A widespread disaster on the Ringworld in 1733 A.D. Most of the City Builders' machines, including the magnetic levitation systems holding up their floating buildings, were powered by an ubiquitous beamed power system. When this power failed, their floating cities came crashing down. Only a relatively few independently-powered buildings were left operational. This disaster marked the end of the City Builder empire. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld] The fall was caused by a superconductor plague, which destroyed the superconductor wiring in the beamed power receivers which powered the City Builders' machines.
[Spoiler alert: "Flatlander"] The glowing, highly radioactive ball of gas, not yet collapsed into a star, which the antimatter planet orbits. Presumably it is composed of antimatter gas; it is glowing, when a normal protosun would not. In 2645 it was moving at 80% lightspeed through the very edge of Known Space.
A subsection of the UN which enforced the Fertility Laws on Earth (but not elsewhere), including compulsory birth control strictly limiting population, which resulted in Earth's population being stabilized at 18 billion in the mid-21st century. The Fertility Board granted the birthright, specifying the number of children any individual was allowed. Most couples were granted two children, but some were denied any and some were granted more, based on genetic desirability. A scandal in 2650 resulted in drastic changes: every person had the right to one child; second and third birthrights could come automatically for such things as high IQ, useful psychic powers, or survival traits such as natural longevity or perfect teeth; birthrights could be purchased at one million stars apiece; and the Birthright Lottery was created. One could also fight (to the death) for birthrights in the arena. The most important function of the ARM was enforcement of the Fertility Laws. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld]Puppeteers manipulated members of the Fertility Board, with bribery and blackmail, causing a scandal and the creation of the Birthright Lottery. During the First Ringworld Expedition in 2851, Nessus claimed Puppeteers wanted to make Humans luckier. See also birth control.
Reference: "ARM", "The Ethics of Madness", "The Warriors", "Grendel", Ringworld chs. 2, 5, 8, 13-14, 20
A fictional deity originating in Belter culture, whose name is invoked to express frustration. "Murphy" (of "Murphy's law") is his fictional prophet. Expressions include "Finagle take my luck!", "Finagle's gonads!", "Finagle fool you all!", "Finagle's red claws!", "Finagle's heavy hand!", "Lord Finagle!", "Finagle’s law", "Finagle’s black mind!", and "that Finagle-sired thing".
Reference: "The Soft Weapon", "Grendel", "There Is a Tide", Ringworld chs. 2-3, 5, 9, 14-17
Finagle’s First Law
"The perversity of the universe tends to a maximum." See also Finagle.
Reference: Protector p. 105, "Grendel", "The Soft Weapon", Ringworld ch. 10
Explorers of the First Ringworld Expedition carried a kit tailored to their species. Each was a small, flat box which also contained a radio locator beacon or finder circuit. Teela Brown carried hers on her belt. Nessus' kit could be attached to his flycycle with an umbilicus. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld] When Nessus' head was cut off by a shadow square wire trap, he was carried to his flycycle, where his first aid kit's diagnostic patch was rubbed onto his neck. In response, the flycycle extended an intravenous feeding tube and inserted it into Nessus' neck, initiating life support. See also Kzinti military medical supplies.
The events described in the account published as Ringworld. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld]Nessus, a Puppeteer, recruited a team on Earth in 2850 to explore the Ringworld: Louis Wu, a Flatlander survivor-type and occasional explorer; Speaker-To-Animals, a young Kzin apprentice diplomat; and Teela Brown, a young, naive and very lucky Flatlander. They journeyed to the Fleet of Worlds in the starship Long Shot, briefly visited Hearth, then voyaged to the Ringworld in the starship Lying Bastard (aka Liar). They intended only a visual survey, but the ship was disabled by the Ringworld’s superthermal laser, and crash-landed on the Ringworld in 2851. The team spent some months exploring and looking for a way to get the ship back into space. During this time, Nessus revealed that Puppeteers had manipulated Humans and Kzinti, leading Outsiders to provide Humans with the hyperdrive to enable Humans to win the Man-Kzin Wars, to halt Kzinti expansion and breed the Kzinti to be less aggressive. He also revealed Puppeteers manipulated events to create Earth's Birthright Lottery. A number of improbable events during the expedition lead Louis to believe that Teela possessed enormously powerful psychic luck, and that everything which happened during the expedition was a result of Teela's luck manipulating events for her benefit. Eventually, with the help of Halrloprillalar Hotrufan (aka Prill), a Ringworld native, the explorers dragged the disabled Liar to a place where it could escape back into space. Teela elected to remain on the Ringworld. Nessus had been seriously wounded, and was returned to the Fleet of Worlds. Louis and Speaker then returned to Known Space in the Long Shot, bringing Prill with them. For details, see Ringworld (story summary).
A gigantic mountain on the Ringworld. It is roughly conical and stands alone, resembling a volcano. Its peak thrusts out of the atmosphere, at least a thousand miles high. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld] A real mountain that big would collapse under its own weight. As with other terrain features on the Ringworld, it is a comparatively thin shell of scrith overlaid with bedrock and soil. During the First Ringworld Expedition in 2851, the starship Lying Bastard (aka Liar) crashed just spinward of the mountain's base. From the distance of the Liar's crash site, its base disappears in mist and its peak resembles dirty snow. In reality, Fist-Of-God is the result of the impact of a large meteoroid which hit the underside of the Ringworld; the impact raised an enormous "dimple" in the Ringworld foundation and made a large hole. It is believed the impactor was a Luna-sized meteoroid from interstellar space. What appears as dirty snow is actually jagged shards of naked scrith surrounding the hole at the mountain's peak. At the end of the expedition, the disabled Liar was towed to the top of Fist-of-God by the flying building dubbed Improbable, and out through the hole in its top, escaping back into space.
Rules of combat: Louis Wu had been taught the following rules for using a hand laser as a "light-sword":
(a) Fire first, then aim
(b) The slower the swing, the deeper the cut
(c) With many enemies, swing fast
(d) Always swing across the torso
(e) Don't let the enemy close
(f) Never aim at a mirror
(g) Clothing the color of your light-sword can be as bad as reflective armor
Reference: "A Relic of the Empire", Ringworld chs. 10, 12, 23
The inability of some Humans native to Earth to tolerate living in an alien environment. Such people generally cannot leave Earth. Sharrol Janss had flatland phobia. Carlos Wu also had it, although perhaps to a lesser extent as he was able to use hypnosis to allow him to travel to Jinx in 2651.
Reference: "Grendel", "The Borderland of Sol", "Procrustes"
A Human native to Earth. Originally a Belter term; by 2645 also used as an uncomplimentary term for someone who's never been off-planet, in the manner of "landlubber."
[Spoiler alert: "A Relic of the Empire", "At the Core", "The Color of Sunfire", Ringworld] The grouping of Puppeteer homeworlds: several planets of equal size arranged in a Klemperer rosetteThis is misspelled "Kemplerer" in the text of Ringworld (ch. 5, pp. 63, 71)., equally spaced in a ring orbiting around a common (but empty) center. As encountered by the First Ringworld Expedition, this was five planets: Hearth, the actual Puppeteer homeworld, and four farming worlds. However, in the past the arrangement has included different numbers of farming worlds.
Origins of the Fleet: According to Nessus, the formation of the Fleet of Worlds got its start over half a million years ago, when the Puppeteers moved two worlds in their planetary system, using enormously powerful planetary thrusters purchased from the Outsiders (see thruster (c)). These two planets were moved closer to the sun, and terraformed into farm worlds to feed their population of half a trillion. Hearth is the only densely populated planet in the Fleet. All sane Puppeteers prefer to never leave Hearth, so the farm worlds remain lightly settled. Later, about half a million years ago, the Puppeteers moved Hearth outward from its sun, to relieve the problem of waste heat produced by their highly technological civilization. Two more farm worlds were added, and probably at that time the five planets were arranged into a Klemperer's rosette. Still later, the Puppeteers' yellow sun ("Giver of Life" or "Red Star") began expanding into a red giant, and the Fleet of Worlds was moved outward to about two-tenths of a light-year from the sun.
Puppeteer Migration: In 2645, the Puppeteers were alerted to the danger of the Core explosion, and decided to begin the Puppeteer migration. The Puppeteers already had experience moving their worlds, and few wanted to leave Hearth, which by this time had a population of about a trillion. So they simply took their worlds with them, leaving their sun behind. In 2850, the First Ringworld Expedition found the Fleet of Worlds moving at near-lightspeed to galactic north, out of the plane of the galaxy, propelled by its powerful Outsider thrusters. At that time, Nessus claimed the ultimate destination of the Fleet was the Lesser Cloud of Magellan, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way galaxy, which they would reach in an estimated 85,000 years. But other accounts have suggested different destinations.
Reference:Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds, Destroyer of Worlds, Ringworld chs. 5, 6
(also called skycycle) (a) A motorcycle-like vehicle which used an oversized lift belt motor to fly, and a force-field generator to stop the wind. Such flycycles were used circa 2646 by Garvey and Jilson on Down.
(b) The Puppeteer-built type of flycycle carried aboard the starship Lying Bastard (aka Liar), used by the First Ringworld Expedition in 2850-1, was a dumbbell-shaped vehicle composed of two four-foot spheres, with a seat in the constriction. Nessus' seat was a reclining "belly-bed" with three groves for his legs. The Humans' seats were padded contour chairs, as was the larger Kzin's seat. Half the rear section of the flycycle was luggage space, with a harness for hanging additional gear. It was equipped with an autokitchen slot, a communication system projecting small holograms, and a cooler-extractor which condensed water from the air. They were propelled by a thruster, controlled by pedals and a joystick, and had a maximum speed above Mach 1; the occupant was protected by a sonic fold. They had toilet facilities which were easy to use, but undignified. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld]Speaker-To-Animals used a flycycle to maneuver in space to investigate the shadow square wire, before the Liar crashed on the Ringworld. The flycycles also had a hidden emergency thrust setting which increased the speed to about Mach 4. All four of the expedition's flycycles were caught in the speed trap in Hotrufan City and pulled inside the police building. Nessus' flycycle was later anchored inside that building to propel what became the Improbable.
Reference: (a) "The Handicapped", (b) Ringworld chs. 9-11, 17-22, 24
During the time of the Slaver Empire, about 1.5 billion years ago, uninhabitable worlds were seeded with yeast which was harvested to feed the Thrintun's slaves. This yeast became the origin of life on many worlds. It appears likely that the biochemistries of Kzinti and Humans are so alike For example, Kzinti can eat Humans without allergic reaction, and gain nourishment from the meat. "And Kzinti were much closer to human than were any other species; so close that at one time they must have had common microbe ancestors" ("The Soft Weapon", Neutron Star p. 84). because both evolved from this food yeast. The relationship between Human and Pak suggests this also applies to Pakhome.
On Earth in 2645 these long unused roadways for groundcars were broken and collapsed, but still the first man-made object a space traveler could see when descending to Los Angeles spaceport. Two freeways were maintained by antique groundcar enthusiasts: the Santa Monica Freeway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Human male Crashlander working at the Laboratory for Xenobiological Research on Down circa 2646. Garvey discussed Grog biology and behavior with him.
Reference: "The Handicapped"
A powerful rocket using fusion to heat the fuel to extreme temperatures, used on spaceships both as a space propulsion system, and as a weapon. By 2106, Humans had developed a practical fusion drive, which enabled colonization of the Belt. Despite Human development of the gravity polarizer, fusion drive continued to be the standard spaceship drive until at least the late 2600s. By 2830, it had finally been replaced by the thruster. Because of the extreme heat and harmful radiation emitted, it is too dangerous (to the surroundings) for use in lifting off from an inhabited world. It was a capital offense on Earth to steal a fusion motor in 2371, or to use one in Earth's atmosphere in 2645.
Reference: "Neutron Star", "The Ethics of Madness", "A Relic of the Empire", "Flatlander", "The Soft Weapon", Ringworld chs. 4-9, 12, 15, 21