I’ve moved without a pause from Accelerando to Larry Niven’s Ringworld. Where Stross’s book is cutting edge, Ringworld is a classic, written in 1970 and the winner of both Huge and Nebula awards for best novel. It too deals with such concepts (or variations on) as Dyson Spheres, but is decidedly more casual then Stross.

I read this novel about a decade ago, and remember thinking well of it if not too highly; enough time has elapsed that I’ve forgotten the details, and I’m interested in comparing Niven’s style to Stross’s. I’ve already read the first couple of chapters, and am put more in mind of Heinlein than of Stross or Gibson; the prose is easy going, the story focuses on the characters and not the technology, and Niven doesn’t seem overly concerned with verisimilitude. Where Stross might go on at length about the design and method of propulsion of a starship, Niven is content to breezily describe it as a ‘quantum II hyperdrive shunt’ and leave it at that. It just works, and that’s all there is too it. Which is oddly refreshing, in a way, and yet feels amateurish in another.

I’m going to see how it pans out. Would Niven’s book have been a success today, I wonder?