A Fresh Start on a New Planet

 

One minute Jason Graham is sitting in a Mobile, Alabama, restaurant chatting up a waitress.  The next he wakes up on a massive space station above a terraformed planet orbiting a star in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Beyond the Ranges by John Ringo and James Aidee, opens with the Earth having been destroyed in some unspecified disaster. Its population (and their personal possessions) was whisked away by benevolent aliens, divided in half-billion people blocks and resettled elsewhere in the galaxy.

The aliens really are benevolent. They provide the resettled Earthlings with a nearly Earth-normal planet to settle and everything they need to survive aboard the space station until they can get organized and to the new planet’s surface. Everyone over age 20 has been restored to that age. They also provide transportation to the planet so the humans can settle it.

The aliens also divided the human population by societal preference. Jason’s cohort contains those who favor free-markets, decentralized government, and high individual liberty.  The biggest chunk is American, with contingents from Eastern Europe, Israel, Australia, and elsewhere. Authoritarian socialists and progressives are missing, sent to another planet with the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton fans.

They also thoughtfully provided a proposed constitution and a governmental framework. Their constitution is based on the US Constitution, with a similar bicameral legislature and legislative, executive and judicial branches. The population of Pegasus (their new planet) must ratify it and elect representatives over the next 90 days.  Until then, former Florida governor Ron Dewalt (a conservative) has been placed in charge.

The space station’s living quarters and food is free. The rooms are cramped and the food, while nutritious, tastes awful. Want better? Get it yourself. Each person owns a share of everything on the station and has a personal credit balance. You guys believe in free enterprise and individual initiative – go for it.

The book examines this new world through the eyes of Jason Graham and Cade Oldham. Jason is an adventurer who has done just about everything. Cade, a farmer, is obsessive about his work. Jason sees the potential for adventure and starts a commercial fishing enterprise. Cade wants his old farm back.

Beyond the Ranges delivers what readers expect from John Ringo, an action-packed, fun-filled story. There are no villains, except the megafauna on the planet. Relentlessly optimistic, it will pick up your spirits.

“Beyond the Ranges,” by John Ringo and James Aidee, Baen Books, May 2024,‎ 464 pages, $28.00 (Hardcover), $9.99 (E-book)

This review was written by Mark Lardas, who writes at Ricochet as Seawriter. Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com.

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place? 

    • #1
  2. Drew in Texas Coolidge
    Drew in Texas
    @Dbroussa

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    Well, then we wouldn’t have the story to tell after all.  I mean why didn’t Thanos solve the population problem a different way?

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Sounds fun.

    Seawriter: There are no villains, except the megafauna on the planet.

    Tasty, tasty megafauna.

    • #3
  4. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment.  Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis.  Give each group all the resources they need to succeed.  Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    There is no explanation of what happened to Earth and the hints we are given remind me of what the inhabitants of the “B-Ark”  in Hitchhiker’s guide were told. Maybe I’m wrong, but my money is on a sociology experiment.

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Well, I refuse to start any new Ringo series until he’s finished it.

    Experiment makes some limited sense.

    Seems to me if you have the power to do all that, you probably have the power to build computers that can simulate whatever it is that you want to simulate.

    I’m sure the book is a fun read and classic. Ringo libertarian fantasy fun!

    • #5
  6. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Seawriter: There are no villains, except the megafauna on the planet.

    The villains apparently went to different planets.  I suspect it might be more interesting to read about those.

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment. Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis. Give each group all the resources they need to succeed. Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    There is no explanation of what happened to Earth and the hints we are given remind me of what the inhabitants of the “B-Ark” in Hitchhiker’s guide were told. Maybe I’m wrong, but my money is on a sociology experiment.

    Sounds a bit like The Outer Limits “Feasibility Study.”  Both versions.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seawriter: There are no villains, except the megafauna on the planet.

    The villains apparently went to different planets. I suspect it might be more interesting to read about those.

    That’s the next book in the series.

    • #8
  9. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Arahant (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seawriter: There are no villains, except the megafauna on the planet.

    The villains apparently went to different planets. I suspect it might be more interesting to read about those.

    That’s the next book in the series.

    I figured as much.  But really, I agree with your description of this whole thing as a sociology experiment, and I’ve never been interested in reading about those.  At least not this way, since – for example – much of Larry Niven’s work could also be seen as sociology but it’s also pretty different.

    • #9
  10. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I figured as much.

    Actually, I just made that up for your benefit. I have no idea what the authors will do next.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Arahant (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I figured as much.

    Actually, I just made that up for your benefit. I have no idea what the authors will do next.

    Well, I still expect that.  Or if not the very next book, then maybe #3, or #4…  Frankly if they go the route of The Marxist Planet or The Islamo-Fascist Planet etc, which might even make some decent Star Trek episodes, that would be rather boring.  None of those could really exist in isolation on other planets any more than they exist in isolation now.

    I suppose they could be described as “thought experiments” but once it seems like they’re irrelevant, I lose interest.

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I suppose they could be described as “thought experiments” but once it seems like they’re irrelevant, I lose interest.

    Those irrelevants are everywhere. I saw one hiding behind a heffalump the other day.

    • #12
  13. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Arahant (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I suppose they could be described as “thought experiments” but once it seems like they’re irrelevant, I lose interest.

    Those irrelevants are everywhere. I saw one hiding behind a heffalump the other day.

    Yeah, but what about his elephant?

    Thanks for the review, Mark. I think this book was mentioned on Writer Dojo a few weeks ago. In any case, another item on the TBR pile.

    • #13
  14. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    By the way, A. Bertram Chandler had something he called  “The Way Back” or “Up the Long Ladder,” where a highly advance spaceship and crew and possibly settlers/colonists as well, might land – or even crash – on a new planet.  “The Way Back”/”Up the Long Ladder” described the process where they might start out with some advanced technology – except maybe in the crash scenario – but it wouldn’t last forever, and eventually they would have to pretty much start over from scratch.  Mining, forging, etc.  Even if they knew how to do it, technically, it would have been a long time since PEOPLE actually had to do those kinds of things manually, and using primitive equipment that might also have to be built first.

    • #14
  15. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    kedavis (View Comment):

    By the way, A. Bertram Chandler had something he called “The Way Back” or “Up the Long Ladder,” where a highly advance spaceship and crew and possibly settlers/colonists as well, might land – or even crash – on a new planet. “The Way Back”/”Up the Long Ladder” described the process where they might start out with some advanced technology – except maybe in the crash scenario – but it wouldn’t last forever, and eventually they would have to pretty much start over from scratch. Mining, forging, etc. Even if they knew how to do it, technically, it would have been a long time since PEOPLE actually had to do those kinds of things manually, and using primitive equipment that might also have to be built first.

    Yup. That is some of the backstory in my first novel.

    Also- regarding “Beyond the Ranges”- I will place my bet now on the big reveal of the Earth-destroying disaster: The “benevolent” aliens did it themselves.

    • #15
  16. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    The “benevolent” aliens did it themselves.

    Oops!

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    By the way, A. Bertram Chandler had something he called “The Way Back” or “Up the Long Ladder,” where a highly advance spaceship and crew and possibly settlers/colonists as well, might land – or even crash – on a new planet. “The Way Back”/”Up the Long Ladder” described the process where they might start out with some advanced technology – except maybe in the crash scenario – but it wouldn’t last forever, and eventually they would have to pretty much start over from scratch. Mining, forging, etc. Even if they knew how to do it, technically, it would have been a long time since PEOPLE actually had to do those kinds of things manually, and using primitive equipment that might also have to be built first.

    Yup. That is some of the backstory in my first novel.

    Also- regarding “Beyond the Ranges”- I will place my bet now on the big reveal of the Earth-destroying disaster: The “benevolent” aliens did it themselves.

    Because they had to put in a hyperspace bypass, right?

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Yeah, but what about his elephant?

    Not ready to take it out on the road yet.

     

    • #18
  19. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Percival (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Yeah, but what about his elephant?

    Not ready to take it out on the road yet.

     

    Elephant smellaphant, I want to build a bronto farm. Free range. Those bronto drives to the abattoir are character building.

    • #19
  20. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    kedavis (View Comment):

    By the way, A. Bertram Chandler had something he called “The Way Back” or “Up the Long Ladder,” where a highly advance spaceship and crew and possibly settlers/colonists as well, might land – or even crash – on a new planet. “The Way Back”/”Up the Long Ladder” described the process where they might start out with some advanced technology – except maybe in the crash scenario – but it wouldn’t last forever, and eventually they would have to pretty much start over from scratch. Mining, forging, etc. Even if they knew how to do it, technically, it would have been a long time since PEOPLE actually had to do those kinds of things manually, and using primitive equipment that might also have to be built first.

    On the other hand, in Vernor Vinge’s novel “Marooned in Realtime” he posited a point in the next century or so of continuous progress where good camping gear has the capability of maintaining everything possible to a civilization indefinitely.  The survivors of the technological singularity in his story live thru hundreds of thousands of years without losing their technology.

    We aren’t there, yet, but we can see it off in the distance…

    • #20
  21. TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'. Coolidge
    TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'.
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Arahant (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    I suppose they could be described as “thought experiments” but once it seems like they’re irrelevant, I lose interest.

    Those irrelevants are everywhere. I saw one hiding behind a heffalump the other day.

    There is a bi-camel in the garden. 

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs… (View Comment):
    There is a bi-camel in the garden. 

    The tragedy of the dromedary is he can’t be Bactrian.

    • #22
  23. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Although it wasn’t made into a movie like the first part was, there was a sequel book to “When Worlds Collide,” unsurprisingly titled “After Worlds Collide.”  I enjoyed it too, perhaps more than “When.”

    Philip Wylie’s “The End Of The Dream” was also worth reading.

    • #23
  24. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment. Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis. Give each group all the resources they need to succeed. Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    Is there still communication and interaction between the 16 human worlds, or are they utterly cut off from each other?

    • #24
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Once you are an accomplished mahout, you and your elephant are ready for the ultimate challenge – the steeplechase.

    • #25
  26. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment. Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis. Give each group all the resources they need to succeed. Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    There is no explanation of what happened to Earth and the hints we are given remind me of what the inhabitants of the “B-Ark” in Hitchhiker’s guide were told. Maybe I’m wrong, but my money is on a sociology experiment.

    Also, giving them the resources might undermine the experiment.  It seems to give an unfair/undeserved advantage to those people who might otherwise not discover and make use of resources on their own.  Because of their philosophical/political/religious beliefs etc.

    • #26
  27. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Percival (View Comment):

    Once you are an accomplished mahout, you and your elephant are ready for the ultimate challenge – the steeplechase.

    I like it.

    • #27
  28. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment. Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis. Give each group all the resources they need to succeed. Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    Is there still communication and interaction between the 16 human worlds, or are they utterly cut off from each other?

    Cut off. At least in this book.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment. Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis. Give each group all the resources they need to succeed. Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    Is there still communication and interaction between the 16 human worlds, or are they utterly cut off from each other?

    Cut off. At least in this book.

    So presumably each world doesn’t even know the other worlds exist?  So only the readers do?

    • #29
  30. TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'. Coolidge
    TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'.
    @RobtGilsdorf

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    If the Aliens can do all that, why not just save Earth in the first place?

    My theory is this is a galactic-scaled sociology experiment. Take a planet. Break its population into 16 half-billion sized chunks, each with a different governmental and cultural basis. Give each group all the resources they need to succeed. Come back in 500 years and see what worked best.

    Is there still communication and interaction between the 16 human worlds, or are they utterly cut off from each other?

    Cut off. At least in this book.

    So presumably each world doesn’t even know the other worlds exist? So only the readers do?

    “Ha! Clever aliens obliterate all running dog capitalists. Glorious perfection only five planetary cycles away now.” 

    • #30
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