Awesome / Known Space

  • In an early chapter of Ringworld, Speaker-to-Animals casually insults humanity and Luis Wu takes offense. Wu asks the Kzinti what the usual custom for such an insult is, and when he's told its a hand-to-hand duel to the death, he doesn't hesitate to issue such a challenge, knowing that he has no damned chance against a Kzin. One of the other Kzinti apologizes on behalf of Speaker-to-Animals, negating the need for the duel, and further explains that its his job to apologize for his race when Kzinti insult humans. Luis says, "I wouldn't have your job for nothing." The Kzinti looks Wu up and down and says, "Of course you wouldn't; not if you were willing to challenge a Kzin in a duel to a death." Thus validating Luis, and humanity, as a true badass.
  • In The Ringworld Engineers, the ringworld itself has its own Moment of Awesome, when the protagonists discover that it uses massive magnetic fields to turn the Sun into a giant gas laser.
  • The Soft Weapon: After being captured by Kzinti, the heroes manage to escape and try to run for their ship. Nessus, a manic-depressive Puppeteer, turns and delivers a massive kick to the Kzniti captain, crumpling him while Nessus merrily escapes. Remember, Puppeteers are pathological cowards, and their most common reaction to stress or danger is to run for the hills. Also remember, Kzinti are basically 9-foot tall, 500 pound, bipedal tigers. The captain is shamed so badly by this assault that he has to spend the rest of the story pretending it didn't happen, going so far as to refuse treatment despite his rib-equivalents being shattered.