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Showing posts by: Doug McElwain click to see Doug McElwain's profile
Thu
Nov 18 2010 8:42am

Ringworld 40th Anniversary: A Ringworld Mystery, Why Are Sunflowers on the Ringworld?

Slaver Sunflowers art by Todd HamiltonLarry Niven used his previously created Known Space universe as the backdrop for the Ringworld story. It was a rich backdrop. Included in those previously published stories were Slaver sunflowers, genetically engineered by an alien race called the Tnuctipun. The Tnuctipun were telepathically controlled by the Thrintin (aka Slavers). Both species died off in a rebellion a billion and a half years ago, but a number of the genetically engineered life forms survived into the present day.

Slaver sunflowers are plants with a single silvered blossom that focuses light onto a photosynthetic node in the middle of the flower making food for the plant. The silvered blossoms can concentrate light elsewhere too. Ostensibly, the Tnuctipun genetically engineered sunflowers to protect the boundaries of Slaver estates. Individually, sunflowers wouldn’t give anyone more than a bad sunburn, but a hedge or field of them concentrating sunlight in unison would burn an invader to ash (at least during the day). This makes them very dangerous and, opens up a lot of possibilities because Louis and Speaker discover a huge field of sunflowers on the Ringworld.

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Tue
Nov 2 2010 4:39pm

Ringworld 40th Anniversary: The Astropolitics of Known Space

The Astropolitics of Known SpaceWe need to coin a term. There is a word, geopolitics, which describes the influence of such factors as geography, economics, and demographics on the politics and especially the foreign policy of a state. We need a term to describe the way that the location of star systems, alien species, economics and politics interact in Ringworld. Let’s call it astropolitics.

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Thu
Oct 21 2010 5:24pm

Ringworld 40th Anniversary: An Increasing Sense of Wonder

Ringworld illustration by Cortney SkinnerRingworld begins with Louis Wu stepping out of a transfer booth (a teleportation device); a seemingly everyday occurrence not much different than using a telephone booth (for those of you who remember those halcyon pre-cell phone days). Niven then paints a picture of the Earth of the mid twenty-ninth century that is at peace, and so interconnected that there is one primary language (Interworld), and cities are indistinct from one another. Humans use technology that is miraculous to us today. In the first four chapters we learn of cosmetic dyes, slidewalks, longevity treatments, holo prints, sleep sets, sonic deadeners, sober pills, tridee, robot bars, sleeping plates (gravity control that produces a localized zero gee environment), reactionless thrusters for spaceship propulsion, stunners, stasis fields (that stop time) and more.

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Tue
Oct 12 2010 10:30am

Ringworld 40th Anniversary: Introduction

Ringworld by Larry Niven, first editionLarry Niven’s Ringworld was first published in October 1970, making this year the 40th anniversary of its original publication. This post is the first in a series celebrating Ringworld’s 40th anniversary here at Tor.com. These posts will be written by a group of Niven fans covering a variety of subjects and themes related to the book.

Ringworld is one of the few novels that have won both of science fiction’s most prestigious literary awards: the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award. It has also won Best Foreign awards from Japan and Australia. The book is Niven’s best known work. Even today, Ringworld’s ongoing popularity is such that fans continue to talk about the Ringworld and its implications. The fact that it has been in print for forty years is a testament to its stature as one of the greatest science fiction books of all time.

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