Tuesday, September 20th, 2005
10:46 pm - Books  
Just to keep track, I finished off three more books earlier this month. The first was Chandler's Trouble Is My Business, a collection of four early Philip Marlowe stories. All were interesting. I also continued my way through Niven, going back and rereading Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers. The original is still great fun, a sort of takeoff on The Wizard of Oz, albeit with a two-headed, three-legged cowardly lion, and a land of Oz that has the surface area of three million Earths. (While reading these books I am often taken aback when it suddenly dawns on me just how frelling big the Ringworld is. Take a roll of paper 1 meter wide by 600 meters long, and connect the two ends to form a big loop. If you lay the loop on its side, it should just about fit onto the playing surface of a typical cookie cutter baseball stadium. Bend 1 mm of each edge inward towards the center of the loop to form a tiny wall. Put a flaming beach ball at the very center (just behind second base) of the loop to represent the sun. You've now constructed a model of the Ringworld at a scale of 1 mm = 1000 miles. By way of comparison, at that scale the Earth's diameter is about the same as a dime's.)

Of all the books, I think Engineers is the best, mostly because the group finally meets the wizard, there are do-or-die obstacles to overcome, and there are serious choices to be made. It's also interesting to see the amount of retconning Niven does over the course of the series, as the Known Space universe became fleshed out more, and the fan geeks began doing calculations on how a real Ringworld would behave. When Louis Wu first landed on the Ringworld, Niven hadn't yet written Protector, so Louis has no idea who the Engineers could be. Move forward ten years, and now both Louis and Speaker/Chmee are fairly confident in their suspicions about who the Engineers were.

My current read is The Last Best League, a book about the Cape Cod League. I'm about a third of the way through, and am enjoying it for the most part.
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