Niven, Larry, and Edward M. Lerner. Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld. New York: Tor, 2012. 319 pp. $25.99. Hardback. ISBN 978-0-7653-3100-7.
After more than four decades, the fate of the Ringworld and its cast of trillions is revealed. Niven and Lerner have outdone themselves in bringing to a conclusion the saga of a world vast and diverse beyond measuring. And the ultimate danger comes from an unexpected front. This works particularly well with its retelling of established events, sometimes verbatim from earlier books, sometimes from the perspective of a character not given a voice in the original. So, despite the frequent flashbacks, very little of the material is a repetition of earlier text. Best of all, the long guessed-at identity of the Hindmost who abducted Louis and Chmeee is at last revealed and the reunion between long-separated spouses is touching in a way that demonstrates humanity in those most alien of aliens, the Puppeteers.
There are some inconsistencies in the narrative, such as the use of the term “Legal Entity (LE)” when it was entirely absent from the original Ringworld stories, but with canon being built up over more than forty years, with more than a dozen authors contributing to it, such minor items can mostly be ignored. Another inconsistency is the name of a major character, Louis Wu. In the earlier stories, it is indicated that it is pronounced like Louie but later ones have it expressed as similar to Lewis. This, as well as structural retconning of the narrative in general, is something Niven has readily admitted to in introductory materials to earlier books. Fortunately, Niven and Lerner continue to be such an excellent team that a reader can easily overlook these minor problems. This is otherwise a seamless meshing of the Ringworld and Fleet of Worlds series and an admirable conclusion to the tale.
– Prof. J. Holder Bennett, Collin College