Book Review 2010 #5: Into the Looking Glass

Next up…another try at reading John Ringo. Glutton for Punishment, me.

Never let it be said that I don’t give people second chances. After my unhappiness with the story buzz-killing politics found when I read his The Tuloriad, I decided to try John Ringo, straight up, to see if another novel of his might have more of the good stuff and less of the thud and blunder.
And so I picked up Into the Looking Glass, a completely different series and world, and unlike the Tulorian, written without a co-author.
The set up and the basic scenario are interesting and clever: A high energy particle accident opens up potential gates to other worlds. Through these gates come contacts of several different kinds, including a malevolent force intent on turning the Earth into more territory for itself by an endless churning out of units that reminded me of the Zerg in Starcraft.
A ragtag group of soldiers, a “redneck physicist” and others fight to keep the aliens off of our turf, make contact with friendly aliens, and try to keep a situation spiraling out of control from going completely off of the rails.
I liked the basic premise as far as it went. The strength of the basic premise allowed me enough forward momentum to continue the book. Although implausible, I liked the “battletech” prototype technology employed against the hostile aliens.
However, the negative aspects of the book outweigh the positives.
After a good opening, the second half of the movie drags and loses momentum. Ringo also leaves a lot of dangling plot threads that seem more sloppiness than setting up a sequel. And the out-of-nowhere epilogue with trying to build a star drive is one of the worst tacked on last portions of a book I’ve read since Ender’s Game. It almost seems like to me that Ringo was writing the book to frantically get the plot and scenario to the situation where we get that star drive, but the book is too short to make it plausible. It’s a leap too far.
Character development is implausible. Our physicist hero goes from never firing a gun to being an expert in a shockingly short amount of time. Other characters are flat, wooden and without personality. Also, the government response to “tuffy”, an extra-dimensional alien that may literally be a manifestation of God, is implausible, at best.
Female characters are another problem in this book. Sure, the novel mainly focuses on soldiers and a military response to it, but the number of significant female characters is thin on the ground. I expect better in a modern SF novel.
Now the politics. I dislike novels which turn into political tracts and grist for the mill to promote a political viewpoint rather than an actual story.Into the Looking Glass takes pot shots at liberals and the French. However, what he has to say about Arabs made my blood boil. The schadenfreude the author and the characters seem to have at the plight of those in the path of a Gate in the Middle East disgusted me.
“Any word on what we we’re going to do?” Bill asked.
“Well, the Teams are sitting back, watching the tube and laughing in their beer.” Miller answered. “The Ayrabs (sic) can’t fight for shit. There’s a lot of cultural reasons for it…Wait a year and there won’t be enough mujaheddin left on earth to bury the bodies…The ragheads will also see,clearly, what the U.S. can do if it cares enough to send the very best. Nuclear weapons rising where the mullahs cannot ignore them.”

If I want to re-read an alien invasion novel, I will read Pournelle and Niven’s Footfall. There are two authors, no liberals they, who understand how to write an alien invasion novel, make it believable, and not take every opportunity to score political points.
Sorry, Mr. Ringo, I’m done trying to read your work. Good luck in your future endeavors.

One thought on “Book Review 2010 #5: Into the Looking Glass”

  1. Via Wiki:
    … “been a guest commentator for Fox News …”
    Wow. Enough right there to avoid anything by him.

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