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I recently read John Ringo's military sci-fi series, Troy Rising, and some of the political views expressed by characters were ... surprising, to put it politely. Some of these include:

  • Well, even if Earth loses most of its Islamic population, it really does not matter.
  • The world secretly feels glad that the US plays international policeman.
  • The 'West' is the guardian of free speech and personal freedom against the orthodoxy of the 'East'.

Does John Ringo actually endorse such views, or did he just create one-sided characters? Also, are similar views expressed in any of his other books?

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    What's next, does Kiefer Sutherland practice torture in his spare time?
    – Gaius
    Apr 2, 2015 at 12:09
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    @Gaius - He's been torturing us with his terrible acting for a couple of decades
    – Valorum
    Sep 6, 2019 at 18:20
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    Similar threads are in The Last Centurion, some also surface in The Empire of Man, so it's almost a given he endorses them.. But besides the fact that I would not call these views political, they're hardly surprising. They may be unpopular, may be very offensive, but not surprising. We, as a modern societies, just buried a mountain of literature that expressed these sentiments for quite a long time before 1980s... Seems like no one reads Churchill or Kipling anymore, for example....
    – AcePL
    Dec 15, 2021 at 14:14
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    @Gaius I don't know if the question is on-topic here, but it's not so easily dismissed. Many scifi authors have their ideology permeate their works; Ursula K. LeGuin and Heinlein are a couple of obvious examples...
    – Andres F.
    Jan 4 at 17:27

4 Answers 4

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Based on this interview on the Michael Ventrella website, I think that it's reasonably obvious that Ringo's views are largely the same as those expressed by his characters:

VENTRELLA: Have you ever run across unexpected controversy with your writing? If so, how have you dealt with it?

RINGO: Unexpected? No. I’m considered a ‘controversial conservative SF author.’ Not to mention GHOST, which… well, you just don’t get more controversial unless you’re a gangsta rappah under indictment for murder. How do I deal with it? Generally I try to swallow my rage and smile. Because with the exception of some of the stuff in the Ghost series, I really don’t see what I say, what my characters do and say, as particularly controversial, crazy, evil or illogical. I see the people who consider it ‘controversial’ as idiots and morons. (Whereas they view me as a ‘racist, homophobic, xenophobic, genocidal asshole’ in the words of Mercedes Lackey.)

So, mostly, I ignore it.

VENTRELLA: You’ve never shied away from political issues as well (nor have I) – we have had a few interesting discussions in this area. Do you think it is wise for authors to take stands which may alienate readers?

RINGO: As I said in a recent email to a family member, politics has become religion and there is virtually nothing which is not politicized. You can take the PC approach of having the enemy be alter versions of what the Left hates (the US military as in Avatar, Christians, middle-class white males) in which case you can alienate the core readers of SF. Or you can alienate the Left by being a human and American exceptionalist and having characters who, whatever their race, nationality, creed or sex, act in a traditional self-determinant manner and worry about PC after the Human Race has been saved.

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    Yeah, I went "ah well" for (what Mercedes put), but kinda tossed all his stuff when the rape, bonadage, and other S&M crap wandered out of Paladin of Shadows and into the Council Wars. At that point I started wondering if dementia was disinhibiting him. Apr 9, 2020 at 10:21
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    Ringo has a tendency of having the plot come to a screeching halt so a character can go a long long rambling discourse about some topic utterly unrelated to what is going on in the book, so there will be absolutely no question what Ringo thinks about the subject. I also note with amusement his assumption that the "core" SF audience is white, Christian, middle-class males. Dec 14, 2021 at 17:54
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    @KeithMorrison - Assumptions can often be quite accurate; lelaebuis.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/…
    – Valorum
    Dec 14, 2021 at 18:01
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    @Valorum, I've seen "conservative" authors proceed to spiral into isolation because they assume that will forever be the case (not that I trust those stats given there anyway). Not to mention one of the studies referenced there implies Engineering is not an applied discipline, which immediately calls into question the entire thesis if they can't figure out engineering is THE prototypical applied discipline. Dec 14, 2021 at 23:08
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    @Valorum - The page that you linked cites a study showing that a slight majority of SF readers are male (57%). How is that equivalent to saying that the core audience of SF is male and white and Christian and middle-class?
    – Adamant
    Dec 14, 2021 at 23:46
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Having read a few of Ringo's books, including the entire Paladin of Shadows series and a few books from the Legacy of the Aldenata series, I can say that Ringo pretty consistently assigns such views to his main characters. As a matter of fact, the list of views you provided is just the tip of the iceberg!

I will not comment on any of the more interesting views in Ringo's books, since I doubt I can do so politely and without inciting a war. I will point out, however, that authors usually put a bit of themselves in their work. I think that Ringo's books don't have the feel of intentional exaggeration of flaws used by some authors, so at this point I believe that he must agree to a degree with these ideas, although possible not to the extreme extent indicated by his books.

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    It's also worth pointing out that Ringo could just be a good enough writer that his exaggerations are seamless.
    – Jeff
    Jul 3, 2011 at 4:47
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    @Jeff: His exaggerations may be seamless, but they're also remarkably consistent across many books. No doubt, the real John Ringo is in there. "Ghost" is a pretty good example.
    – Tynam
    Jul 3, 2012 at 7:34
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    @Tynam: Ghost was originally titled 'The Wank Piece' and he didn't want to publish it. He also very much agrees with the 'Oh John Ringo, NO' thing the stories created. He may very well hold the beliefs his characters espouse, but then again Katya does a pretty good send-up of them in one of the later Paladin of Shadows books.
    – Jeff
    Jul 5, 2012 at 14:39
  • @Jeff: I didn't say he wasn't good at it. The real Ringo is in there, but he's self-aware enough be able to hang a lampshade on it when he wants. (Many bits of the Ghost series are good examples of him exaggerating the characters until they break... but there's definitely some actual Ringo as the starting point.)
    – Tynam
    Jul 5, 2012 at 15:57
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    @Jeff To quote from above " you can alienate the Left by being a human " Nov 4, 2020 at 1:21
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I also agree that John is expressing his views through the mouth of his characters.

Another example of his views is made pretty clear in the Vorpal Blade series, where one of the Middle Eastern countries imports some genetic material from the Dreen, which has the long term effect of pretty much wiping out all life in the Middle East. I certainly felt he was "tidying up a loose end" in his world setting. To me it feels plain that he has little respect for the culture that exists in Islam.

While I may not have his view myself, I think a reader should always go into his books knowing that he will likely have a strong view on the success of a meritocracy, the wisdom of democracy, and the efficiacy of free-market capitalism. In some respects, I think that is part of the appeal of his writing, he is unashamedly proud and his stories come across almost as if they were/ are larger than life in the same way a graphic novel is. They are not only larger than life, they are also in some parts slightly two-dimensional.

Rollicking good tales though! Brilliant world creation, and fascinating ideas. Even with the danger the Dreen represent, it would be SO COOL to have Chen Anomolies, looking glasses, to explore the universe with. Even with the challenges the Posleen create - some aspects of the Aldenata world would be intriguing to say the least.

This page here at tvtropes does a fairly good job of giving insight into his style, and a bit of his thinking. There are spoilers - but they are masked.

One of the characteristic style elements of his writing, is a dry fairly in-your-face often black humour. If you enoy one of his books, you'll likely enjoy them all. Just don't take his views to much too heart ;-) (DO take them seriously - he does mean them!)

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The Last Centurion by John Ringo is even more "egregious" in this regard. But similar sentiments can be also found in (mentioned by others, too):

  1. Paladin of Shadows series
  2. The Looking Glass series (a.k.a. Voyage of the Space Bubble)
  3. The Empire of Man series (though that one, as a co-written with David Weber is somewhat toned).
  4. Legacy of the Aldenata series
  5. Von Neumann's War

As I mentioned in the comment elsewhere, I would not call Ringo's world-view political. But I may be an old-timer for that, who doesn't look at everything through politics.

And I would not call them surprising. Well, maybe for younger audiences they may be, but there is a veritable mountain of literature expressing similar, if not even more "outrageous", views. It's just modern society buried it in the name of currently fashionable world-view, which has serious issues with coping with differing ideas, opinions or even facts.

To illustrate this to the commenters, here is the actual title of an article (and actual link below): ‘Fascist’ Anti-Vax Riot Sparks COVID Outbreak in Australia—With Rupert Murdoch’s Help https://www.thedailybeast.com/fascist-anti-vax-riot-sparks-covid-outbreak-in-australiawith-rupert-murdochs-help

How can one protest state vaccine mandate and be called fascist is beyond me... Joking, of course, this is exactly what Ringo writes about in his works.

But what gets me, really, is the number of people who literally deny this phenomenon ever happening.

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    "currently fashionable world-view, which has serious issues with coping with differing ideas" doesn't seem like a very constructive remark, and also isn't really applicable to Ringo's political views (whatever they may be). And are you seriously suggesting that modern disapproval/revulsion of sexism and racism (among others) is merely "fashion?"
    – DavidW
    Dec 15, 2021 at 15:09
  • @DavidW - no, I am suggesting that modern society has lapsed into a habit of shutting out of the discussion not only ideas or opinions but also facts which do not conform to the commonly accepted views. It is so bad now that what is presented as anti-sexist and anti-racist (among others) is exactly sexism and racism. It used to be commonly accepted that nazism was bad, and "Mein Kampf" was widely available for people to know why. Now, nazism makes a come back into politics and most of the supporters of it's proponents don't even know it, because if you read Hitler you're a nazi.
    – AcePL
    Dec 16, 2021 at 8:19
  • @DavidW - and this is not in connection with Ringo's work, but in connection to the question. I'm addressing here statements made by OP, who chose to characterize Ringo's views in such a way, and I pointed out that characterization is incorrect, with explanation why.
    – AcePL
    Dec 16, 2021 at 8:22
  • @DavidW see edited answer.
    – AcePL
    Jan 20, 2022 at 11:53
  • Your logic here seems to be that there is some "default" set of views, to which you and John Ringo ascribe, and only deviations from that should be considered "political". That's not really how the world works; whether you like it or not, lots of people don't hold those views, and are just as entitled you to comment on the differences.
    – IMSoP
    Jan 20, 2022 at 12:59

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