In Ringworld, the puppeteer Nessus leads the expedition with a goal of mating with the Hindmost.

In the sequels, the Conservatives took over power on the Fleet of Worlds and the deposed Hindmost kidnaps Louis Wu and Chmeee and leads them in the second expedition to the Ringworld.

We never get to know the name of this deposed Hindmost. He is always referred to as the Hindmost, even though he no longer is.

In Fleet of Worlds, set about 200 years before the discovery of the Ringworld, Nessus has a romantic interest in Nike, who ends up as Hindmost. Is Nike the same "Hindmost" we see in Ringworld? Is there anything that confirms or contradicts this hypothesis?

  • I read only the ringworld trilogy and I don't remember any "Hindmost". Neither does the wiki article contain any mention of them. So please clarify the first line.
    – apoorv020
    Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 19:05
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    How can you not remember any Hindmost? He does not appear in first novel, but he's a major character in the sequels. Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 19:07
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    Have you read all three of the Foo of Worlds books? I don't think it is made explicit but it seems very clear that Nike is the Hindmost of Ringworld and also the Puppeteer who kidnaps Louis Wu and Chmeee in the sequels. Commented Apr 10, 2011 at 20:13
  • Here's hoping it's clarified in Fate of Worlds. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 1:18
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    After reading several contradictory answers I have to say "The Devil take the HIndmost!" Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 16:29

6 Answers 6


The Hindmosts, I recall, were Nike, then Baedeker, then Achilles (based on the XXX of Worlds series). Achilles is supposed to still be in power when the Ringworld saga occurs based on the end of Betrayer of Worlds.

Also there is a scene with all the past Hindmosts gathering for a decision. Chronos was a much previous Hindmost.

And in the latest Fate of Worlds, it is revealed that Hindmost is Baedeker. Together with Nessus they have children on New Terra. Fate of Worlds is a great wrap up that ties up a lot of loose ends nicely.

  • I remember being extremely confused when it identified Baedeker as the mate of Nessus. I had read everything previous to that with the assumption that it was Nike. Commented Feb 20 at 20:18

After I finished Betrayer of Worlds I did some digging around in the Ringworld sequels and tried to come up with a definitive answer. This is what I came up with.

  • By Earth date 2780, at the end of Betrayer of Worlds, Achilles is the Hindmost of the Concordance. The second Ringworld expedition takes place in 2878, 98 years later.

  • In Ringworld Engineers, "Hindmost" says:

    "I served my species well, and four Hindmosts served well before me, before the Conservative faction found power to replace my faction."

    He claims to be the fifth on a series of five Experimentalist Hindmosts. In Fleet of Worlds, we witness the raise of the Experimentalists to power, under the rule of Nike. After Nike, Baedeker and Achilles followed him according to Betrayer of Worlds. If we are to follow the word of "Hindmost", he is neither. Someone else replaced Achilles, and then "Hindmost" replaced that someone, and then he was deposed.

  • When Louis asked him why he was deposed, "Hindmost" answered:

    "Some of my decisions were not popular. I meddled with human and kzinti destiny. Somehow you learned our secret, how we had tampered with the Fertility Laws on Earth in an attempt to breed lucky humans, and with the course of the First War With Men, to produce reasonable kzinti."

    Fleet of Worlds tells us that the meddling with the Fertility Laws was authorized by Nike in 2650. "Hindmost" seems to imply that this was his decision. If that is true, it means "Hindmost" is Nike.

    But "Hindmost" continues:

    "You know that I agreed to take Nessus as mate if he returned from the Ringworld. He demanded this concession. And he returned, and we mated. Then we did it again, for love. Nessus was mad, and the Hindmost has often been mad, and ... they deposed me."

    Nessus had been infatuated with Nike and then with Baedeker, so this seems to imply that either one of these is "Hindmost".

  • When Louis asked when the superconductor plague was spread, "Hindmost" answered:

    "Eleven hundred and forty years ago by Earth time. The Conservatives ruled for six hundred years. Then the threat of the kzinti put Experimentalists back in power. When the time seemed opportune, I sent Nessus and his team to the Ringworld. If the structure had survived for eleven hundred years after the fall of the culture that kept it in repair, it would have been worth investigating. I could have sent a trade and rescue team. Unfortunately --"

    This seems to imply that the Experimentalists ruled since 2335 until the time of the first expedition. Which we know is not true, because Fleet of Worlds shows a Conservative Hindmost in power in 2650.

I have now read everything Niven has written so far in Known Space and I can't draw a definitive conclusion about this. I guess we'll have to chalk it up to "Hindmost" lying and to:

Known Space should be seen as a possible future history told by people that may or may not have all their facts right.

Personally, I think "Hindmost" is either Achilles, an unnamed Hindmost, or not a Hindmost at all. I don't think that either Baedeker or Nike are insane enough to act like "Hindmost", and Achilles is known to be incredibly insane.

  • Nice answer! That last quote seems familiar; is that from Niven? Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 5:12
  • @neilfein: yes, it's from Niven. Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 5:15
  • No, I mean where is it from? Sounds like something I'd like to read more of. Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 5:15
  • Sorry, I don't know where it's from :( I think it's something he said, not wrote, somewhere. Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 5:26
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    Btw, there's also "Like, he wanted me to be inconsistent. I can't do that, not on purpose." (this one is from the "Down in Flames" outline) Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 5:32

Martinho lists everything I considered, but the one thing I think he missed was Ringworld Hindmost's engineering skill. No hindmost in Fleet of Worlds has that skill except for Baedeker. If it is another hindmost, then he has yet to surface, which would make little sense because Ringworld Hindmost points out his own involvement in earlier policies and programs. Particularly, Hindmost states that he helped develop the superconductor plague that destroyed the City Builders civilization. He felt what remorse from that I suppose a Puppeteer could possibly feel. Baedeker clearly was involved in that plot since he knew enough about the Ringworld to destroy the evidence of it prior to the Gwa'oth taking control of the Concordance. Also, Baedeker clearly is the better hindmost compared to Achilles. Lastly, Achilles is not a conservative, and never was one. Achilles would have no trouble leaving the Ringworld to fall into its star, and would not have been capable of exceeding the engineering and technical skill of a Pak Protector when guiding the flare at the end of Ringworld Engineers (really beginning of Ringworld Throne when Niven wrote that the Ringworld inhabitants did not suffer as great a loss).

It seems more reasonable to me that Baedeker eventually deposes Achilles, kicks the Gw'oth from the Concordance, and is then deposed by the Conservatives to make his way to Known Space and kidnap Louis Wu. The authors can do whatever they want with the plot, but I don't see any reasonable way to avoid making Baedeker one and the same as the Hindmost in Ringworld. One also should consider whether Nessus would produce offspring with Achilles of all people.

  • First of all welcome to the site! You raise good points, here are my thoughts: 1) Baedeker probably knew about the Ringworld just because he had been Hindmost and had access to the records. 2) Good point about Achilles not caring much about the Ringworld inhabitants to save them. 3) I vaguely remember Baedeker being terrified (Puppeteer-like terrified) of starship travel after the incidents in Destroyer of Worlds, but I don't have the book at hand here, so I'll have to check it up later. 4) Since not all the details of "Hindmost"'s tale add up, his mating with Nessus could be just another lie. Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 11:06
  • Thanks for your thoughts, you made me reconsider the possibility of "Hindmost" being Baedeker. Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 11:06
  • We will know when Fate of Worlds is finally released from the publishers. Lerner has known who he will write as Hindmost, but he is keeping it secret as far as I know. He does answer questions from readers on his blog, but I am rather certain he will not divulge the identity of Hindmost. Honestly, it clearly only comes down to either Baedeker or Nike. Both fit the description in various ways. I personally like the character Baedeker quite a lot, so I do hope it is him. edward-m-lerner.blogspot.com/2010/12/…
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 17:33
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    Oh, there will be a fifth book in the series! I can't wait for it, though it seems it's quite a long time away :( Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 18:39
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    Yeah, but that might not be out until sometime next year. One other issue I forgot was that you really only have about seventy years from the close of Betrayer of Worlds until Nessus recruits Louis Wu again for the Ringworld mission. I suppose it is possible for a new character to emerge in that time, but I don't see it as likely. Nike fits the affectations and fashion of Hindmost. Baedeker fits the intelligence, engineering skill, and relative sense of empathy displayed by Hindmost. It could go either way. But Baedeker is far more dynamic than Nike. He truly is the counterpart to Sigmund.
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 19:37

Looks to me like Achilles is still hindmost with Chiron (aka Ol't'ro) as Minister of Science a the time of Ringworld -- and they don't know about the Pupeteers previous meddling with the ringworld. The only places that information still exists is in Baedecker's brain (if he's still alive) and in the Hindmost's refuge with Nike.

On the other hand, the Hindmost of Ringworld Engineers does know about that. My money is that that is Nike, and that both he and Nessus and lying to Louis and the others about their motives and status and the the politics of the Fleet. Whether Achilles is still "in power" or whether the conservatives have taken over is not obvious.


Turns out it's Baedecker - "Fate of Worlds" p. 130 finally confirms this, after dropping lots of hints. a Conservative government is running the Fleet by this time so we don't know those Hindmosts. But at times during the "Fleet of Worlds" series, Nike, Achilles, and Baedecker all serve as Hindmost.

  • This is now the most up-to-date and accurate answer... a shame the user hasn't accepted it yet.
    – rschwieb
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 18:13

After having just finished Betrayer of Worlds, I find it really hard to believe Nessus would ever consider mating with Achilles, and it's clear Achilles despises Nessus. My guess is that it's either Baedecker returned to power as he claimed he could eventually do, even from imprisonment, or Nike. Achilles may still be in power under Chiron/O'ltro (Spelling?) and one is posing as Hindmost, or else they really ousted him and they are unaware (or hell, maybe cooperating with) Chiron. Considering the nightmare retconning can be, this could be worse. That even leaves Nivin room for a couple more books before butting up to Ringworld.

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