(d) Immediately after incident (c), Louis Wu laughed at the natives’ world-view that the Ringworld is an Arch, not realizing this was a sacred religious concept. These natives believed the Arch was raised by the Ringworld Engineers as a sign of their Covenant with Man. The outraged natives then attacked him.
The standard form of data storage in Human Space. "Teacher tapes" were used for instruction circa 2355. Letters were mailed on credit-card-sized tapes in 2367. A verbal contract was legally binding when recorded on tape in 2645, and Beowulf Shaeffer took entertainment tapes on his journey in the starship Long Shot. Books were sold as disposable tapes in 2644, and tape encyclopedias were available circa 2646. Tridee programs were stored on tape in 2647. Music was recorded on tape in 2850.
Reference: "The Ethics of Madness", "The Warriors", "A Relic of the Empire", "At the Core", "The Handicapped", "Grendel", Ringworld ch. 3
A device which induces a current in the target’s brain from a distance, jolting the pleasure center, giving the target a moment of overwhelming ecstasy. Human-made tasps, illegal and usually just small enough to aim one-handed, induce less than a second of current. Repeated or continued use quickly leads to addiction. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld]Nessus had one surgically implanted in one of his heads, inducing about ten seconds of current. During the First Ringworld Expedition he used it once on Speaker-To-Animals, and later once on Louis Wu, when he felt threatened by them. He also used it on low power continuously on Halrloprillalar Hotrufan (Prill), until she was conditioned to act favorably toward himself and the other explorers. Once, Nessus also jolted Prill with the tasp on high power, to stop her from trying to control Louis with her sexual skills.
Reference:Ringworld chs. 4, 10, 18-23
A G0 yellow dwarf star with four planets, one of which is the Human colony world Plateau. It is 11.9 light years from Sol system.
Reference: "The Ethics of Madness"
Teela Brown gene
The "ultimate psychic power" "Introduction", Tales of Known Space p.xiii. Humans inheriting this gene are said to be infinitely lucky Interstitial notes in Tales of Known Space p. 217. Puppeteer leaders believed Earth’s Birthright Lotteries caused Flatlanders to breed for luck, and that some individuals inherited a psychic power making them lucky. It has been suggested this power works by manipulating probability in a subtle fashion. Among those who Nessus thought had the infinite luck gene were Teela Brown (see Teela’s luck), Norman Haywood, and members of the Brandt family. By circa 3100, the era of the Thousand Worlds, the "Teela Brown gene" had spread through humanity. [Spoiler alert: The Ringworld Engineers] However, it seems the "Teela Brown gene" is misnamed. Although certain events during the First Ringworld Expedition seemed to indicate Teela’s luck was far beyond anything explainable by random chance, her death at an early age during the Second Ringworld Expedition indicates that if she did have psychic luck, it failed utterly. See also Puppet Master (idea}.
Reference:Ringworld chs. 2-3, 9-11, 18, 23
[Spoiler alert: Ringworld] There was much debate during the First Ringworld Expedition regarding the nature of Teela Brown’s luck, and whether or not she had some sort of unconsciously operating psychic power which manipulated probability and events in her favor. According to Nessus, the Puppeteer leaders speculated that with the Birthright Lottery, Humans were breeding for luck, and wanted Teela as part of the expedition to test that theory, because she was descended from five generations of Birthright Lottery winners. Nessus later described her as a kind of "good luck charm". Louis Wu initially scoffed at the idea of breeding for luck, and insisted that what appeared to be luck in Teela’s life was only random chance or coincidence. He continued to argue this was true during the expedition until Teela’s highly improbable escape from the eye storm (see (h) below). Louis then decided Teela’s psychic power of luck was very real, and in fact was so powerful and subtle that it controlled events completely; therefore, danger did not even exist for Teela Brown. Louis convinced Nessus this was true. Terrified, the Puppeteer decided he wanted nothing more to do with Teela. Speaker-To-Animals did not believe in psychic luck, and appeared indifferent to Louis’ arguments. After that incident, Louis daydreamed of an anthropomorphized version of Teela’s luck, the Puppet Master, which controlled events and controlled him like a marionette on strings. Louis finally speculated that Teela’s luck brought her to the Ringworld because it was her ideal environment, and that her luck controlled her actions to such an extent that she had little if any free will.
Improbable occurrences: It seems difficult to judge just what occurrences and circumstances were, or were not, a result of the luck of Teela Brown. What follows is instead a summary of those which seem highly improbable.
(a) Teela was the descendant of five generations of Birthright Lottery winners. She had never suffered any physical or financial disaster, never had a broken heart, had never been in a bad stress situation or really hurt, never lost a significant amount gambling. But as Louis pointed out, this was merely random chance. Given 18 billion Humans on Earth to choose from, Nessus could hardly fail to find some which qualified on all accounts. In fact, Nessus said he had thousands of candidates.
(b) Nessus complained that of the other candidates for the expedition, other descendants of the Birthright Lottery winners, none were available. When he tried to phone, they were out, or he got the wrong number. "When we ask for any member of the Brandt family, every phone in South America rings." After days of searching, Nessus and his agents were still unable to find any of the other thousands of candidates. While they certainly seem improbable, if these events were the result of psychic luck, they could just as easily been the luck of the other Birthright Lottery winners, rather than Teela’s own luck.
(c) Louis said Teela was clumsy, always looking like she was going to fall. But she never did, never knocked into things, never dropped or spilled things. Therefore she never learned to be graceful. If so, this suggests her luck was almost constantly affecting probability, preventing even the most minor of mishaps.
(d) When the starship Lying Bastard (aka Liar) was attacked by the superthermal laser, causing it to lurch, Teela "fell with incredible accuracy into her own crash couch."
(e) After the Liar lost its delta wing and propulsion systems, it drifted on its course to collide with the Ringworld, despite the fact it had hit a shadow square wire and therefore apparently should have been knocked off course. However, this was not necessarily random chance, because there were indications the Puppeteer leaders intended the expedition to land on the Ringworld from the start. Although crashing on the dangerous Ringworld does not appear to be "lucky", Louis argued that Teela was destined to go there.
(f) After the Liar crashed, Teela walked around on the naked scrith, slippery as ice. Then she ran up, and back down, a slope of cooling lava, all without falling, despite her clumsiness. But Louis had great trouble keeping his balance on the bare scrith.
(g) In the floating building called Heaven, Louis had climbed ten flights of stairs to reach the map room on the top floor. Later, Teela tripped on the very first step and grabbed the handrail, which turned on the escalator. She rode to the top.
(h) Inside the eye storm, Teela foolishly maneuvered her flycycle down to take a close look at the black vortex sucking air from the Ringworld out into the vacuum of space. Her flycycle was caught, and she was dragged toward the vacuum outside while the other explorers watched helplessly. Teela lost consciousness in the thin air, and banged her head on the controls of her flycycle, whereupon it shot out of the vortex toward safety. Nessus said she must have accidentally activated the flycycle’s emergency thrust, although it was nearly impossible to do so accidentally. This incident convinced Louis Wu that Teela really did have powerful psychic luck.
(j) Nessus believed Teela’s luck caused the shadow square wire to fall across the path of the adventurers, in Zrillir City.
Human female Flatlander, in 2647 captain of the passenger starship Argos. She was lovely, green-eyed, and had expensive tastes. [Spoiler alert: "Grendel"] She was an accomplice in the kidnapping of the Kdatlyno artist Lloobee, and was Larchmont Bellamy's mother. After the kidnapping was resolved, she and Beowulf Shaeffer apparently became lovers and traveled together for two years, 2647-49.
The dividing line between day and night. On the Ringworld, terminators can be clearly seen on the Arch, and can be seen approaching. The Ringworld, with 20 shadow squares, has 20 day terminators and 20 night terminators.
Reference:Ringworld ch. 13
Halrloprillalar Hotrufan (Prill) claimed her species, the City Builders, engaged in long-term terraforming projects on the City Builder colony worlds, beginning centuries before the Ringworld was built, which were later abandoned half-finished when the City Builders moved en masse to the Ringworld. [Spoiler alert: The Ringworld Engineers] However, in light of discoveries by the Second Ringworld Expedition, it seems this was one of the myths told by City Builders, aggrandizing their accomplishments.
(singular Thrint; also called Slavers) A species whose mind-control Power over all sentient beings (except Bandersnatchi) enabled them to rule the galaxy 1.5 billion years ago. They had ball-shaped heads, big single eyes, massive Mickey Mouse hands, great splayed feet, lightly armored skin, and clusters of naked-pink tendrils at the corners of wide mouths. See also Slaver Empire.
Reference:World of Ptavvs, "A Relic of the Empire", "The Handicapped", "The Soft Weapon", "There Is a Tide", Ringworld ch. 15
The reactionless thruster is a highly advanced space drive which defies Newton’s third law of motion; the action of its acceleration does not require reaction mass. There are multiple types, detailed below:
(a) standard thruster: This thruster is not inertialess; the acceleration is felt by those in the ship. Therefore, a ship’s artificial gravity field must compensate for the thrust, to avoid crushing passengers and cargo "The alien ship must have used at least twenty gees of push. After a moment of shock, Louis followed at the same acceleration, protected by his cabin gravity... The conical ship showed no exhaust. Its drive must be either a reactionless drive, like his own, or a kzin-style induced gravity drive" ("There Is a Tide", Tales of Known Space p. 208).. Ships driven with this thruster could typically accelerate at about 20 gees. Thruster technology was developed by Humans from the artificial gravity technology of the gravity planer and gravity polarizer, altho not quickly. The fusion drive was the standard ship's drive in Human Space until at least the late 2600s, but by 2830 had finally been replaced by the safer and more efficient thruster. A similar or identical thruster technology had already been long in use by the Puppeteers at the time they made first contact with Human Space, in 2500. See also space propulsion.
(b) advanced Puppeteer thruster: By 2850, the time of the First Ringworld Expedition, the Puppeteers had developed an advanced thruster technology. The acceleration still required compensation by cabin gravity, but was capable of far higher acceleration, apparently without requiring substantially more energy. [Spoiler alert: Ringworld] In approaching the Ringworld, the Lying Bastard decelerated at 200 gees from about 80% lightspeed, down to less than 1% lightspeed, without exhausting the ship's fuel supply; fuel which was carried in the limited space inside a No. 2 General Products hull. No account explains how this this thruster enables a starship to achieve such a very high (theoretically impossible) energy-to-mass ratio, but perhaps the thruster uses the same energy source as the Outsider planetary thruster (see (d) below).
(c) Outsider ship thruster: The type of thruster used by some Outsiders on their own ships is both inertialess and reactionless "In every arm of the galaxy were Outsiders, using everything from photon sails to reactionless, inertialess drives to push their ships..." (A Gift from Earth p. 294).. In 2645, Outsider ship #14 towed the starship Slower Than Infinity while using such a thruster to accelerate to about 0.8 lightspeed in a matter of minutes, apparently with an acceleration on the order of 2500 gees, although not the slightest movement was felt "Flatlander", Neutron Star pp. 148, 151-2 . This thruster technology was offered for sale by the Outsiders for a trillion stars. As late as 2645, Humans had not purchased this technology.
(d) Outsider planetary thruster:[Spoiler alert: "The Color of Sunfire", Ringworld] Apparently a different type of Outsider technology is the planetary thrusters which the Puppeteers purchased half a million years ago from the Outsiders, to move their worlds (see Fleet of Worlds). These units were so expensive that in 2850 the Puppeteers were still making installment payments Ringworld ch. 5, p. 70. According to a more recently published account, this thruster is powered by "the zero-point energy of the vacuum" Destroyer of Worlds ch. 6, hardcover p. 47, and the thrust is not inertialess, so the planet must be accelerated very gently.
Reference:A Gift from Earth ch. XIV, "Flatlander", "There Is a Tide", Ringworld chs. 5, 8, Destroyer of Worlds ch. 6
A children’s television show originally broadcast on Earth in 1949-1955, featuring the puppet "Cecil the Sea-sick Sea Serpent". A campish revival was seen by Pierson, the Human who circa 2500 was the first to see an alien whose heads and necks resembled Cecil. This caused the alien race to be dubbed "Pierson’s Puppeteer", or just Puppeteer.
[Spoiler alert: "The Soft Weapon"] Found in the Tnuctip stasis box in 2657, this strange and powerful weapon was able to change shape between multiple forms, and was powered by total-conversion of matter to energy. Apparently it was used by a Tnuctip (see Tnuctipun ) spy in the Tnuctipun-Slaver war. It had a bronzy metal sculpted handle attached, which fit the Tnuctip six-fingered hand. A groove ran down one side of the handle, with a guide and nine notched settings. The weapon also had two "hidden" settings. Each setting had a different function, as detailed below.
Notch settings and functions:
(0) The "neutral" setting; a small mirrored sphere with no apparent function.
(1) A long slender cylinder with a red knob near the end and a toggle near the handle; a variable-sword.
(2) A parabolic mirror with a silvery knob at the center, and a control dial; possibly a sonic stunner which only affected Thrintun.
(3) A pistol, firing both solid and explosive bullets.
(4) A smaller, rosy-hued sphere; function unknown
(5) A short cylinder with an aperture in the nose and two wide, flat metallic projections at the sides, which fired a stream of plasma; a one-Tnuctip rocket "scooter".
(6) A laser with a telescopic sight and a microphone; both a weapon and a message laser
(7) A flat-ended cylinder with a wire grid near the back; a sentient computer
(8) A shape like a topology diagram of a sphere turned inside out; an energy absorption field
(singular Tnuctip) An ancient species of master technologists possessing high intelligence and great cunning. They were already practicing biological engineering when they were found and enslaved by the Thrintun. They knew the secret of total conversion of matter to energy. Much of the Slaver Empire’s technology was invented by the Tnuctipun, who eventually revolted against their masters in the Tnuctipun-Slaver war. They were small, compactly built bipeds. Each of their hands had six fingers and two long opposed thumbs. The Tnuctipun's biological creations include air plants, Bandersnatchi, food yeast, stage trees, and Slaver sunflowers. See also Slaver stasis box, Tnuctip stasis box.
Reference: "The Handicapped", "The Soft Weapon", "There Is a Tide"
About 1.5 billion years ago, the Thrintun (also called Slavers) ruled the Slaver Empire. The brilliant and cunning Tnuctipun, their most intelligent and inventive slave species, eventually revolted. Most of what the Tnuctipun had invented for their masters turned out to be traps. Most notably, the Bandersnatchi were created as spies, intelligent and immune to the Thrintun Power. It is believed the war which followed eventually culminated in the Thrintun’s use of an unimaginably powerful psionic amplifier to order everyone, everywhere to commit suicide, resulting in the death of nearly all other sentient beings in the galaxy. Then, with no slaves, the Thrintun also died Garvey states this as fact ("The Handicapped", Neutron Star p. 222), but a Trinoc says it more tentatively ("There Is a Tide", Tales of Known Space p. 212)..
Reference: "A Relic of the Empire", "The Handicapped", "There Is a Tide"
(a)[Spoiler alert: "The Soft Weapon"] The Tnuctip spy weapon was powered by the ultimate form of nuclear power, total conversion of matter to energy. The tiny power plant in the handle of the weapon was much more advanced and more effective at producing power than the larger fusion reactors used by Humans and other interstellar species of Known Space. See also total-conversion beam.
(b)Nessus once claimed Puppeteers used total conversion of matter to energy to power their civilization, during the First Ringworld Expedition in 2850. However, other accounts indicate they used efficient fusion, so it appears this was disinformation.
Reference: (a) "The Soft Weapon", (b) Ringworld ch. 5
[Spoiler alert: "The Soft Weapon"] A blue beam which triggered a total-conversion reaction (an ultra-powerful nuclear explosion) in whatever it struck. This was one of the functions of the Tnuctip spy weapon. If the Kzinti Empire had been able to duplicate the total-conversion beam, it likely would have given them the power to conquer all Known Space.
Reference: "The Soft Weapon"
An art form created by the Kdatlyno, who "see" by sonar. Other species need to touch this art form, rather than look at it, to appreciate it properly.
Reference: "At the Core", "Grendel"
The Kzinti starship which circa 2366 made first contact with Humans by attacking the Angel’s Pencil. Typically for a Kzinti warship, it was a huge red sphere covered with ugly projections— ridges and bumps— scattered at seeming random over its surface. It was decorated with a circle of green dots-and-commas, the Kzinti alphabet. The Tracker was a unique, special-built ship, capable of accelerating at 200 gees using its gravity planer, at an enormous energy cost 200 gees is specified in "The Warriors". Per Ye Editor's communication with Larry Niven, this was a unique, special-built ship, achieving 200 gees at enormous energy cost, and no other ship like her was ever built.. Its weapons included an inductor, missiles, fusion bombs, lasers and anti-missiles. [Spoiler alert: "The Warriors"] Tracker was destroyed by a laser from the photon drive of Angel’s Pencil. [End of Spoiler alert] Note the name "Tracker" does not appear in the account published as "The Warriors", and appeared for the first time in the account later published as "Telepath’s Dance" (by Hal Colebatch).
A transportation device which moves its occupant at the speed of light from one booth to another by means of matter transmission. For transfer, the booth’s contents are converted to a supermassive quantum particle described as a "super-neutrino". They are used only for transportation on the surface of a planet. The typical transfer booth resembles a telephone booth, although perhaps larger. Presumably, much larger and less safe cargo transfer "booths" are also used, although this is undocumented. Each booth has a unique identifying number, and to select a location the traveler enters this as if dialing a telephone number. Transfer booths were used on Earth beginning circa 2500 "In three-and-a-half centuries the transfer booths had done this to the infinite variety of Earth" (Ringworld ch. 1, p. 2). That account is from 2850, and 350 years earlier would be 2500.. By 2850, instantaneous and ubiquitous planet-wide transportation had greatly contributed to the homogenization of Earth cultures. At that time the fee for use was a tenth-star coin (0.10 star), and a slot accepted credit cards for payment. The transfer booth was developed by Gregory Pelton’s great-to-the-eighth grandmother. Her "invention" was developed from licensed Puppeteer technology, although this was not publicly known ARM executive Max Addeo, to Nessus: "‘...a fascinating, decades-old rumor. Lots of folks believe Puppeteers sold Pelton’s great-whatever-grandma the core technology for transfer booths. Sigmund [Ausfaller] knows the rumor.’ [paragraph] ‘I see,’ Nessus said flatly. ...it wasn't a rumor. General Products had sold that technology" (Juggler of Worlds ch. 20, hardcover p. 107).. See also stepping disc.
Reference: "Neutron Star", "At the Core", Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds, "Flatlander", "Grendel", Ringworld ch. 1
An interstellar, paranoid species of Known Space. They were not encountered by Humans until 2830; their sphere borders the Kzinti Empire.
Physiology: Trinocs are five feet tall, with more than three feet of skinny leg, a beer barrel torso, and a head that seems all triangles. Their "neckless" neck is hidden under rolls of chrome yellow skin. They can snap their head around instantly to look directly backwards with their three deep-socketed eyes. Their mouth is triangular, with the edges of yellow, serrated bone knives showing behind three gristle lips. They have a complex elbow and a three-clawed hand. The atmosphere of Earth-like worlds is poisonous to them. An unofficial source states they breathe a "primordial reducing atmosphere" mainly composed of methane and ammonia Ringworld Roleplaying Game— Creatures Book p. 11.
Behavior/Psychology: Other races regard Trinocs as paranoid. The Trinoc encountered by Louis Wu in 2830 regarded Humans as "insufficiently suspicious". This individual said it gambled for survival, but only when necessary, and never for pleasure. It regarded trying to avoid chance as insanity.
Interspecies relations:Puppeteers traded with Trinocs, largely through robots. First contact with Humans was by Louis Wu, in 2830; see "There Is a Tide" (story summary).