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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    March/April 2012 SF BotM: Into the Looking Glass by John Ringo

    Into the Looking Glass by John Ringo



    The first of the Looking Glass series, this was first published in 2005.

    When a 60-kiloton explosion destroyed the University of Central Florida, and much of the surrounding countryside, the authorities first thought that terrorists had somehow obtained a nuclear weapon. But there was no radiation detected, and, when physicist Dr. William Weaver and Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller were sent to investigate, they found that in the center of the destruction, where the University's physics department used to be, was an interdimensional gateway to . . . somewhere. An experiment in subatomic physics had produced a very unexpected effect. Furthermore, other gateways were appearing all over the world-and one of them immediately began disgorging demonic visitors intent on annihilating all life on Earth and replacing it with their own. Other, apparently less hostile, aliens emerged from other gateways, and informed Weaver and Miller that the demonic invaders-the name for them that humans could most easily pronounce was the "Dreen"-were a deadly blight across the galaxy, occupying planet after planet after wiping out all native life. Now it would be Earth's turn, unless Weaver and Miller could find a way to close the gateways. If they failed, the less belligerent aliens would face the regrettable necessity of annihilating the entire Earth to save their own worlds. . . .
    A Baen Book, as the cover above might suggest.

    Is it a good place to start reading John Ringo?

    Discuss!
    Last edited by Hobbit; February 29th, 2012 at 06:40 PM.
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    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I know I nominated this one, but I probably wont get to it for another week or two.

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    You can find it here (for free) together with the next 3 series books to date.

    While the political stuff shows its age as the government bigwigs from the book are the ones from the time (Bush and Rumsfeld as the good Washington guys, Senator Clinton as the villain as this is a John Ringo novel after all and just to spare you the indignation/time if your ideology cannot stomach this) the action is still fun and the combination of pulp and modern works well; the next three books are even more fun as they become true space opera, though this one goes on other planets too but not through space.

    The politics, humor and combat, all typical Ringo so you will like it or not as mentioned above, but it rings very true to what you see in today's front-line (marine, special ops etc) military accounts which is not surprising as Mr. Ringo was a paratrooper once upon the time.

    The science (which is top of the line) and possibly (based on his books) some of the pulp-sfnal elements are Travis Taylor after whom Dr Weaver is modeled after all, though in later books his co-autorship is acknowledged openly.

    This book/series is unabashed page turning fun (of course if jokes like "Maybe find the nursery for the dog-demons. I'd rather kill them stillborn." "I didn't know you were a Democrat, Staff Sergeant," Berg said with a grin. "Don't ask, don't tell, Two-Gun." do not put you off...)

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    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I'm into the fourth chapter at this point and it is...interesting. I like the premise, sort of a military SF take on Stephen King's The Mist. The characters, well, Ringo likes to tell us a lot about them, that's for sure. The main scientist is like THE EPITOME OF WHAT MAN SHOULD STRIVE TO BE - super athletic and super smart, at least on initial impression.

    A little too much stress on how military people don't read science fiction.

    All that said, I see promise in the novel and Ringo has me hoked to "find out what happens next."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    I'm into the fourth chapter at this point and it is...interesting. I like the premise, sort of a military SF take on Stephen King's The Mist. The characters, well, Ringo likes to tell us a lot about them, that's for sure. The main scientist is like THE EPITOME OF WHAT MAN SHOULD STRIVE TO BE - super athletic and super smart, at least on initial impression.

    A little too much stress on how military people don't read science fiction.

    All that said, I see promise in the novel and Ringo has me hoked to "find out what happens next."
    If you enjoy this one, you should read the next 3 since those are more interesting let's say than better, as the setup widens considerably...

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    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    These abrupt shifts in point of view are enough to give me whiplash. There's absolutely no warning in the text that you are switching from, say, Bill Weaver to another person's point of view to one of the aliens.

    Still, I'm interested in how this novel wraps up but doubt I'll read more in this series (or even more by Ringo for that matter."

  7. #7
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    I quit this one about two thirds of the way through. I had no particular major complaint, and it was interesting enough as I read it, but when it came time to read my last night's worth of it, I shrugged and picked up something else. While there was nothing terribly wrong with it, the book to that point had felt like it was pretty much the same throughout. There wasn't a lot of narrative tension for me.

    A couple little niggles:

    Oh, what detail about guns. I don't much care what rounds this takes or how many of them can be fired from it unless it's relevant to the story, but Ringo seems obsessed with describing in pretty great detail every weapon every character comes into contact with or thinks about.

    The "Yay! Salt of the Earth Americans" stance gets a little old. Seems like he goes out of his way to celebrate all things Amurican (with a W drawl). And, honestly, a lot of those Amurican things are things I'm least proud of in my country, so it definitely didn't work for me on that level.

    While those were issues I had with the book, they didn't stop me reading it. I just didn't see that anything was going to happen in the final third that I hadn't already seen in the first 400 or so pages (people blowing the crap out of aliens with lots of different weapons).


    Rob, are you reading the e-book from Baen 5th Imperium? Maybe the POV changes are a problem with the format there. I hope so, at least, because if they're not then that's some really bad editing. I had the same problem.

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    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    I quit this one about two thirds of the way through. I had no particular major complaint, and it was interesting enough as I read it, but when it came time to read my last night's worth of it, I shrugged and picked up something else. While there was nothing terribly wrong with it, the book to that point had felt like it was pretty much the same throughout. There wasn't a lot of narrative tension for me.
    Yeah, there seems a same-ness to things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    A couple little niggles:

    Oh, what detail about guns. I don't much care what rounds this takes or how many of them can be fired from it unless it's relevant to the story, but Ringo seems obsessed with describing in pretty great detail every weapon every character comes into contact with or thinks about.
    As I've been reading more Weber, and military SF in general recently, I was not too bothered by this, but I see your point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    The "Yay! Salt of the Earth Americans" stance gets a little old. Seems like he goes out of his way to celebrate all things Amurican (with a W drawl). And, honestly, a lot of those Amurican things are things I'm least proud of in my country, so it definitely didn't work for me on that level.
    Yeah, that and the emphasis, early on in the novel, of whether or not soldiers were science fiction readers. Because, you know, sf readers might better know how to deal with aliens. The salt of Amurican things, on the whole, didn't bother me too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    While those were issues I had with the book, they didn't stop me reading it. I just didn't see that anything was going to happen in the final third that I hadn't already seen in the first 400 or so pages (people blowing the crap out of aliens with lots of different weapons).
    I felt sort of the same way. I see this as an old school, in some ways, SF novel of humanity fighting back an alien invasion so almost a hearkening back to some older tales. Like I said, not bad necessarily, but not overly compelling enough to make me feel like I need to read Ringo (aside from the Empire of Man series he's doing with Weber) or this series beyond this book.


    Quote Originally Posted by Erfael View Post
    Rob, are you reading the e-book from Baen 5th Imperium? Maybe the POV changes are a problem with the format there. I hope so, at least, because if they're not then that's some really bad editing. I had the same problem.
    Yup, my version is from the 5th Imperium. Are you saying you're experience the same abrupt shifts in POV?

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    While the things mentioned above have their merit, this series differs from the "alien invasion" stuff as by the end of book one:

    Spoiler:
    humanity gets a hyperspace engine from one of the alien species encountered through the gates, so from volume 2 on, the series becomes The Voyage of the Space Bubble and it takes place mostly on alien worlds, meeting various races, fighting the Dreen (?) on other planets etc


    As style, the pulp mixed with the right wingish gung-ho and modern science continues, but the books also lighten up and there is much more humor.

  10. #10
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    I just finished the book a few moments ago and thought it ended well enough. The epilogue sets up the series very well, as suciul points out but I won't be continuing with it.

  11. #11
    Science-Fantasy Zealot symbolhunter's Avatar
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    I just finished it and I'll make a few general comments without spoilers.

    On the negative side, this isn't a book which offers much in the way of personal, emotional relationships. The political factor is a little raw, undisciplined and lacking in subtlety.

    However, one doesn't usually read this type of book for subtlety and psychological introspection. What Ringo offers is a remarkable imaginative vigour with page-turning action, some interesting science-fiction concepts and vividly conceived aliens.

    Of course, he has a number of expository sections explaining the conceptual underlay of the novel. This is nearly always the case in the genre {as it is in world-building fantasy}. Sometimes these expository sections can come dangerously near to tedium; but they can also have moments of brilliance--for example, Chapter Seven is breathtakingly vivid and quite original.

    I enjoyed reading Ringo and may well continue with other volumes in the series.
    Last edited by symbolhunter; April 5th, 2012 at 04:54 PM.

  12. #12

    5th book in series?

    Im not sure if this is the right place to ask, but does anyone know if there is another book planned or in process after "Claws that catch" the 4th book in the series?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcell420 View Post
    Im not sure if this is the right place to ask, but does anyone know if there is another book planned or in process after "Claws that catch" the 4th book in the series?
    should be more but not yet clear when; next 2 Ringos both this year are Wands 2 and Kildar 6, but maybe next year

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