Review: “Live Free or Die” by John Ringo

Live Free or Die: Troy Rising I by John Ringo. Baen Books. 608 pages.

This is an older book, eleven years old. But I am a big fan of John Ringo, so it didn’t take much for me to pick this one up and start reading. And despite being 608 pages, it only took me a couple of days to get through this book. Here’s the Amazon summary:

First Contact Was Friendly

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

Troy Rising is a book in three parts—Live Free or Die being the first part—detailing the freeing of Earth from alien conquerors, the first steps into space using off-world technologies and the creation of Troy, a thousand-trillion-ton battle station designed to secure the Solar System.

When I read it, I didn’t realize it was the first part of a trilogy, but when I got to the end of the book, it made sense. And the story was just getting started at the end of the book. I expected a book about an alien invasion and a war, and I got that. Ringo is never a disappointment. But it was also something else. He included a lot of hard science in the story, which I always like, and the war wasn’t a matter of just shooting each other but how earth caught up technology wise, despite being woefully behind the alien invaders.

What I didn’t like was the political bent of the story. I don’t know if this is a personal agenda, and I haven’t seen this show up in any of his other books, but there was a strong Social Darwinism bent to his stories. If you’ve ever read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, you will recognize a lot of the philosophy that shows up here, which demonstrates an attitude that some people are more worthy than others, even when it comes to survival. I’ve seen other radical conservatism show up in science fiction before, especially in military science fiction, but this time it bothered me.

The story is interesting and fun, but because of the heavy hand when it came to Social Darwinism, I probably won’t read the rest of the series. Nevertheless, I give the series four out of five stars.