Emergency physician and fantasy nerd in Chicago.
This is actually solid and creative sci-fi. A few of the reviews I read accuse the book and the author of racism but I think this is going way too far. The story is basically about Republican physicists saving the world. Even as someone who is very politically progressive I enjoyed it immensely. The conservative stuff is not hidden, the author just throws it right out there and in that way it's almost funny. The good guys are heads of corporations who are trying to save humanity despite government interference/regulation. There's a bunch of little digs in the vein of "if we can just keep the damned government off our backs" and even a slam on space-environmentalists ("we've trashed our own planet enough...")
That said I didn't find any of this overbearing and in reality the author is probably correct that first contact with alien species would not dry up all the hundred year old political squabbles on earth.
Alot of this book is concerned with the size/scope/power requirements of spacefaring. I bring that up to say that despite the levity of the dialogue it's actually pretty hard core sci-fi. Those hoping for laser battles or light-saber fights will be disappointed by this novel. The major battle scene reads almost like a physics textbook.
Overall this is a fun read. The narrator is excellent, he does some voice modulation for different characters but does not go to the ridiculous lengths to which some are tempted.
If you enjoy john ringo then you will absolutely love this book. Memorable characters, great science, solid story and clear writing, it's all there, along with his political views.
Point is, there is nothing in this book that will be surprising to any Ringo fan. If your a new fan of a politically right bent, you'll love this book.
If you're not, or you haven't been a fan of ringo in the first place, then, like the person who gave the book a 1 star, just avoid this book. It's that simple.
To the Ringo fans out there, Rest Assured, he'd done it again.
This book kicks off the Troy Rising series with the standard Sci-Fi scenario of mankind's first contact with aliens. As is often the case, things don't go well for Earth as we are outclassed both technologoically and militarily when the Horvath come to claim our resources. Earth's governments have no recourse but to comply to the demands and Earth becomes a subservient planet.
Enter Tyler Vernon into the story and things start to change. Tyler Vernon not only steps up to save Earth but he also saves this entire series of books. He is an interesting, opinionated character that isn't willing to allow Earth to remain slaves to the Horvath. Any time the book (and series) focuses on Tyler Vernon and his plans it flies by and is a joy to listen to.
There are, however, lulls in each of the 3 books in the series so far where Ringo spends way too much time on boring subjects. In the first book it is the difficulties of mining in space with a "laser", in book 2 it is ship maintenance and welding in space, and in book 3 it is the culture clash faced by the Latin American military in space. Each of these are important to the overall story, but could have been addressed in far fewer pages. The bloat fills the gaps between the interesting parts of the story related to Tyler Vernon and the fight for humanity's freedom.
Mark Boyett does a decent job with the material, although he is forced to repeat "Tyler said" thousands of times due to the way the book is written. He is also a bit dry in his overall reading.
If you are willing to take the good with the bad then give the Troy Rising Series a shot. It is a 5 star story arc stuffed with boring periods that drag it down to 3 stars.
First, the book was a great listen. The characters were interesting, the SF was hard and fast, the story was well told. That said, the author's conservative views were a major part of the story, but not an overwhelming part. What got me was his view that after a devastating act on the ENTIRE planet, their wouldn't be a push to unite the planet under some common response.
He does a decent job of chronicling the bickering that might take place with different cultures, economies, and the historic grievances that run deep that would prevent a common response, but it just seems implausible. Then, again, maybe I'm one of the do-gooder liberals he bashes so often in the book. :)
All that said, it's a good listen and I'm on to the next installment.
I like this book.
I have given a 5 star rating because it does exactly what it promised in the first few minutes: to discuss politics, war and relationships.
I will note that I am sucker for the Heinlein homage that seeps through Ringo's writing in this novel. If you like Robert Heinlein's classic characters Lazarus Long or Jubal Hershaw, you will like Ringo's Tyler Vernon. However, the converse sentiment also holds true, you will likely see in Tyler Vernon the same audacious (maybe even arrogant) attitudes found in Heinlein's writing which alleges that bureaucrats are the single biggest danger to humanity (even more than the dreaded "liberals").
I will note that for the record, the author takes creative liberties with many (read most) of the details regarding space exploration, political/economic philosophies and the suffering that comes with Alien Domination. While I accept that current literary theory holds that authors only tell the stories they themselves believe and as such Ringo must see himself as Tyler Vernon, I will note that the same criticism has been labeled at Heinlein. I would say that if all you hear or read in the character of Tyler Vernon is a fictional caricature of the ideal "rugged individual," you have only seen one dimension of Tyler Vernon.
As a work of Science Fiction, this is not a book that reads like a technical manual nor is it filled with in-depth or vivid descriptions of milieu, environment and setting. Yet careful listening to the words will demonstrate that the relative unimportance of details is a central theme in the life of Tyler Vernon.
At the same time, it must be noted that Ringo is not Tom Clancy. I say this to note that Ringo does not bury you in minute details simply to prove the expertise of his characters or his own depth of knowledge and extensive research. Ringo implicitly requests his readers/listeners accept his authorial fiat on the subject of details in order to tell us a new twist on an old story.
While the basic plot is interesting and there's no doubt Ringo is a capable writer, Live Free or Die is bogged down by constant political commentary. I'm slightly right of center politically and not normally bothered by this sort of thing (especially as I live in a very conservative area) but it was really extreme and detracted from the otherwise good story.
The theme of "Liberal city idiots" exploiting the hard working country patriots is repeated on nearly every page of this book. Global warming is a joke, Democrats are lazy moochers off the government while Republicans are working multiple jobs, CNN is a bunch of foolish idiots and Fox News is the only station worth talking to and Washington DC should be nuked. Even the aliens society is failing because they are liberal. Even if you agree with all this, the non-stop nature of the barbs is amateurish and very distracting.
I'm sure I will get down votes on this review by people who will vote purely for political reasons but if you stop and analyze the book from the perspective of a Sci-fi fan, not a political rant, you will see the political aspect of the book was so overdone it ruined the intent. There is much to be said of subtlety.
I found this story to be very entertaining especially the first half of the book. The protagonist is interesting and the author places him in some very well designed scenarios. One thing I had to muscle through was the dogmatic conservatism in the story especially towards the end of story. I have read stories that had the opposing bias before so I suppose this isn't unfair. However at times it breaks of the pace of what is otherwise and exciting story with great procedural elements. No room is left for moderates everyone is conservative or a blooming idiot so if you can't stomach that move onto other SF.
John Ringo is a great Sci Fi writer. All his books have humor, and historical insight applied to future imagined. To top it off Mark Boyett is the best narrator I've heard yet. This is a great book and hopefully part one of a series. The aliens are funny as hell without trying. The novel ideas for using crude brute force engineering to achieve sophisticated goals makes this a must read.
John Ringo delivers again with a sweeping epic of the near future. He draws on some old sci-fi themes from classic stories of the past, throws in a Howard Hughes-like character, and gives us another great story. Ringo's conservative political views tend to come out in his writing, but are a minor distraction from an otherwise great story. This audio book was well-narrated with good characterization. I am looking forward to Ringo's sequel in what I understand will be a triology. I recommend this one.
Great book. Great narrator. The story was detailed and engaging with out going overboard with endless sci-fi technicalities that can give you a headache. The author does a good job of creating just enough levity to make the main character serious but amusing. Looking forward to the sequels.