An Analysis of Ringworld by Larry Niven

Ringworld is about a 200 year old man, named Luis Wu, who is asked by an alien called a puppeteer, named Nessus, to join him in studying a mysterious artifact in space. The artifact is a habitat, shaped like a ring, that is rotating around it's sun to create gravity. It's three million times the area of the Earth, and Nessus hopes to use it as a shelter from an oncoming wave of radiation that is going to kill all life in Known Space (the term Niven gave to our section of the galaxy). They are joined by a cat-like creature called a kzin and another human named Teela Brown.

This book was very interesting to me. It displayed a number of possible technologies that seem very likely to one day exist. It had a very philosophical narrative that examined the concept of morality, the human mind, and the nature of civilization. In addition to all of this, Ringworld also has a very distinct pattern of dialogue. Each character has a way of speaking that is specific to their species. The kzin speaks very formally, but also aggressively. He's willing to fight, but isn't spiteful or rash. The puppeteer is just as logical and formal as the kzin, however he's a coward and will curl up in a ball at the first sight of danger. The humans are more casual in there speech and are neither as cowardly or courageous as their companions.

This shows in the dialogue, through the use of slang, contractions, and the overall attitude that is presented in a given situation. In my writing I use a similar approach to distinguishing characters. The characters from Lunaria tend to use words that aren't commonly used today. For example, where an average person might say, "My friend needs me to help him replace the windows," Grundle might say, "My friend is replacing his windows and is in need of my help." Notice how I moved the position of "replacing his windows" in order to use the phrase "in need of." This is to give the impression that the people of Lunaria are using an older and more formal English than ours; a technique which I use to add to the "other worldly" effect of Lunaria. This is just one example of the ways I try to make speech distinctive for each character.

Larry Niven's Ringworld has a more diverse set of speech patterns than Lunaria, because in the Ringworld universe, there are more civilizations. Lunaria is one civilization, so the characters are more likely to have similar ways of speaking. All in all, many things can be learned about dialogue through Ringworld and, hopefully, through Lunaria as well.