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Ringworld's Children    by Larry Niven order for
Ringworld's Children
by Larry Niven
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

An avid Star Wars fan, I've decided to explore more of the scifi world. So my eyes are diligently teaching my brain about the 'Ringworld' where thirty hours equals one day. Among its trillions of inhabitants are Hominids, Protectors, Drouds, Giraffe People, and Kzin. The Ringworld is one million miles across, ribbon shaped, and circles a yellow dwarf star.

Larry Niven blends genial science fiction with a new and old cast of characters to explore the ramifications of the struggle for control of the Ringworld. The year is 2893 A.D. and attempts continue to uncover the secrets of the planet's construction. The Fringe War and the ARM (forces of the United Nations) circling the Ringworld use anti-matter engines which could destroy the planet. With the eruption of the Fringe War, an anti-matter bomb blows a hole in the Ringworld. Its fate is in the hands of Ringworld's Children, who must play a dangerous game, in order to repair the damage and save the planet's population.

Explorer and earth-born protagonist Louis Wu exits the healing box as a revitalized, post-adolescent, after eighty-four days in the Intensive Care Cavity. Louis, with puppeteer 'The Hindmost', assists the children including protector Tunesmith, Acolyte, Wembleth, Hanuman, Szeblinda, and Proserpina, a surviving PAK protector. Louis is alert to the fact that his fate might be forever changed if his involvement causes him to be transformed into a protector. Protectors' skin is toughened armor. They have expanded brain-casing, a second two-chamber heart, and bulk added to their joints.

Ringworld's Children has action, adventure and magical technology. At times, I found it repetitive, skipping from theme to theme in a manner out of tune with the progression of the story. Readers may find it helpful to backtrack and read a previous Ringworld episode or two. However, Niven helpfully provides a preface, a description of the vast planet, a glossary, and a listing of characters. As the author says, it's 'a playground for the mind ... a puzzle ... a maze. Question every turn or you'll get lost. When you've finished the book, remember not to lock the gate.'

Read Ringworld's Children for scifi with more than its share of punch and humor. Find out whether Louis ends up a protector, and if the Fringe War fleet strikes. Personally, I hope never to meet the fifty-pound flying squirrels with prominent fangs and ears!

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