Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Live Free or Die by John Ringo

Live Free or Die by John Ringo
Baen Books, February 2010
Genre: Science Fiction
Unabridged Audiobook Narrated by Mark Boyett

Official Description:
First Contact Was Friendly

When aliens trundled a gate to other worlds into the Solar System, the world reacted with awe, hope and fear. When the first aliens to come through, the Glatun, turned out to be peaceful traders, the world breathed a sigh of relief.

Who Controls the Orbitals, Controls the World

When the Horvath came through, they announced their ownership of us by dropping rocks on three cities and gutting them. Since then, they've held Terra as their own personal fiefdom. With their control of the orbitals, there's no way to win and Earth's governments have accepted the status quo.

Live Free or Die

To free the world from the grip of the Horvath is going to take an unlikely hero. A hero unwilling to back down to alien or human governments, unwilling to live in slavery and with enough hubris, if not stature, to think he can win.

Fortunately, there's Tyler Vernon. And he has bigger plans than just getting rid of the Horvath.

My Thoughts:

Live Free or Die is an excellent example near-future science fiction. Ringo imagines both how aliens react to Earth and how Earth reacts to aliens with a believable flair. The main character, Tyler Vernon, is a hero written to appeal to a target audience: science fiction fans. Vernon is a web comic writer and general techie who due to changing circumstances ends up in a small town working odd jobs. He's easy for the target audience to relate to because he's one of them. Tyler Vernon is a geek well-placed and with the ingenuity and courage to step out of the crowd to discover a resource that Earth has to offer the aliens in orbit.

In a comical turn of events maple syrup turns out to be an intoxicant for one of the visiting species. I will never think of maple syrup the same way again! This turn of events allows Ringo to focus on the economic effects of an alien invasion on Earth and what lengths governments will go to try and have some control.

I also appreciated the more traditional science fiction aspects of the alien world and technology that help move along the plot and Earth's rebellion and technological revolution (led by Tyler Vernon).

The all-encompassing planning of Tyler Vernon doesn't ring as completely realistic but I was kept pretty well distracted from that by his dry sense of humor and good natured charm. I think that the reactions of the characters around him rang very true. I found Live Free or Die to be a fun and witty science fiction novel though it has the appropriate dark undertones for a captive Earth at the mercy of Aliens. I would certainly recommend this book and look forward to the sequel!

I listened to this as an audiobook which was definitely enjoyable. I thought the narrator did an excellent job of making the voices distinct. However, I was glad as a listener that there weren't too many female characters for him to voice since his attempts at feminine voices were pretty bad (I was less thrilled as a reader but it didn't detract from my enjoyment). This was a fun book to listen to and I think it transfered pretty well to the medium but someday I'll probably track down a paper copy and see how the experience differs.

Written as Part of the Speculative Fiction Challenge

Other May Reviews from the Speculative Fiction Challenge

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