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Larry Niven's novel Ringworld is, according to wikipedia, "followed by three sequels, and preceded by four prequels".

1) Is it a good idea to read all of them (or is there another Star Warsgate waiting...)?

2) For the recommended novels from the series, what is the best reading order? Chronologically? By date of publication?

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I would recommend the first few Ringworld books. (Ringworld, Engineer, Throne, Children) then read the XXX of Worlds. (Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds, Destroyer of Worlds, Betrayer of Worlds).

You will enjoy the XXX of Worlds more, if you have read more of Niven's Known Space series. The second one, Juggler of Worlds is actually a TON more fun, if you have read many of the underlying stories. Very much like Ender's Shadow, it replays well known stories from the original stories, but from a different perspective. Which like Ender's Shadow is very entertaining.

If not, it looks like a strange set of unrelated stories, trying to be connected, and pretty tenuously.

For example, Carlos Wu's autodoc is mentioned in later Ringworld stories (I think in Ringworlds Children) and we know a little about Carlos, but we see a lot more about him in Juggler of Worlds.

  • Cool, thanks a lot! :-) – Thomas Jun 13 '11 at 20:21
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    Ringworld will make a lot more sense if you read Neutron Star first. One bookseller found that twice as many readers tried another Niven book if they started with Neutron Star instead of Ringworld. – sjl Jun 21 '11 at 10:31
  • @sjl: That is cool. Some of Neutron Star is replayed inside the first Juggler of Worlds book as well). – geoffc Jun 21 '11 at 17:09
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Try the following sequence of novels (some are collections of short stories):

  1. Neutron Star (introduces many key ideas like Known Space, Outsider Hyperdrive, and the Puppeteers).
  2. World of Ptavv (reveals more about the ancient Slavers that ruled the Galaxy).
  3. Protector (the backstory of the Pak, which is crucial to many key points in Ringworld).
  4. Ringworld (introduction to Larry's "Big Dumb Object")
  5. Ringworld Engineers (we discover the fate of the Puppeteers and the Ringworld).
  6. Crashlander (the backstory of Beowolf Shaeffer).
  7. Flatlander (the backstory of Carlos Wu).
  8. Ringworld Throne (the least gripping of all the novels; reveals Puppeteer technology).
  9. Ringworld's Children (stunning conclusion to the Ringworld arc).
  10. Fleet of Worlds series (a new arc about the main players in Known Space).

Novels that are not on the Known Series arc do not contribute to this sequence (e.g. "World Out of Time", "Integral Trees"). Novels that are not required but add to the background are "The Long A.R.M. of Gil Hamilton", "A Gift From Earth".

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You might want to read Protector and World of Ptavvs before any of them. Fate of worlds ( the 5th worlds book) is not worth the bother as it was extemely poor. I agree with the comment about Neutron Star.

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