Tuesday, August 21, 2012

There is no fate (of worlds) but what we make ourselves

With apologies to John Connor :-)

Epic end of an epoch
And with apologies, as well, to Douglas Adams, I'll mention that Fate of Worlds was forty-two years in the making. How so? Because (as some of the fine print on the cover points out), Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld is the finale to the Fleet of Worlds series and the Ringworld series. And Larry Niven's endlessly popular Ringworld first appeared way back in 1970.

But enough of apologies and perhaps obscure references! On to the breaking news ... Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld was released today.

Where it all began
At the end of Ringworld's Children (Ringworld series, book #4) adventurer Louis Wu and the mad Puppeteer known only as Hindmost escaped the millions-of-times-the-size-of-Earth artifact known as the Ringworld just before it ... vanished. Have you ever wondered what Louis and Hindmost did next? Where they went next?

And have you wondered who -- among the many Puppeteers seen in the Fleet series -- the Hindmost might be?

Human, Kzinti, and Trinoc fleets had fought for the right to conquer the Ringworld -- and their prize has eluded them. Whom will they make pay for the blood already spilled and treasure already spent?

Louis Wu before Ringworld
At the close of Betrayer of Worlds (Fleet of Worlds series, book #4), the Puppeteer's Fleet of Worlds had fallen under the thumb (er, tubacle) of alien puppet masters. New Terra remained lost in space, with no clue to the location of the legendary Earth. Did you ever wonder how all that turned out?

For answers to those questions -- and many more -- check out Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld. Because (to reference other fine print on the cover)  "explosive finale" is not in the least bit hyperbole.

Or, as (in one of my favorite early reviews) Library Journal describes it:
“... Brings to a stunning close a multivolume saga that has captured the imaginations of a multitude of readers … a story that will attract attention from series fans as well as readers of hard sf.”
Fate of Worlds: Return from the Ringworld
(in HB at Amazon, mass-market paperback at Amazon, and for the Kindle)
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
Tor Books
ISBN-13: 978-0765331007
Also in audio and many other ebook formats
Fate of Worlds -- excerpt from the publisher here


jaguar said...

Congratulations, Sir!
I'm waiting for Amazon to deliver the book.

Edward M. Lerner said...


Unknown said...

Cant wait to pick it up. Is there an audio book available?

Edward M. Lerner said...

Thanks, Mike.

Yes, Fate is available in all the typical audio formats.

MikeP said...

I can't wait, Ed. I hate that it's the last, but I'll live. Thanks so much for doing this series. It's been a blast. You've really done the Known Space saga a service. And thanks to Larry for letting you!


Edward M. Lerner said...

I appreciate that, Mike.

Anonymous said...

Reading it as we speak... My girlfriend can barely wait for me to finish...

Edward M. Lerner said...

Now no fighting ;-)

Unknown said...

So, is this it for "Known Space"?

Unknown said...

One more silly question ... do the New Terrans not have booster spice or its equivalent?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations for this book in this great saga, I was (am) really excited about.
One little note: I'm from Brazil and I can't buy the Kindle version from Amazon nor the ebook version from others vendors because it's not available for customers in my country due to unknown reasons.
It's very sad cause I'll have to wait till october for my printed copy arrive :-(
All in all, thank you for this work and I hope I'll finnaly know who is the "Hindmost".

Best regards,

Edward M. Lerner said...

@Mike Hansen: Is this it for Known Space? I'm only saying that a particular storyline has ended. Larry may well decide to do something in other corners of Known Space.

As for boosterspice, you're correct that the New Terrans don't have that (or equivalent) technology. Boosterspice itself was invented by Jinxians (mentioned in one of the Ringworld books), and the New Terrans have had no contact with Jinx.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Fabio, I'm sorry for your long wait. But when you do get your copy of Fate, you *will* learn the identity of Hindmost.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was pretty great. There are still some unanswered questions and I was wondering if I could ask them. I'd do it here but I'd rather not spoil it for people...

Edward M. Lerner said...

Ask away (though I reserve the right not to answer specific questions).

Anonymous said...

Since I don't think there ARE spoiler tags here (and if there are, whoops) consider this whole post one big fat SPOILER.

Cuz, y'know, you should REALLY read it on your own...

What's up with Thshthhfok (or however that is spelled)? He was last seen in Brennan's single ship landing on unknown planet with master plans and a knowledge of hyperspace.

Are we to assume Ol'r'to died?

Why was Proteus protecting the GP factory and not anything else? I don't remember an explanation as to why that spot was so important to him... (PS Awesome ending with him)

Why wouldn't Nessus at least try and sneak into New Terra and get his kids back? Yes it's super dangerous, but it's NESSUS. And his kids.

So Baedeker turned the planetary drives in Type II (?) hyperdrives... Can he still not create more? How DID the first one get made if no one knows HOW?

Is there a hyperspace knowledge out there we are just not privy too yet (like the Pak building the Ringworld) or is it just a mystery to everyone so far?

Overall, a HELL of an end to quite a sprawling saga. Your joining with Niven has revitalized Known Space in a way I would not have guessed possible and I for one hope you two will decide to do it some more. Thanks for the ride and I am fully okay with none of those being answered... for now anyways. Off to give it to my girlfriend now... Hope she isn't reading this ;)

Edward M. Lerner said...

If you're not Anonymous of the immediately preceding comment, consider this entire comment to be a spoiler. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

As for you, Anonymous ...

Thssthfok drifted in his badly damaged ship for ... well, not even he knows. He was in stasis till the power ran out (per the end of Destroyer of Worlds).

Proteus protected the GP factory because he needed the factory to complete a major production run. Remember those bazillion little probes that burst from the factory at the end? Every one a computer ...

If Baedeker can't produce a stable planetary drive -- and it's been shown in two books that he can't -- then he can't modify such a drive into anything else.

As for your other questions, I'm going to decline to say anything.

And as to bigger picture here ... thanks! I appreciate your very gracious note, and I'm glad you've enjoyed the ride.

- Ed

Todd said...

I've been a Known Space fan since my best friend lent me the book Neutron Star when I was in about the 8th grade (30 yrs ago). I sure hope for more Known Space books. (I also enjoyed the Interstellar.net series and Energized is in my queue.)

Edward M. Lerner said...

I appreciate it, Todd. Thanks for your kind words.

- Ed

Edward M. Lerner said...

(And I'm sure Larry appreciates the sentiment, too. I'm not trying to take credit for all of Known Space.)

- Ed

Anonymous said...

Hi there!

I'm another reader from Brazil, and I'm glad my order from Amazon arrived only a week after the release, since I was really looking forward to this.

I can't say that was the best book from the FoW series, mostly because I found it a bit predictable - although that was due not to a lack of imagination, but to the fact that that was the way I felt things had to end. I also felt that this time there were very little for Louis to do in the plot - at a point he becomes almost literally just an spectator. Despite that, it was a great read.

Known Space is such a rich universe... It certainly deserved a more detailed conclusion than what we had in Ringworld's Children, and FoW delivered it. I'm sad to see the series end.


Edward M. Lerner said...

Thanks, Anonymous. As for Louis's role, this was more Hindmost's story than Louis's. Hindmost had waited long enough :-)

- Ed

Anonymous said...

Edward, I just finished Fate and I loved it. I have one question tho. What happened to the ringworld. Any plans for that story to be told? Thanks for a wonderful series.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Thanks! As for what happened to the Ringworld, see Ringworld's Children.

- Ed

G. Deveraux said...

Just finished Fate of Worlds. The best of the series no doubt. Closing in on the last chapters, I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends. I have a complete collection of Known Space and its the only sci-fi I read. Known Space has entertained me for 20 years. I hope there will always be a Kzin somewhere ready to scream and leap. Can't forget about the protector formerly known as Peace Corbin. Or a Tnuctipun waking out of stasis.
My thanks to all the writers who have made Known Space so much fun and, of course, to Mr. Niven.

Edward M. Lerner said...

G. --

Thanks for the kind note. All of us KS authors appreciate it.

- Ed

Unknown said...

Just finished the book. Overall I thought it was a superb ending (hopefully not THE end) of this story arc. I would love to see another book or sort story on our friend Thssthfok. I think he’s a bit different from the rest of the Pak … after all, how many Pak would say they are sorry right before trying to kill you?

I did think there would a couple of unresolved issues though.

We never did find out why the Ringworld was built. We know the Pak built it but why would they include species from round the galaxy (like whales) and include maps of non Pak worlds like Kzin or Mars. Did someone like the outsiders come along and add to it? What were the motivations of the Pak rebels discussed in Ringworld’s Children?

Was the destruction of the two worlds when the fleet of worlds jumped to hyperspace an accident or was it intentionally done to destroy the Human/Kazin/Trinoc fleets and the Gwoth?

Speaking of the fleets, aren’t these races going to be out for blood with so many ships destroyed and sailors killed?

Does Nike ever come out of his subterranean spider hole with his harem?

Some general questions:

What of the remaining Pak?

I don’t know if I read this somewhere online or in the KS books, but is it true that at one time the ARM was run by a human protector?

Once again, congrats on a fine book.

Unknown said...

One more question: with all the different Pak on the Ringworld (ghouls, city builders, spill mountain folk and the original Pak) why did they cooperate instead of wage genocidal wars on each other?

Edward M. Lerner said...

Thanks, Michael. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

You ask many good questions -- but some are beyond Larry's and my intent for the Fleet series. I leave the building and back story of the Ringworld to Larry :-)

I believe a Man-Kzin War book suggested that a human protector controlled the ARM (I haven't read all of that series). That said, many MKW stories are not canonical -- only those stories that Larry wrote, co-wrote, or explicitly endorses are canonical. (The Fleet series books, with Larry as coauthor, are canonical.)

For anyone reading this post who hasn't finished Fate of Worlds ... SPOILER ALERT. Do not keep reading.


The species whose fleets were destroyed at the end of Fate may have their hands full without seeking out a new conflict. They will need their residual at-home fleets to defend against one another. And if they decide the Puppeteers are to blame for the loss of the war fleets -- no one knows where the Puppeteers went.

Re the two exploded worlds: Achilles purposefully destroyed NP1. Then either (a) the space-time distortions also blew up NP5 *or* (b) Ol't'ro independently blew up NP5 to destroy the alien war fleets in defense of Jm'ho. It's intentionally left indeterminate whether Ol't'ro was that ruthless and whether they got away. Just in case there ever is another book :-)


- Ed

Edward M. Lerner said...

Michael -- re your second comment (about Pak rivalries among Ringworld's many hominid species), that's something only Larry can answer. The Fleet series didn't involve me in the sociology of Ringworld itself.

- Ed

jaguar said...

>Just in case there ever is another book :-)
I would like to meet Achilles again.
He is a wonderful character.

Anonymous said...

Jet a thing about Ringworld protectors: They are new. They have all been creates recently and they all had the instability of the Ringworld and then the Fringe War to deal with.

Also it was implied Brennan was the cause of humanity's period of peace and many of the policies enacted (and the construction of transfer booths) before the first Man-Kin war... Him having a hand in the ARM isn't really out of the question.

Edward M. Lerner said...

(Latest) Anonymous: I agree with most of your observations, but I'm unaware of anything to suggest Brennan had a hand in introducing transfer booths.

In his short story "Flatlander," Larry attributed transfer booths to an ancestor of Gregory (Elephant) Pelton, and Larry & I built on that in Juggler of Worlds. In particular, JOW reveals that humanity's transfer booths are export-grade Puppeteer tech -- easily subverted, when convenient, by Puppeteer agents (like Nessus). The tech was sold to Pelton's "great-great et cetera" grandmother.

- Ed

Brian D White said...

I finished Fate of Worlds weeks ago. Frankly I was so impressed and grateful that I couldn't say thank you yet.

Thank You, Ed (and Larry of course but he is deaf to the Internet)!

I knew the book was coming out in August and reread every Louis Wu, every Beowulf Shaeffer, every Fleet book in preparation; and of course Protector. I was left wanting more but not at all disappointed.

Ed, what you did for we Known Space fans can never be repaid, except hopefully in book sales. I wish there was Booster spice and I wish you and Larry could take it and continue to write Known Space books together. Or better yet a Carlos Wu nano-doc.

The one story I really would like to be explored is the fate of the Protectors on Home and the War against the Pak. Was it truly a stalemate as assumed? Which reminds me to thank you for making the Pak so fierce and terrible and so different from humans. Neither the Ringworld nor Protector made me fear Pak the way Thssthfok has. Between the Pak, Hearthians and G'wo, if writers can imagine such terrible, remorseless intelligences, people that assume the universe is full of gentle beings are fools.

Edward M. Lerner said...


I (and I'm sure Larry will share this sentiment) thank you for your very kind and gracious note.

It's been fun to explore Known Space and to expand its boundaries a bit. So: will Larry and I ever go back? I won't say never, but for now I'm enjoying creation of my own literary universes.

- Ed

Anonymous said...

Oh wait, I got the stories confused. Brennan introduces BOOSTERSPICE to humanity in Protector...

The two stories are similar (Truesdale's great great great grand aunt is super rich because of high tech given to her by an "alien") that I got the two mixed up...

Jaycee Adams said...

I don't think the origin of Greatly Stelle's fortune was ever explicitly stated. I always presumed, being Brennan's daughter, he gave her stuff with which to build a fortune. It is implied in (I think) DoW that Boosterspice was derived from Tree of Life by UN researchers, which would seem to preclude Stelle's involvement.

Jaycee Adams said...

@ Michael Hansen,

Ringworld is far more fragile than a planet. Plus, if you do not control the control room, you don't have a lot of power. The operator of the control room is where the solar laser is fired, and if you piss off the controller, he will fry you and everyone you're related to. It then behooves you not to start wars.

Or so I would imagine.

Edward M. Lerner said...


To the best of my knowledge, the source of Greatly Stelle's wealth goes unstated. I think that's okay (and it might be something totally mundane, like investment advice or the plans for a better mousetrap).

That detail didn't need to enter into any of the ... off Worlds books, so I never gave it any thought. I won't speak for Larry.

- Ed

Todd C said...

I loved the book. I have read it twice. As someone who has truly enjoyed the vastness of the sci fi story you and Larry have made, as well as the playground of the Ringworld.....I am here to beg for more books going forward in the timeline and also involving the Ringworld past and future. Optimistic and wondrous science fiction. Love it. The concepts are mind-blowing.

I had always hoped that Larry would either write a lot more Ringworld books or let other authors play and expand in the Ringworld adventures. I now wish that as well with the newer books. (or have you guys use the fantastic writing skills you have to put out dozens more). I truly want imaginations and adventure to cover the life, intrigue, future and past on the Ringworld. More Ringworld adventures. More Known Space adventures. I want to read more Ausfaller, more Louis Wu, more Tunesmith, Proserpina, Pak planet adventures, City Builders, New Terra, etc. in endless stories much like the never ending star wars books universe.....How can we fans entice this from you guys? We all need more. Lots more.

Thanks again.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Thanks, Todd.

(Though I appreciate the encouragement, I expect to stay in my own playground for a while. Five Known Space books in six years was pretty intense; the effort limited my solo output.)

- Ed

Jaycee Adams said...

It was worth it from our point of view, Ed!

Re: Stelle,

Protector is written BY a Protector. He assumes you understand more than you really do, and that you can pick up on subtleties which don't really need to be explicitly explained. Clearly Brennan has a compulsion to help his own children, so he must have helped her. There really is no other possibility if nothing contradictory is said. That's the world of the superintelligent. But you already knew that.

Anonymous said...

I've wanted to know this since Fleet of Worlds, is Larry, Louis, and are you Ed, Sigmund?

Edward M. Lerner said...

Unknown: In a manner of speaking, you're correct. Before Larry and I ever began our Fleet of Worlds partnership, he had used Louis extensively (throughout four Ringworld books [and earlier, in the novelette "There Is a Tide"]). That background imposed lots of constraints on using Louis in Betrayer of Worlds and Fate of Worlds.

As for Sigmund, Larry had used him only as a bit player in a few short stories. I had lots of leeway to develop Sigmund -- and I enjoyed doing so.

- Ed

MikeR said...

Enjoyed Fate of Worlds (and its predecessors). One question: Why doesn't anyone think they have a responsibility to get rid of the Pak fleet? They are all happy just so's it turned south and left them alone. Doesn't seem right to me.

It wouldn't be hard for them to destroy it, I would think. You'd need exactly what they have - hyperdrive, reactionless drive, and stasis fields. (The Pak know nothing of any of these.) You make these little missiles, sheathed in a stasis field, with a homing device. Then you take hyperdrive, go a light-hour in front of a Pak ship, and drop it. It has an hour or two before the Pak ship rams into it at half light-speed. Sheathed as it is in a stasis field, the Pak cannot destroy it. Perhaps they wouldn't even see it in time. And I refuse to believe that a Pak ship with a dumb ramscoop can be more maneuverable than a one foot sphere with a reactionless drive.

Repeat previous steps. The trick is: You make enough of them so you can get the front surface of the Pak fleet all at once. Then you move inward with hyperdrive and keep wiping out the next front surface of the fleet. Limited by lightspeed, no one in the Pak fleet will find out that this is happening till it happens to them.

I haven't worked out the numbers (no one bothered to tell me the exact size and spacing of the Pak fleet!) but I'm guessing that a couple of hundred ships with hyperdrive, each with a couple of hundred of these missiles, ought to be plenty. Anyhow, work it out before you start.

This is clearly a moral obligation, similar to murdering Hitler in his youth. You just cannot leave them exterminating every species in their wake.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your note, and I'm glad you enjoyed the series.

As for preemptively obliterating the Pak, even if one can ... IMO, genocide is always a hard argument to make.

- Ed

MikeR said...

I guess I would add that there is a risk to this. Of course it will succeed for sure, no problem! - But if it fails, if one Pak ship escapes, the Pak remaining will know about hyperdrive, stasis fields, and reactionless drives. Big problem.
And of course Fsssthok is out there somewhere, and he knows all about _everything_...

Jaycee Adams said...

Remember Minority Report? You can't convict someone of a crime they haven't committed.

Say someone showed up at your front door and said they were from the future and that in the future, you are responsible for some horrible atrocity, and they are here to kill you before you can commit the atrocity, which will hopefully avert it.

Are you going to just let them kill you, or are you going to resist? And who is to say that going to the effort and expense of killing someone who committed an evil act in the past won't have even worse repurcusions? Perhaps Hitler defeated someone even worse than he would have been? Time travel is neither cheap nor easy, and you might only get one chance to get things right.

Likewise, who are you to decide the Pak should be exterminated? As you point out, some could escape, and then they will deduce your technology and come back and wipe out everything in the whole galaxy, because after all, you just proved to them that their worldview of kill everything before it has a chance to kill you is the correct one.

But besides that possibility, how does it make you any better than they are? What if they were destined to meet and wipe out an even more dangerous species? (In fact, they WERE destined to wipe out several more dangerous species!) Who are you to judge that one species should live at the expense of another one?

Certainly, there have been those who claimed that right, and history has always painted such individuals as being evil. Hitler truly believed the Jews were a threat to all of Humanity. Some say they still are. Does that mean we should wipe them out? That we should put them into a position where they must wipe us out first?

Justice is achieved not by killing out of convenience, but by doing everything to prevent killing out of convenience. At times, killing is a matter of survival, but killing should be the last option, not the first. Making it the first option makes you no better than Hitler.

Edward M. Lerner said...

A sometimes criticism of Destroyer of Worlds ...

(Anyone reading a Betrayer of Worlds thread has read Destroyer. Right? If that's not the case:

*** Spoiler Alert ***)

... is that Sigmund should (would?) have just killed Thssthfok. IMO, Sigmund's unwillingness to kill his prisoner in cold blood is a sign of Sigmund's humanity.