Lizards and tits, lizards and tits, lizards and tits....
Those are pretty sweet. And the Ringworld drawing would be a steal at that price. But I couldn't buy it because having to look at it every day would drive me mental and I'll tell you why.
The ringworld in that drawing is a ringworld for ANTS! It's the same mistake on all the other Ringworld book covers I've seen (and at least one cover for Iain M Banks's Consider Phlebas). What you'd actually see from near the surface, and Niven does describe this in the books, is the flat surface of the world receding like a highway into the haze, and a very thin arc of light going across the sky (the top of the arc would probably be too fine to see). For it to look like a ring while you were standing on it, it'd have to be, I dunno, no bigger than Rhode Island.
Misread the title, thought it said, "Pinup Action."
It's really hard to wrap your head around the scale of the Ringworld. It's way beyond anything people have experience with. From the surface it looks like any other planet (unless you're near the edge and can see the wall), just there is a thin bright line in the sky all of the time and the Sun is always directly overhead.
The surface area available is just crazy. The reason we will never build one isn't because it's impossible, but because it's gross overkill. Every person alive today could claim a land area approximately 230,000km^2, or roughly 1.5x the surface area of Earth, not counting the parts covered by water.
It's good if you want to get away from it all, you could literally have an entire planet to yourself.
Weasels Ripped My Wallet!
Is that Chevy Chase? Damn awful vacation, if you ask me.
But what good is an entire planet, if I'm tormented by the knowledge that the other guy has one too? Half the fun of resource competition is artificial scarcity induced by the fact that people are lousy at settling for 'enough' and tend to edge into 'more than the other guy' or even 'I hardly care, so long as that asshole gets nothing' with alarming efficiency...
"Hundreds matched in protest today over an OmniCorp lawyer's decision to evict 43 tenants from their planet-zones."
It's not too far off what you'd see if you could see clearly through several million kilometers of air, I think, which means it's a decent "NASA artist's conception" of the Ringworld--intended to be as accurate as possible while still giving a clear impression of the thing-ness of it, by contrast with a blurry smear in a telescope. Technically it's less accurate, but it gives a more accurate understanding of the Ringworld's nature than the apparent "endless flat land beneath an arch" that keeps fooling the Ringworld's more primitive inhabitants. Similarly, the sun wouldn't bloom and outline the shadow squares in vacuum, but depicting it that way shows you what's actually there instead of the illusion of real perception.
It also doesn't get relative scales as wildly wrong as some depictions do, e.g. no cities visible from a million miles out, no rim walls visible from the center. My main gripe is that the perspective on the shadow squares makes it look like there's a lot less of them than there are shadows on the Ring...
Sorry to prattle on, I just reread Throne and Children and it's all fresh in my head.
It makes sense from the perspective of the race that built the Ringworld, who breed like rabbits and are intensely territorial. Once they developed nukes, "this planet ain't big enough for the both of us" wasn't a joke but an existential threat.
You're right that humans as we know them wouldn't need it, though.
(Leaving out about half a dozen paragraphs of spoilers and unnecessary nerd commentary...)
The backstory is the lizards are attacking the guy for manhandling the woman. One of the more judgemental lizards is scolding her "for making bad choices", as he puts it, but it seems to be more his own issues than any fault of the woman.
That's how The Illuminati distract us, man...
Eeeeh, a whole ring is too much for one feller. A Plate'll do, man. If you need me, send a message to GSV Ayn Rand's Dole Cheque. We've gone on a wander, but we'll get back to you...
As a Fellow Lizard, he inevitably agrees that, when it's inevitable...
"Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty... iguana?"
More Ringworld scale talk:
If you went on a sightseeing tour on a fast bus traveling at 120kph all the way around the Ringworld, it would take 922 years to complete the trip, assuming you could drive all the way through without stopping for bathroom breaks.
If you instead took a SR-71 and had in-flight refueling stations setup all the way across, you could complete the trip in only 31.3 years.
If you were traveling as fast as the space shuttle did while in orbit, you could complete the trip in a little under 4 years.
For people living on the Ringworld, they would never see more than a tiny piece of if even if they were world travelers with a lifetime to explore. It would be interesting to see what would happen to human culture when land becomes effectively a limitless resource. Most conflict boils down to being unable to share some limited resource, but on the Ringworld there need not be limited resources.
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