Louis Wu is over 200 years old, but still looks as though he is in his twenties because of the drugs commonly available in the Known Space world Niven has created. He is adventurous, and gets easily bored, but he is an extremely resolute individual, being one of the few wireheads who overcame his addiction. This experience proved invaluable when he had to resist the smell of tree-of-life.

Full Name: Louis Wu MMGREWPLH
Born: Earth, 2650

The human protagonist of the three Ringworld novels, Louis Wu gained his initial fame by making first contact with the Trinocs during one of his many sabbaticals. On the occasion of his 200th birthday, he was recruited by Nessus (a Puppeteer) on behalf of those-who-lead-from-behind to investigate the Ringworld in the company of Nessus himself, Speaker-to-Animals (a Kzin), and Teela Brown. The payment for this venture was the Quantum II Hyperdrive along with the first test vehicle, the Long Shot. As pilot of the Long Shot on the first leg of their journey, Louis Wu was also the first human to witness the Puppeteer Migration and learn the location of the Puppeteer Homeworld. To quote Nessus, the information was more surprising than useful. Following his return to human space with the Quantum II Hyperdrive, Louis spent 22 years as a wirehead after being hit with a tasp by an unknown assailant. He was then recruited by the now-deposed Hindmost to return to the Ringworld with Chmeee (formerly Speaker-to-Animals). On this voyage, he faced four of his greatest challenges - overcoming current addiction, winning a battle against a Protector-stage Teela Brown, fighting the millions of years of instinct telling him to consume Tree-of-Life, and finally saving the Ringworld itself from impacting its own sun.

Sources: Ringworld by Larry Niven and Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven.

Louis Wu is the son of Beowulf Shaeffer and Sharrol Janss. His biological father is Carlos Wu. He was born in 2650, and has an older sister named Tanya.
Louis Wu appears in the following stories by Larry Niven:

1. There is a Tide, 1968

2. Ringworld, 1970

3. The Ringworld Engineers, 1980

4. The Ringworld Throne, 1996

There is a Tide appears in the collection Tales of known space (1975).

Another in a series of Gorgonzola's nitpicking nodes.

Although it is reasonable to assume that Louis Wu's biological father is Carlos Wu, and that he was raised by his mother Sharrol Janss and Beowulf Shaeffer, author Larry Niven never explicitly states this.

We learn in the story "Grendel" (appearing in Niven's collection Neutron Star), as well as the story "The Borderland of Sol" (appearing in Tales of Known Space), that although Shaeffer and Janss wanted to have children, Earth's population control laws forbade1 Beowulf Shaeffer from having children on Earth. This wouldn't have been a problem if Sharrol hadn't been psychologically unable to leave Earth.

Fortunately (or at least conveniently) those same laws granted unlimited reproduction licenses to certain individuals, one of whom was Carlos Wu, a friend of Shaeffer and Janss.

In "The Borderland of Sol", the only story containing Beowulf Shaeffer and Carlos Wu as characters, we learn that the children's names are Louis and Tanya.

Unfortunately, Louis Wu never treats us to reminiscences about his daddy Beowulf Shaeffer. What's more, in Ringworld, Wu and his Kzinti companion Speaker-to-Animals ride a special second-generation hyperdrive to the homeworld of the Pierson's Puppeteers, referring obliquely to the human who had tested it, never mentioning his name: Beowulf Shaeffer2.

When I read all of these stories many years ago, these misconnections kept me awake more than once, wondering what was going on.
1Because Shaeffer was an albino, the same reason his ancestors were forbidden to produce children on Earth, and why they emigrated to Shaeffer's homeworld, We Made It.
2"At the Core", also in Tales of Known Space.
Louis Wu is the main character in Larry Niven's "Ringworld" and "The Ringworld Engineers".

If he were something other than himself, he would be the following:

1) If Louis Wu were a small frightening bug, he’d be an arachnid. Like a trapdoor spider; waiting for the right moment to do anything, be it strike at a passerby, or make a decision, and battling when threatened.

2) As a bird, he’d be most suited to being one of those little songbirds from the Galapagos Islands. They use twigs to stab into otherwise unreachable places in trees to stab at grubs, getting their meals this way. They show others how to do this also, and this is like Louis inventing new ways to fix things, and showing others how to fix things (such as water condensers). Smart.

3) If he were an organ, he’d be a liver. The liver takes in all sorts of goo, filters it, and supplies bile to other parts of the body. Louis takes in information, filters out all the unimportant stuff, and relays the rest back to his superior/captor.

4) He’d be one of those guys that lives in his apartment, never comes out. Or at least know one could figure out how he got out. At his workplace, no one would know anything about him. The cops would get tips about his alleged illegal activity, but no one would ever catch him.

5) If I were going to the hardware store to get some flooring, Louis Wu would be a big role of patterned linoleum. The lines one it would not make a repeating pattern unless you carefully inspected great lengths of the role. Louis is like that. If I were around him enough, I could anticipate what path he’d take, what answers he’d give, what he’d do next.

6) He would definitely be a contestant on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” Like any of the other contestants, he’d make a decision on what he thinks the answer should be. It might not be the right decision, but he’d stick with it. There are many decisions that have to be made by him in the book. He looks over his options, and chooses the best one.

7) Louis as a high school student! Intelligent, but illiterate. Good in math. He’d refrain from alcohol and substance abuse until the end of grade 10. Then, he’d loose himself in a dream world as he did in the book with his current addiction.

8) He’d be a cool high school teacher. For English or Psychology, he’d be free and easy going. He’d do things like take his classes to a televised court battle so that we could later discuss it and pose debates.

9) In Vegas, he’d be the only sign that didn’t have neon in it. He doesn’t draw attention to himself.

10) On the beach, he’d be a hermit crab, out of his shell, in search of a bigger one. Very vulnerable to all the other creatures around him. But the tender mollusk body would camouflage him well, and he is good of staying out of the way. That’s what he’s like! Vulnerable because he’s very low down in the chain of command, but well equipped to stay out of harms way. He just takes risk a lot.

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