2019-06-09 04:43:57 UTC
This starts with "Live Free or Die", which is entertaining, if you can tolerate what looks like pointless right-wing wish-fulfillment. Tyler Vernon gets a lucky break by finding something he can sell to an alien civilisation who make contact with Earth, then leverages that advantage as adeptly as any silicon valley startup billionaire, and we get an interesting tour around heavy industry in the asteroid belt. "Citadel" is more of a worker's eye view of heavy industry and battles around earth, with hazing and unsubtle banter portrayed as a way for people in dangerous situations to check how new co-workers deal with stress.
At this point I was feeling entertained, but just entertained, and I wondered if the third book would see him running out of new ideas, so I was very impressed when I read "The Hot Gate", which has a message partly fore-shadowed from the start. The message is that a space-faring civilisation demands that its spacefarers give reality priority over appearance, pay scrupulous attention to details and work processes, and recognise that calculation must replace a gut feeling tuned for life on earth. The message is that these attitudes may appear no more than the cultural prejudices of the industrialised west, but that it is a mistake to treat them as simply one possible cultural approach out of a diverse variety of ways of seeing the world, because they are necessary to any space-faring civilisation. (Ringo does choose a plot which makes such an approach especially favoured, and this I now recognise as fore-shadowed by something in the first book).
It looks like these three books were published close together around 2011 (inspired by Schlock Mercenary, of which I have no experience) so I guess I shouldn't hold my breath for a fourth, although there are dangling plot lines. That's a shame, because as well as being entertaining they do have an interesting message.