The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven is science fiction at its best and worst. The plot (of this squeal to the fantastic award-winning Ringworld - that I still remember as one of the great SF novels of the 1970s and all time) is based on the analysis of real engineers of the original Ringworld. (That's the kind of novel the original Ringworld was; it inspired real engineers to take out their slide rules - this was before Pickett dumped their made-worthless-by-cheap-calculators inventory into a land fill - to calculate forces and error margins.) The Ringworld Engineers plot revolves (pun intended) around the need for (previously omitted) attitude adjustment rockets to maintain the Ringworld's stable revolution around its sun.
However, combined with this detailed and accurate analysis are transport discs (ala Startrek) and enough other magical science to serve the needs of the plot. The resulting book combines tutorial sections on real physics with interesting sections of inter-species plot. Did I mention that most of the plot is the musings and analysis of inter-species conflict and cooperation, and don't forget rishathra - inter-species sex - which might have been titillating in those pre-Internet days. For the 21st century, the science is slow and the plot slower. If you're interestied in classic, do not miss Ringworld, but feel free to ignore this sequel.
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