Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Live Free or Die: John Ringo

John Ringo's Live Free or Die is quite a fun read in the genre of space entrepreneurship. The protagonist, Tyler Vernon, is practically a superman of business, who can create innovative new deals out of thin air with anyone who is amenable to trading. In this case, his objective is to save us all from the Horvath invaders who have set up a warship orbiting the earth and are extracting heavy "protection fees" from all humanity. Other space faring societies are willing to trade, but not in military goods, so Vernon has to figure out what non-military goods he can bend to his purposes without triggering the proscriptions.

For a writer who seems to have a reasonable insight into how business people set up deals so they benefit all parties, it's surprising that Ringo leaves the story as a one-man show. Vernon gains an immense amount of wealth early in the story by figuring out what earth-produced good will be of value to the friendly aliens, and then locking up supplies before anyone else knows that it will be valuable. But the approach he uses to make his discovery should be able to be repeated several times, so it's a surprise that Vernon is the only entrepreneur in contact with the aliens. But in the story, that works out fine, because Vernon is a tireless workaholic who really wants to ensure that we find a way to get the Horvath out of our hair.

There's not much more depth to the story than that, but there are enough twists and turns in the plot that I don't want to describe the story in any more detail. Live Free or Die is a nominee for the Prometheus award, and I'd guess that it will make it as a finalist as well. I'm hoping for something with more depth, but I haven't seen it yet, though it's still early.

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