First Contact Was Friendly When aliens trundled a gate to other worlds into the solar system, the world reacted with awe, hope and fear. But the first aliens to come through, the Glatun, were peaceful traders and the world breathed a sigh of relief.
Who Controls the Orbitals, Controls the World When the Horvath came through, they announced their ownership by dropping rocks on three cities and gutting them. Since then, they've held Terra as their own personal fiefdom. With their control of the orbitals, there's no way to win and earth's governments have accepted the status quo.
Live Free or Die. To free the world from the grip of the Horvath is going to take an unlikely hero. A hero unwilling to back down to alien or human governments, unwilling to live in slavery and with enough hubris, if not stature, to think he can win. Fortunately, there's Tyler Vernon. And he has bigger plans than just getting rid of the Horvath.
John Ringo is a prolific author who has written in a wide variety of genres. His early life included a great deal of travel. He visited 23 foreign countries, and attended fourteen different schools. After graduation Ringo enlisted in the US military for four years, after which he studied marine biology.
In 1999 he wrote and published his first novel "A Hymn Before Battle", which proved successful. Since 2000 Ringo has been a full time author.
He has written science fiction, military fiction, and fantasy.
This would have been a fun if utterly mindless little jaunt about aliens invading and humans fighting them off if the author could have not spent every other page stuffing his straight up fascist opinion in with the subtly of a sledge hammer.
I don't use the word fascist lightly. I love Heinlein and find the politics in his books more or less unoffensive. Heinlein certainly writes about brutal militaristic governments, but it is an exploration of those societies and shows both the good and bad. When Heinlein shoves his political opinion in, it is done with a little bit of finesse. You don't have to agree, but it is at least an interesting perspective. The author of this atrocity, John Ringo, should take a lesson from Heinlein.
In Ringo's world, anyone who isn't actively rooting for poor brown people to die is an idiot. I am not exaggerating. There is a point in the book where all the poor brown people die, and the red neck hero of the book declares it is a real shame, but applauds how much this is going to improve the economy. It would be one thing if this was written from the perspective of a red neck fascist, but it is pretty clearly a fantasy world where every even vaguely lefty decision results in doom, and every fascist decision in a win.
My favorite part is when, after all the poor brown people are killed, a virus makes it so that blond women (and only blond women) go into heat and it makes them desperate to breed and more fertile, thus ensuring that the future of the human race will be blond hair blue eyed white people. I didn't even make that up.
Throw on top of this pile of horrors the fact that there is not a single female character with more than a couple of lines (other than one brief villain), and it is pretty hard to not walk away utterly convinced that the author is just a straight right wing fascist nut. And when I say fascist, I mean it in the that he literally want all brown people to die, women to be slaves, and the world to be made up of blond hair and blue eyed people.
If you want to read some decent militaristic sci-fi with a conservative voice, read some Heinlein. This book is on the KKK reading list and I so I really can't recommend this crap to anyone who would feel uncomfortable at a KKK rally.
Put a book called “Live Free or Die” in front of an old Heinlein / Poul Anderson SF libertarian like myself AND reference the two grandmasters in the first few pages AND make the protagonist a freewheeling science fiction writer and I’m gonna like it.
This is a fun twist on the first contact sub-genre reminiscent of the aforementioned writers as well as inspirations from or similarities to Arthur C. Clarke and John Scalzi. An alien race delivers our “gate��� to the rest of the known universe but are more or less friendly and the interaction goes well. It’s when the SECOND group of ETs show up that things get sideways and we realize we are backwoods inbred cousins compared to the rest of the technologically much more advanced races /species / folks.
Imagine a scene from the 1996 Roland Emmerich film Independence Day and you get an idea about the boot heel we are under.
But fortunately for mankind there is a free thinking entrepreneur who is not giving up and gets a leg up on the first aliens with an unexpected but favorable trade agreement. He uses the leverage to slowly start moving towards a better position to take on our “benefactors” as they insist on being called.
Kind of three related novellas put together this is hard SF but fun and told with personality. Not without its blemishes – the pacing is inconsistent and sometimes hard to follow; the technical jargon can get tedious and the characterization can be flat. There were also some glossed over elements that inhibited the plot. Most of all, I think many critics will dislike the overt libertarian political asides and unapologetic anti-government overtones.
All said, though, this was an entertaining and fun read and I’ll likely read more from Mr. Ringo.
My requirements were thus when I set out to read this novel (which is really a series of three novellas packed into one larger work):
1. Aliens. 2. Lasers.
Live Free or Die starts with a near Douglas Adams' flair for comedy. Gate pops up in the general region of earth, aliens fly through and gave a brief humorous description of what the gate exactly provided: namely, the ability for anyone who could pay (aggressor/trader made no difference to it) a trip through. So, we had aliens. Shortly later, aliens nuke cities and take over the world. We give them our rare precious metals; they don't nuke more cities. A human entrepreneur finds out another group of aliens love Maple Syrup. Its like alcohol to them. He makes a fortune. Funny, but still not as well delivered as the aforementioned Douglas Adams. With this fortune, he begins to create lasers. Requirements met. Eventually he makes a prototype Death Star. So, there's that.
John Ringo is not a great author; he isn't even a good one. The science is fascinating, the plot moves along, he obviously knows military tactics, the characters are one dimensional bores, every female mentioned is "stacked", and Ringo has a nasty habit of injecting ridiculous political agenda into the weirdest bits of his story.
So, interestingly, after searching the Internets for opinions on this novel I come across an internet meme I never knew existed: OH JOHN RINGO NO. The book this review discusses is not the one I read, but probably matches many of his points which is condensed into this: "Because dammit, there's bad, and then there's so bad you have to memorialize it for future generations."
I have read several books by John Ringo. I generally find that anything he writes is reliably a good read. This one would, in a perfect world, rate a little higher (for me anyway) than the last Ringo book I read. However since I can't really go all the way to 5 with it and the other is also undeniably a 4 star read, I'm left with little option. We'll just have to say this is one of the ubiquitous "4.5 star" ratings we almost all wish to give, but can't.
Now, why is this book, in my opinion a bit higher on the rating scale than the last?
Mr. Ringo's books are all solid science fiction with enough theoretical and mathematical meat on their bones to satisfy most any hard science fiction fan. Mr. Ringo himself seems to have little patience with those who don't appreciate the scientific depth of his work. Still, we're out here. In the Looking Glass books ( Into the Looking Glass is the first) several times I bogged down completely in the math LOL. Here while the science is solid I never had the urge to yawn and skip a bit...well, not more than once or twice. The book holds the interest, tells a page turner of a story and never flags. Good book.
We get a story here of what happens when Earth is suddenly jerked into a wider universe where we occupy a position much like that of the native American during the colonization of the "New World" or the tribal peoples met by the British Empire. Humans are not faring so well...one more "adventurous" race of aliens has decided to make Earth a protectorate. Of course they can't do that for free...and all the metals that would otherwise be useful in technological advancement and as trade goods are what we have to pay...each year...all of it...
Leaving Earth a third world type backwater planet where unemployment is rampant and a worldwide depression is in full swing.
Enter Tyler Vernon, and a product that is in high demand...off world, that no one expected.
This novel is the beginning of a new series by Mr. Ringo, but it holds up as a stand alone novel (aside from the fact that it ends with obviously more to come of course). It also gives Mr. Ringo lots of room to unlimber his own political and sociological views, of course since these don't differ a whole lot from my own that isn't a huge trial for me. (One thing to be aware of...
The conflict in the book and political situations atop the development of the plot (and technological wonders) gives a great stage for this big story to be played out. All in all I like it and will more than likely follow it up.
I read this book expecting human underdogs beating the crap out of aliens. I did not expect to also get a huge dose of smug ass bastard obliviously filled to the brim with white male privilege. What makes it worse is part of it is obviously on purpose due to the thinly veiled political commentary whenever the repercussions of various plot points are discussed (although still not fully extrapolated due to the unfortunate implications of certain events should they be pursued to their logical conclusion) but part of it is also in throwaway lines, assumptions of truth or fact that go unchallenged, as if all the people share the same group think-- at least any character given dialogue of any importance convey a very narrow view that the author undoubtedly possesses.
I really wanted to like this book because I love nothing more than the scrappy human picking themselves up and then beating alien overlords at their own games but this particular book's serving was interspersed with boring propaganda and monologues (verging on diatribes) that I suspect are just a vehicle for the author's own opinions. When I have to filter for extraneous BS just to get to the actual story to the point where I am sighing in annoyance and skipping ahead at the very climax of the story because the tension of the action has been tangibly reduced because yet another political tangent just HAD to make its way into the narrative AGAIN, then that's a very bad sign.
I'm sure John Ringo has his fans and I liked his Empire of Man series that he co-authored with David Weber (to the point where it's one of my favorite scifi series) but reading this book made me aware of the "OH JOHN RINGO NO" meme that I had, before this point, not been aware of. If I had found out about this meme before this book, I would've not understood. BUT NOW I DO.
Perusing the more positive reviews of the book, I will go on to read the second book in the series. But somehow I think I will be reading through it very quickly as well if things don't improve. Frankly, this book would likely be leaner and fitter if it was half as long-- by my rough estimate, that's how much space all the unnecessary political treatises was taking up. That's not even going into the unPC and arguably offensive commentary sprinkled throughout like golden nuggets of smug snake wisdom.
It's the near-future. Astronomers detect what appears to be a ring-shaped asteroid entering the solar system. But then the object decelerates. Okay, so it's not an asteroid; the astronomers freak out. Suddenly, the leaders of the world's major nations get a phone call. It's an automated message from an alien species called the Glatun, informing the hapless earthlings that the object is a hyperspace gate, and any alien race that wants to can now send ships to Earth. You are not allowed to block or destroy the gate. Welcome to the universe, and good luck.
This book had such a promising beginning. The first hundred pages had good writing, a fascinating premise, and plenty of light-hearted comic relief. Unfortunately, the rest of the book doesn't deliver. The middle third gets extremely bogged down in technical detail. Worse, the main character, whose entrepreneurial spirit is initially endearing, turns out to be kind of an unsympathetic, egotistical jerk.
Even that would be bearable, however, if it weren't for the fact that halfway through the book Ringo ambushes his readers with a sudden barrage of conservative politics. Somehow Ringo manages to incorporate pretty much every right-wing caricature of liberals, government, and the mainstream media, all while patting himself on the back for "at least trying to understand" these groups, something they allegedly make no effort to do in return.
The dealbreaker for me was the tacit endorsement of eugenics. In one segment, some aliens attack the earth with a biological weapon basically designed to kill all the stupid people, the elderly, Islamic fundamentalists, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. The main character then treats us to a lecture about how this will balance the budget and stimulate the economy. He at least has the decency to feel bad for saying so, but not bad enough. Readers are not shown any of the horror of hundreds of millions of people suddenly dying; it's treated almost entirely as a financial and strategic calculation. Ayn Rand and Adolf Hitler would be proud.
After that, I stopped reading. I won't be finishing it, and I won't be picking up one of Ringo's books again.
I wanted to like this book. Really I did. The series is based off of Schlock Mercenary, which continues to be one of the most consistently funny webcomics around, and so I was predisposed to enjoy it, since it purported to tell the story of "how we got here", i.e. Humanity's first contact in the Schlockiverse and its development into a major intergalactic player. Unfortunately, this was my first John Ringo book, so I came in expecting something a bit different.
As always with Sci-Fi books to which I give the bad reviews, the concept is very good. The story is even very good in this one, so he's already one up on the Vernor Vinge novel I reviewed here a week ago. The characterization is two-dimensional, which is possibly being generous by a dimension, but I expect that from a genre fiction ghetto book. The real problems with the book are IMO twofold:
1) Technology Porn. Ringo is clearly writing in the finest tradition of Tom Clancy and other tech porn authors, i.e. "why bother with characterization when you can fill your book with how your tech works"? It is not necessarily a BAD thing to discuss how sci-fi tech works-- particularly if you are trying to stay relatively high on the Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness-- but there comes a point where it's just time to give it a rest, already. Tom Clancy is a best-selling author so John Ringo obviously feels he can get away with pages upon pages of gravitics-- but it didn't work for me. The problem become particularly endemic in the last 2/3 of the book.
2) Obvious Conservative/Libertarian Bias. I don't NECESSARILY mind the "one hero who plays by his own rules saves the world" bit-- I am arguably a historian in the Whiggish tradition-- but Ringo steps beyond that to hit a number of horned-in talking points. Government in general is seen as inept and bureaucratic; Terrestrial liberals are depicted as limp-wristed and view surrender as the first and only option; the Terrans' Patron Race, the Glatun, are described as a society doomed to collapse in the near future due to their disrespect of military tradition and the decadence of their welfare state. There is something to be said re: writing what you believe in, but in a number of places the allegorical rhetoric steps over the line to outright propaganda. (Particularly in the places where he intimates that America is, as usual, at the forefront of the struggle for freedom and the rest of the world consists of cheese-eating surrender monkeys.) I don't think THIS level of political was necessary, and it really marred my enjoyment of the book.
The story is interesting enough that I am reading as we speak the second novel in this series, "Sentinel"... but I am notably reading the library's copy rather than my own, since I think I would feel dirty paying money for this.
I'd never read one of your books. I had seen them at the library along with several other bestsellers as books I'd always intended to read but never had. In fact I often have had to resist the allure of their glossy, hard-cover jackets because I had plenty more books to read. Of course I always had that sneaking suspicion that one day I would have to take the plunge and read one of your books. It always ends up that way with the glossy best-sellers...
Eventually this book caught up to me thanks to my mother reading it and recommending it. So I picked it up curiously and I must admit that you won me over with the simple foreword. You wrote about how you had 'stolen' the idea for this novel from a web-comic. You mentioned how you had no intention of this being a great literary read, a tale about the 'other' or 'alienation' through 'othering'. No you had planned this as an entertaining space story and I respect that, above all I read for joy and entertainment.
When I begun I found that this was one of the most fun books I've read all year. Not the most unique (but you mentioned that it wasn't meant to be 'unique') and not the best book but one of the most fun. The whole opening with aliens dropping a intergalactic doorway in our solar system was very clever twist on that whole intergalactic 'stargate' idea. Following that up with traders from friendly alien planets coming through and then tyrannical aliens was also great. You had a set up that placed humanity under the boot of stronger and more advanced aliens. But then you went and came up with one entrepreneur who fought his way and humanity's way into power. A man who discovered that the aliens had an addiction to maple syrup. And how he traded up to gain alien technology for humanity was brilliant. I loved the way you showed an alien first encounter and humanity entering into a proper space age.
I loved the humour of your book, the jokes made through your story. I loved the entertaining action and the protagonists with their banter. I get that there was some politics in the story, which I'm probably not American enough to understand. I did like how you showed that sometimes governments can spend too much time working out the proper way to do things rather than the right way and the way that works to help its people. Are governments there for themselves or the people?
Most of all I loved the way all the elements combined in this story. It was a fun read, a book I will not regret having read and definitely a book for action adventure junkies. Thanks for writing this fun book Mr. Ringo!
Pretty bad. Unlike many of my fellow negative reviewers however i am not picking on the strong libertarian themes as my reason of dislike. I liked Heinleins "Moon is a harsh Mistress", and the underlying political themes are quite similar. Also i have nothing against Nietze "Ubermenschen" as Protagonist Heroes.
The writing to me just seems so clumsy in many ways. It never really seems to flow, but stutter along.
Also, while i dont insist on a cast of all meaningful and complex characters, having a book without a single iota of character development does seem kind of lazy. I get it, he wants to tell a story of scope rather than get bogged down with details, but without humans with which the reader can associate, it feels all rather meaningless.
While i do like the ideas and the scope of it all, the timeframes in which everything is happening just seems a bit ludicrious. Other scifi writers who want to tell a large story with a single lead character usually use some kind of longevity plot device. That of course isnt always used well, but the way the author crams developments in a single decade is a lot worse.
So, even if you are a fan of military scifi, there is a lot better fare out there.
I've read some of his other books in the past, and I enjoyed them. But I just read "Live Free or Die" today (cover to cover). I have not enjoyed a book that much in years. From the moment I started to read the acknowledgments, until the end of the very last page, I was hooked. It was brilliantly written, and I loved it.
I have a vague recollection of there being more "mature" content in other books by him. I don't know if I'm remembering wrongly,or it was intentionally toned down (perhaps due to the fact that it takes place in the Schlock-verse). Whatever the case, I'm glad of it as I can recommend this book to Everyone I know.
This book had some "Han Soloisms" in it, and a few indirect and well obfuscated references to a certain activity. But it was generally quite clean and an awesome read.
This could have been a very interesting sci-fi novel, instead the reader is constantly distracted by violent bursts of the writer's strong political opinions which have little to nothing to do with the novel itself. The only character that seems to exist in this novel is the main character himself, everyone else is either against him (and therefore automatically labelled an ignorant idiot) or what pretty much equates to an extension of his person, offering no substantial input. The book seems to grow more fevered with every chapter as the main character becomes more unstable and everyone around him acts with predictable regularity regardless of what happens around them. I also found it very strange that while certain characters seem to be very strongly against the main character, they don't actually take any significant action other than making his goals marginally more difficult to achieve with their lack of cooperation.
So this was my first ever John Ringo. All I can say is... this was a completely and utter train wreck and I kinda loved it! LOL Oh I don't think I will be taking on Mr Ringo as a new favorite author, but I think I will see this trilogy out eventually.
So I had heard about the whole 'Oh John Ringo NO!' and read the article. Laughed myself silly, and while there were parts ALMOST as bad as the example that blogger was using, it wasn't quite up to par just yet. However this is what I have learned from this book:
1) John Ringo can't write a complex, complete personality to save his life. Everyone has to be 1 or 2 things and to the extreme, but EVERYONE has to be amicable in the end to the protagonist.
2) Apparently all run of the mill citizens who are scifi geeks are apparently smarter than those trained in their fields (like NASA). It is just their inability to THINK BIG like the regular working Joe that limits them ::rolls eyes::
3) Maple Syrup is 'da bomb'
4) EVERY idea ever cooked up in old, scifi B books (not movies though, lets get that straight, books only) will ALWAYS work. Because they were obviously geniuses before their time
5) John Ringo hates peace loving hippies but doesn't have the balls to admit he might be a warmonger. So instead his character 'pretends' to only admit war is on the horizon because 'that's just how those aliens are and we must come to that realization before it's too late.' Sorry Ringo, not buying the whole I'm really a peaceful guy who just likes capitalism but I'm smart enough to know when we might have to fight' routine. Everything your guy built was with war in mind, and even when your guy went into a 'rant' when they built the Starfire he was creaming his pants to be the first one in that cockpit to fight the Horvath.
6) Military high mucky mucks are really just big teddy bears once they see that your 'top secret hush hush' deathstar is really for them to defend the planet. What? you built a giant weapon unbeknownst to us and want us to buy it for 3 trillion dollars of the governments money? Oh and tax free? Wellllll since it kinda works I guess I'm sorry for screaming that one time, and hey, let's go get malts together... K, call me!
7) John Ringo doesn't do smooth information giving or description/setting details. John Ringo basically does info dumps every other paragraph, like he's just read some new wikipedia page and had to vomit the information or die. And he HAS to tell a story through characters talking, THAT'S THE ONLY WAY. So our protagonist winds up being a very Chatty Cathy indeed.
And I'm going to leave it there, I could do this all day! But ohhhh sometimes we love our trash right?!
Didn't finish after 1/3 in. I still gave it 2 stars because I can understand why some people would enjoy this book, it just was not for me.
In Forward-Prologue, the author discusses the need to bring a little "hard" science into his science fiction. Physics, biology, deep-thought astronomy/cosmology, mathematics, bring it on!
Then... The main character meets an alien at a comic book convention (If you can travel millions of light years, I would think you can find a better gig than co-hosting a comic book convention?). Main character and said alien then engage in a maple syrup for alien tech trade on a planetary scale. Apparently, maple syrup is like "alien crack" and they are willing to go to war over the maple syrup crack den we call Earth.
And that's when the book lost me.
I understand that that some of the events and humor are tongue and cheek, I think I was thrown off after reading that the author wanted to address the "science" in science fiction (and there are nuggets of nice scientific elements in this book). Not a "bad" book, just not my cup of tea.
John Ringo is one of my favorite "new" authors. I have followed him from his collaboration work with David Weber in the March series and through his many novels. Live Free or Die is one of his best, in my humble opinion. Introducing several alien races, including the mercantile race that is in it for a buck but not conquest, and the evil conquerors who threaten our cities if they are not given exclusive use of Maple Syrup, a potent drug to the first race, Ringo presents a fast paced story with action and humor. I love the way the New Englanders pulled a Brer Rabbit on the Horvath, the "we don't really care if you kill those city folk, go ahead," to the threat of annihilation of New York and Washington. Ringo's politics come through in the private citizen, free enterprise and the forging of solar system industry coming to the rescue. From what I have seen of the way governments work, or don't, in the modern world, I can't say that he is wrong. I don't always agree with the man's politics, but I do admit that he is a great story teller. The characters are well developed and interesting, and he achieves an emotional punch by killing some of them off throughout the story. Troy itself is a masterpiece of military hardware, a station so massive that it laughs off nuclear strikes and annihilates alien fleets. I liked the idea so much I developed a variation for my own work. Mimicry is the ultimate flattery, and I flatter this man and his great ability.
Read this based on a review from "Lyn". It was everything he promised. Brought to mind Haldeman and Scalzy. Well written, outrageous, almost hard scfi - lots of technical details, yet fun first contact story. Old school pacing. Ringo was below the radar for me. Glad to have read him. Thanks Lyn.
Very good Heinleinesque SF. Add John Ringo to the likes of Allen Steele, Spider Robinson and John Scalzi, among the putative "next" Heinleins. And in a sense, Live Free or Die is comparable to The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, with the folksy voice, Tony Stark/Ironman-like characters, and deft use of astrophysics and engineering to give the book that classic SF gloss. The book also sports a one-sided political and social viewpoint, conservative, not libertarian, that can be off-putting in its insistence, even if one is a conservative. But perhaps, the sotto voce sniping of liberals and the liberal agenda merely reflects the opinions of the main character, Tyler Vernon, and we can allow this as poetic license? Well. At least, try to read the rest of the book with horse-blinders, and focus on, and appreciate, its SF elements.
The SF ranges from amusing in the first segment, to really keen and exciting in the middle section and then very mechanical/procedural in the final. This psychotic changing around of tone underlines the reality that this book is an omnibus of three shorter standalone works, written in pulp serial form. The common threads are the character of Tyler Vernon, who rises from humble computer technologist to megalomaniac/war hero, and of the community of aliens who have come to either trade or subjugate earth.
If you simply can't tolerate the right-wing megaphone, I would still recommend reading even just the middle segment as very good space opera SF. If you plan to read the next book in the series (something I have not yet decided to do), then read the third and final segment of the book for potential mysteries that may stimulate some anticipation.
4 stars for its earnest effort to be at least dedicated to classic SF precepts espoused by master Heinlein, while ignoring the inherent sexism and interspersed proselytizing.
This is the second book by Ringo I've read and I believe I am going to read more. Live Free or Die (LFoD) is based on the Schlock Mercenary webcomic and I think Ringo did a great job playing with and expanding upon this world.
Firstly, I have to say that Ringo has a wonderful sense of humor and did an amazing amount of research in crafting this novel. His science is plausible but doesn't bog us down with too much description. Generally the characters talk about a situation, give a brief description and get us back to the story. Usually with several humorous quips tossed in along the way. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading the novel, which I think was one of Ringo's goals.
This book will probably have some comparisons to The Last Centurion (TLC) as both main characters are conservative instead of liberal. Tyler Vernon, the protagonist in LFoD, does not rail against liberal thoughts or ideas as much as Bandit Six from TLC, but it could anger some people from a leftist point of view. Personally, I look that these men as simply characters and enjoy their exploits, regardless of their point of view about the world. The book is just so enjoyable that I cannot find myself getting entrenched in a political thought process. I am here to have fun!
The one issue I had with LFoD is the lack of a solid ending. I felt TLC suffered from a similar problem and wonder if endings are just not one of Ringo's strengths. He spins a wonderful story that had me turning the pages in the wee hours of the morning, so I can forgive a lackluster ending. Perhaps we ended on a neutral note instead of a cliffhanger because this is the first book in a trilogy.
I am definitely going to finish off this series. Ringo has put together a heck of a tale. I cannot wait for the second book.
This was a very interesting and funny science fiction book. I wasn't too sure about it at the start because it involved selling maple syrup to aliens!
I guess John Ringo has some political issues and it comes out in his writing. He moves through this book pretty rapidly because he kind of skips things like language barriers and other stuff you'd expect upon a first contact story. The main character seems kind of old at the beginning but doesn't seem to age much throughout the book. He is obviously a genius because some of the ideas he comes up with are just too fantastic for most people.
This also is a business book going into great detail on how the main character wheels and deals with an alien federation. of course the main character get some implants which make it possible for him to directly interface with an alien network and alien corporations. Of course you have to believe that business is done everywhere in the galaxy just like it is done on Earth.
Still, a great read and some great action at the very end.
Humans were alarmed when the first aliens that arrived to introduce themselves to Earth set up a hypergate that immediately connected Earth with all the outside universe. We were no longer alone. At least the Glatun were friendly aliens.
Tyler Vernon, a smart hard-working guy who chops wood for a living, decides to take this opportunity to improve his fortune. He finds a product that our new alien friends love and begins a business empire. Soon he’s the richest man on Earth, and that means he’s got a lot of influence on how things get done. When another alien race, the Horvath, come through the gate, declare themselves Earth’s “protectors” and start demanding tribute, Tyler is the only human who seems ready to take them on.
Live Free or Die, the first in John Ringo’s TROY RISING series, starts strong. Tyler is, at first, a likeable entrepreneur whose clever business plans are fun to read about. I enjoyed watching him begin to trade with the aliens (although I thought they weren’t alien enough) and build his empire. Some of this was amusing and some was just silly, but it was clever and fun.
But once Tyler gets rich and powerful and starts throwing his weight around, he becomes egotistical, dogmatic and obnoxious. Suddenly (or maybe I just didn’t notice it earlier) he begins espousing John Ringo’s political and economic philosophies. It’s clear that Ringo is a libertarian (or possibly a right-wing conservative) and he definitely wants us to know it. His politics is not my problem — I lean toward the conservative/libertarian side of the spectrum myself. The problem is two-fold.
First, I never want to read someone’s political or religious treatise in my fiction. That’s not what I read fiction for. It completely throws me out of the story when I can see the author back there behind the words waving his arms around and telling me what I ought to think. I don’t mind so much if the author is talking about something beautiful — transcendent religious experience, redemption, freedom, etc, but not when the point is simply to promote one’s own views while belittling people with different views. It’s like those obnoxious Facebook friends who never post anything but links to posts about how right their political views are and how wrong and stupid everyone with the opposite view is. This is ugly no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on. There is a lot of this in Live Free or Die.
Second (and most bothersome), Tyler Vernon’s claptrap isn’t just the typical small-government /family values philosophy that are at the core of American conservatism today.
A good drama demands any kind of difficult to be surpassed by the hero, this book has nothing.
In the start of this atrocity a bunch of evil aliens that are evil because they are evil appear and nuke three cities, soon all the Earth is under their domain and no one resists!
It's only when a stupid 'merican discover that maple syrup is like cocaine for aliens (All of them, except for the evil ones) that he has a chance of defeating the aliens. (As long as the Evil aliens do absolutely nothing to stop him)
I could roll with the stupid maple Syrup premise, but there are two things that bother me to no end about this bad written excuse for a fanfic:
1) Canada has the majority of it's production! The book simply forgot about Canada and it is simply a question about America and Freedom! The producers in other parts of the world? Fuck them, they are not Americans!
2) It tries really hard to be Hard Sci-Fi and at the same time it wants me to believe that there is such a substance that can be consumed by every alien species (Except the Evil Aliens). It's like picking a book about the world war 2 and in the middle of the thing Joseph Stalin Rides a unicorn.
After the protagonist/Gary Stu activates the infinite money cheat he start building mirrors to create a big freaking laser. And the Evil Aliens Do absolutely nothing to stop him! And every single alien do absolutely nothing! And every single nation on Earth do absolutely nothing!
The only person that do any shit in this book is the protagonist, no one else DOES ANYTHING! Most of the book is just the main character being a rich asshole and giving his annoying speeches until we finally have the big confrontation between the Evil Aliens and the humans.
And it's anti climatic to say the least, the Evil Aliens are actually weaker than they appeared at first and are easily defeated while retreating. And the series as well could end here, because the rest of it is just masturbatory fantasy about how special humans are and how we should slave all the aliens (and liberals) and became the freaking Imperium of Mankind.
Better than the awful "Last Centurion" but....the political agenda is costing him my money.
The premise for this one was good. It could have been a wonderful read. The Earth is along the path of galactic progress and gets invaded by a slightly more powerful alien species, while the far more powerful and jaded really tough alien species watches it all happen.
It's up to One Man to Save Us All.
Ringo has an excellent sense of humor and loves to make intelligent jokes in the middle of the action of his books. I really enjoy those parts of the stories he writes. I like his world building and the way the action flows.
I don't like his political agenda. The "Last Centurion" cost me buying John Ringo books in hardcover. This one cost John Ringo any of my money. I'll buy used books if I really want his stuff. The humor is getting lost in his politics anyway.
At one level, this book is a political allegory about terrorism and our current government policies. Ringo makes it clear that the evil Liberals are to blame, yet again, for much of societies woes. Rather than care about allowing everyone to marry, we should be putting intense effort into planetary defenses.
I'm not quite sure why both couldn't be accomplished, as the issues don't seem to be contradictory, but Ringo doesn't appear to see this.
In the "Last Centurion", the Evil Liberals brought about the downfall of society. In this book, those wanting to allow gay marriage contribute significantly to this.
The reason I gave this book two stars is because there was actually a story this time, unlike in Centurion. The gay marriage thing could have been removed and it would have had no impact on the story at all. Shame on the editors!
In many ways, this is a unique book for me. In other ways, this book suffers from the exact same thing several other Sci-Fi books suffer from.
I'll begin talking about part 1 "The Maple Syrup King": This was by far the most entertaining section of the book for me. I loved the unfolding of the human relationships with the various alien speices, how Tyler Vernon used ingenuity to discover the Maple Syrup connection, and then used his wit and developed the resources to gaina majority of production. Everything in this section was fantastic, and I couldn't put it down.
The showdown in this section with the Horvath was excellent, and the use of Tyler's "hatred" of big cities was hilarious and brilliant! My jaw dropped at the way it was all a set up for a punchline in the end. When you read the book, you should be able to tell what I'm referring to.
Another thing that works in this books favor is its messaging. A high majority of books published, especially in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres are written by authors with liberal worldviews. That is totally understandable and not really a problem. However, as bookreaders tout the need for diversity in the publishing space, this includes in worldviews, and John Ringo has a much more overt and different worldview than any Sci-Fi fantasy author I've read. He definitely has Conservative-Liberitarian worldviews. This is highly evident in his main character Tyler Vernon, as well as in his worldbuilding. The whole concept of individuals and businesses solving the problems, rather than government, is an inherently conservative position, and that is the bedrock of this book.
The second and third sections of the book "SAPL" and "Troy Rising" were both interesting, but not nearly as well paced as the first section. This is partially because there are entire chapters here dedicated to the design of spaceships and a massive battlestation. While I appreciated reading how Tyler Vernon and his people came up with designs and plans for the future, the actual nitty/gritty design phase of the book was pretty dull. This happens with a ton of Sci-Fi, and usually happens when authors try to make the book as realistic, understandable, and scientific as possible. John Ringo states that this is exactly what he was going for in his acknowledgements. This is a totally understandable and reasonable position to be in as a writer, I just think it makes the book not as engaging on the whole. I'd rather focus on the characters, plot, and themes than I would the ins and outs of the Science/Shipbuilding.
That being said, the second and third sections had some amazing moments and some great interactions among characters. Obviously, the main character Tyler Vernon is my favorite since the book is his book, but I liked his interactions with the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I also really liked several of the aliens, particularly Wathaet.
This book doesn't have the strongest of endings, but considering it is the first in a trilogy that's understandable. I fully intend to read books 2 and 3 this year, although I'm not entirely sure exactly when I will.
Overall, this is a fun book with a great change of pace. Part 1 was amazing and parts 2 and 3 were mostly good with some boring elements. I'll give this one a 8 out of 10!
Part I: "The Maple Syrup War" is great. 4 stars. The tone is light and humorous. The writing style is fast moving and attention grabbing. The hero is inventive, ingenious and likable.
Parts II and III are dull, tedious, plodding, boring etc... 1.5 stars. These parts mostly consist of engineering design and business meetings. The hero from the first part becomes a bossy, threatening CEO who gets the impossible done by other people by shouting at them and threatening to fire them. It's like an endless Star Trek look of Kirk going "Scotty, I need more power." Then Scotty saying, "I canna give ya eny more cap'in." Then Kirk threatens to fire him, and Scotty miraculously does everything he said was impossible at the last moment.
The main idea is that only entrepreneurs and business owners can do anything right, and governments cannot. The hero even goes so far as to pilot the government's only fighter to destroy some aliens. While making some good points about government bureaucracy, the story overreaches to the point where almost anything the government does is stupid, and anything the hero does is right.
My suggestion is to read Part I and skip the other two unless sitting in on engineering meetings and business negotiations is your idea of fun. Part I totally had me hooked enough that I slogged through two other parts in the hope of coming back to that which I found in the beginning.
I listened to this on Audible. The speaker took such long pauses that playing the book on fast speed actually made it normal.
This book is a set up for a series, but I think part I could be enjoyed by itself. Yes, the ending is completely predictable, but the humor and style are worth it.
pg 184/548: About 33% of the way there. I find his style easy to take in. Some nice humor and science parts. I'm waiting for some big dumb objects, as implied by the cover. Occasional right-wing politics.
pg 268/548: This book has a lot of engineering.
pg 335/548: Getting into a medical angle.
pg 352/548: Looks like John Ringo discovered italics.
pg 396/548: Part 3 seems more science fiction-y. Nice disease.
pg 432/548: Losing interest. Pushing to the end.
Pg 465/548: I'm having a hard time finishing this. I thought Baen books were full of mindless action? Getting distracted by The Gunslinger. Maybe I have ADD.
Good clean SciFi. Really enjoyed the close to current level tech. Very well thought out. Love the idea of Troy, a 2.2 Trillion ton battle station, "Go big or go home." Busy with the second, and not disappointed in the least.
John Ringo warned me in the acknowledgements at the start of the book: “So you can expect a certain amount of science in this here science fiction. Get over it.” I had a really hard time getting over it. To me it just seemed like one info-dump after another. I read more about mining asteroids, power systems, military technology, grav drives and space mirrors than I ever wanted to know. I like my science fiction with a little less science and a little more fiction. You can open the book to almost any page and find a long boring passage like: “The primary problem was an unnoticed concentration of low-density, low-viscosity impurities that remained at the center of the silica. It was those impurities, not the basic process, which caused an unexpectedly low surface tension for its temperature.” But I enjoyed the premise of the book and admired Tyler Vernon, the main character and his “Live Free or Die” attitude. The first section about the Maple Syrup Wars was exciting and interesting. I’m aware that I must be in the minority since this book has an average rating of over 4 stars on Good Reads. If you like a lot of science in your science fiction, you will enjoy it.