Author: Larry Niven
Publish Date: 1970
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine Books
Sub-Genre: Aliens, Technology, Space Flight, Romance, Inter-species Cooperation
An alien species discovers an artificial ring around a sun as they are fleeing the Galactic Core, where cascading supernovas have sent out a deadly shock and radiation waves which would destroy everything in its path. The aliens, called Pierson’s Puppeteers, tracked down a crew of four, including one of their own, two humans, and another alien; a Kzinti ambassador named ‘speaker-to-animals’.
Together, the unlikely crew went to the ring, a sort of ‘ringworld’ that spun around the sun at 770 miles/second, giving the interior of the ringworld the same gravity of Earth. The purpose was to determine who built it and why they did.
What they found was a world, thousands of times the size of Earth, with the ruins of a once technologically advanced civilization, now reduced to pockets of life, little better than the peons with bow and arrows for defense.
There is a galaxy-changing event that will be ravaging the known worlds in about twenty-thousand years. A chain of supernovas at the galactic core has sent a shockwave which will destroy everything in its path.
One alien species, called ‘puppeteers’, has fled the core to escape the shockwave and have discovered an artificial ring around the sun, 200 light years from Earth. And the puppeteer leader in charge of this mission, named Nessus, puts together a team to go to that ringed sun and investigate. After the team is put together, the four of them travel to the puppeteer homeworld where they obtain a spaceship for the trip to their final destination.
As the team gets closer to the ring, Nessus reveals details about it. An atmosphere is present, Also, the ring is moving around the sun, spinning at 770 miles per second, and generating gravity on the apparent ‘ringworld’.
Once the team arrives, they explore parts of the world as they encounter proof of an advanced civilization that had once existed there, and now only fragments of Stone Age settlements still remain.
Two humans are on the team – one male and one female. And then there was the aggressive Kzin, a cat-like species that thrived on battle in their wars with humans. The puppeteers, however, watched from the sidelines of both species with selective breeding plans of their own. The Ringworld? Was it a threat or the promise of a way to survive?