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David Hines [userpic]

books to make my flist's heads explode: John Ringo

March 22nd, 2008 (10:59 am)

Lately, some folks on my f-list have been looking at Lord King Bad profic. brown_betty gave us LEOPARD LORD, and cereta reviewed THE SHEIK, and burger_eater pointed me to Smart Bitches, Trashy Books's take on Shayla Black's DECADENT. These books, it should be admitted, are deeply awful, and as portrayals of their authors' ids, they're more than a little alarming. You don't want to look, but you can't look away. The awfulness becomes sublime.

So why am I commenting about this? Well, because I feel a little like Richard Dreyfuss in JAWS, during the scar scene: "I got that beat. I got that beat."

Permit me to introduce John Ringo.

Contains excerpts of fiction revolving heavily around 1) rape and 2) whores. If you"re bothered by this kind of thing, YOU REALLY DO NOT WANT TO READ ABOUT THIS. Even though it"s so bad it"s funny.Collapse )

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Posted by: Silmaril (silmaril)
Posted at: April 17th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
Headexplode

I never thought I would flail while reading a book review, and I have been reading Slacktivist's Left Behind reviews.

But now I am torn between flailing and screaming "unclean! unclean!" and running to get a shower, only because I have been in the same room with that man. Twice. At SF convention panels, but that amount of distance is enough to induce shudders.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)

I've never met Ringo, but I'm actually curious to. My sense is that he fully realizes that he's writing in a deeply weird territory, and in the later books he starts making efforts to acknowledge that -- but at the same time, he's trying not to disappoint the fans who liked the earlier stuff. Which is, you'll admit, an interesting challenge.

(That's not to say there isn't still flailing, though.)

Posted by: 3fgburner (3fgburner)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Elspeth (elspethdixon)
Posted at: April 19th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
BlackBolt

I... damn. And I loved his Kipling-fanboying collaboration with David Weber (the one with the dinosaur/amphibian aliens and the space marines) so much. Military sci-fi is my sekrit guilty pleasure, after "Everybody has Terribly Misjudged Character X" (the current run of Iron Man: Director of SHIELD is like id-crack for me, because it combines military organizations fighting terrorists with cool tech with a protagonist who's slowly unravelling under the pressure of his terrible inner pain while everyone around him is meanz to him OMG).

Though I think someone ought to impose some sort of upward limit on the number of times military sci-fi (and whatever you'd call the 1632 series - military time-travel crack?) writers are allowed to re-write the Battle of Roarke's Drift. I know there's a limit to the number of ways in which you can write the "small group of technologically superior explorers/colonizers are pinned down by a bazillion natives with spears and rocks," but do the spear-carrying natives have to set the hospital roof on fire every time?

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
commies

I know there's a limit to the number of ways in which you can write the "small group of technologically superior explorers/colonizers are pinned down by a bazillion natives with spears and rocks," but do the spear-carrying natives have to set the hospital roof on fire every time?

Yes. Yes, they do.

Have you ever read E.D. Swinton's THE DEFENSE OF DUFFER'S DRIFT? It's a really interesting premise, with a touch of fantasy to it. It's told as a dream-story, in which the narrator is charged with a military duty during the Boer War, and he screws up and dies -- but each time he does, he goes back to the beginning to try again, without a memory of what happened the last time except for a vague sense of lessons learned. Think of it as a military GROUNDHOG DAY. Really interesting, and well done; somebody ought to film it.

Posted by: 3fgburner (3fgburner)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Wasn't Roarke's Drift

Posted by: hédonisme libertaire (mmoneurere)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
here via metafandom
Dr. Manhattan

If "OH JOHN RINGO NO" doesn't become a meme, there is no justice on the Intertubes.

A couple of random editorial-style things, though (which I noticed mostly because they tend to apply to me):

1) Libertarian =/= libertarian. It's mostly clear what you're referring to in this bit of snark, but some of us libertarians (in the older sense of the term in the anti-authoritarian left) don't like being equated to those people.

2) I'd probably peg Transmetropolitan as solidly left in most cases...that is, not liberal.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)

True enough; I'm using "liberal" and "conservative" in the modern-day American political sense. Your points about Libertarians and libertarians are well-made, although I'd say there's often overlap: Neil Gaiman's advance review of LITTLE BROTHER, the upcoming young adult novel by Cory Doctorow, who I'd peg as being of the anti-authoritarian left, notes that the evil straw man is its chief weakness. That's not much different from, say, what Libertarian Jim Lesczynski does in his young adult novel THE WALTON STREET TYCOONS, which must be the only young adult novel ever written for an audience of fully-grown Libertarians.

Posted by: hédonisme libertaire (mmoneurere)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)

Posted by: wemyss (wemyss)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
How utterly ghastly.
tories

Here via metafandom, naturally.

W/r/t ideological fiction and the Right, I wd suggest that things are different in the UK, particularly as regards writig a convincing Opposition. Are you familiar at all with Michael Dobbs?

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)

W/r/t ideological fiction and the Right, I wd suggest that things are different in the UK, particularly as regards writig a convincing Opposition. Are you familiar at all with Michael Dobbs?

No, not at all. Be curious to hear more.

Posted by: wemyss (wemyss)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Ah.

Posted by: The person who (dancesontrains)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
Avoiding reality

From Metafandom as well-

DDDDDD: !

In return, I politely offer you the fine fiction at weepingcock.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
wtf

HELLO METAFANDOM.

(And, um, THAT'S OKAY THANK YOU.)

Posted by: journey (anandrine)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
Here via metafandom, hi!
criminal minds. spencer reid

OH JOHN RINGO NO!

This is like real-world badfic, and I am almost tempted to find the books, but I have a feeling that, even given my love for badfic, I wouldn't be able to finish them. On some level I really do have to marvel at and find interesting all the justifications given in the book for his actions, but mostly I think think this is hilarious. It is the epitome of horrimusement. Thank you for sharing this fascinating piece of fiction.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)

You're welcome! The books really are quite interesting, because they manage to be both horrifying and (particularly in the case of the later books) a lot better than you'd expect in some weird ways. Horrimusing, yes, but also strangely fascinating.

Posted by: Branch (branchandroot)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 07:39 pm (UTC)

*reaching for the brain bleach* Yeah. I knew they'd be bad just from the jacket blurbs. At least, from the jacket blurbs in tandem with what Ringo's done to Cally and the Princess of Wands woman and... really, every strong woman he writes, sooner or later. I can deal with him best when he's got Weber around to counterbalance him and ixnay the gratuitous rape and torture scenes. *hopes earnestly for Nimashet's continued torture-free life*

It's a shame, really, because I like how he writes humor. But most of the solo books I can't get through, even by scene-skipping.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)

I have yet to skip a scene. I do flail from time to time, but that is where my reset comes in handy.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: November 4th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
You mean the March to the... series

Posted by: the cold genius (angevin2)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)
whiskey tango foxtrot

WHAT.

This is a picture of my expression right now: --> DDDDDDD:

However! All of this did inspire me to go make a donation to the Helen Bamber Foundation, so that is something.

But there is NOT ENOUGH BRAIN BLEACH IN THE WORLD.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
unfair to batgirl

Well, you could also donate to Mike's Wildlife Refuge for Whores! That is a fine charity that does all sorts of rehabilitation and OH JOHN RINGO NO.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)

These are just some of the reasons I don't read novels set in modern times.

Posted by: Iron Chef Hentai (lydia_petze)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)

Oh my freaking god.

I used to work with a guy who would have LOVED these books. Unironically.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:41 pm (UTC)

A lot of people apparently do! And say so, with their wallets. This actually makes for an interesting problem for Ringo: he knows when he's writing crud, as witnessed by his original inclination to not publish GHOST, but now he's got to please a paying audience who *enjoys* crud.

Makes for a really interesting tension, particularly in the later books.

Posted by: Iron Chef Hentai (lydia_petze)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)

Posted by: I'm not fluent in your dialect of crazy (dine)
Posted at: April 20th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
bookbeach - jchalo

this review/analysis is excellent - I've been addicted to this series since reading Ghost years ago, and I can't stop reading them despite all my objections to the hero's sexual and political leanings. not sure just what keeps me coming back, but when the next book comes out, I'll be there grabbing a copy

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
donuts?

OH THANK GOD I'M NOT ALONE.

Posted by: Brian Williams (groblek)
Posted at: April 24th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)

Posted by: * (malfeasanceses)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
Firefly/ your dreams and your teethmarks

:(

Posted by: Nemesis (rogue_planet)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)

So... basically... Katya is Mercy Graves?

I am truly horrified, and must get this first book to scar my friends with when we go camping.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)

Highly recommended. They're in the woods; they can't run away. Though they may try.

Posted by: Livin' La Vida Dorka (were_lemur)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)
uhura wtf

Here via Metafandom. And all I can say is ... MY BRAIN HUUUURTS!

Posted by: zvi LikesTV (zvi_likes_tv)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
via metafandom

I read some of his other books, and I could see that I didn't like his politics, but the books were a rollicking good time and I thought, "Oh, it's just fiction."

But now, I feel icky. And Jim Baen! John Weber is apparently one messed up dude, but Jim Baen encouraged him and gave him money for the sickness. ick ick ick I don't think I'll be able to enjoy the next The Council Wars book.

OTOH, this was absolutely priceless. Hilarious and disturbing at the same time. I don't suppose you read Laurel K. Hamilton? She's got just as much ID dripping over the place, but her issues are way different.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
wonder woman 2

I don't suppose you read Laurel K. Hamilton? She's got just as much ID dripping over the place, but her issues are way different.

You know, that's actually a *really* interesting contrast you bring up. Ringo started off with pure id, and is augmenting that with more interesting stuff as his series progresses; Hamilton started out with a terrific series premise, which gave life to a mini-genre, but wound up losing it and angering a large chunk of her original readership by embracing her id and descending into ever more sex-soaked drivel. They're heading in opposite directions.

Might be worth considering at length...

Posted by: saintonge (saintonge)
Posted at: April 30th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Laurel K. Hamilton

Posted by: boogieshoes (boogieshoes)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)

here from metafandom also...

i can't read the Keldara stuff for a number of reasons, but to be fair:
1) as you mentioned, Ringo didn't want to publish this stuff, really - it was his own version of mental masturbation, and Jim Baen grumped at him over not even considering him for publisher...

2) you really aren't supposed to like Mike as a character. really. aren't supposed to like him.

3) Ringo is well aware Mike's not really a good guy... (which i comment on below)

but that brings me to why *i* can't read the books. every time i try, i have severe issues with the *rest* of the *western* characters in the books. the most disturbing thing to me is that none of the western characters dislike Mike - in fact, they keep telling him what a great guy he is. they keep telling him that's he's really not so bad for his actions regarding 'his' women. it tends to make me sick with rage.

and then worse is that whenever this book is discussed in Ringo's own forum on baen's bar, i get the impression that the posters are pretty much salivating over Mike - which just makes me sick. i may be wrong on the impression - i realized a few months ago i was doing my trick where i was literally projecting words onto a screen whenever this conversation came up. so i don't read discussions on it anymore, because one of my own internet-rules is not to post when i'm seeing red. and this one's sort of an automatic button for me.

that said, would you mind if i posted the URL over there or in my LJ of this review? not everyone over there is fond of books, and an explanation of the features from John himself may be interesting... or not.

but i thought i'd ask your permission because the posting style of the barfly, on average is much shorter and sharper than the usual fandom-fen's style. it might make for some wank if people don't read their comments through the right lense.

-bs

Posted by: boogieshoes (boogieshoes)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)

erm, that should read 'fond of *these* books.'

what can i say? it's monday. ::sighs::

-bs

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 03:54 am (UTC)

Posted by: boogieshoes (boogieshoes)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 12:08 pm (UTC)

Posted by: StClair (cmdr_zoom)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Floria Tosca (floriatosca)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
here from Metafandom

Katya sounds awesome. Now I want one of the characters in *my* ludicrous id-driven original fiction project to have a sociopathic cyborg ex-hooker sidekick.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
Re: here from Metafandom

With poison fingernails! The poison fingernails are VERY IMPORTANT.

Posted by: legionseagle (legionseagle)
Posted at: April 21st, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
Another from metafandom

Thank you for this. Not merely was it hysterically funny, but since John Norman went out of print a useful Female Early Warning System has been lost. In my young days, the word got around: if you were invited back to a man's flat and you saw Gor on the shelves you just left. Fast. No explanations.

I've been worrying about what to tell my stepdaughter. Should she find herself in similar circs, when she goes to university.

You have encapsulated it:
OH JOHN RINGO NO

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
short shameful confession
wtf

...I actually have several of the Gor books.

Admittedly, I think they're in storage right now rather than on my shelves, but I *have* 'em.

(I have a weird fascination for balls-crazy world-building. Gor *owns* balls-crazy.)

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: short shameful confession

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: short shameful confession

Posted by: vito excalibur (vito_excalibur)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
Re: short shameful confession

Posted by: Betty (brown_betty)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Another from metafandom

Posted by: legionseagle (legionseagle)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Another from metafandom

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 25th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
Gor? Leave?

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: July 24th, 2008 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Another from metafandom

Posted by: julygreen (julygreen)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 07:08 am (UTC)

Wow. To be honest, I clicked on this because I thought it was going to be about the Beatles - but even though I have never heard of this author, this is a tremendously entertaining read. Badfic in bookform, hmm? I'm almost tempted to go and check this guy out ... almost.
Cheers for the fantastically snarky read.

Posted by: boogieshoes (boogieshoes)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)

if you want *decent* books by John Ringo, and are into milfic, blood, guts, and high body counts, try the posleen series - starts with A Hymn Before Battle.

otherwise, i recommend the Princess of Wands series, or the March Upcountry stuff.

the Ghost stuff was... never supposed to be published. watching it take on the life and following - and criticism - it has has been kind of flabbergasting for friends and critics alike. notice i say 'friends', not fans. :-p i can only imagine Ringo himself wants to bury his head in the sand every time he hears about how popular this is - even *he* thinks it's drek (and has said so, several times).

-bs

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: July 12th, 2008 10:02 pm (UTC)
Bimbos of the Death Sun revisited

Posted by: Michael M Jones (oneminutemonkey)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
Rar

Holy dear mother of someone...
I read the first in the series when I worked in a bookstore and could do so for free. I didn't keep up with the rest of the series, and now I don't know if I'm relieved, or disappointed, because my GOD, it sounds utterly batshit insane and sometimes you have to go utterly beyond all that's decent and good.

"He adopts them. Like cats."

Brilliant line. I'm still laughing.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
donuts?

IT'S TRUE. HE DOES.

...CHOOSERS OF THE SLAIN is the best book for the whoring, because just when you're convinced it's not going to happen again, it totally does. I honestly lost track of the number of hookers and would-be hookers he was carting around; if he ever opened that refuge for whores, it would be *incredibly* well-stocked.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)

That's one thing that makes the series interesting. Ringo is not an incompetent idiot: he's a smart guy who got persuaded to publish his id-fic, and now is trying to figure out how to write to the audience who likes it while trying to bring some aspects of the series up to what he feels comfortable putting out. It's actually a fascinating tension.

Posted by: nobody (mcpreacher)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)

aaaaaaaaaaaaaa

ffffffffffffff

i broke

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
unfair to batgirl

'sokay. I did the same. (So did anybody I read bits of GHOST at.)

Posted by: numol (numol)
Posted at: October 3rd, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)

Posted by: StClair (cmdr_zoom)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
oops

Linked here by a friend of mine. Thank you for a very entertaining (and cautionary) read.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
donuts?

Welcome. Remember, if you ever write a book where the hero takes in whores, try to limit him to about twelve or so. After that, it just starts to strain the limits of plausibility. Or something.

Posted by: StClair (cmdr_zoom)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)

Posted by: little miss emily (cjedwards)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)

Okay, I will never read these but I could read your summary all day! Also, I may have to start saying "OH JOHN RINGO NO" as it is strangely compelling....

here via hernewshoes comment here.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)

Also, I may have to start saying "OH JOHN RINGO NO" as it is strangely compelling....

Apparently it is! I know it's been quoted in the recent Penguicon controversy thread, and I've seen people using "OH JOHN RINGO NO" as a tag in their LJs and communities, so it may be catching on. (Now all I need is an OH JOHN RINGO NO icon.)

THE POWER OF JOHN RINGO COMPELS YOU.

Edited at 2008-04-23 12:53 pm (UTC)

Posted by: Karl Gallagher (selenite)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
This is Terrible

I love Ringo's SF. I've been actively avoiding the Kildar books. Thank you for confirming my decision.

Shudder.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)

There is a conflict to them that's strangely interesting -- SEE John Ringo's id battle for supremacy over his SENSE OF PRIDE and CRAFTSMANSHIP! -- but yeah, really not for a lot of people.

Posted by: Karl Gallagher (selenite)
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: April 23rd, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
And I totally support that decision

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