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Live Free or Die: Troy Rising I Mass Market Paperback – October 26, 2010
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Enter our hero, Tyler Vernon, who is struggling to survive in New Hampshire amidst the worldwide depression caused by the Horvath stealing Earth's precious metals. Tyler is an entrepreneur and seizes the opportunity when he meets a Glatun free trader at an SF convention. Just asking the question, "What could he sell the Glatun that would be valuable to an advanced alien race?" starts something big for him. How big was determined by a second question, "How could he become the indispensable source for that export item?"
As anyone who has traveled to New Hampshire knows, the motto for the State is "Live Free or Die." It's on every license plate. Tyler and a bunch of his neighbors take that philosophy seriously. What starts out as a commercial venture eventually turns into the war for Terran independence from the Horvath and Tyler Vernon leads the fight as the richest man on Earth from trade with the Glatun. How he manages to drive the Horvath from our solar system while saving Earth is a great start to multi-volume epic story. Don't worry, there is no cliff-hanger at the end to ruin the pleasure of an uplifting novel of human courage and ingenuity.
Ringo is writing SF the old fashioned way on a grand scale. The book harkens back to the best science fiction of the 1950's and 1960's. There is no ambiguity about who are the good guys in this story.
Live Free or Die cannot be pigeon-holed as a space opera. First, the book is about the importance of one indispensable man. Tyler Veron solves the practical economics of humans leap-frogging from NASA era technology to star-travel. If I tell you how it would be a plot spoiler, but it's great. The emphasis on the indomitable human spirit give a realism to this novel. Some things we must do or die trying. Second, Ringo cares about getting the science right, especially in how humans would exploit the raw materials of the inner solar system to build a space-faring civilization.
Historians in academia these days treat the great man theory of history with great distaste. So the fact that Charles Martel led the Frankish forces to victory at the Battle of Tours in 732 to stop the Islamic conquest of Europe is not supposed to be important for today's history students. Similarly, a student should not hold his breath waiting for a lecture on King John III of Poland ("John Sobieski") breaking the Siege of Vienna on September 12,1683 against a huge Turkish army. Sobieski was the acknowledged military genius of his age. He had a career of military victories that were the impetus for his being elected King of Poland. His leadership ended the threat of a Turkish military conquest of Europe.
The lessons we used to obtain from history are now being taught in the pages of science fiction novels.
The premise of the book comes from aliens putting a 'gate' in the earth system. The first set of aliens are good aliens interested only in trade. The second set take over and demand tribute. Earth is helpless.
Enter the hero, Tyler, who discovers an item that the good aliens are crazy about - maple syrup. He parleys this into a fortune which he uses to build an infrastructure to enable earth to resist the bad aliens.
One item I liked about this book comes from the author resisting the trap of having 'everything easy' once the hero gets some money and starts out on his quest. This is probaly a personal nit pick of mine but I hate the books where the hero discovers something - usually a technology - and then all things just fall into place, no problems are hard, the technology solves all ills, etc. In this book, without dwelling on them, the author has our hero facing bureaucracy problems from earth governments, politics from alien factions, resource issues, and just realistic issues in general.
Another good part of the book comes once the author finally gets a space ship - admittedly very old, bit run down, and only has tugs to use for transport. Then very well educated professionals show up willing to do anything just to get into space. The author did this well and in a humerous fashion without giving away details that may spoil the reading.
Instead of going on on this vein, I will summarize. This was an enjoyable book to read. There is good flow, character development, plot, etc that go into a good reading science fiction book. This is not a big battle action/adventure book. It is a good story to read.
And, it appears to be the first of a series.
I enjoyed the first half, with our hero Tyler Vernon the only person *both* smart enough to figure out what the aliens want *and* ballsy enough to claw his way to a standoff with the bad guys. Exhilarating.
The second half degenerated into a snarled-up knot of engineering acryonyms and perfunctory space battles. No suspense to speak of; the outcome is never in doubt, except for engineering details like how fast to spin molten space rocks to get the effect you want.
Still not a bad yarn as long as you remember another reviewer's advice that Ringo's "doing it all with mirrors" and just let it carry you along. A good airport read.
I'm giving it three stars rather than four because Ringo makes no effort to make the aliens, well, alien in any meaningful sense. They come across to me as humans wearing funny-looking foam headgear. The good aliens are Americans in space and the bad aliens are Soviets in space. (No kidding - he describes the Horvath as "communalist" at least twice). There's at least one first contact between an alien and a human that to my ear reads like a Happy Days scene with Fonzie and Ritchie horsing around in the garage ("toss me that wrench, wouldya?").
The most interesting character in the whole book, humans and aliens included, is an old New England farmer who believes everyone who lives in a city is a "Revenuer" and everybody from south of New Hampshire is a "Reb." I'd like to read more about him!
I don't mind the "culturally insensitive" stuff except that it sticks out like a sore thumb. When done properly, that kind of material becomes a backdrop or context which helps explain where the protagonist is coming from. In LFD it's too often just enumerated statements where Ringo is telling, not showing (black women find it easy to get government jobs; women are stacked; it would be funny if blonde women were made to be always sexually promiscuous; 'minorities' are poor and lazy; the destruction of most cities in the world would have the silver lining of killing most lawyers). For me it just interferes with the storytelling. I'd much rather have those things emerge from the flow of what makes Tyler Vernon tick.
In the end this book is for me a guilty pleasure - fun and fast to consume, but doesn't stick to your ribs.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When aliens put a transportation gate in L2 orbit near the Earth and say that anyone can use it for a fee.