An experiment gone wrong opens a gate to another dimension. Pretty soon more gates start to open. Mayhem ensues as evil demonspawn aliens pour through some of the gates and try to colonize by exterminating those pesky humans. Hot shot physicist, renaissance man and generally cool guy Bill Weaver teams up with some Navy Seals to figure things out and contain the threat.
As can be expected with Ringo, there’s a lot of action, all of it good and exciting. However, the books does get bogged down in the physics of it all. The writer has painted himself into a corner here. The gates and their function are pretty pivotal to the story, but the explanations required for that angle are yawn inducing, getting in the way of the action. Note that quantum physics actually interests me but that is not why I read the book. Still, if you enjoy Ringo, don’t let that stand in your way. Plenty of kick-ass action as well as a not so veiled ringing endorsement of Bush and his administration.
Book five sees the usual gang take on smugglers and terrorists trying to bring off a nerve gas attack in Florida. But there’s a twist. Events in Unto the Breach have left Mike in deep depression. As he works on that, he isn’t afraid to step on toes in order to get things done.
This one is quite a ride, and my vague familiarity of the territory (the Keys, mainland Florida and the Bahamas) made it all flow smoothly. The culture shock between “by the book” US law officialdow and “get it done” Keldara is played for lots of laughs. Reading between the lines, though, there is an astute critique of current US anti terrorism efforts and the debate surrounding them.
The fourth book of the series has Mike and the Mountain Tigers has them recovering a WMD from nearby Chechnya.
This is arguably the best in the series. It starts a bit slow, but the last 150 pages or so are one long battle with more excitement and fast moving twists than you can shake a Keldara axe at. At the end, some secrets are revealed. And Mike is broken psychologically. Very nice.
In the third book of the series, things really start to heat up. Ringo takes us on a scenic tour of the white slavery movement in Eastern Europe as a senator “hires” Mike and his Mountain Tigers retainers to find a girl caught up in prostitution and slavery. The subject matter is quite awful but such is reality.
Ringo is really hitting his stride here with great action scenes and development of the characters. This book also inserts some interesting interactions with senior officials of various states. As with the earlier books, I couldn’t put it down.
Mike from Ghost is back. While driving through Georgia (the country not the state), our hero is snowed in while in a remote mountain valley. On a whim, he buys the local caravanserai, which also comes with a large farm and most of the valley. He thus inherits the local retainers, a group known as the Keldara. These brew the best beer he has ever tasted, and (of course) turn out to be an ancient warrior tribe. He proceeds to set up a militia to combat Chechen incursions. He is also saddled with a harem of rescued former sex slaves. Storywise, this is more of a set-up book for further novels than anything else.
While Ringo could have continued to write episodic novels about covert operations ad infinitum, he wisely decided to take the character somewhere completely different, both literally and figuratively. Having established that Ghost is a filthy rich badass former SEAL who likes rough sex and killing bad guys, Ringo decided to make him every man’s wet dream.
It all beggars belief more than a little, but Ringo is unapologetic. There’s also a strong underlying message of the American Way being superior, especially compared to “ragheads from central Asia”. Ringo has written a modern equivalent of John Norman’s Gor Books. There is even a reference in the book. I enjoyed reading it and, like the first, it is a real page turner. It won’t win any literary awards, but that is hardly the objective. Ringo knows exactly which buttons to press with the average male. Sometimes it borders on the insultingly blatant, but that’s fine. This book is actually a guilty pleasure of mine, and I often re-read it when I have nothing else to read. It always entertains.
Our hero, Mike Harmon AKA “Ghost”, is an ex-SEAL trying to get by. Through somewhat random circumstances, he ends up foiling a terrorist plot to kidnap and torture American college girls. Now rich with reward money, he moves to the Keys. And ends up foiling a plot to place a nuke on American soil. After that, he ends up in Russia, where he… You get the picture. The book is episodic, with three quite distinct parts. Constant are the visceral, brutal, violent action scenes as well as the explicit and kinky sex.
I came in expecting special forces action. And yes, there is a lot of that. Quite good too. What I didn’t expect was all the erotica. Which is also good if you’re into that sort of thing.
A fun read, but not for the liberal. The hero’s views are quite, ahem, “Republican” when it comes to terrorism and how to deal with it. There is in fact, and somewhat unexpectedly, quite a bit of deep thought between the lines.
Book four is about a showdown of sorts, as both sides jockey for control of a ship full of fuel coming in from the outer solar system. The fuel is destined for the reactors powering the council’s interests. As usual, Herzer is in the thick of it. And oh yeah, there are orcs in space, but nothing much is really made of that.
This may be the last book, but the conclusion isn’t unambiguous. The story is rather simplistic. While Ringo is always entertaining, the epic dimension is missing. If you liked the first three books, you’ll enjoy this, but I still felt that it was a bit phoned in.
Book three in the series is a dramatic improvement from the disappointing Emerald Sea. Ringo takes us back to the main action of the war, where a battle for control of the Atlantic (ahem, “Atlantis”) is brewing. The UFS Navy is in terrible shape, so the Queen sends Edmund (with Herzer in tow) to take over and sort it out before New Destiny tries to invade.
Good, clean fun in other words. Plenty of action, laughs and horrible puns. For example the SEAL team is made up of humans changed into seal-form. If you enjoyed There Will be Dragons, you will enjoy this.
This short story is about Mars “the way it once was”, with canals and Martians. An expedition with three crewmembers has landed and finds itself in the way of hordes of “Winter Troops”, a new breed of Martians that feeds off the remnants of the fallen civilization that created the canals.
Told as journal entries, this story isn’t anything special. If it had been any longer I would probably not have finished. it.
A mysterious pyramid appears in the University of Chicago Library. It starts “snatching” people at random. Almost all return within a few hours, dead or nearly so. Then a larger group is snatched. They end up in a mythical version of ancient Greece.
This romp through Greek myth (with a brief detour in Egyptian myth) by a haphazardly composed gang of modern humans is a great deal of fun. The concept is very clever and thankfully the authors don’t take the whole thing too seriously. Heroics, adventures and awful puns!
The sequel to There Will be Dragons has a big disconnect from the earlier novel, as the setting changes and the storyline moves forward a few years between the books. It seems Mr Ringo had an idea about underwater action and aircraft (ahem, dragon) carriers and went with it. It’s all good fun for a fast read, but hardly what I would call profound. If you like the other Ringo novels, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Dark humor, cool action scenes and likeable characters.
The short story at the end, “In A Time of Darkness”, is about one of adversary Paul Bowman’s concubines. While it has a part in the macrostory it mostly serves as filler.
This is the first volume in Ringo’s vision of a fallen utopia. Mankind is free of want and ill-timed death. People can do what they wish with their long lives. But there is trouble in paradise. The council that rules the “Net”, the information system that provides for mankind, has fallen out in factional disputes that lead to war. Mother, a watchdog AI, does not interfere very much after the fall, but certain restrictions apply. For example, the amount of explosive force that can be applied is limited, making firearms well nigh impossible, as well as high energy industry. Society is back at a very early industrial level. The struggle in the beginning is just survival. but the war is far from over…
Great fun and entertainment in Ringo’s trademark style.
These vampire tales were hugely successful in their day. There is lots of eroticism and violence. Unfortunately Anne Rice is a wordpooper of the first degree. The (admittedly pretty good) story gets lost in all the long winded sensual stuff. I gave up in the middle of Lestat.
This small format hardcover (almost as small as a paperback) contains two novellas: Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days. Both are set in the Revelation Space universe. Diamond Dogs is much less epic than his novels, being more of an idea piece. Although Reynolds’ prose is tight and elegant as ever, some of the passages seem just a bit too stilted. I think the short length of each novella (only about 110 pages) may be cramping the author’s distinctive style.
Even so, Reynold’s universe is still a very cold, enigmatic and frightening place which cares not a jot for humanity. I expected him to solve the riddle of Diamond Dogs, but Reynolds has chosen to let the artifact therein serve a more sinister purpose. Very elegant and more than a little spooky. Turquoise Days is more of a vehicle to give interesting tidbits of information on the Pattern Jugglers (an alien life form). Although the main character is engaging, and the story well rounded, Diamond Dogs is definitely stronger the stronger of the two.
Non-fiction about the history and present of Afghanistan. Written before 9/11, it gives a clear picture of why events turned out the way it did. At times heavy and gloomy reading, it is nevertheless very interesting. The author’s conclusions may be a biased, but it is hard to argue the fact that foreign influence (or lack of it) in Afghanistan served the purposes of the emerging Taliban regime. One could almost see this as a sort of manual in how not to perform foreign policy.
Not my usual fare, this ended up in my hands because it was written by my neighbor’s sister. It is a romantic comedy about a recently divorced woman who moves to Ibiza to get away from her boring ex-husband. On the flight, she happens to sit next to Emilio Caliente, latin pop superstar. The latter is running away from his annoying manager and her demands. Naturally, our heroine is a huge fan. Hilarity ensues as she keeps running into him, her ideal sex-god man.
I wasn’t expecting much, but this book is very funny. Very far from the bodice-bursting romance novel I thought I would have to slog through. In tone, it is like a good romantic comedy film. Light-hearted, with a neurotic protagonist and a whole host of misunderstandings, Freudian slips and missed connections. Prescott’s characters are well rounded and funny. They feel real and, just like real people, evoke love, loathing, annoyance and exasperation. The plot is perhaps a bit convoluted, and explicitly designed for maximum hilarity and heartbreak, but it works. Prescott manages not to stray beyond the line into “just plain silly”. A “light summer read”? Perhaps, but I still found myself rooting whole-heartedly for our heroine. And that doesn’t happen if I’m not engaged in a book.
This omnibus collects all the John Christian Falkenberg novels. It consists of:
Prince of Mercenaries
Go Tell the Spartans
Prince of Sparta
The story ranges from the fall of the CoDominium to the rise of Sparta and the First Empire of Man that replaces it. However the macro story takes a backseat to the battles.
This is solid military SciFi. However, the fact that the first two novels are in fact lashups of earlier works set to a common frame gives the whole story a somewhat disjointed feel. The individual episodes are good though, and so are the characters. Interestingly, these novels are set in the same universe as The Mote in God’s Eye, but centuries earlier.
The story is rather cliche and it has been done before. Alien race kidnaps band of earth soldiers. Commander of band is a student of military history. Band is plonked down on an alien world inhabited by primitive humans. Mayhem ensues.
Nothing like an old seventies classic, down to the black and white illustrations. Pournelle does well when there is a strong military component. I did not have great hopes for this title, but it grew on me. Both the macroplot (the aliens) and the microplot (showing the locals how to use a pike) work very well. As usual, feelings and relationships are almost painfully caricaturised, but I suppose you read this sort of thing for the battles and the strategy. Good clean fun if you like this sort of thing, but hardly a book for the ages.
Set in the same universe as The Prince and The Mote in God’s Eye, this is the story of a human colony planet that has regressed technology wise. It now needs to prove that it can put a ship into orbit in order to gain full membership in the Empire. Mildly entertaining, but not much more.
If you can get past the vintage seventies feel of the book, this is a decent and rather simple story about a young convict who comes to Mars and later leads a freedom fight. Oh, and he also finds love and belonging, of course.
In this classic, a peculiar asteroid is found orbiting the sun. It contains an ancient spaceport filled with ships. Volunteers come to travel on the ships. These cannot be controlled, but they can take the passengers on incredible adventures. A trip can yield nothing, immense riches, or death. And there is no way of knowing beforehand. This gripping tale mixing psychology and adventure.
Vaguely similar in premise to Red Thunder, The Getaway Special is about a scientist who invents a very cheap hyperdrive, and the consequences of his invention.
Unlike our hero’s predictions, the revelation of the hyperdrive leads to instant mayhem as the powers of the world are brought to the brink of war. The fragile balance of power from before is shattered. The US government persecutes the inventor and the commander of the space shuttle on which the experiment was performed, forcing them to go underground. This is followed by a Heinlein-esque jaunt around the galaxy and discovery of new beings.
While not perfect, I found that The Getaway Special embodies a Golden Age optimism about our future which kept bringing a smile to my face. Sure, it is cliché that the inventor and the shuttle pilot (yes, she’s female) become lovers. Sure, it is cliché that they make a spaceship out of readily available materials (a septic tank among other things). But this does not detract from the fun of the story.
This book has no discernible story. There are some good ideas but they are squandered. I wish these two geniuses would have hired some young fireplug to do the actual writing off their outline. That way their cool concepts would have made for a legible novel. Niven & Pournelle are just not the team they used to be.