John Ringo: The Last Centurion

I finished reading the electronic advance reader’s copy last night. Overall, I’m glad I read it, though it was quite infuriating.

The book is set about a decade in the future. In the book’s world, anthropogenic climate change and global warming turned out to be a hoax; instead, a global cooling (caused by solar variation) was beginning. At the same time, the bird flu (H5N1) became a major pandemic. The United States was governed by the democrats and “the bitch” (a thinly disguised demonisation of a certain democrat presidential candidate), who handled everything wrong.

The book is a fictional autobiography (or a series of blog posts) by a US army officer who became famous during those turbulent times, first commanding a company finding its own way back home after being abandoned in the Middle East (the later stuff I won’t describe to avoid spoiling the book). The Last Centurions is a television propaganda show featuring his unit in action, intended to counterspin anti-military news reports.

Several chapters early in the book are pure political ranting by the narrator: how anthropogenic climate change is false, how socialized medicine is bad (and causes lots of unnecessary deaths during a pandemic), how republicans are good and democrats are evil et cetera et cetera et cetera. (Then again, it’s a Ringo book, political ranting is a given.) Given my political persuasion, it was not easy to read: I kept yelling, “where are your footnotes!” I actually tried to verify some of the claims the narrator makes, and found nothing persuasive. Still… in the end, it all turned out to be justified. It explains the character, and it explains the world. Perhaps it should be a bit trimmed during editing (remember, I read the author’s submission draft which has not been through the usual editing and copyediting cycles), but a lot of it is necessary for the story.

The premise that anthropogenic global warming is a false theory made it very hard for me to suspend disbelief. However, given that premise (and the premise of a totally incompetent government in the USA), the story is compelling and interesting. There’s a quite a bit of military action as we have become to expect from Ringo. The beginning grabbed me, – apart from the couple of chapters of exposition – held my attention tightly to the end, and left me shell-shocked.

I especially liked the wife’s edits. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to see their courtship.

I don’t know if I’ll ever want to re-read the book, but I’m still rating it at 5/5. The book is now available as an e-ARC, and will be released as a regular book in August. There is a companion site at www.thelastcenturion.com.

17 thoughts on “John Ringo: The Last Centurion

  1. Think I could talk you into giving this a go, seeing how you are in to e-books? Yes, it is my own. :) (and hey, it’s Creative Commons FWIW)

  2. JA, aelf-publishing is quite often an admission that the book wasn’t good enough to attract a commercial publisher.

    In other words, why should I use my time to read your book? :)

    (I’ll allow the advert here, since it’s somewhat relevant to the post.)

  3. In the book’s world, anthropogenic climate change and global warming turned out to be a hoax;

    I wouldn’t put it that way. It’s just that the hypothesis turned out to be wrong. That’s different from it being a hoax.

    BTW: If you want to talk about why the hypothesis of anthropomorphic global warming is BS, I’d be happy to trade some comments with you. You start with the fact that the earth heated 1 degree C from 1900 to 1950, dropped 1/2 a degree from 1950 – 1970, and then picked up .3 degrees from 1970 – 2000, giving a net change of 0.8 degrees from 1900 – 2000 (oh no!), but a 0.2 degree C DROP from 1950 – 2000 (and we emitted a hell of a lot more CO2 from 1950 – 2000 than we did from 1900 – 1950).

    We would then also note that Mars has been warming, too. Occam’s Razor: It’s that big ball of light out there that’s heating both planets.

  4. Ok, perhaps the word “hoax” isn’t the best choice, but in the book’s context (and in Bandit Six’s narrative) it’s more than just “turned out to be wrong”.

    And as to debating global warning, I’d rather not. I’m not an expert in the sciences involved, and so for me the question is, which experts I choose to trust. That’s not something that can be usefully debated.

  5. Well, there was a paper w/n the last three months that pointed out that, if AGW were true, the atmosphere would be warmer than the surface. (i.e. If the atmosphere is trapping heat and warming the Earth, then by basic thermodynamics the atmosphere (heat source) has to be warming than the Earth (the thing it’s heating.)

    It turns out that the atmosphere isn’t warmer than the Earth. Thus shooting a huge hole in AGW.

    Have you ever been sailing? Seen things disappear below the horizon? Occam’s Razor says the world is round. :-)

  6. I was hoping, you know, actual bibliographical info, or at least a link :)

    Do scientists who oppose AGW really think the greenhouse effect is nonexistent? I was under the impression that its existence and effect on the global climate is undisputed (what is being disputed, AIUI, is whether the greenhouse effect is increasing, and if so, if that’s anthropogenic).

    The point I tried to subtly make about Occam’s Razor is that in this sort of laymans’ discussions we rarely discuss the whole set of facts, and with an incomplete set of facts, Occam’s Razor will make the right conclusions only by accident. As to things disappearing below the horizon, we Flat Earthers claim it’s an optical illusion :)

    (Disclaimer: I am not in fact a Flat Earth supporter. I hope this disclaimer is unnecessary.)

  7. You people keep using that word, but I do no think it means what you think it means.

    Occam’s Razor states “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.” Isaac Newton’s interpretation of the theory is the least ambigious and is consider the most true to intent: “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.”

    This commonly illustrated by the bowl of milk problem. I have a cat and I put a bowl of milk out. In the morning, the milk is gone. I theorize that it was either drank by my cat (a variable already noted and present) or stolen by a milk fairy (a creature created to explain the missing milk). Occam’s Razor states that the theory that the milk was drank by the cat is to be _preferred_ over the theory of the milk fairy because it doesn’t require the creation of a mythical creature.

    In the argument on global warming, you have CO2 green house cases causing the Earth to warm vs. the Sun putting out more heat is causing the Earth to warm. Neither theory requires the creation of anything not already present in facts and they both are as simple. As such, Occam’s Razor can’t be applied. IMO, neither are mutually exclusive either ;).

    In the case of the Earth is flat, we have proof that it is not, but let’s play along. So first off, we have the theory that the Earth is round. We have geometry that claims the Earth is round and people have seen our world from space and they observed it to be round. The second theory claims that the Earth is flat. This requires the creation of a mythical phenomenon that makes it appear as if it was round to the naked eye and to mathematics. As such, Occam’s Razor states that the theory that the Earth is round is to be preferred over the theory that states the Earth is flat. However, Occam’s Razor does not state that the later theory is false, but it is less preferable.

    Hope that clarifies Occam’s Razor.

  8. Re: The Banjo Players Must Die.

    Just because something isn’t commercially published doesn’t necessarily make it bad. The reviews of the book on manybooks.net is quite positive. One of the commenters stated “If this is where literature is going, I am both scared and delighted.” and another stated “I didn’t really enjoy this book at first. Self-admitted lack of plot, almost no characters – just hamster molesters with bizarre names – and general similarity to Good Omens, but once you stop all the judging and ride the freakshow rollercoaster you’ll be laughing all the way.”

    Needless to say, this alone is enough to catch my curiosity and I’m probably going to read the book. The description is kind of similar to descriptions of book by Mark Leyner, who I’m sure had major trouble finding his first publisher.

    Then again, it might be crap but unless one gives it a chance to fail, who knows. Open-mindedness and all. ;)

  9. “Just because something isn’t commercially published doesn’t necessarily make it bad.” I never claimed it did. There are lots of novels on the web, most of them crap; I was trying to get the author provide me some reason to believe this one is worth it, unfortunately, just the author’s word isn’t enough. What you posted might be; we will see.

  10. Ask him on the Baen Publishing (a commercial publisher) about the the theory. Or better yet, ask him at a Con. He’ll give you a lot of information. John researches his material and he’s not afraid to discuss it.

  11. I doubt Bandit Six frequents the Bar – my trouble was with the narrator, mostly. And it’ll be quite a surprise if I ever run into John Ringo in a con, considering that I don’t visit the US very often (ie. never).

    I have, in fact, followed some discussions JR has had on the subject on the Bar. I haven’t asked him directly, true, but what I have seen has not convinced me (though he did make me question my beliefs, and do some research on my own &ndash: which has not given me sufficient reason to believe he is right).

  12. I have liked many of Ringo’s books, but the narrator in this one leaves me cold. Is he supposed to be a soldier? If so is he human or alien? I am 80 pages in and won’t go farther if he’s supposed to be US military. My Dad was career military and I never heard anyone from the top down with this attitude. I wish people who never served would stop trying to sound like they know what the military is like. I guess I’ll go to manybooks.net and see what other have to say.

  13. Too often I have had problems with the politics of John Ringo’s characters but I find myself particularly intrigued and appreciative of BILL CRANSLOW, John’s mayor of New York.

    John, can you give us the backstory on Bill?
    Which service did he provide leadership to?
    Who are his Canoe head friends?
    I would like to suggest that a Canadian wife would do quite well for him, a person like my niece, Terra Papineau, who
    1) Is a paratrooper with The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and as such been on winning jump teams in international competition where the American representative was the 82 airborne.
    2)Was the top of her class in winter sniper school, getting all of her targets in the overnight (8 hours in gillie suits in -40, The only one who did not loose targets by hopping into the firetruck to get warm.)
    3)Recently completed the advanced APC crostraining course
    4)Is ramping herself up for a tour in Afganistan where she will likely be a “Strategic Corporal” responsible for calling in firestrikes etc. particularly when the PPCLI is in support of American Special Forces.
    5)Has a husband who had to help clean up his buddies in Kandihar when Harry Schmit dropped the bomb on the PPCLI. This has given her a tremendous attitude about the assholes who set up their troups to make these kind of mistakes then run home to Washington to collect their medals and promotions.
    6)Is a social animal who can throw as good a party as Sandra Reichman.

    Question How would America react to a first lady who was a patriotic National of another Nation.

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