|11th April 2012, 03:44 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: SOUTH AMERICA
[Let's read] Live free or die, Ringo John
That's my first time doing anything like this, so any critic or suggestion is welcomed ^^
This book cover is... crowed. There is this bunch of ships flying around and attacking the silliest looking space station ever. Really, who would think that a colossal greek helm would look nice in a battle station? This thing is just silly.
Our book opens with a quote from somewhere telling us about how awesome the warriors from troy are and then we have our prologue of “The Mapple Syrup War”.
It all start with this ultra shy scientist that find about this colossal ring in space and start telling everyone else, but of course before we can’t have any plot, instead we have a long discussion about the skywatch and how they all have ticks and how they are underpaid and how they are protecting humanity from an impact that has almost no chance of occurring. Really boring stuff.
In “Footfall” the very first lines of the book are the aliens looking to Earth and deciding to launch the attack, the kind of thing that make you want to keep reading, here we have exposition that will serve no purpose because we are never again going to see these characters again.
After this bit of exposition we have our mysterious ring and Shy Scientist say:
"Yeah. A Halo. Maybe it's the Covenant."
I hope you like this kind of shout out, because this book is full of them, its start cute, but after a while they just get tiresome. On another point, the defining characteristic of this guy is that he is shyer than Fluttershy, but never once he shows it.
After a bunch of phone calls and people talking to other people about the ring and how mysterious it is and then:
Planning for shots by the big telescopes of earth's major countries is blocked out months and even years in advance. They also cost a lot of money.
As the terminator circled about the globe that night, all such scheduling was put on indefinite hold and dozens of telescopes pointed to a very small patch of the sky.
There was, of course, a huge outcry amongst 'real' researchers who had grants to study oxygen production of Mira Variables that, naturally, were more important than anything else that could possibly be happening especially with those bunglers at Skywa... A WHAT?
Yeah, because these “real” researchers are just a bunch of morons preoccupied with silly things like understanding the universe.
Next scene is a press conference that just reminds us from everything we just know so far: Nothing.
"And I repeat, we have no idea as to its method, we don't know how it works, or its purpose, we don't know why it is here. At this moment, it is as enigmatic as the monolith from 2001..."
That’s two unnecessary shout outs. And I’m so glad that we needed to establish that we know nothing.
Next we have one of the few scenes in this book where he remembers that there is any country at all besides the US.
"Waiting... Waiting... Present are the Presidents of the United States and Russia, Prime Ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, China, India, Brazil. Each have staff present. We will not be responding to questions. We are the Grtul. We come in peace. The ring in your sky is a gate to other worlds. We produce these rings and move them into star systems. Use of the ring requires payment. The payment schedule will be sent to you. There is to be no use of hostile energy systems within three hundred thousand kilometers of the ring which are capable of damaging the ring. Anyone who pays may use the ring.
I hope you enjoy, after this the rest of the world will be almost forgotten, because of course that only the Americans matter. After that they talk about how anyone can use the portal, including hostile forces and that blocking the portal is a big no. The director of Nasa says that in theory that shouldn’t exist any hostile species capable of reaching space, but the Chairman of the joint Chiefs goes “Fuck science! Evil aliens must exist because the other aliens said about hostile forces.
Then they ask the Nasa guy about building a spaceship capable of reaching the gate and he says he needs a bit less than a trillion dollars and five years. No one even mentions asking the other countries for help, hell, they not even bother trying to contact Russia or China and asking what the guys in their space programs think about it.
The next bit is about the aliens finally arriving and about trading:
“But what they mainly want is precious metals. Specifically the platinum group which are pretty rare. Also gold."
No. Space is freaking huge and full of valuable things, so what can we found in a planet that we cannot find in space easily? Most of valuable metals would be really common in space, a single asteroid with about 3% metal would have about 20.000 million tons of aluminum and similar proportions of gold, platinum and other rarer metals.
So, what our little blue planet can offer? Life of course! The big thing that exists here is complex life forms, so if aliens are coming here they would want to know about our life forms, about our culture, movies, books, religions, music!
But of course, in this book all aliens are morons, so they want to trade magic chips for gold.
Five years later Mexico City, Shanghai and Cairo are obliterated by a species of evil aliens that come across the gate. The book says that 16 millions are dead, but a quick search gives me that only Shanghai have about 23 millions habitants in it, but let’s assume that the rest will die soon from starvation and disease. The Evil Aliens, called Horvath, demand all of our metals and the US president bitches about it, the Glatuns say that they can’t help and the chapter end.
My biggest problem with this chapter is the destruction of the three cities, it simply didn’t have any impact, this scene should be visceral, we should feel the tragedy, but since no one of these cities is from the US the book doesn’t care. Why can’t we see the leader of Mexico, China and Egypt claiming help from the aliens? Why the US president does that?
|21st April 2012, 08:30 PM||#2 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: SOUTH AMERICA
Re: [Let's read] Live free or die, Ringo John
Last time Evil Aliens destroy three non Americans cities and the US President begs for help. Now our protagonist talks about his super-awesome-comic.
We finally meet our protagonist and he is chopping wood with a chainsaw, because it’s a manly thing to do. He was an IT guy but then he started doing this super-awesome-comic:
Tyler Alexander Vernon was five foot two, one hundred and thirty-five pounds and long over the problem of having three first names. He'd been born and raised in Mississippi, graduated from LSU with a masters in computer science and, after applying five times at NASA, ended up working for an internet backbone center in Atlanta. That had led to various positions in the IT field and a pretty steady corporate advance culminating in a senior manager position at AT&T in Boston. Then came the real breakout: TradeHard.
That sound like a good protagonist, a character with genre savy can make it interesting and give a twist in a regular history, but of course what we get is in fact a Stan Sue.
A science fiction based webcomic about a free-trader ship. One of the few that had gotten national syndication. A small TV show. A movie deal in the works.
********! I read a bunch of webcomics myself and even the most famous ones never even had a chance of going into a TV show. That’s just to show how awesome our protagonist is, but it makes no sense.
Petra hadn't cared about the money. She cared about the lifestyle the money brought in. She'd hitched her wagon to a rising star at AT&T back before he'd been doing much more than scribbling. Dug in there through the tough years, reveled in the good.
Our first female character and she is a gold digger. Oh, Book, you make it so easy to hate you.
And the gate opened. And science fiction, as an industry, died.
Why?! It’s just me that can’t understand this development? I can see suddenly science fiction becoming popular, with people all over the globe wanting to know more about the aliens and wanting to understand better the space. In “Footfall” the best of the hard science fictions writers start working for the government as consultants as soon as the aliens are sighted and the rest of them are appearing in TV shows, giving interviews and the like.
Next we got to know our first female character that talk and Tyler tells us how horrible and greedy she is, because –gasp- She likes to talk!
"Going rate, ma'am," Tyler said. He'd wondered when he started delivering wood to her why he'd been chosen rather than one of the local lumberjacks. You know, people who worked for the old witch.
The answer being, nobody else would put up with her.
"Forty dollars is just robbery for firewood," Mrs. Cranshaw said. "When I was a girl, Cokes were a nickel. A nickel I tell you!"
"Yes, ma'am," Tyler said. If you tried to stop her she got mean. Best to just ride it out.
Look how she is evil! Wanting to make small talk! Next she will offer him a cup of coffee! It’s the worst thing ever!
"And the winters is getting worse. It's these damned aliens."
At best the orbital bombardment of Shanghai, Cairo and Mexico City had dropped global temperatures by .0001% according to Glatun backed studies. It took a lot more than a few megatons of rock and, okay, some really major secondary fires, to disturb earth's climate.
Wait! What?! “Glatun backed studies”? Really? For some reason the US Government (Because the others countries are there just for scenery) Paid in gold for Glatun scientist to make a detailed study of the climate effects from the destruction of the three cities? Why? It’s not like we hadn’t made more than three hundreds nuclear tests during the cold war! And why the Evil Aliens would even allow the expenditure?
"Yes, I used to do that comic thing," Tyler said. "And now I'm going to go talk to people about doing comic things."
"Used to run in the paper," Mrs. Cranshaw said. "Never did get what was so funny about it. And I didn't like all them alien names. Couldn't figure them out."
So, not only the super-awesome-comic was good enough to have a TV show, a movie and it was coming out in the newspaper too? How he doesn’t have a toy line too? Or maybe a religious cult?
Next we have this big scifi convention, because the author apparently couldn’t think of any less contrived way to put Tyler and a Glatun in the same room.
"I am Fallalor Wathaet, captain of the Spinward Crossing. A pleasure to meet you. You used to write TradeHard, did you not?"
"Yes," Tyler said, shocked again. "How did you...? Why do you know that?"
"The security situation on Terra for traders is good," Wathaet said. "But if I was going to be dealing with people I wished to know who I might be near."
"We are, after all, potentially dangerous locals with bizarre and disgusting customs," Tyler said.
" 'Who will do anything to screw us out of our credits. Our job is to be better screws.' "
"You read the comic?" Tyler was still recovering from the earlier shocks. This was water on a duck.
Oh, apparently the super-awesome-comic was so freaking good that even the aliens like it, **** Shakespeare or Poe, the super-awesome-comic is the pinnacle of human culture. They talk more about how awesome Tyler is for doing the super-awesome-comic and how he is always right about every bit.
"Why did you stop writing?" Wathaet asked. "I was only able to find the comic on an archive server and there were no notices to explain your cessation."
"Whooo..." Tyler said. "Big answer. Basically, it was an economic decision. As soon as the gate opened everyone in the industry quickly saw that anything SF was falling off. So I got dropped like a hot potato in most of my markets. The website traffic fell off sharply as well and merch. Then with our Horvath protectors requiring a very high payment for protection, server space started getting expensive. Eventually it simply wasn't economical."
So, the super-awesome-comic has a freaking TV show but you couldn’t pay for server space? If it’s so good, why couldn’t you try and get a job with a big comic publisher? This thing was good enough to be turned into a Movie and you want to tell me that Marvel or DC wouldn’t want to turn it into a regular comic?
Tyler then ask if the trading was good and the alien tells him that no, the Evil Aliens are screwing with everything and that he picked the Venus D’Milo and other pieces of art, they talk more about how awesome the super-awesome-comic was and Tyler convinces the alien to give him a chance to try and find anything valuable to trade, but only in the condition that he would do a sketch.
|1st May 2012, 06:54 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2006
Re: [Let's read] Live free or die, Ringo John
I could see something like Penny Arcade, Sluggy Freelance or Least I Could Do getting a small animated spinoff series, especially if we skipped five or ten years down the road. And I don't think a sci-fi convention is a contrived situation - simply the most likely. Has-been web comic author on a panel at a convention... not a tough sell to me.
The conversation with alien over webcomic moves things into the increasingly unlikely range... and the novel continues to escalate in improbability. But that's to be expected, it's the way the novel is written. If you have an intergalactic war over maple syrup, just how closely should you examine the business viability of a webcomic?
I think you have to look at this in the context of a semi-slapstic space adventure. Not 'is it logical' but 'does it work in the context of this rather absurd little world'. Of course, that's just my take - if your objective in the thread is to have fun poking at the increasing absurdities of the novel, have at it - plenty of material to work with. =)
|2nd May 2012, 09:54 PM||#4 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: SOUTH AMERICA
Re: [Let's read] Live free or die, Ringo John
a small animated web show, sure no problem, but he is talking about a TV show and a movie!
The problem with the comic is that he will complain again and again about people giving up, but he gave up in his biggest dream without even trying!
Last time, aliens are real and now Star Wars sucks! Now, it’s time to trade.
Our protagonist now goes back to his little town and searches in the trash a bit to find anything worth of trading with the Good Aliens. And them talk a bit about how he always wanted to be a spaceman:
He hadn't just come up with TradeHard on the spur of the moment, he'd wanted to be Wathaet from the time he was a kid. His grandfather was in his sixties before they ever met but he remembered the old man's stories like they were yesterday. Granda had been a crewman, eventually rising to captain, on tramp steamers that plied the South Seas trade back when they were still converting from sail to steam. His stories of trading for copra, fights with gangs in pre-Communist Shanghai and, as they both got older, beautiful island maidens, were some of the highlights of Tyler's childhood. That and books, mostly SF books once he found them. Combine Norton and Heinlein and Poul with Granda and you got TradeHard, what Tyler really wanted to do when he grew up.
Hey, did he tell you about all the gorgeous navy boys too?
He'd considered going into the merchant marine rather than college but it simply wasn't the same as when Granda was a crewman. American crewmen, especially, ran under so many rules, unions and regulations that it wasn't much different from being part of any other corporation. The soul was gone from it.
Damn you Unions and your evil ways of demanding a secure work environment and fair wages!
Next the aliens talk a bit about how poor they are and how they will need to work for a big company to pay for they debts and how the “Folk art” they got will only sell for a few credits and then Tyler arrives.
"Vernon Tyler. I'm supposed to meet with Captain Wathaet."
"Yes, sir," the security guard said, consulting a list. "Could I see some ID?"
"Why are there guards on the ship?" Tyler asked.
"Believe it or not, some people can't sort out the difference between Glatun and our Horvath benefactors," the guard said, handing back his ID. "So far we haven't had any protestors but there have been... incidents in other countries."
Incidents?! Now I’m curious, tell me more about it, it would be nice to see how other peoples are reacting to the aliens, what about the pope? He made any announcement? And the others religious leaders? Really, the existence of alien life is kind of a big thing, so what happened?
"Rare and costly viands from the four corners of the earth," Tyler said, cheerfully. "You'll understand if I don't get into exactly what rare and costly viands."
"Of course," Wathaet said as Tyler started unloading. "Bring them up in the ship. I've set up a table and some chairs. It occurred to me after we made this agreement that I was placing myself in trade against the writer of TradeHard. I'm not sure that's a good idea."
So, you are not going to expand in these “Incidents”? Just gonna keep with your boring trade stuff? I feel like I’m missing a good history here, think about it, what if a black ops organization mount a fake terrorist attack against aliens just so they can get a few bodies for study.
And of course we can’t go without mentioning the super-awesome-comic and how Tyler is a super negotiator for writing it. Next they find that maple syrup is like cocaine for aliens and it’s time for trading, hard trading!
"So... two weight of atomic level circuitry to one weight of Dragon's Tears," Tyler said. "We have a deal?"
"I dunno," Fabet said. "You got anymore?"
"I think that is a fair trade," Drath said, slowly and distinctly. His head twitched several times rapidly.
And done, He made a deal with the Good Aliens and now he goes out in search of more maple syrup, he first stop is in the AT&T where we have another “exhilarant” trading sequence when he again shows how, never having done this in his life, he is a consummate trader.
"Can you get the right people here by then?" Tyler asked. "We're talking cases of atacirc. And it has to be all sub-rosa."
"We've gotten used to working around the Horvath," Rayl said with a sigh. "They, fortunately, either don't pay as much attention as people think or can't count. We've simply had to sneak materials through the system beyond what they allow. We are, in other words, used to this sort of thing. I can get the right people here. With their checkbooks. Speaking of which, stay here. I'll go get the check."
There! You see! AT&T is sneaking materials from the Evil Aliens! I’m telling you there is a better history running and we are stuck with this asshole! What are they doing with the material? Is there any kind of secret resistance going on?
But of course, Tyler never asks about it, because he is a self centered moron. Next scene we have another glimpse of this better history:
"Mr. Vernon," a man in a suit said. Fifties and a bit chubby with an incongruous goatee. "My name is Senior Special Agent Aaron Spuler. Welcome to the command post of Project 4038."
"Which is spying on Tyler Vernon?" Tyler asked. "There are laws, you know."
"Which is spying on aliens who can... what was the phrase? Go through our most advanced firewalls so easily it's like 'looking through an open window,'" Spuler said. "And anyone who has interaction with them. Because every interaction with ETs is a potential national security problem as long as that God damned Horvath ship is in the sky."
Again! Stop teasing me with this better cloak and dagger stuff if you are not going to use it! He tells the agents all about the maple syrup/cocaine deal with the aliens and the agents just go and say yeah go ahead and do; it’s totally just a commercial enterprise and we can’t do anything… He has just said that any interaction is a national security matter! Why didn’t they report it for their superiors and then proceed to buy all the lands capable of producing maple through proxy companies and the like? Come on! Do something!
After that he gives a call to his wife just to say that he now has money and everything is ok, but he don’t want to talk with his daughters because he is going into danger, but of course all that he is doing is just trading stuff and he never really got in any kind of real danger through the entire book! He is just a moron that not want to talk to his children and keep making excuses, but of course the Wife is all like “Oh, he always want to talk with the girls and he is so awesome, something must be wrong, I’ll investigate!” And of course, she does nothing, because in this book if your name isn’t [s]John Ringo[/s] Tyler Vernon then you can’t do anything.
"Be good winter for the sap," Haselbauer said, climbing off the tractor. "Good leaves means good sap. And how are you doing?"
"Well, sir, well," Tyler said. For all he dressed like a homeless guy, Haselbauer probably owned more land than Mrs. Cranshaw. And, notably, a maple syrup distillery. And about as renowned for keeping his own counsel as Mrs. Cranshaw was for being a revolving bitch. He was also, Tyler recalled as he craned his head up and up and then up again, the single most massive guy Tyler had ever met. He looked more like a mountain than a human being.
Oh, look how manly and awesome he is! Totally different from that bitch that like to make small talk from before! They talk about how humble and awesome Haselbauer is and how the Evil Aliens can listen to cell phones, even ones that are off with their magitech. And finally Tyler got his precious syrup and is ready to make the deal with the Good Aliens.
The deal goes all right and Tyler even manages to get back the Venus de Milo and a bunch of paintings in exchange for a jug of Maple Syrup. Can you even sell these pieces of art in the first place? Aren’t they national treasures, protected by the law? And again, the Alien that supposedly has done research in human culture think that the Venus De Milo is “Folk Art”, but will lick the boots of the guy that did the super-awesome-comic.
The chapter ends with Tyler selling all the magic chips he got from the aliens and becoming the richest person on Earth. So, next chapter we can have all that “action packed Scifi” That the cover promised, right?
|3rd May 2012, 01:39 AM||#5 (permalink)|
Brian G. Turner
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: UK: SCOTLAND:
Blog Entries: 11
Re: [Let's read] Live free or die, Ringo John
Okay, that's enough - a review should be composed of a few paragraphs of overall reader thoughts on the story.
A chapter by chapter critique is a potential copyright violation, and also quite unreadable, so I'm closing this thread now.
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