Larry Niven’s background, before writing, included mathematics and psychology. He professes “a sense of wonder that’s firmly anchored in the real-world setting of science and technology.” Back in 1966, for example, while I was busy being born, Niven was writing about the newly-described phenomenon of neutron stars. He’s been a prolific writer of short stories and novels, exploring science phenomenon and building universes. Along the way, he’s gathered an impressive number of awards accompanied by critical and fan acclaim.
He’s been inspired by such varied things as a talk with Steven Hawking, and suggestions from his friends Fred Pohl and Norman Spinrad. His subject matter has been as diverse as straight mystery, hard sci-fi, and even three scripts for the TV series Land of the Lost!
(I loved that show as a kid. It stands up to re-watching, too, with surprisingly solid scripts for a Saturday-morning 70’s kid’s show. Not surprising, now that I have some idea of who was working on it. David Gerrold, too?!? Seriously, Land of the Lost will be its own blog post sometime. Sleeeeeeestaks!)
Arguably Niven’s most influential work is the body of material around Ringworld, published originally in 1970. Set in 2850 CE (Earth date), it involves characters from Niven’s Known Space series exploring a world that is an artificial ring approximately the diameter of Earth’s orbit. It was so engaging that he created four sequels and four prequels. Fan involvement with this series is intense, and spawned sequels including Ringworld Engineers and Ringworld’s Children.
Most of Niven’s work in recent years has been in collaboration, including work with Jerry Pournelle, Greg Benford, Edward M. Lerner, and Michael Flynn, as well as previous GBR subject Steven Barnes. He’s allowed other writers to work in part of his Known Space universe, which has led to eleven published “Man-Kzin Wars” anthologies.
Larry Niven’s website includes links to his active fan community pages. If you enjoyed our Readathon entry, Dream Park, you should consider visiting to see what’s up. If past history is an indicator, you may be able to be small part of creating the Ringworld legacy: additional sequels are a definite possibility!
As for me, time is still pressing. So with a final nod to Dream Park, I’m off to read our next book, Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.