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Short review - long winded soapbox.
Casting picked the wrong narrator for this book. Mr.Garcia speaks with a clear voice that might be a pleasure to listen to if given the right story. His voice has a pleading quality to it - sometimes a whining quality. I see Mr. Garcia reading the classics or maybe some genre I don't listen to such as childrens books.
After listening to the first book in this series my impression was serious fictional science with fun banter, appropriate sarcasm, and witty conversation. Mr. Parker nailed the first book with his outstanding performance. I mean he nailed it. His voice, inflections, emphasis were all spot on. I was able to laugh in the right places, be shocked in other places and follow along with the story very easily.
In the second book much was lost. Too much. I would have to listen to something multiple times to realize that was supposed to be a funny part or the characters picking on each other or some serious encounter. But instead the whole book is lost in an incorrect emotional interpretation. All sense of tension countered by comic relief is lost. Instead all the characters seem to be whining or complaining to each other.
This is one of the fails when converting a series into audible content. Publishers need to realize the narrator is a huge part of the book. They can turn a wonderful book into a painful drag or even turn a mediocre book into something worth listening to. With Mr. Parker they found the right narrator - then immediately changed for someone so wrong for the part. I notice in future books Mr. Parker does not return. Unfortunate. I'm not sure I can go through one more book with Mr. Garcia only to be facing another change in narrators. Ugh.
As a parallel - Jim Butcher has a series called The Dresden Files. It is outstanding! For 13 volumes the narrator, Mr. Glover, gave an outstanding performance. Voice perfect. In volume 13 they brought in a new narrator and I almost lost interest in the whole series. Maybe I was totally used to Mr. Marsters by that time but I don't think I would have listened to the whole series if it was read by the narrator of volume 13. Fortunately this publisher realized the situation and brought out volume 14 with the original narrator. Outstanding!
If all publishers would realize their narrators are bringing their books to life and their voice must be matched to the character then I think the audible world would be much better. If they find the right voice in the early volumes of a series - stick with it! Pay him or her more if you have to but don't swap voices without due consideration for the impact on the listener. Narrators are celebrities in a real sense. If my favorite artist (narrator) is reading in a genre I listen to (or one I want to try) I jump on it because of the narrator and I'm generally pleased with the outcome.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
First let me say that the Narrator isn't as good as the one on the first book but not as bad as the one for the 4th book Ringworld's Children, it should be the same narrator for all the books in a series but I guess its not possible every time
This is the start of a series of books that the author never set out to make a series, this was never planed but after 10 years and many fans point out errors with the Ringworld as well as wanting more he made this book and I am glad he did.
The author says that MIT students attending the 1971 World Science Fiction Convention chanted, "The Ringworld is unstable! The Ringworld is unstable!" Niven says that one reason he wrote The Ringworld Engineers was to address these engineering problems.
In the first book you are introduced to the Ringworld and there are some inaccurate or overlooked features about the Ringworld that were corrected in this book or at least helped to explain them better, if you read the first book and loved it then this is a must read.
Louis Wu went to the Ringworld 20 years ago and now he goes back with his friend Chmeee (the "ch" is pronounced like a guttural German "ch", as in "ach" the narrator does it correct in this book but the one for the 4th one Ringworld's Children don't) "Speaker-to-Animals" from the first book who has a name.
This book explores some of the Ringworld and you get to see more of how it works, it has become unstable in its orbit and if not corrected it will brush against its sun and obliterate everything on the surface and probably destroy the Ringworld itself but Louie Wu and hos motley crew are back to help fix the problem.
There must be a control or repair center on the Ringworld to fix the problem and they must find it, but who made the Ringworld and how long ago is still a mystery that will be discovered in this book.
There are whole maps of planets in a 1:1 scale on the Ringworld that are of Worlds in Known Space including Earth and Mars, others are unknown but you find out its the home world of the makers of the Ringworld.
other questions still remain after reading this book, some will be answered in the following books and others can be found in the prequels, still others remain a mystery for the reader to infer.
This is pretty much a must read if you liked the first book, now some people say the next one isn't that good and that the 4th one is also not so good, I have read them all and they aren't bad, you can read my reviews of them also if you look them up
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Ringworld Engineers is by far the best of the Ringworld books.
IMPORTANT NOTE: For people new to the Ringworld series - Read “Protector” before you get “Engineers”
(It fits between the first and second book)
This novel is the answer to the riddle “Who Built the Ring and why”
Note: The 1980’s Role Playing Game of Ringworld is based completely on this book.
The original book was well worthy of the awards that it won, however this is a much more complete travelogue around the ring than its predecessor
I rate it has a hard SF novel that that easily competes with Dune and the like because of the vast scale and clean science behind the writing.
Perhaps most importantly it is just a great adventure story that explores the vast structure without getting bogged down in personal angst, politics, or too much scientific theory.
(There’s far too much of that these days in science fiction)
Niven at his very best!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
I stuck with it for the technical story, but none of the big reveals were that surprising. Characterisation suffered by comparison to the original novel, and there were stupid editorial errors which were so obvious, I cannot understand why they weren't corrected for the recording. There is an obsession with interspecies sex that goes way beyond an interesting cross-cultural comparison. I think Niven was randy when he wrote this, or the joke is so subtle that it escapes me. There are a couple of major plot holes, such as... SPOILER... Niven's assumption that new species of hominid can evolve on the Ringworld but not new pathogens. He bases this on the idea that the builders would not have imported any diseases. Logical, they probably wouldn't. But if new hominids can evolve from the existing inhabitants and exploit different ecological niches, why not new micro-organisms that are pathogenic? Hence, unprotected interspecies sex would be as riddled with danger as the regular kind!
The voice was poorly chosen. Not suitable for the genre and the reader and/or the voice director clearly have no understanding of the genre as evidenced by some very peculiar use of emphasis and pronunciation of terms early on.
But it's not all bad. The last half dozen chapters were quite good.
Niven once said he never intended to write this sequel, and took nearly ten years over it. His reluctance shows.
Any additional comments?
I don't know how much was the book, the narration, or just my expectations but this one just didn't grab me like the first in series. The story seemed flatter and though the narration was good, I didn't fall in love. The first Ringworld narrator was, I guess, my 'first love' of audiobooks, so kind of a high standard to meet!