Beginning a New Series by a New York Times Best-Selling Author.Will the People of Earth Bow Down toAlien Overlords—or Will They Live Free or Die?
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.
Troy Rising is a book in three parts—Live Free or Die being the first part—detailing the freeing of earth from alien conquerors, the first steps into space using off-world technologies and the creation of Troy, a thousand trillion ton battlestation designed to secure the solar system.
©2010 John Ringo (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I vacillated between entertained/engaged, mildly amused, bored, and confused.
There are definitely a lot of redeeming qualities here. Humans harness the power of the sun to create massive death lasers, and wipe out some oppressive aliens. Good Stuff.
However, that only described the final 75-100 pages. The rest of the time you watch the main character scheme and build up earth's infrastructure to give us the ability to do the aforementioned badassery. To be honest, it was kind of fascinating to see the obstacles and challenges in catching up to star-faring races. The bureaucrats and the media personalities are often ludicrously stupid and obstinate (I wonder if Ringo has any opinions there).
As fun as all of this was, it was not on par with what I wanted out of the book. (namely alien death-by-laser)
One other major problem that stuck out to me was that certain parts of the plot read like a white-supremacist's wet dream. (the writing doesn't really seem racist but it's still weird) Let me explain: Understandably, Earth takes a beating in the beginning, but for some reason, wiping out major cities isn't enough for the aliens. They also craft a disease that kills off people without the genomes for... [drum roll please] ... blonde hair. The disease then alters the DNA of all blonde females to make them much more orgasmic, and makes them go into heat, monthly. Uhhh... ok. I'll admit that there is SOME justification from the alien perspective... but still.
At least the main character admits it's not very cool that he thinks the world is better-off after most of Africa and the Middle-East get wiped out. Right?
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
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. It’s even beyond the distasteful pretentiousness spouted by Rush Limbaugh. For example (and these are just a few examples of many) Vernon (Ringo?) suggests that people of low socioeconomic status are lazy and stupid and don’t care about their kids, liberals are socialists, the French are weak and whiny, the Civil War was the “War of Northern Aggression,” and the American president (clearly Obama, this was published in 2010) is an idiot. He even seems to say that our world would be better off if all the old folks, sick or disabled folks, Muslims, and those who don’t have genes for blue-eyes and blonde hair somewhere in their DNA got wiped off the planet. Um… what??? Are you serious??? Tyler Vernon may do the right thing, but in his heart he’s a Nazi, and it’s clear that John Ringo wants us to admire him. Vernon’s deeds are praise-worthy (he’s saving the world, after all, even those people who he secretly thinks we’d be better without) but his thoughts are very ugly. I want to emphasize again that this is not how the great majority of politically conservative people think and I am embarrassed when I think that some readers will assume Vernon’s politics are representative of conservatism. They are not.
It’s ironic that Tyler complains that liberals see him as rich and powerful and assume he’s greedy and domineering because… they’re right, he is. He expects the government to kowtow to him. When he decides to go messing around with mirrors in space and starts melting asteroids, it’s hard to believe that the world’s leaders would let him get away with that just because he’s rich. All of this disgusted me, but when the aliens send a virus that makes blonde women go into heat, I dismissed the whole thing as John Ringo’s ugly wish fulfillment fantasy. (And all women are appraised by whether or not they’re “stacked.”)
I listened to Mark Boyett narrate Live Free or Die. He was a terrific reader. Too bad he couldn’t fix this story by leaving out some of Tyler Vernon’s thoughts. If I could have just read about his actions, I would have enjoyed Live Free or Die. I’m fascinated by the space station (Troy) that he was constructing at the end of the book and I want to know what it looks like when it’s done. I will try the next book, Citadel, only because I want to see Troy and because Brilliance Audio sent me a copy for free. I wouldn’t pay for this.
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.
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.
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
I realize that this is nearly the 100th review of this book, so no one is going to read it, but I feel compelled to write about it anyway, the book was that disturbing.
I read a lot of military science fiction. Ringo, Weber, etc. are all rather right-wing, and, though I don't always agree with the politics, I don't get bent out of shape about it. Good science fiction is good science fiction, and many of the great and good in classic SF (from Heinlein to Delany) have their own weird axes to grind. Science fiction is supposed to require an open mind, after all. I have read Ringo before as well, and even know about the "OH JOHN RINGO NO" meme (seriously, Google it), so I thought this would be fine. But this was really, really upsetting politics, even for Ringo.
The first third of the book feels like classic Heinlein - one brilliant polymath saves the world through clever tricks, gets to tour alien worlds, and sets up a megacorporation. Lots of fun all around, some entertaining writing, and a good plot. Stop there. Really.
You should stop, because, as the book goes on, the authors worldview comes out in ugly ways. Female characters, when they appear, are only sex objects, but that is only par for the course. Worse, in an excruciatingly long section, the author comes out with a way to kill most of the poorest people in America (with some not-subtle implications that this includes most African Americans), while simultaneously blaming them for their own deaths. In the same mass slaughter are, explicitly, most Africans and most Muslims. And his characters, after mourning for a second, then go and stating that this will be better for society, a point which the book proceeds to demonstrate.
I prefer my science fiction with a lots less eugenics and coded racism. The book would have been 3 stars without it (the last two thirds of the book are much less fun and imaginative than the first third) but I found it entirely unpalatable with. If this wasn't an audiobook, I could have skimmed the nasty parts, but listening to it was incredibly painful. Read some Tanya Huff or David Weber instead, still conservative, still military SF, still idiosyncratic, but much less disturbing.
I love this book, I have listened to it twice now. The narrator is fantastic, his Vermont accents absolutely spot on and very funny. This is one of the most unusual sci-fi stories I've read and also the funniest. I don't like Russell's review of this book, I can't help thinking that he misunderstood some of the politics and humour. It is interesting and odd that Russell has also posted the exact same, word for word review on Amazon of the paper back book.
Don't be put off, this series is thoroughly entertaining and clever.
"Predictable but fun"
This title has received criticism of being right-wing propaganda...
Apparently, one can't even read a book anymore without politicising it.
I for one had fun with this and I'm not ashamed for it.
Yes, the story is a bit cheesy and predictable, the main character a hero who single-handedly saves Earth, but so what?
It's not like Hollywood has done any better lately. At least the characters in Live Free or Die have more depth to them.
If you're looking for something whimsical, surprising or deep, you'll be disappointed, but if you like the majority of SciFi movies, you will enjoy this.
Just what I love. Story about mankind's resourcefulness set in not so far future. Mankind triumphs thanks to few special individuals and ability to cooperate and work hard. In short " Don't mess with the Terrans"
"Best audible SF book ever"
Absolutely brilliant SF book, really big what if storyline, had me riveted and unwilling to get out the car and go into work n
Sticking it to the Horvath
Clear and well paced.
Troy station coming online and defending the world
Listen to it, awesome.
FAST PACED BLOOD AND GUTS-TYPICAL RINGO SCI-FI A BOOK YOU DON'T WANT TO PUT DOWN/STOP LISTENING TOO.WILL BE BUYING THE NEXT EPISODE.
"Juvenile, and not in a good way."
This is a very mediocre sci fi romp, not awful, not a work of literature either.
The problem is that this is a very, very thinly disguised piece of EXTREMELY right wing propaganda.
Through a series of rather forced deus ex machina, the author's utopia of blond, illiberal hard working, non-muslim humanity with a hyper-libidoed female population is brought into being. Conveniently by the evil aliens without the heroes' approval or intervention thereby enabling everyone to enjoy the resultant paradise without that pesky guilt that more mundane ethnic cleansing usually brings.
It is, in a word, juvenile. The lead character, super smart yet a good ol' man of the land, is transparently just a mouthpiece for the author's prejudices. He becomes the richest man in the world overnight and routinely shows up those liberal city folk (the President, corporate executives, etc.) for the low down cowardly sneaky liars they are. And in the end of course, saves everybody with only the asians, africans, middle easterners and city folk falling victim to the ensuing conflict. No loss there then.
I would expect this kind of thing to be written by a geeky teenager as a wish fulfilment fantasy after he'd just been snubbed by the prettiest girl at high school when asking her to the prom.
From a published author, it's just a bit sad.
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