Beyond the Ranges – John Ringo with James Aidee

Version 1.0.0

Jason Graham wakes up in a strange room, which turns out to be on a massive space station orbiting a newly terraformed planet. Mysterious cybernetic aliens have rescued humans from Earth’s destruction, and separated them along political lines. In the space station orbiting the planet Bellerophon are five hundred million people, all of a politically conservative bent. Jason is a science fiction fan and lifetime tinkerer who soon figures out how to take full advantage of the technologies now available to humanity. He makes his way down to the planet to set up a food business, recruiting old friends and business associates along the way.

There is a lot to like in this book. The premise is interesting, with a new world ripe for the taking but an economic system that needs kickstarting. Jason is certainly well fleshed out, but most of the other characters are cardboard cutouts. The adventures of Jason setting up food harvesting with futuristic tech on the planet are fun. Unfortunately, the novel suffers greatly under the weight of two things. First off, there are numerous infodumps and long digressions that become rather tedious. Secondly, the conservative message is very heavy-handed. I don’t have to agree with the politics of the characters in a story to enjoy it, but this often reads like thinly veiled propaganda, which is a bit much. All that being said, it does feature Mr. Ringo’s engaging prose and sharp ironic wit, which makes it rather more engaging that it deserves to be.