John Ringo – what can I say? I have gotten hooked on his blend of military SciFi since the Posleen war series and while some of those books have tended to flag every now and then his new(er) series – not sure if there is an overall mythology to them or not, I guess you could call it the Dreen War? … actually looking at John Ringo’s website it seems he’s calling this series Into the Looking Glass so whom am I to judge! – introduces a new set of characters and villians.
The first book in this series – Into the Looking Glass – introduces us to one of our main hero’s of the series – Dr. William Weaver … a physicists physicist who is also an extremely adventurous and outdoorsy type.
Basically a genius karate expert and probably someone every guy wishes that he is/was or knew!!! Of course if we did know someone like this in real life, we’d probably be jealous as hell of them!
From the book jacket:
“When a 60 kiloton nuclear explosion destroys the University of Central Florida, terrorism is the first suspect. But terrorists don’t generally leave doorways to another world in their wake. Or, rather, a generator of doorways to multiple other worlds.
With time of the essence, the Secretary of Defense scrounges up the nearest physicist with a high level security clearance. With doctorates in everything from nuclear physics to electrical engineering, William Weaver, PhD, is the egghead’s egghead. On the other hand, with skills in everything from mountain biking to screaming electric guitar, he’s also fast enough and tough enough to survive when the alien gates start disgorging “demons.”
As a snap decision, he appears to be the perfect choice, smart, tough and capable. Now if he could only patch things up with his girlfriend, get his boss off his back and get his cellphone bill paid. Oh, yeah, and figure out why the heck these gates keep opening. Okay, so sometimes he’s got priority issues.
As the gates spread and evil aliens spread with them, it is up to Weaver and SEAL Command Master Chief Miller to find a way to stop the proliferation and close the hostile gates. The problem being that the only way they can see to save the earth is destroy it. Then there’s not going to be any more girlfriends or cellphones or bosses . . .
Okay, two out of three of those are bad. They’re really, really bad. Bad on toast. Bad like the Pacific is watery. Every day a Monday, bad.
One and a half at the very least. Worst two out of three.
Gotta prioritize. Guess Weaver and Miller are just gonna have to save the world. “
The book actually starts with the aforesaid nuclear explosion which wipes out a significant portion of central Florida. By happy coincidence Dr. Weaver is briefing the high muckity mucks in the pentagon on an unrelated project around about the time that the President is receiving his briefing on the goings on in Florida. Quickly drafted he is able to make some speculations about what might have happened based on his familiarity with the experiments and experimenter.
Journeying to central Florida, Dr. Weaver joins up with a Seal Team and they start the process of exploring the original anomaly which had disgorged two alien lifeforms that quickly expired. However unbeknown to them, another anomaly in the everglades opens up and this time, the entities that come through do not die – on the contrary they capture two humans and take them back through. After Dr. Weaver and his Seal Team arrive at this location – Eustis Florida – they are confronted by a horde of vicious aliens determined to take over world.
One of my favorite parts of this book, is when Weaver and the SEAL team he’s with are trapped in a house near Eustis. They need back-up badly, so they send out a distress call on the radio asking for help from anyone. A few locals at the bait, tackle, and ammunition shop hear the call and the owner of the shop goes to the “back room” and starts loading all the weapons he has stored back there. Soon enough you have the Charge of the Redneck Brigade – and between them they are able to hold the aliens in place.
During the course of the battle however they encounter a variety of different types aliens – some having a very large amount of similarity to the “bugs” from the movie Starship Troopers, with one alien acting almost as a sentient anti-aircraft weapon and others shooting darts and balls of energy from other parts of their anatomy.
We are then given an insight into the “mind” of the alien entity coordinating the battle and learn that they are going to send an emissary to see how “guilable” the humans that they are fighting really are while they continue to build up their forces for another push … dum, dum, dummmmmm (sorry, without a soundtrack that just doesn’t have the same amount of menace but hopefully you get the gist!) … keep on reading below to get the story from the rest of this book (or grab a copy yourself if you think its interesting and worth a read) … There’s plenty of action here and a pretty fast pace and enough excitement to last for two books, along with the possibility of more to come. A definite must read if you’re into military SF at all. I’d highly recommend it!!
Now, immediately after the infestation and fighting in Eustis a new race is introduced – the Mree – a catlike bipedal race that has indicated they have been fighting the Titcher (the bugs mentioned earlier) and would like to ally with the humans. After traveling to their homeworld, Weaver and Miller (the sole survivor of the SEAL team) determine that they weapons they are using – laser guns and rifles must actually have been supplied by yet another race as their technology level is somewhere around the 1800s in comparison to humanity. Finally we have one other alien (race?) that was introduced earlier in the book – Tuffy a fluffy “animal” that had saved a little girl – Mimi – that was caught up in the earlier explosion at the University of Florida. The question now is … which of these races is working with the hive mind attacking the humans??
Having successfully stopped one incursion in Eustis, the American military entrench themselves around the looking glass in an effort to ensure that they have sufficient forces in place to stop future attacks. However the Titcher have other plans in mind and send through an overwhelming attack that quickly decimates the American forces in place. In addition a 2nd attack is launched through another gate in Tennesse giving the American forces two fronts to their war.
Weaver determines that the only way that they can defeat the enemy incursion is through the use of Nuclear weapons which he is able to persuade the President (George Bush by the way … however an intelligent version of him! LOL) to grant authorization. Firing the nukes on American soil sends the Titcher reeling and following this up with a scouting trip of their own Weaver and Miller are able to destroy a further follow up attack that the Titcher were planning on launching on the Titcher side of the gate. However because of the size of the explosion, they were able to successfully destabilize the gates currently disgorging Titcher and destroy the “collective” currently attacking humanity.
While Miller is returned to Earth via a fairly straightforward route, Weaver is bounced through or outside the universe itself – remember what I said about Dr. Michio Kaku earlier? One thing that he mentioned that Ringo brings up here is the possibility that we are in a bubble universe surrounded by other bubbles floating in a sea of … “something” … well in the Looking Glass universe the “something” turns out to be a sea of Tuffys! Remember the furry guys I mentioned earlier? They have cushioned Weavers ejection and try to educate him on the true nature of the universe … very surreal and existential experience that it is! Returning back to the regular universe, Weaver is able to do some investigation and determines how the boson’s are being generated and also where they are going to appear next as well as how to activate them. In addition he is also able to link two of them together to form a gate on Earth. In addition, as the gate to the Mree planet was closed by the explosion also, Weaver is able to deduce that they were in fact working with the Titcher and were betraying the Human race!
Yet another alien race is introduced – the Adar. Arriving in France, the Adar make contact with the human race and Weaver is rushed over to speak to them. Determining that they are in fact at war with the Dreen – the true name of the Titcher – and that they are not going to betray the humans like the Mree did, the humans ally themselves with the Adar. The Adar are approximately 100 years in advance of humanity and were experimenting with gates on their planet as a means of transportation before their first experience of the Dreen. Informing Weaver that he only has a limited amount of time before the Dreen return, Weaver goes to speak to Mimi and Tuffy to see if there is a way of defeating them for good or at least cutting off their access to Earth as the anomaly in Florida is still generating bosons.
Realizing that Tuffy is actually significantly more than he seems, Weavers conversation while very much funnelled through Mimi, gives him an idea with regards to what he must do to shut down the gates, but unfortunately the Dreen do not give him an opportunity to do it. Opening gates in multiple locations disgorge Dreen plus their allies the Mree and Nitch. It turns out that the Mree are actually a slave/subordinate race to the Dreen and the reason that they called the aliens Titcher is that the Nitch told them that’s what they were called and only later did they find out it is their word for MASTER. Weaver realizes that humanity cannot survive on its own and appeals to the Adar for assistance – receiving a 600 megaton weapon from them, he is informed that if this were to go off on the human side of the link it would split the world in two which is why the Adar have never used it themselves.
A climatic battle ensues and Weaver is successfully able to insert the Adar device through the gate completely destroying the homeworld of the Mree in the process. With humanity safe once again, Weaver visits the Adar who provide him with an advanced device that they discovered on an alien world … having the properties of exponentially increasing the output of energy based on the energy provided to it, Weaver quickly determines that the small black box he is holding in his hand is the key to the stars and that humanity will now be able to take the fight to the Dreen!! The end of book one!
Great that Ringo alludes to other great SciFi – his comment about the “the gripping hand” really only makes sense if you’ve read the Mote in God’s Eye series by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – an extremely well written and conceived series of books and also highly recommended if you’ve not yet read them.
Character Growth & Development – 2.5/5
Dr. Weaver is a little bit too good and there is no serious dissension in the military and political arena at all. In addition, the Dreen are a bit too much like the Zerg from Starcraft fame but overall a really good action packed story and a good introduction to a brand new universe.
Story Growth & Development – 3.5/5
The Dreen make really good villians and the Mree though only used sparsely in the story have definite depth. The defeat of their people and empire is really well conveyed and while as mentioned Dr. Weaver is too strong a character its hoped that in the rest of this series he is balanced by other characters also.
Overall Rating – 6/10
The rating is actually surprisingly less that I would have thought as I definitely enjoyed this book and was able to finish it inside of a day. If you like military SciFi read it – you won’t be disappointed.