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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Book Review — When the Devil Dances and Hell’s Faire, by John Ringo

Filed under: Reading — Tags: , , , , — mikewb1971 @ 4:22 PM (16:22)

When the Devil Dances and Hell’s Faire, by John Ringo

When the Devil Dances takes place about five years after the end of Gust Front – four more waves of Posleen invaders have landed on Earth, totalling about a billion invaders, and killing over five billion people. All humanity has to do is hold out until the Galactic Federation’s Fleet arrives to drive out the Posleen. There’s a few problems there. First the (idiotic) American president shoots down a plan to defend America from the Rockies and Appalachians, focusing the defense around the big cities. Second, the Posleen breed like rabbits and come to full maturity within two years, at which point they pick up a weapon and join the march. Of those on the march, 90 percent are semi-sapient “normals,” about on par with chimpanzees where intelligence is concerned. The normals are perfectly happy to march through minefields, machinegun fire, and/or incoming artillery and mortar fire, if their “God King” so desired. The God Kings, for their part, ride above the normals on anti-gravity platforms armed with high-powered lasers, plasma cannon, and hypervelocity missiles, and are able to shoot down any aircraft or missile that clears the horizon.

But the Posleen are vulnerable to ballistic artillery and mortar fire, which accounted for innumerable casualties in their ranks. As long as the incoming projectile was unpowered, their defenses wouldn’t pick it up. Death doesn’t matter much to the Posleen – they just chop up their dead for food, which provides rations for those that follow. Another human tactic that kills many of the invaders is the use of demolitions of various kinds – claymores, blowing up bridges, blowing down buildings, etc. It gets to the point where the Posleen are trained to avoid anything bearing the logo of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

When the Devil Dances also marks the debut of the SheVa-class armored fighting vehicle, particularly SheVa Nine, named “Bun-Bun” by its crew, after the homicidal, switchblade-wielding mini-lop rabbit from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. The crew even goes so far as to paint a 30-foot picture of Bun-Bun the rabbit, complete with switchblade, on the frontal armor of the turret. Only this Bun-Bun is massive (385×468 feet, 170 feet high, 7,000 tons unloaded) – picture a football stadium that can move around under its own power at about 30 miles per hour. On top of that, the SheVa class gun platforms fire a 16-inch cannon (like the kind on the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey), the shells from which are in the 10-kiloton range (about the same as the nukes that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

One of the things I like about Ringo’s stories is that he finds ways to fit some humor into the death and destruction. Case in point – this exchange on p.592 of the paperback edition, as the crew of Bun-Bun are engaging Posleen spacecraft in the area of Franklin, Georgia –

“Target C-Dec! TWELVE HUNDRED METERS! TOO CLOSE!”

“FIRE!”

“TOO CLOSE!”

“IT’S KNIFE-FIGHTING RANGE! WE’RE BUN-BUN! FIRE THE DAMNED GUN!

Hell’s Faire is the “fourth” book in the Legacy of the Aldenata series by John Ringo.

Well, sort of. In the afterword, Ringo informs the reader that he had 90,000 words completed on When the Devil Dances on 11 Sept 2001, and being distraught as a result of the attacks that day, requested and was granted an extension. When he did turn in the manuscript, it was hastily edited and proofread, so Hell’s Faire is really Volume 2 of When the Devil Dances (one novel in two volumes), as the series was originally conceived as a trilogy. As such, Hell’s Faire is more of the same as from When the Devil Dances.

Another thing that I liked about these two books is that Ringo brought back the characters of Sergeant Major Mosovich and Master Sergeant Mueller, who took part in a LRRP-style reconnaissance mission to a Posleen-held world, and their team was almost completely wiped out after being ordered to snatch a live Posleen for study back on Earth. Ringo brings them back for these two books, and good for him for doing so. They form a big part of the plotline for these two books, leading another LRRP team into Posleen-held territory, this time, here on Earth.


NOTES

  1. Approximate reading level – 11.9

Copyright © 2007 Mike Blessing. All rights reserved.
Produced by KCUF Media, a division of Extropy Enterprises.
This blog entry created with Notepad++.

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