**spoiler alert** Once again, I greatly enjoyed a book by John Ringo.
If you're going to read Ringo, you need to know what you're getting yourself into**spoiler alert** Once again, I greatly enjoyed a book by John Ringo.
If you're going to read Ringo, you need to know what you're getting yourself into. He's a veteran and (judging from his books) he loves blowing stuff up, he hates stupid people, he loves weird aliens or situations, and he has quite a vivid imagination.
Live Free or Die follows this trend. Like many of Ringo's recent books it has a "conversational style". When I say that, I mean that it reads as if you were sitting around a fire with him, listening to him spin a tale. The narration is loose and free, the action is usually just a bit over the top, the events are a bit outrageous and the entire thing is ton of fun to experience. It never even approaches the realm of fine art but that's okay. It's too much fun to quibble about.
The book opens when Earth (Terra) receives its first visit from aliens. They drop off a space gate that allows anyone and everyone from the galaxy to come calling. Soon enough, the Horvath come through and start demanding tribute. It's up to Tyler Vernon to figure out a way to make a buck (or a couple of billion) and start leading the way to free Earth.
Along the way, most of Earth's major cities get wiped out (along with most of America's die-hard liberals) leaving the conservatives and libertarians in charge. Most of the Middle East also gets wiped out (due mostly to their own fear and stupidity.) This is at least the second time that the Middle East has been destroyed in a Ringo novel. (The first, I think, was in "Into the Looking Glass".) A trillion ton asteroid gets turned into a floating battle station (complete with 1.5 kilometer thick nickel-iron armor) and hundreds of floating space mirrors are used to turn alien fleets into scrap metal.
I came to this book through a roundabout path. ClarkesWorld Magazine had an interview with Lauren Beukes, in Issue #56 (May 2011). Jeremy L. C. Jones
I came to this book through a roundabout path. ClarkesWorld Magazine had an interview with Lauren Beukes, in Issue #56 (May 2011). Jeremy L. C. Jones was talking with Ms. Beukes about her new novel Zoo City. I got intrigued and checked out the publisher, Angry Robot.
As I browsed their catalog, I stumbled on Embedded. The description intrigued me right away.
When journalist Lex Falk gets himself chipped into the brain of a combat soldier, he thinks he has the ultimate scoop - a report from the forbidden front line of a distant planetary war, live to the living rooms of Earth. When the soldier is killed, however, Lex has to take over the body and somehow get himself back to safety once more… broadcasting all the way.
And, at only $4.79 for the Kindle edition, it seemed eminently worth taking a flyer on.
Now that I’ve finished it, I still think it was worth the money. But it wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. I knew I was in trouble when I started to think about other books, only a quarter of my way through this one. While I can suffer from ADD while reading, getting distracted while reading a book is generally a good sign that I’m just not that into the book.
This book had several flaws, in my opinion. To begin with, the story dropped us onto a planet still undergoing colonization, without first giving us any reason to care about the world itself, the colonists, or the organizations overseeing the colonization. Then we get a main character, Lex Falk, that we again have very little reason to care about or be interested in. I had a very hard time connecting emotionally with anything (or anyone) in the story.
The story also fell prey to the SF temptation to introduce new lingo as a way of showing that the world of the story is different from our own world. It might have worked except that it felt like it took a lot of work in order to understand what was standing in for what. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t all bad. But parts were and I didn’t think that they really added much to the story as compensation.
Sadly, it took about two-thirds of the book before I really felt like I developed a bond with the characters and started to care about what happened. From there on out, for the final one-third of the book, I really enjoyed the read. There was some great action, some great investigation work, and a great reveal. It was a really great read and I enjoyed it a lot.
How do I rate a book like this? Well, 4 stars for concept and the execution of the last third of the book. And 2 stars for the execution of the first two-thirds of the book and the introduction of everything. I’ll average that out and call it 3 stars for the book as a whole.
I think this book can be a good read, if you’re willing to endure the setup necessary in order to get to the really good parts.
This was a very interesting read. Pohl presents an Earth that’s over-populated and suffering great strain on almost every front. But, instead of group
This was a very interesting read. Pohl presents an Earth that’s over-populated and suffering great strain on almost every front. But, instead of grouping the nations by ideology – a democratic Western bloc vs a communist Eastern bloc – he groups the nations by resources. There are three blocs in the story: the Food Exporting Bloc (“the fats”), the Oil Exporting Bloc (“the greasies”), and the People (Labor) Exporting Bloc (“the peeps”). So, for instance, Canada, England, and the Middle East are grouped into the Oil Bloc. America, Russia, and others are part of the Food Bloc. And, of course, India, Pakistan, and China are part of the People Bloc.
Right away, the story has set you up for some unconventional pairings and alliances. It makes you think about where countries’ natural interests lie and how they defend those interests and project their own power. It’s a pretty unhappy world, all in all. The major power blocs are so resource constrained that they don’t even have the ability or the energy (literally) to directly fight each other. Instead, petty (and not so petty) resentments bubble under the service, unable to be fully expressed.
This is how things stand when scientists discover the planet Jem, orbiting the star Krug. Soon enough, each of the major power blocs dispatches their own expedition to try to explore and colonize the planet. The whole business is complicated by the fact that Jem has 3 sentient species already: the airborn ballonists, the crablike krinpit, and the underground crawlers. Each has their own agenda and the 6-way conflicts between humans and Krugians makes for an interesting story.
Unfortunately, like most Pohl stories I’ve read to date, I liked the concept of the story far better than I did the actual execution. I struggled to really like or empathize with any of the characters. Consequently, it was a bit of a struggle to really enjoy the book or even to want to finish it.
Still a favorite. Sure, it's libertarian wish fulfillment, but sometimes it's fun to imagine a world where all of your wishes come true. And there areStill a favorite. Sure, it's libertarian wish fulfillment, but sometimes it's fun to imagine a world where all of your wishes come true. And there are a few good ideas in here too. With Trump as President, who doesn't wish that would-be politicians had to donate their entire fortunate before being eligible to enter politics?...more