Why doesn't Louis Wu know who his daddy is?
March 3, 2009 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Here's a geeky one about Larry Niven's Known Space stories... how come Louis Wu doesn't know that Beowulf Shaeffer is his (step) father?

In the Beowulf Shaeffer Crashlander stories, we learn that he can't have kids on Earth with Sharrol, so they get her knocked up by Carlos Wu and have 2 kids (Tanya and Louis), and then raise the kids together.

But then in Ringworld, Louis doesn't know anything about the former pilot of the Long Shot, which turns out to be Shaeffer himself.

Quoth wikipedia: While Louis Wu was raised by Beowulf Shaeffer, in the first Ringworld novel Louis seems not to know who Shaeffer is. As the Known Space universe continued to grow in complexity with each newly published story, Louis' own backstory was increasingly retconned to fit in with this continuity. This is also probably why Louis never reflected on the obviously-traumatic events in his childhood that took place on Fafnir. This might also be explained as Louis simply being tight-lipped about certain aspects of his personal history, a trait he shared with both his biological father Carlos and his adoptive father, Shaeffer.

Can anybody point out what reconning this is, and in what stories it appears?
posted by ubermuffin to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
 
Isn't it just a continuity issue where the stories where Louis meets Beowulf come before the story where it's determined that Louis is his kid? I thought their relationship wasn't "revealed" until the last Ringworld novel ("Throne").
posted by GuyZero at 8:36 AM on March 3, 2009


This was also news to me, reading Ringworld's Children, where Carlos Wu appeared out of the blue to me -- at least, I couldn't remember his ever appearing before -- but then, I've only read Niven's Known Space books, could this possibly be a tangent out of those Kznti Wars books?
posted by Rash at 3:32 PM on March 3, 2009


And sorry, the last Ringworld novel was "Children", not "Throne". I think he was just trying to tie the two series together, like "Robots and Empire" did for Asimov.
posted by GuyZero at 3:54 PM on March 3, 2009


Not Kzinti wars. The Carlos Wu character is introduced in a 1975 short story called the Borderland of Sol. I think it also mentions children named Louis and Tanya.

Ringworld is written in 1970.

I didn't know Carlos Wu shows up in "Children" -- I haven't read that one yet.
posted by ubermuffin at 4:54 PM on March 3, 2009


Oh, you should -- much better than Throne, or even Engineers, I thought.
posted by Rash at 3:06 PM on March 5, 2009


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