Nemo Me Impune Lacessit

Monday, 12 November 2007

Book Review — Gust Front, by John Ringo

Filed under: Reading — Tags: , , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 2:19 AM (02:19)

Gust Front, by John Ringo

Gust Front is the second book in the Legacy of the Aldenata series by John Ringo. A Hymn Before Battle gives the reader an introduction to the main characters. Gust Front shows the first landing of the Posleen on Earth, near Fredericksburg, Virgina, detailing the actions of the American forces tasked with containing and resisting the invasion.

Most of the action centers around the Fredericksburg as America prepares for the invasion. About halfway through the book is when the invasion actually touches down on the Earth’s surface.

Shortly after landing, the Posleen literally go on the warpath, and are almost unstoppable when in the open. It’s not that human-built weapons can’t kill them, it’s that they move in the thousands, and they don’t stop coming – they just march over the corpses of those who went before them. (Plus, they chop up the corpses of their dead comrades for food, as well as any humans they encounter.) And the American military’s air assets are just about useless in this fight – the “God Kings” can shoot down any aircraft upon sight, and the same goes for any over-the-horizon missile, such as the AGM-114 Hellfire, cruise missiles, etc.

The Posleen are vulnerable to ballistic artillery and mortars – they can only track the projectile as long as it’s powered, for some reason. Which is strange – there are projects ongoing at Sandia National Laboratories, among other places, to develop technology (mostly using lasers such as the Tactical High-Energy Laser (THEL)) that would allow troops in the field the ability to shoot down incoming shells in flight.

While technically-aware readers might be put off a bit by this, Ringo explains in the afterword of Hell’s Faire that he wanted humanity to have some technological edges over the Posleen. Another example of this is the Posleen “Datanet,” which is similar to the internet used by humanity, only without any indexing tools. Which makes finding anything somewhat difficult.

Another question that tactically-aware readers might have is why doesn’t humanity make more use of goodies such as artillery-deployable landmines and nuclear weapons. Ringo explains in When the Devil Dances that mines don’t work too well against the Posleen, and as for nukes . . . read When the Devil Dances. and pay close attention to the SheVa-class “supertank” nicknamed Bun-Bun (from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance), as Ringo is a Sluggite.

The series is loaded with black humor. The best example in Gust Front is on page 706, when Mike O’Neal Sr., father of Mike O’Neal Jr., is being interviewed by a local news crew after he and his eight-year-old granddaughter, Cally, wiped out a company of Posleen almost singlehandedly. Cally chimes in after the reporter asks Mike O’Neal Sr. if he had any help –

“From me! I ran the demo!”

The reporter doesn’t know what to make of Cally, or what demo is, and asks, “Really? Did that help?” Cally responds:

“Blew the shit out of the bastards. Must have killed half the damn company. We had the whole fuckin’ woodline strung with claymores and I just blew the fuck out of them.”


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