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Into the Looking Glass (Looking Glass Series #1)
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Into the Looking Glass (Looking Glass Series #1)

4.6 19
by John Ringo

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Baen now launches an exciting new science fiction adventure series by the New York Times best-selling author: When a 60-kiloton explosion destroyed the University of Central Florida, and much of the surrounding countryside, the authorities first thought that terrorists had somehow obtained a nuclear weapon. But there was no radiation detected, and, when


Baen now launches an exciting new science fiction adventure series by the New York Times best-selling author: When a 60-kiloton explosion destroyed the University of Central Florida, and much of the surrounding countryside, the authorities first thought that terrorists had somehow obtained a nuclear weapon. But there was no radiation detected, and, when physicist Dr. William Weaver and Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller were sent to investigate, they found that in the center of the destruction, where the University's physics department used to be, was an interdimensional gateway to . . . somewhere. An experiment in subatomic physics had produced a very unexpected effect. Furthermore, other gateways were appearing all over the world—and one of them immediately began disgorging demonic visitors intent on annihilating all life on Earth and replacing it with their own. Other, apparently less hostile, aliens emerged from other gateways, and informed Weaver and Miller that the demonic invaders—the name for them that humans could most easily pronounce was the 'Dreen'—were a deadly blight across the galaxy, occupying planet after planet after wiping out all native life; and now it would be Earth's turn, unless Weaver and Miller could find a way to close the gateways. If they failed, the less belligerent aliens would face the regrettable necessity of annihilating the entire Earth to save their own worlds. . . .

Editorial Reviews

The good news was that the 60-kiloton explosion that a populated zone in Florida wasn't a nuclear explosion. The bad news is that an experiment gone awry has created an interdimensional gateway to…somewhere. The really bad news is that similar gateways are appearing throughout the world-and they're being used as passageways by hostile alien invaders. A full-throttle new series by a military SF heavyweight.
Publishers Weekly
At the start of Ringo's apocalyptic near-future SF novel, an experiment in creating quantum particles destroys much of central Florida, opening up gateways to other realities, some of which are inhabited by intelligent aliens intent on transforming our world into theirs. These new realities are as cosmically daunting as anything in the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, to whom the author alludes, but a resilient humanity, instead of giving in to despair, fights back. Ringo (Hell's Faire) excels in the depiction of combat, managing to capture the carnage and horror while maintaining a sense of the absurd. The plot flows naturally from the implications of the scientific background, but with the kind of unexpected twists that Ringo has made his hallmark. While the ending smacks a bit of deus ex machina, this thoroughly enjoyable ride should appeal to techno-thriller fans as well as to military SF buffs. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
Looking Glass Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 4.20(h) x 1.10(d)

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Into the Looking Glass

By John Ringo

Baen Books

Copyright © 2005 John Ringo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7434-9880-1

Chapter One

The explosion, later categorized as in the near equivalent of 60 kilotons of TNT and centered on the University of Central Florida, occurred at 9:28 a.m. on a Saturday in early March, a calm spring day in Orlando when the sky was clear and the air was cool and, for Florida, reasonably dry. It occurred entirely without warning and while it originated at the university the effects were felt far outside its grounds.

The golfers at Fairways Country Club had only a moment to experience the bright flash and heat when the fireball engulfed them. The two young men on University Boulevard selling "top name brand stereos" that they "couldn't return or their boss would kill them" didn't even have that long. The fireball spread in every direction, a white ball of expanding plasma, crisping the numerous suburban communities that had spread out around the university, homes, families, dogs, children. The plasma wavefront created a tremendous shockwave of air that blasted like a tornado outwards, destroying everything in its path. The shockwave spread to the south as far as U.S. 50 where early morning shoppers were blinded and covered with flaming debris. It enveloped the speeders on the Greenway, tossing cars up to a half a mile in the clear air. It spread to the north almost to the town of Oviedo,erased the venerable community of Goldenrod, spread as far as Semoran Boulevard to the west and out to Lake Pickett to the east. The rumble of the detonation was felt as far away as Tampa, Cocoa and Ocala and the ascending mushroom cloud, roiling with purple and green light in the early morning air, was visible as far away as Miami. Flaming debris dropped into Park Avenue in Winter Park, setting the ancient oaks along that pleasant drive briefly ablaze and crushed the vestibule of St. Paul's Church.

Troopers in the motor pool of Charlie Company, Second Battalion, 53rd Brigade, Florida Army National Guard, who were pulling post deployment maintenance on their Humvee and Hemet trucks, looked up at the flash and cringed. Those that remembered their training dropped to the ground and put their arms over their heads. Others ran into the antiquated armory, seeking shelter in the steel cages that secured their gear when they were at their civilian jobs or, as seemed much more common these days, deployed to the Balkans or Ashkanistan or Iraq.

Specialist Bob Crichton was compiling loss lists in his cubicle when he noticed the rumble. The unit had returned only a week before from a year-long deployment in Iraq and everyone seemed to have "combat lossed" their protective masks. Unit protective garments were at less than thirty percent of proper inventory. It was stupid. Everybody knew that sooner or later the riffs were going to hit them with a WMD attack, chemical, radiological or even nuclear now that Pakistan was giving the Saudis of, all people, nukes. But nobody liked protective garments or masks and they "lost" them as fast as they could. Convoy ambush? Damn, the riffs must have grabbed my mask. Firefight? Where'd that protective garment go?

He looked up to where his diploma from the U.S. Army Chemical Corps Advanced Training Course hung and saw the glass shatter even before it fell off the wall. He blinked his eyes twice and then dove under the metal desk and clamped his hands over his ears, opening his mouth to equalize the pressure, just before the air-pressure shockwave hit. Even over the sound of the explosion, which seemed to envelope the whole world, he heard the sound of the big windows in the armory crashing to the floor of the parade hall. There was a sound of tearing metal, probably one of the old girders that held up the roof of the parade hall, then relative silence except for a distant screaming. He waited a moment, catching creaking from the old building but figuring it was as safe as it was going to get, then climbed out from under his desk and headed for the company commander's office.

The first sergeant and the operations sergeant were just pulling themselves out from under their own desks when Crichton burst through the door without knocking, normally a cardinal offense but he figured this was as good a time as any to ignore the directive.

"Nobody goes outside for at least thirty minutes, Top," he said, bouncing from one foot to the other in the doorway. "And I need my survey teams, that's Ramage, Guptill, Casey, Garcia and Lambert. And as soon as it's clear I need a platoon to start filling sandbags for the Humvees-"

"Slow down," the first sergeant said, sitting down in his chair and then standing up to brush crumbs from the drop ceiling off of it. The first sergeant was tall and lanky. Up until the last year he'd been the chief investigator for the Lake County Sheriff's Department. When they got deployed, ignoring the Soldiers and Sailors' Act, he'd given the sheriff his okay to appoint his deputy to the job. So when they got back he took a cut in pay and went back to work as a sergeant. Give him a crime scene and he knew where he was at. He even was pretty good at recovering the company from a mortar attack or a convoy ambush. He was one of the best guys in the world at training his troops to sniff out hidden explosives, weapons and other prohibited materials-he thought of it as shaking down a dealer's house. But nuclear attacks were a new one for him and it was taking him a minute to get his bearings.

"I can't slow down," Crichton replied. "I need to set up a radiological station before anybody can go outside even after the first thirty minutes."

"What's with the thirty minutes?" Staff Sergeant Wolf asked. The operations sergeant was medium height and well over what the Army considered acceptable weight for his height. And it wasn't muscle, like the CO's driver who was a fricking tank, it was fat. But he was pretty sharp. Not unflappable, he was clearly taking even more time to adjust than the first sergeant, but smart. When he wasn't in one third-world shit hole or another he was a manager of a Kinkos.

"Falling debris," Crichton asked. "We don't know it's a nuke. It probably was but it could have been an asteroid hit. They throw chunks of burning rock into the stratosphere and they take a while to come down."

"Top?" Crichton heard from behind him. The chemical specialist turned around and saw that the mortar platoon sergeant had come up behind him while he was talking. The platoon sergeant, a staff sergeant who was a delivery manager for UPS when he was home, showed a physique developed from years of throwing often quite heavy boxes through the air. It was running to fat now that he worked behind a desk ten months out of the year, but he still was a big guy you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

"Get Crichton his survey teams," the first sergeant said, looking at the suddenly irrelevant papers on his desk. "Send Sergeant Burell around to get everybody inside until the all clear sounds. Then get with the rest of the platoon sergeants in the Swamp. Wolf, head over to battalion, see what's up."

"Where's the CO?" Crichton asked, looking at the closed door at the back of the room.

"At breakfast with the platoon leaders and the battalion commander," the first sergeant answered, dryly. "We can handle this until they get back. Go."

* * * FLASH is the highest priority communication in the military directory, superceding even Operational Immediate. Satellites in orbit noted the explosion and computers on the ground automatically categorized it as a nuclear explosion.

"Holy shit!" the Air Force sergeant monitoring the nuclear attack warning console muttered, his stomach dropping. In the old days he would have picked up a phone. Now he hit three buttons and confirmed three separate pop-ups sending a FLASH priority message to the National Military Command Center in the bowels of the Pentagon. Then he picked up the phone as sirens went off in the normally quiet room in Sunnyvale California.

* * *

The wonder of military communications and computers meant that the President of the United States got word that a probable nuclear attack had occurred on Central Florida a whole thirty seconds before Fox broke the news.

"I know we can't say who did it, yet," the President said calmly. He was at Camp David for the weekend but most of his senior staff was on the phone already. "But I'll make three guesses and only two of them count."

"Mr. President, let's not jump to conclusions," his national security advisor said. She was a specialist in nuclear strategy and had been doing makee-learnee on terrorism ever since the attacks of September 11, 2001. And this didn't fit the profile of a terrorist attack. "First of all, nobody thinks that they have access to nuclear weapons of this sort. Radiological bombs, maybe. But this appears to be a nuclear weapon. However, the target makes no sense for a terrorist. It has been located precisely as being on the grounds of the University of Central Florida. Why waste a nuclear weapon on a university when they could use it on New York or Washington or L.A. or Atlanta?"

"I gotta go with the NSA on this one, Mister President," the secretary of defense said. "This doesn't feel like an attack. What's the chance it could have been some sort of accident?"

"I don't know that much about UCF," the NSA admitted. She had once been the dean of a major college but for the last few years she'd been holding down the national security advisor's desk in the middle of a war. Her stated ambition after leaving government service was to become the commissioner of the National Football League. "But I don't think they're doing anything in the nuclear program, I'm pretty sure I'd remember that. And you just don't get accidents with weapons. They're hard enough to get to go off at all."

"So we're in a holding pattern?" the President asked.

"Yes, sir," the secretary of defense answered.

"We need to get a statement out, fast," the chief of staff said. "Especially if we're pretty sure it wasn't a terrorist attack."

"Have one made up," the President said. "I'm going to go take a nap. I figure this is gonna be a long one."

* * *

"Okay, Crichton, what do you have?"

The battalion headquarters of Second Battalion was collocated in the armory with Charlie Company. At the moment the Battalion, which should have had a staff sergeant and two specialists as a nuclear, biological and chemical weapons team, was without any of the three. Crichton had for the last year been the only trained NBC specialist in the entire battalion. He reflected, somewhat bitterly, that while he'd been holding down the work of a staff sergeant, a sergeant and six other privates it hadn't been reflected in a promotion.

"None of my instruments are reading any increase in background radiation here, sir," the specialist temporized. The meeting of the battalion staff and company commanders was taking place in the battalion meeting room, a small room with a large table and its walls lined with unit insignias, awards and trophies. The question hit him as he walked through the door. Crichton had been told only two minutes before to "shag your ass over to battalion and report to the sergeant major." At the time he'd been prepping his survey teams.

Radiological survey teams were taken from within standard companies and sent out to find where the radiation was from a nuclear attack. It was one of the many scenarios that the Army kept in its playbook but rarely paid much attention to. The privates and one sergeant for the company's team had been chosen months before and should have trained in the interim. But there were always more important things to do or train on, especially on a deployment. So he was having to brief them at the same time as he was trying to read all his instruments, prepare a NUCREP that was probably going to be read by the Joint Chiefs and make sense of the readings, none of which, in fact, made sense.

He knew all the officers in the room and, frankly, didn't like them very much. The battalion operations officer, a major, stayed on active duty as much as possible because his other job was as a school teacher, elementary level, and soccer coach. As a major he made three times as much as a civilian. He could run anybody in the battalion into the ground but the only reason he managed to keep his head above water in his present post was his S-3 sergeant, whose civilian job was operations manager for a large tool and die distributor. The battalion executive officer was a small town cop. Nice guy and, give him credit, in good shape despite the Twinkies but not the brightest brick in the load. How he made major was a huge question. The battalion commander was a good manager and a decent leader but if you asked him to "think outside the box" he'd get a box and stand outside of it while he thought. And there was nothing, so far, that fit in any box Crichton could imagine.

"The thing is, sir, this doesn't look like a nuke at all, Colonel," he admitted.

"Looked one hell of a lot like one where I was standing," the XO replied, his brow crinkling. "Big flash, mushroom cloud, hell of a bang. Nuke."

"No radiation and no EMP, sir," Crichton said, shaking his head.

"No EMP?" the battalion commander said. "Are you sure?"

"What ..." the Charlie Company commander said, then shook his head. "I know I'm supposed to know this, damnit, but I don't. What in the hell is ... what was it you said?"

"EMP, sir," Crichton replied. "Electromagnetic pulse. Basically, a nuke makes like a giant magnetic generator along with everything else." He reached in his pocket and pulled out a cell phone. "I called my mom to tell her I was okay and not to worry. Didn't think about it ..."

"That's okay," the battalion commander said. "Everybody did the same thing."

"Yes, sir," Crichton replied. "But I meant I didn't think about it until I hung up. Nuke that size, sir, the EMP should have shut down every electronic device in East Orlando. I mean everything that wasn't shielded. Phones, computers, cars. But everything works. Ergo, it was not a nuke."

"Look, Crichton, I got a call, a personal call, from the Chief of Staff," the battalion commander said. "I mean the Army Chief of Staff. There's a NEST team on the way to check this out, but he wants data now. What do I tell him?"

Crichton cringed at that. The Chief of Staff was going to tell whatever he said to somebody even higher up. Probably the President. If he got it wrong ...

"Right now this ... event is not consonant with a nuclear attack, sir," the specialist said, firmly. "There is no evidence of EMP or radiation. Nor ..." He paused and then squared his shoulders. "Nor does it appear to be an asteroid strike."

"A what?" the operations officer asked.

"Look," Crichton said, thinking fast. "Sir, you ever see a movie called Armageddon? Or Asteroid?"

"That's science fiction, right?" the major scoffed. "I don't watch that sort of stuff."

"An asteroid probably wiped out the dinosaurs, sir," Crichton explained, trying not to sound as if he was speaking to a child. "It's not science fiction, it could happen at any time."

"But we'd get warning, right?" the XO asked. "There's some sort of a group that watches for that sort of thing. They thought one was headed this way a couple of years ago ..."

"No, sir, we wouldn't," Crichton said, shaking his head. "Not unless we were extremely lucky. Spacewatch can only scan about ten percent of the sky. An asteroid can come in from anywhere. But, again, there's no evidence that it's an asteroid strike. Asteroids will pick up debris, lots of it and big debris when you get a fireball like this, described as this one was which was that it seemed to be at ground level. Chondritic meteors can do an airburst, that's probably what happened in Tunguska ..."

"They teach this in NBC school?" the operations officer asked.

"No, sir, but there have been recognized impacts in the last ten years; this is real information," the chemical specialist said. "Do you want it?"


Excerpted from Into the Looking Glass by John Ringo Copyright ©2005 by John Ringo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

John Ringo is author of the New York Times best-selling Posleen War series which so far includes A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances, and Hell's Faire, as well as the connected novels Cally's War (with Julie Cochrane), The Hero (with Michael Z. Williamson), and Watch on the Rhine (with Tom Kratman), and is the hottest new science fiction writer since David Weber. A veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Ringo brings first-hand knowledge of military operations to his novels of high-tech future war.

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Into the Looking Glass 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous 22 days ago
A most excellent read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
One of Ringo's best. He does get a little too far into detail with the physics and weaponry and everything but still a great read. There are sequels somewhere to this but I can't find them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Into the looking glass This book is called Into the looking glass. The author¿s name is John Ringo. This book takes place presently, in the U.S.A. The story is focused on a scientist named Dr. William Weaver. In Orlando University, and experiment goes way wrong. A miniature nuke destroys all of Orlando. The president calls up Weaver to come and help him get answers. Weaver had information that the scientists their were working on gate experiments (portals to other worlds). The president sends in Chief Miller in case military support is needed. It definitely is needed because when they go to investigate the phenomenon creatures come out and attack in huge numbers. After the gun slinging was over the creatures bring in organically made tanks to even out the odds. After that was over they quarantined it and found out more gates were appearing. Having no idea how to shut down these gates chief miller, Weaver and the rest of the bright minds in America must find a way to kill these creatures and shut down the gates before they overrun earth. I really didn¿t like that it went slow in the middle of the book. In the beginning and the end the book was really exciting because there were a lot of major military, shooting aliens action. It was kind of hard to understand because of the science involved in it but eventually I understood it. The ending was suspected but still interesting. I think John Ringo could have made it a faster book by having a little less talk. The book is presented in first person and some third person narrating. I liked how he switched it around. The words in this book are very technical it took me a while to figure them out but I did. John Ringo sounded like he knew what he was talking about but he did say that in actuality not all of the physics were not entirely accurate. I am glad that he put some technical principals into the book but he could have speeded it up and put more fight scenes in it. I would give this book 3 1/2stars because I loved it but in the middle it really got boring. I can understand since it was classified as a science fiction book he needed to have a little more science in it which is probably why he had that happen but other than that, it was also a military kind of book. Ringo recommends this book to spec ops solders because he knew that they would like the content. I am really interested in military fiction books and science fiction, and John Ringo puts them together. I have to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. I have to say that I am likely to read another book on Ringo. There was a lot of language in this book so I don¿t recommend this book for younger ages. For people who like militarized books and science fiction this is a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The opening of this book is fantastic, and does much to draw readers in. The action is as well written and exciting as ever. Unfortunately, the plot slows to a crawl in the middle of the book, as too much time is spent trying to explain some really high-level physics that most readers probably won't understand. It would have been better if he'd simply left it at 'A lab accident created wormholes to other worlds.' We could accept that without tons of explanations. How bosons are able to move and link up with each other made no sense at all. I also think character development could have been taken further. Weaver and Miller don't feel as 3-D as some of Ringo's other characters. Ringo's trademark sarcastic humor shines through here, making for an entertaining read. The Dreen are, in my opinion, the coolest enemy Ringo has ever devised, even cooler than the Posleen. The book is relatively short, but it feels complete. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes. I'd recommend it to fans of Ringo's work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book explodes onto the science fiction scene as massively as its opening and holds a reader's attention (much like being the recipient of an Alien face-hugger, without the messy part later). Although Mr. Ringo is producing books at a truly prolific rate, his latest work shows no decline in quality...realistic heroes, questionable allies, enemy collaborators you almost feel sorry for, and a nigh-overwhelming antagonist that makes you feel like saying 'Break out the butter because mankind's TOAST...' What impressed me the most was that unlike his previous efforts (all of which I enjoyed), this time there isn't the 'hulking brute genius' like his characters Mike O'Neal (my dad still chuckles over that one) or Herzer Herrick, who could always somehow outwit Patton and bench-press his tank for fun...this time both main protagonists are strong and smart, but need each other to survive (and still walk away needing a Big Box o' Band-Aids). If I could say anything about this story, it's that the title is exceptionally poetic...aside from the obvious 'Alice in Wonderland' reference, Ringo's latest work is a surprisingly accurate reflection of our own world seen through sci-fi eyes; heroes who wish they weren't, but rise to the occasion anyway...science shown as both our salvation and destruction...aliens shown as friend, foe, and dubious 'allies'...a government dedicated to defense but unsure of how to defend...and let's not forget the science nerd who doubles as an athlete and, what I personally appreciate most, Ringo's most realistic portrayal of our SEALs by someone from outside the Navy SpecWar community (though his time in the 82nd Airborne gives him first-hand knowledge of special operations), when too many of today's authors portray SEALs and candidates (Class 197 myself) as superhiman killing machines...Ringo's SEALS frequently got tired, hurt, and frustrated, but trye to form just kept going... In all, a must-have book for any serious sci-fi reader!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Thirty seconds after the president learns the news, the country is stunned as the media reports an explosion devastated the University of Central Florida. However, no radiation or electromagnetic pulse is detected; the NSA eliminates terrorists using an unheard of WMD, a non viable option. Everyone soon agrees that something happened in the lab of Dr. Ray Chen. They dispatch the only available physicist with a top secret clearance, the poster boy for absent minded Professor Dr. William Weaver accompanied by Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller to investigate. --- William and Robert reach ground zero where Chen¿s former lab was; they find an interdimensional doorway that works from both sides. This enables invading aliens to enter planning to conquer the earth. Only Weaver and Miller with rednecks and some real army stand in the way of the deadly Dreen who annihilate life on planets. Non-Dreen ETs follow who are not malevolent towards earth, but plan to blow the place up if William fails to close the door. --- INTO THE LOOKING GLASS is a humorous action-packed science fiction that will remind readers of the opening of the Hitchhiker¿s Guide to the Galaxy as the not so bad ETs want to blow up the planet though no malice is intended. William is terrific as he cannot remember to pay his cell phone bill or call his irate girlfriend, but the President knows this Huntsville resident must save the world. Weaver¿s partner Robert is real military struggling to accept that he needs the nerd to succeed. John Ringo is at his most amusing best with these doorways to and from other dimensions leading to a wonderful save the earth sci fi.---- Harriet Klausner