cover image Gust Front

Gust Front

John Ringo. Baen Books, $24 (608pp) ISBN 978-0-671-31976-2

Fans of Hollywood-style blood-and-guts sci-fi as exemplified in the film Independence Day will enjoy this sequel to A Hymn Before Battle (2000). Ringo's army background gives his series all the flavor and excitement of the liveliest military SF, illustrating both the tactical and strategic levels of a near-future war that started on distant worlds and has now come to Earth. In A Hymn Before Battle, resourceful Captain Michael O'Neal almost single-handedly defeated the vicious centaurlike Posleen in battle, but with Earth hanging in the balance in this book, it will take more than one man to turn the tide. Ringo begins with long and detailed human preparations for the expected invasion, introducing an immense cast of civilians, veterans, grunts and high-level officers. But when the Posleen forces arrive earlier than expected, improvised plans must be launched without delay. The humans fight for the most part with modern-day weaponry, assisted by advanced artillery from the Galactic Federation allies who got them into the fight in the first place. The resulting carnage will please those who relish high body counts. Ringo's characters often walk a fine line between heroic and stereotypical, while his extended expository passages slow the story. Still, this novel should cement Ringo's reputation as one of the best new practitioners of military SF. (Apr.)