Sunday, March 21, 2010

Live Free or Die by John Ringo

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Publishers Weekly

Prolific military SF author Ringo (the Posleen War series) imbues this near-future epic with a somewhat self-indulgent air, mixing lengthy and sometimes interminable discussions of science and economics with do-or-die action. Three years after the alien Grtul drop a transport gate in our solar system and welcome Earth to the galactic community, a Horvath warship shows up and destroys several major cities before extorting protection payments. Fast-thinking entrepreneur Tyler Vernon exploits the literally universal appeal of maple syrup to make a fortune, defies the Horvath, and reveals his ideas for keeping Earth safe, but intergalactic war threatens to derail his plan. This extended thought exercise is infused with plenty of old-fashioned two-fisted can-do attitude, a heavy dose of science, and occasional bursts of dry humor, but shallow characterization and an ambling plot detract from the overall experience.
Not a bad summary, that.   Ringo sets up some very interesting premises, and follows them with interesting outcomes.   If only he could have avoided the "interminable discussions of science and economics."  It's clear to me that Mr. Ringo and I would never see eye-to-eye politically.  Some of his knee-jerk things (anti-city folk, anti-liberals, etc.) are so laughable - like when he has to introduce a French brandy with a character's disclaimer that they don't like much about the French but this is one good thing.  Okay, I get it - the French, gee, whatever could be good about them except booze?

Anyway - there's enough good story in there to read, but not enough that I'd *buy* it  (thanks, taxes and public libraries!!).   Happily I've got some of his earlier (and I hope better and less stereotyped) books loaded on my Kindle.