I.E. Glue/cement the end-fob of the shadow square monofilament to the wall of the flying police station building; Glue/cement Nessus fly-cycle to a closet in the same building; Use the flashlight laser to cut away the bottom half of the building (and letting it fall on whoever might be below); Fly the building back to the Lying Bastard thousands of miles away (meanwhile causing untold damage as snarls of monofilament slice through anything in their wake); Loop the shadow string wire around the virtually impenetrable General Products hull of the Lying Bastard and jam it in the hatch; Fly the police building up the slope of Fist of God (meanwhile dragging Lying Bastard & aforementioned slicey shadow-string along for bonus wreckage); Put on spacesuits; Drop the police station through the hole at the top of Fist of God mountain and into space; Use the Ringworld’s centrifugal force to fling the police station building and Lying Bastard free of the system so that they can engage the hyperdrive; and somehow get from the police station building back to the Lying Bastard without getting flung off into space.


    (This is almost as good as his solution to the “Sunflower Problem” in one of the subsequent Ringworld novels)

  14. When Larry Niven wrote Ringworld back in the late 1960’s (1970 publishing date), he was primarily interested in writing a story that snared the reader into the Known Space universe by keeping the scientific aspects of the story as realistic as possible. Emotional depth (without losing scientific verisimilitude) was not a goal of his fiction until later in his career. Before table-top and computer role-playing games were invented, there was a market for science fiction that centered around a group of characters solving a problem in a well defined universe.


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