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Two years later, NASA has just completed preliminary studies to the studies necessary to begin preliminary design phase of the bid phase on a potential ship to reach, but not enter, the "Gudrum Ring". (Cost: $976 million dollars.)
A year after that, Earth pretty much gets fifty years of space development karma all at once. A single Horvath ship comes through the gate. It destroys Mexico City, Shanghai and Cairo in a single attack. (They were warning shots - the most noticeable constructed features on the planet.) Ultimatum: Surrender all stockpiles of precious metals or they continue shooting. Have more for them to take next year or they continue shooting. The Horvath are pirates without galactic representation, but the dominant powers can no more afford to interfere than NATO could send troops to aid a third-world country no-one in the West has heard of. Earth is on its own.
Down-and-out computer tech Tyler Vernon (A somewhat thinly disguised Expy for Howard Tayler) is barely making ends meet when Glatun traders discover that he once wrote TradeHard, an award-winning hard sci-fi Web Comic. A short meeting later, he has discovered one alien race finds maple syrup irresistible. After some well-executed hustling, he's richer than everyone else on Earth put together. But given that he's a plucky Southern boy, he has big dreams...
Being written by John Ringo, before you crack open the book get your popcorn ready. Troy Rising was planned as a trilogy, with the first book being Live Free or Die. The next book, Citadel, was released in early 2011 followed by The Hot Gate in mid-2011. Ringo's enjoying himself, so there will be more than three books in this trilogy, with the current plan for five books total in the series... unless his Muse steps in once again.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Argus, the AI in charge of the SAPL, which uses solar-orbit mirrors to focus large amounts of sunlight, starts getting OCD about the small gravitational interactions between the mirrors and things like ships, asteroids, and planets. Vernon quickly recognizes the danger signs and disconnects him before he does anything drastic; it's speculated that soon after the point where he's stripped of control, he would have started accidentally incinerating tug ships. The unmanned ones, of course. At first.
- Alien Catnip: Maple syrup is, to several species of the aliens, an addictive beverage with effects similar to that of alcohol on humans. Tyler Vernon milks this for all it's worth, and builds his own empire on it.
- Author Filibuster: Ringo's standard Pet Peeves show up: Pacifism is dumb, the military is extremely important, people who have their jobs because of political/family connections are the bane of humanity and should be fired immediately, liberalism is evil, the Mainstream Media cannot be trusted... New(ish) ones include "space is really dangerous", "Science Is Good", and "maintenance is very important."
- The last three might almost be considered "Deconstruction," rather than personal opinion, as so many sci-fi series gloss over the dangers of being out in the airless void of space, with only a thin metal can keeping you from having your blood boil out your eye sockets. The other ones, those can be argued one way or another... but who's going to say "Maintenance on the ship keeping us from dying" is bad?
- Author Avatar: A lot of Vernon's more extreme right-wing political statements come straight from the mouth of John Ringo, who describes himself as a Teaparty Conservative.
- The Battlestar: Troy and its fellow battlestations, when fully armed and operational, not only have enormous quantities of missiles and lasers available to them, but also can hold within them an entire fleet of escort vessels, assault shuttles, and extensive support facilities like entire fabbers to repair battle damage and create more equipment, including missiles and escorting warships.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Glatun at the climax of the Maple Syrup War, arriving just in time to force the Horvath to back off before killing Vernon.
- Briar Patching: When the Horvath force the US Army to seize maple syrup, Vernon makes a note that only the cities are being threatened, and really don't care about them. He's lying... or is he? Either way, the government should really be nicer to rural citizens.
- He even lampshades his use of the trope by directly quoting the story.
- Brick Joke: Early in the first book, while discussing telescope scheduling, Ringo mentions a "huge outcry amongst "real" researchers who had grants to study oxygen production of Mira Variables". Much later in the same book, one of the scientists Vernon hires comments that his specialty was the oxygen production of Mira Variables.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Every non-French government on earth expects this behavior from the French. This was written by John Ringo, after all.
- Colony Drop: Part of the Horvath's initial appearance was dropping kinetic energy weapons on several cities.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Big country invades small country and turns them into a Banana Republic - so a plucky local starts selling drugs to fund a revolution. Sound familiar?
- First Contact: Done in a rather amusing manner via phone calls to major world leaders.
- Famous Last Words: Attempted and averted by Vernon when asked for his Last Words.
Vernon: "There is no joy without pain. No victory without sacrifice. This is my sacrifice."
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Rangoran Assault Vectors and Aggressor class battleships have spinal weapons mounted to the front, with the ones mounted on AVs having their own dedicated reactors even.
- Fun with Acronyms: Vernon seems to rather enjoy coming up with fitting acronyms for his creations, such as the SAPL, or Solar Array Powered Laser aka the Serious Ass Powerful Laser. Later on, he creates the VSA, or the Very Scary Array.
- Humanity Is Superior: For one very specific reason; We're Crazy Awesome.
- Other instances of Human 'superiority' are actually mostly a result of the fact that every other race humans have close dealings with (or fight against) was at the 'hiding in caves' to 'tribal' levels of technological development when the gates were placed in their systems. It all boils down to Tyler noticed that 'Hey I can execute on all this Big Ideas from Scifi'. The other races didn't have the benefit of Hard Scifi writers coming up with things for them since they weren't far enough along on their own when they suddenly got access to advanced tech.
- Humans Advance Swiftly: One Glatun AI does an intense analysis of human history, psychology, and technical savvy and then recommends that the Glatun race ally with humans because of this trope: the Glatun are on the decline, and the humans are not only on their way up, they'll likely skyrocket upward. It's even Lampshaded that the history of human technological advance is marked by "periods of astounding, breakneck advance intercut with short periods of calm."
- I Want My Jetpack: Invoked as one of the reasons behind the main protagonist's interactions with various aliens.
- Klingons Love Shakespeare: Vernon bought and began distributing old John Wayne movies to aliens, who liked it. Before they got invaded anyway.
- Part of the reason why the story begins: he starts talking to an alien about the possibility of Earth foods being sold offworld, possibly as a niche market. He strikes it gold with Maple Syrup.
- Line-of-Sight Name: "CeeFid" is used as a fake project name used to fool any Horvath listening to a conversation between two human characters, as part of an excuse to go to a secure room. Once they're out of observation, the speaker explains the inspiration: the book C++ for Idiots, a book he saw on the shelf in his office.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Humans and others, particularly in The Hot Gate, throw around up to hundreds of thousands of missiles, depending on the specific engagement under discussion, at one point outdoing the entire missile expenditure of both sides at Honor Harrington's Battle of Manticore. In The Hot Gate the missiles are actually fired through said gate.
- Matter Replicator: "fabbers" much like their Schlock Mercenary counterparts, can build just about anything you want very quickly as long as you've got the raw materials. Much like the Schlock Verse, the crushed remains of enemy ships are frequently fed in as the raw materials in question.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Used and averted in that the Glatun traders simply assumed that any foods produced on earth wouldn't be of any value until Vernon, in a desperate attempt to make enough money to pay his bills, gathers up large mounts of foodstuff from one of his jobs and the majority actually turns out to be edible. Well, except for Coca-Cola, which is horribly toxic.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: After the fight over maple syrup is finished and Vernon starts working on building a space infrastructure for Earth, a lot of these pop up and get in his way of doing what they and their parent organizations wouldn't.
- Occupiers Out of Our Country!: Vernon's initial goal. He's got bigger ones.
- Oh Crap:
- When the Rangora realize the Troy is mobile, and just what it uses for a drive. One crewman does not handle the revelation well.
- The humans get their turn in the barrel, so to speak, when the Thermopylae jumps into Epsilon Eridani to rescue their diplomatic mission from a Horvath attack, and run into so many missiles set up as part of a trap of the Rangorans that they literally blot out the sun. One of the human commanders even invokes the relevant phrase from the Real Life battle after which the station was named. It gets worse when said swarm of missiles is discovered to be the bait The Rangora are equally surprised.
- Only Sane Man: One Rangora general is assigned to analyze humanity and determine a battle plan. High Command keeps ignoring him, and keeps sending entirely insufficient force. He even says he's not sure it's possible to overestimate humans. And when High Command does decide to listen to him, they don't have the resources to implement his suggestions because they were destroyed earlier, because of the aforementioned stupid plans. He even mentions in private that he's worried about holding the Rangora homeworld, not taking Terra, and hopes that the humans give him a job after they win. His Political Officer is herself somewhat in alignment with his views.
- Orion Drive: Troy adds an Orion Drive so that it can get to the Portal Network and go crush enemy alien fleets out-system. Upon first seeing the Troy begin detonating the bombs, the aliens think it's been hit, only to suddenly realize it's actually the drive.
- Paranoia Fuel: In-universe. Like its parent series, the sole piece of Applied Phlebotinum is gravity manipulation. What bothers the hell out of Vernon is that the only known way to build an efficient gravity manipulator is with another efficient gravity manipulator - and no one knows who invented the damned things... In the canon Schlockiverse, all tech can be traced to the Gatekeepers, galactic overlords who secretly duplicated, interrogated, and slaughtered countless trillions of trillions of sentients in appeasement to extragalactic overlords.
- Portal Network: Being based on The Verse of Schlock Mercenary, this is the primary means of Casual Interstellar Travel. At the beginning, it's interplanetary travel that is extremely difficult.
- POV Sequel: Part of Citadel to the final events of Live Free or Die. Including the one-in-a-million survival of the Myrmidon caught outside Troy during the attack, from the perspective of the pilot.
- Ramming Always Works:
- Not when you're smashing a couple million tons of spacecraft against several trillion tons of asteroid it doesn't, as the Rangora found out to their chagrin, in Citadel. The damage was patched over before the next book.
- In The Hot Gate, however, several partially completed cruisers are hastily converted to overglorified battering rams, which are used along with a whole mess of missiles for both taking shots intended for the rammers and to batter down Rangoran defenses in preparation for ramming Assault Vectors.
- Rock Beats Laser: Or at least Hard Science Beats Soft once you're finally in space. While the aliens have all the uber-gosh-wow technology it takes to make Interstellar Travel Casual, in direct battle its repeatedly trumped by human
insanityingenuity. Vernon's Acronym "lasers" are so simple that every species sneered at them - at least until he started outproducing and outgunning rivals. The climax of Citadel shows exactly why Humanity Is Superior when Vernon finally gets around to fitting Troy with an Orion Drive.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Rangorans manage to convey aspects of both Nazi Germany (big on eugenics and genetic purity) and Soviet Russia (led by a constantly-backstabbing Oligarchy, use of Secret Police to keep 'dangerous intellectuals' in line), with shards of Imperial Japan (fanatical dedication to The Emperor, in ideal if not in practice, strong warrior culture) on top of it. And yet, at the same time, they manage to be remarkably human.
- Secret Police: For Rangorans, the Kazi fills this slot.
- Shout-Out: Vernon orders tea.
- Scattered throughout the book there are enough shoutouts to cause alcohol poisoning if you turn it into a Drinking Game. Further examples include a ship captain ordering the helm to a course with "Make it so.", a gas mine called "Bespin" and the decision to have turns in the battle station's missile tubes is inspired by the need to "stop the farmboy dropping an energy torpedo into the main power plant." References to Schlock Mercenary are uncountable. It's worth noting that most of the Shout Outs are being done by the characters on purpose.
- There's an amusing one in The Hot Gate, when the commander of the Thermopylae has to report that he's walked into a trap and balks at saying IT'S A TRAP for a moment. His subordinate all but explicitly makes the Star Wars reference. As well as what seems like a dozen others.
- Strawman News Media: Courtney Courtney of CNN, who always tries to be as Politically Correct as possible while seeming to have a slightly antagonistic view towards Vernon due to his economic success.
- Strawman Political: The President of the United States in "Live Free Or Die". Elected post-invasion, he won't give Vernon even the slightest assistance in attempting to eject the Horvath from Earth, and is pretty much just The Quisling because his family(and assets) is old money.
- After the Horvath get their nose tweaked, the Air Force. When Vernon contracts Boeing with developing a Artificial Gravity-based space shuttle, the Air Force makes them use the money to build a (crappy)space fighter armed with gravity warheads. First, Space Fighters are all but useless in this 'verse, where gunboats are the kings of space combat. Second, the Air Force invested just enough money to figure the basics of gravtech, then spent all of Vernon's money on the spoiler. Finally, they declare the spoiler above Vernon's clearance, and it takes a Depopulation Bomb for them to even acknowledge what they've spent most of his money on.
- Take That: When Vernon contracts Boeing to build a shuttle with Imported Alien Phlebotinum, those Professional Butt Kissers take his money and build a really crappy Space Fighter for their buddies in the Air Force. Until now, nobody knew that Ringo hated Babylon 5...
- This can be a fun drinking game: Step one: every time that Vernon or one of the characters goes on a "Take That" rant, take a drink. Step Two: Have your will written out in advance, you'll be dead by chapter six.
- That's No Moon: Troy is the size of a small moon and is mobile.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Pretty much the basis for armament design of the Troy and it's sister Battle Globes, as well as the SAPL network and it's Ung lasers.
- The trope title is nearly quoted word for word in The Hot Gate, in regards to 20,000 human missiles sent at a Rangoran AV that had its point defense systems almost completely destroyed.
- Too Dumb to Live: In the first part of Live Free or Die, NASA. The day the Ring is set up, they are present for the Instructional Dialogue from the Grtul: "By 'anyone can use the ring' do we mean that another species can use it to enter your system? Yes. Does that mean that hostile or friendly forces can use it? Yes. Are you allowed to block the ring? No. Good bye." They then spend three years screwing around, so the Horvath just walk in and take the planet in a single afternoon. They're still around years later to try to claim jurisdiction over Vernon's ship.
- In the second part of the same book, the "religious terrorist" states. Upon being informed that Earth has been hit by a Depopulation Bomb, they whip their populations into frenzies, insisting that the cures being distributed are the source of the plague, spiritually poisonous, etc. They all die, and Earth is thus rid of religious fanatics for the foreseeable future.
- Trilogy Creep: The series was originally planned to be a trilogy, but word on the Ringo forum on Baen's Bar is that his Muse is insisting on continuing the series, much to the joy of many of his readers. The current plan is for five books total... unless Ringo's Muse insists on more.
- Unfriendly Fire: Star Marshall Lhi'Kasishaj dispose Star Marshall Gi'Bucosof for incompetence and cowardice with a lethal pain stick.
- Vichy Earth: Initially, Earth can't do much to protest their treatment by the Horvath, and thus take a "go along to get along" approach, including sending out soldiers to harvest the maple syrup that the locals refuse to gather just for the purpose of giving it up to the Horvath for free.
- Walking Techbane: PVT John "Chaosman" Peterson, one of the Marines stationed on Troy, is infamous for breaking anything technological he uses, even if the item is supposed to be completely immune to complete and total failure. Considering his job involves operating in space, this isn't exactly the best of situations.
- Wave Motion Gun: SAPL for the win.
- We Come in Peace, Shoot to Kill: The initial contact is peaceful, by a race that's only interested in trade with Earth. Contact with the Horvath is... not, and for rather less voluntary purposes than trade.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: At least one person Verner hires to work on the Monkey Business. Dr. Chu, who is a highly paid and well respected physicist, who leaves his job at MIT to work as ships cook, explicitly because it's a job in space.
- What's in It For Me?: In The Hot Gate, the subject of personal benefit from cooperating with one another comes up in a conversation between "Comet" Parker and one of the engineers for the 143rd.
- Write Who You Know: A staple of Ringo's writing.