engineering wonderland | 2018.02.19

Ringworld by Larry Niven | Review

NIven, Larry_Ringworld

Publication: Ashland : Blackstone Audio, Inc., and Buck 50 Productions, LLC, 2005 (Originally published by New York : Ballantine Books, 1970)

Genre: Science Fiction

Audio Length: 11 hours, 15 minutes | Pages: 342

Formats: Paperback, Audiobook

Source: MCL

This novel carries memories of following my father into a secondhand bookstore in San Francisco in my early teens. The year before, he’d introduced me to the wonders of Yessongs during a long business trip car ride through the dusty plains of the Midwest. These are my people, I selfishly thought to myself. But I didn’t finally pick this one up until earlier this year (stop gasping). I think I now understand my engineering father’s enthusiasm. This is an engineer’s fantasy in space.

In today’s world of women’s liberation, however, Niven might have a lot to learn. Even as he tries to let the one female character in his novel come into her own, in the end she still needs a male counterpart to help her self-actualize. This seems indicative of our species’s epidemic of sexism. The creativity from an engineering perspective, as well as the alien characterizations (since none of these are of the female persuasion, I feel okay saying this), are some of SF’s finest. It’s good to observe the steady flow of our gender awakening horizons’ expanding, though, as I’ve been pleased to find in the writings of such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Jo Walton.

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