Apr 20 2012 10:00am

A Ringworld Movie Would Be a Spectacle You Could Never Forget

John Bonner

Ringworld comic by John Bonner

Every so often, comic artist John Bonner reviews books, audio, and more, then turns his reactions into a comic strip. You can check out many more of them at Bonner’s site and more of them here on

He recently reread Larry Niven’s Ringworld, which spins him off into thoughts about special effects, how generations of moviegoers react differently to them, and how Ringworld could still trounce everything if it was ever visualized.


Rob Blake
1. Rob Blake
His copy of Ringworld looks to be in worse shape than mine.
Cait Glasson
2. CaitieCat
Mine long ago lost its pretty cover.

And I think it was a replacement.

The Ringworld is made for modern effects. It could be absolutely intense, I'd think, that first realization of the size and speed of it.
Mike Conley
3. NomadUK
I think Ringworld -- or Childhood's End, which is my personal favourite -- could be awesome, provided that none of the vast batch of nitwits churning out Hollywood dreck get their hands on it. Disney especially, and I don't trust Spielberg, and thank god George Lucas is off masturbating himself into a coma with Star Wars re-edits.

I'm trying to think of someone I would trust to run the operation. Ridley Scott (Alien was great, Blade Runner was great, Prometheus may be great) comes immediately to mind. Maybe Duncan Jones (Moon) or Neill Blomkamp (District 9) ... Peter Jackson? Guillermo del Toro? I'm trying to think of a science fiction film of the past 10 or 20 years -- other than the ones above -- that would lead me to trust its handlers in charge of this project. Maybe not an SF director ... Jonathan Demme? Alejandro AmenĂ¡bar?

All I can say about Ringworld: The Motion Picture is, be careful what you wish for.
j p
4. sps49
Sure, CGI would enable Nessus and Speaker-to-Animals, but you know the ending would be changed by Hollywood. Along with who knows what else.
Rob Blake
5. nafhan
Man, a well done version of a number of Larry Niven books would be awesome. Ringworld, Protector, and some of the Kzin stuff.
...Well done is the key, though. Not sure if that's likely or even possible :(
Rob Blake
6. DavidB
Brad Bird would be my choice for director. He's done animation (The Incredibles) and action (Mission Impossible 4), nearly diametrically opposed in my mind.

He makes the film about the story, and effects are only a means to get there, not the point in and of themselves.

Sean Pratz
7. Galoot
As much as I love Ringworld, the story is all about the effects. In fact, I'd be happy just to watch a Ringworld movie that was nothing more than two hours of panning shots.

Honestly, I'm not sure I'd ever go see a Larry Niven movie. I can't imagine anything blowing my mind like the reel playing inside my head when I read him.
Rob Blake
8. SqueakerToAminals
Frankly I'd look for the Russian who did the original Solaris film way back when ... Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972, if he's still alive ....

Failing that, perhaps a mixture of Russian, Czech and Polish film-makers for the maximum in friction - and probably the maximum in artistic effect.
Rob Blake
9. Ringworld
The Dimensions of Ringworld - "I myself have dreamed up an intermediate step between Dyson Spheres and planets. Build a ring 93 million miles in radius - one Earth orbit - which would make it 600 millions miles long. If we have the mass of Juptier to work with, and if we make it a million miles wide, we get a thickness of about a thousand meters. The Ringworld would thus be much sturdier than a Dyson sphere. There are other advantages. We can spin it for gravity. A rotation on its axis of 770 miles/second would give the Ringworld one gravity outward. We wouldn't even have to roof it over. Put walls a thousand miles high at each rim, aimed at the sun, and very little air will leak over the edges. The thing is roomy enough: three million times the area of Earth. It will be some time before anyone complains of crowding." -Larry Niven, A Hole in Space

I believe his math is a bit off
Rob Blake
10. Chris L Johnston
I once emailed Larry to tell him that, if they're not going to make a full-length Ringworld feature, somebody should at least make a short IMAX film of that final approach by the Lying Bastard, where the view goes from the full ring to the point where all sense of curvature is lost.

He wrote back that it was a "yummy idea". How cool is that?
Rob Blake
11. Curmudgeon
When the original Halo game came out, that gave me my Ringworld visualization fix, complete with approaching the Halo/Ring from space and then walking around on it with the arc disappearing up into the sky. Never had much patience for the running and shooting part, just loved the view:)
Rob Blake
12. Benjamin C. Wade
I want a decently done Ringworld so, so, so badly it hurts. NOT a bastardized version like Will Smith's "I, Robert", or whatever the hell it was, but a faithful version. It could - would probably HAVE to be - a series of movies.
Rob Blake
13. Kenneth G
I want "Ringworld" to be given the big screen treatment, I really do.

Unfortunatly, it's too much of a target for the "Cult of Can't Leave Well Enough Alone" convinced they know Larry Nivens "intent" with his Known Space novels and they'll keep the movie "true to the spirit of Niven's work."

Which means we'll be sure to see that great scene where Kzinti War-Leader Speaker-to-Animals, fights off waves of deadly Thrint-Ninjas bent on stopping them from discovering the Ringworld Weapon, with the help of sexy cybernetic Russian ARM Black-Ops agent Teela Brown and the retired-but-still-deadly intergalactic master assassin, Louis Wu! (cue baysplosions)
Rob Blake
14. Postulative
Unfortunately, movies can never give you as good a picture as your own imagination. That is why books will always win any tussle for dreamers' minds.

Movies also tend to change the story of great books. LOTR, I, Robot (which had nothing to do with the book)... they lose a lot in translation.
Michelle Morgan
15. goblinbox
Oh, oh, oh -- I would so love to see Ringworld visualized! Well, except that I'd probably hate it, and complain endlessly. ;-)

If someone shoots it, let it be like Blade Runner: kinda based on Androids, but not enough to matter.
Rob Blake
16. Whomever1
There's too much backstory in Ringworld. When I read Ringworld the first time I already knew what the agendas and personalities of the Puppeteers and Kzinti were like--it would take too many talking heads to get it across in a movie.
The only person who could do justice to this movie would be Hayao Miyazaki. But he'd do better with a series of shorts from Known Space.
Sean Pratz
17. Galoot
I disagree. As someone who popped his Niven cherry with Ringworld, the sheer spectacle of the story was enough to keep me enthralled. Remember the first time you heard a song that completely blew you away, even before you understood the lyrics?

Besides, there was enough exposition throughout to allow me to figure it out. Reading the backstory later was delicious gravy.
Rob Blake
18. The Patriot
i think for a start, "The mote in god's eye" which i think is the best book i ever read will be better to begin with. its more focused and could be done in two or two and a half hours of movie. the ring triology demands a series

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