The Hot Gate – John Ringo

The third book in the Troy Rising series picks up where Citadel left off. Dana Parker is transferred to the new Thermopylae station in order to stiffen up a screwed up squadron of Myrmidon assault shuttles mostly staffed by Latin American personnel. To say there is a culture clash is an understatement. Later, of course, the fecal matter hits the rotary air impeller in a big way as the Rangora decide it is time to deal with those pesky Terrans once and for all.

The cultural issues between Anglos and South Americans are dealt with humorously but with very serious undertones. Mr. Ringo has obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this. While it would be easy to think that he is just an American bashing what he perceives as an inferior culture, he is undeniable right about many aspects. For example the contrast between “honor” and “duty”, as well as the problems with a class society.

The way in which things go seriously pear-shaped at the end is vintage Ringo. Massive action. Massive losses. Heroics with that little bit of Ringo humor that just makes it so readable.

Engineer’s Mate Second Class Dana Parker (hang on, you say, wasn’t she a Coxswain’s Mate in the previous book?) is a perfect protagonist for this kind of book. A true hero.

This may be my favorite Ringo ever. The only niggling criticism is the lack of a dramatis personae. This is not much of a problem in the beginning, but lots of characters are suddenly introduced during the final action, leaving me occasionally confused as to who was who.

Citadel – John Ringo

The sequel to Live Free or Die continues more or less where the previous book leaves off. Much of it deals with the continuing construction of the Troy battlestation and its first consort. As is typical with Ringo second books in series, the “three stories combined” model of the first book is abandoned and new main characters are introduced, in this case a Navy assault shuttle pilot and a civilian “space welder”. This being Ringo, there is no shortage of battle scenes in the last third of the book.

Even more than usual, Mr. Ringo has managed to produce a real page-turner. The logistics of designing and constructing the defenses of The Solar System are great reading since it is all interspersed with trademark Ringo humor, well written characters, fun character interactions and lots of just plain cool stuff. I don’t know where the guy gets his ideas but he certainly has never been timid. Arthur C. Clarke, a master of massively huge stuff, would have been humbled. While I mostly “got it”, a schematic or two would have been nice, namely the Troy and a Myrmidon shuttle. Also, while I am up on quite a few military acronyms, a list or at least a spelled out version the first time one is mentioned would have been nice. All in all, another page turner from Ringo. Can’t wait for the next book, “The Hot Gate”.

Live Free or Die – John Ringo

More Ringo? Why yes. You can never have enough Ringo. Live Free or Die is the start of a new series (that man is a total workaholic) called “Troy Rising“. Aliens pop up, drop a stargate (well, it is) in space, and leave. A while later, another race pops up and demands tribute in the form of most of Earth’s more valuable metals. Humanity has no choice but to comply. Through a combination of luck and deviousness, Tyler Vernon, an IT guy reduced to doing odd jobs, manages to find something that another race of aliens actually wants to buy. In the process he becomes the richest man in the world. And so starts humanity’s long road towards independence.

Like several other of Ringo’s first novels in a series, this one has three “episodes”. I don’t know why he does this but it works. What I particularly like about this novel is how humanity is thrown in at the deep end of a very deep pool without the least knowledge of how to swim. The Horvath, basically the local bullies, come in and just say “give”. It is a refreshing change from the many first contact scenarios where human technology is more or less equal to that of the aliens.

As usual with Ringo, this is an intelligent page turner with lots of cool action. The only part that became slightly confusing was the whole “many mirrors” bit. Would a schematic or two have killed you, Mr. Ringo?

The next book in the series is Citadel.