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    Ringworld by Larry Niven The other day, Nate and I were reminiscing about how much we liked "Ringworld" by Larry Niven. It's this kickass science fiction book about some guys who build a ring-shaped planet. We waxed enthusiastic for several minutes before we realized that we really didn't retain much in the way of specifics, since we each read it ten years ago, and our "reminiscing" consisted merely of recalling stuff that could be inferred from the title of the book.

    PAUL: Wasn't it great how the planet was shaped by a ring?
    NATE: But it was a whole world! It was like a ring world.
    PAUL: And like a ring, it had no beginning and no end.
    NATE: Just like my copy of the book!
    PAUL: Imagine if our world was a ring. It would be shaped just like a donut!
    NATE: What?
    PAUL: (drools quietly)

    That's why we decided we would be the perfect candidates to write a joint "Ring World" book report. You see, someone once said that "some of the best teachers are those who are still struggling with the material themselves", and while this is a lie, it does justify a shocking amount of ignorance.



    PAUL: I'm pretty sure the main character is Japanese. Either that or he was in Japan at one point in the book. At the beginning, I remember there were all these transporters all over Earth, and you could go from LA to Japan in a single step.

    NateNATE: You know, the longest journey starts with a single step.


    PAUL: Ha! Ha! I think you've just identified a "theme," my bookish buddy.

    NateNATE: The Ringworld was this great big world that revolved around the inner side of a giant rotating wheel. At the center of the wheel where the axle would go was a giant artificial sun. Then this guy has sex with a girl in the bushes.


    PAUL:I think one of the Japanese guy's companions was a kilrathi from the seminal sci-fi flick "Wing Commander." For those of you who haven't seen the movie yet, the Kilrathi was a masterpiece of innovative alien conceptual design, and looked just like the Cowardly Lion.

    NateNATE: I just remember that there was this tall grey guy and that some other guy has sex with a girl in the bushes.


    PAUL: There were these blockers that revolved around the artificial sun that were spaced evenly apart. They would either cast "daylight" or create "night" on Ringworld.

    NateNATE: The ribbon of Ringworld was "two Earths" wide. Plenty of room for screwing in the bushes.


    PAUL: But as I remember, the main kind of plant on Ringworld is a flower that concentrates the light of the sun -- a "sun flower" if you will -- and fires it as a laser, so if you were having sex in the bushes you'd be fried to a crisp. I think that happened to the kilrathi guy at one point. His fur was burned off amusingly.

    NateNATE: I don't know why but the thing I remember vividly is the sex. The girl was lying on her back in the grass and they were both completely naked. They weren't in the bushes, per se, but rather behind the bushes. The grass was very soft but the bushes hid their sex from the grey guy and the guy who was a cat. I remember it so vividly because I wanted to be that guy having sex with a girl behind the bushes. Also I imagined the cat guy to look like the Cowardly Lion.


    PAUL: I think we've been over that.

    NateNATE: You know, the funny thing was, even though the cat guy looked like the Cowardly Lion, he was very brave.


    PAUL: I think that's the moral.

    NateNATE: (contemplatively) Maybe there wasn't even a tall grey guy at all. But if there were, wouldn't it be shocking? I think it's because having sex while there's a tall grey guy nearby is so taboo.



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