The sci fi classics, that is.Â Mark and I recently got an Audible subscription, and so far we’ve worked our way through The Mote in God’s Eye (Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle) and Ringworld (Niven alone).
I have to say, it’s wild reading sci fi from the seventies.Â People keep using futuristic versions of outdated technology, like intercoms.Â Oh, and watches.Â Which just goes to show that we’re all products of our own times, or something like that.
Mark and I started with Mote, which is a good thing, because if we had started with Ringworld there’s a good chance we would not have continued.Â It is hard science.Â Like, uh, diamond hard.
Now, I enjoy a little hard science now and again.Â I can appreciate the Herculean effort involved in creating the Ringworldâ€”a enormous ring of metal, as large as the Earth’s orbit, which spins around its sun.Â People live on the interior edge of the Ringworld, which has a surface area equal to three hundred million Earths.
I can appreciate the difficulty in creating a material strong enough to construct the Ringworld, and in fabricating enough of it, and in clearing the solar system of planets, moons, and meteors (because you need the matter they’re composed of, and also because a structure with three hundred million times Earth’s surface area is about three hundred million times more likely to be hit by space debris).Â I can appreciate the fact that the Ringworld gets its gravity from centripetal force.Â And I can even appreciate the fact that what we perceive as centripetal force is actually inertia.
But at some point, and it’s usually around the phase “forty percent of neutrinos,” something inside me just gives up.
Which is why audio book is about the ideal format for me to enjoy this story.Â I’ve heard people refer to audio books as “unskimmable,” but for me it’s exactly the opposite.Â When I’ve got a page in front of me, I feel obligated to pay proper attention to each word.Â When I’m listening, though, I don’t.Â My mind sort of naturally skims for me; when I reach a point where my interest lags, my thoughts drift off in another directionâ€”and generally drift back twenty or thirty seconds later, usually before I miss anything juicy.
If you love hard sci, or if you’re ok with skimming, I’d recommend either of these books.Â It’s easy to see why they’re classics.Â They are both built on incredibly big ideas, and each has an intriguing mystery at its heart.
We’ll probably need a third tome to listen to on a road trip at the end of March.Â Does anyone have a really good sci fi rec?