Cover art for “The Ringworld Engineers”
If you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.
I decided to read The Ringworld Engineers (1979) mainly because I’d recently re-read my copy of Ringworld (1970) not long ago for the “jillionth” time. Well, maybe not that frequently, since I didn’t recall too much about the novel (I bought my paperback copy in 1976 and still have it. See the photo below).
It occurred to me after finishing Ringworld that I couldn’t recall reading any of the sequels. When I looked Engineers up, I didn’t recognize the plot. So I put in an order from my local public library and in due course, it became available for pick up.
Sure enough, the book was a stranger to me.
In Ringworld, Louis Wu is recruited by a Pierson’s Puppeteer named Nessus along with a twenty-year-old girl named Teela Brown and a Kzin ambassador to Earth called Speaker-to-Animals. They were to explore a then undisclosed space object in exchange for a ship that can travel far faster than anything humans or Kzin had.
Scientists have revealed a provocative new theory of moving planets like Mars, pictured, into an orbit that would create habitable conditions through such methods as using a satellite’s gravitational pull. (NASA/GODDARD)
The plans were extravagant in the extreme. For centuries, the thought of creating a Dyson Sphere, that is, manufacturing an immense hollow ball around the Sun with the inner edge of the shell positioned at One AU or the exact distance of Earth’s orbit from its star was thought to be the absolute cure-all for every problem introduced on the mother planet by human beings. The inner surface area would capture one hundred percent of all generated solar energy, providing an all but inexhaustible amount of power and living space, so humanity would run out of neither.
One of the biggest drawbacks was that you’d have to cannibalize every other object in the solar system just for the raw materials, plus you would have to find a way to create the energy necessary for the manufacturing process. However, the engineering genius even to design such a fantastic structure didn’t exist among Earth’s best and brightest and probably never would.