Live Free Or Die: by John Ringo
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Don't pay attention to quote at the bottom of the book cover. This book has little action, and what action there is serves a higher cause than imagined explosions. At it's heart this book contains an incredibly insightful story about the true value of money, people, the will to oppose oppression, and the intelligence (not to mention the crazy; I'm fairly certain Tyler Alexander Vernon is part gnome) to discover the means. Apparently one of the more common criticisms for this book was the amount of hard data it yields to the reader. Personally I think Ringo's response summed it up perfectly when he said 'It's Science Fiction'. I'd have had a hard time accepting many of the ideas in this book without the math. In fact my only real issue with the book is that the main character has no faults worth mentioning. To be honest if I had to pick any hero from fiction it would be Tyler Vernon; and not because he's rich.
When an aloof alien race calling itself the Grtul (apparenlty this means 'The People of the Ring' which seems a bit specific) plants a ten kilometer diameter star-gate connecting Earth to the rest of the Galaxy there are 3 common questions. The answers are: you can't block it, anyone can use it, yes that included hostile species. Goodbye.
Fortunately for Earth, the first race through the ring are a race of peaceful traders called the Glatun. I'm fairly certain Ringo uses this race as a mirror for current the day US of A. On the surface this analogy sounds flattering, but it makes way for some dark predictions. Unfortunately for Earth these space Americans find nothing of value and soon depart.
The second race through the ring is far less polite. Apparently the Horvath's chosen form of communication involves bombing the 3 brightest cities in the night's sky (Mexico City, Shanghai, and Cairo) to make a point, and informing the world at large that its precious metals are their precious metals. It doesn't help that their computers are so advanced that there is no way to secure information from them, making it very hard to hide said resources. This of course sends the world's economies into a free fall as the heavy metals needed for IT become scarcer and scarcer.
So what's a guy to do when said market crash leaves him working five menial jobs to try and pay the bills? Well, if he's Tyler Alexander Vernon the answer is simple; turn asteroids into space fortresses.
Okay, so maybe I skipped a few steps. Perhaps more than a few. Along the way he engages in the Maple Syrup War, the building of space mirrors (to make sure he looks good from any angle I'm sure) and generally makes a pest of himself for the Horvath. And all of this without falling victim to the Ferengi mindset. If your looking for an intelligent story prepared with a pinch of pop culture, and a liberal sprinkling of sarcasm look no further.