Known Space
Books RingworldThe Ringworld EngineersThe Ringworld ThroneRingworld's ChildrenFleet of WorldsJuggler of WorldsDestroyer of WorldsBetrayer of WorldsFate of Worlds
POV Characters Louis WuNessusTeela BrownBeowulf ShaefferSpeaker-to-AnimalsGil Hamilton
Locations EarthMarsVenusSol Asteroid BeltHomeWe Made ItJinxDownPlateauSerpent SwarmWunderlandRingworld

Nessus is a male (of the second type, his species has three sexes) of the species Pierson's Puppeteer, a herbivorous species noted for two heads whose mouths act as capable hands. Pierson's Puppeteers are technically advanced in most of the physical sciences.

Nessus, like all Puppeteers ever met by humans, is insane by Puppeteer standards. Those who are sane are far too sensible (read "cowardly") to go off-world or interact with non-Puppeteers.[1] This makes Nessus ideal to hold position of a "scout" for his species. Nessus demonstrates traits that in humans would be diagnosed as schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, displacement, and at times, extreme suggestibility. Nessus also differs from other puppeteers in that he rarely coiffures his mane, instead choosing to simply comb it flat. He is also well known for his vice of drinking warm carrot juice despite it having negligible dietary value for a puppeteer.

Nessus has two children with Baedeker a male of the first type and at the time, Hindmost to the puppeteers.[2] He also bears dichromatic eyes, (whether this is a birth defect or a result of a continuity error following his replacement "head" following the Ringworld expedition remains to be known).

Nessus is featured in the short story "The Soft Weapon" (printed in the 1968 collection Neutron Star) and is also Hindmost of the expedition to the Ringworld in the 1970 book of the same name. Nessus is a central character in the novel Fleet of Worlds,, set almost 200 Earth years before Ringworld, and its sequels.


  1. Ringworld (novel)
  2. Ringworld's Children (novel)
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