Date Posted: 22/02/20
First off let me apologise for the lack of a review last week, unfortunately I was having some computer problems so was unable to get online and post my weekly article. Thankfully everything is working again now so I can crack on with my review of the Bobiverse Books which are made up of three novels called We Are Legion (We are Bob), For We Are Many and All These Worlds. The first book was published in 2016 with the following two being published in 2017 the trilogy was written by Dennis E Taylor.
Let me give you a little bit of trivia about your favourite Alien Critic, in one of my novels which features immortal creatures of the night (I hate the word “vampires” as it is such a cliché these days that I don’t really like my creations being associated with the mainstream disco balls or sex mad bloodsuckers that fuck more than they suck). Anyway, in one of those books I named a rather pathetic character Bob, simply because what self-respecting immortal is called Bob?? Abbie purchased the first book for me as she knows how much I like sci-fi, mainly because my life is what you humans would describe as science-fiction. A main character called Bob also appealed to me based upon nothing more than my own creative works.
In We Are Legion (We are Bob) we are introduced to Robert (Bob) who signs up to a cryogenic freezing type deal after her dies, not long later he is hit by a car and killed. He awakens a century later and is informed that he is a replicant, basically he is a computer with Original Bobs memories and personality. He is being placed upon a space ship Heaven-One and sent out into the big black whilst Earth’s nations fight amongst themselves. The Brazilians have launched their own probes so he needs to watch out.
Bob spends the next few years flying through space during which time he creates a VR for himself to give him a sense of a body with different stimuli. He also discovers a command code in his matrix which will remove his self-control so he promptly deletes it. He is capable of frame-jacking to allow time to travel past at different levels of awareness. He can absorb information in micro-seconds or just slow down his own perceptions so he is unaware of the passage of time.
He is able to clone himself and when he arrives at his first destination he creates the first of his many clones. The clones share all of his memories he had up until the point when he copied himself, and they take different names for themselves. Bill, and Riker are two of the first. Bob continues onwards whilst Bill sets up a space station whilst Riker decides to return to Earth to see how the human race is getting on...
In For We Are Many the many clones of Bob are dealing with multiple problems, having returned to Earth in the first story Riker has discovered the planet is pretty much a post-war apocalypse with maybe 50 million people left alive. The bio-sphere is fucked and with deteriorating supplies, the human race looks set for extinction. However, as other Bobs have discovered Earth-like planets which might be suitable for new colonies evacuating the survivors is humanity’s best chance for survival. Riker has made contact, informing the UN of these worlds and the survivors on Earth are deadlocked arguing about who should be taken to the new planets first. The colony ships are taking considerable time to be built and the trip to the planet takes years plus there are native life forms on those worlds that develop a taste for human flesh.
Meanwhile, Bob (having discovered a race of humanoid bat-like creatures in the first book) is still trying to help the Deltans (as he calls them) fight off their enemies, the gorilla-oids and is leading them to a more suitable location without realising that there was a reason the Deltans ancestors left that area in the first place.
More Bobs are being created, developing their own personalities, and whilst they have encountered the Brazilian probe whose commander opens fire on them without hesitation, they have uncovered a far more dangerous threat that is consuming all metals in whole solar systems. Plus they are not concerned if a planet is habitable when they descend on it to harvest all the metal it contains...
By All These Worlds the Bobs have developed human android bodies, Bob has taken to directly mingling with Archimedes (who knows that he is not a Deltan), whilst Howard has fallen in love with a human woman that he can never be with. Human colonies had begun to flourish on different planets. Some of the bearcats have taken it upon themselves to impose a totalitarian like rule with the resident Bob taking it upon himself to lead a revolution with his new human friends. Riker is still overseeing the evacuation of Earth, with other Bobs shepherding people from Earth and the rest of the Bobs are trying to figure out a way of dealing with the technologically more advanced race known as the Others.
With Earth being targeted and millions of humans still on the planet it is up to the Bobs to discover a way of stopping the Others before they can obliterate the surviving members of the human race...
Right, I think that just about sums things up but if you are trying to follow exactly what is going on from my brief summary then don’t try. The different Bobs basically become fully characterised and in For We Are Many the main characters like Riker, Homer, Bill, and Bob taking front and centre. Other Bobs appear and in my copy of the book there was a glossary explaining which Bob is which and who was cloned from which version of the...family tree...I guess you could call it. So trying to remember who is who is the first thing that you need to get your head around when reading.
The second thing that you need to get your head around is the time scale that the chapters are happening in. Each chapter has a date and name, so you have to be aware that things might be taking place years apart. Jump from Bob watching the Deltans to Riker back in orbit round Earth and the chapters might be happening a decade apart. This is more difficult to follow in the first book and as the Bobs develop their technologies it becomes easier for them to have conversations in real time and the chapters gel more easily.
I like the idea of the 3D printers being the basis for all of the Bobs technology because it sets the tech level as not too far ahead of where you humans currently are. So unlike a book like Artimis which was very safe sci-fi, the Bobiverse books are able to push the technology forward without it becoming too far-fetched.
There were times when I did wonder why the Bobs, and Riker, in particular bothered with trying to help the human race. Bob-1 was created by some religious group or something and one of the descendants of that group tries to use the code that they put into his matrix to override Riker’s freewill (which fails immediately). However, one of the groups has decided that the human race deserves extinction so is determined to destroy any attempts to evacuate them from the doomed Earth. The deadlock did make me wonder why Riker didn’t just decide who he was going to evacuate and tell the others to go fuck themselves.
The Brazilian ship is little more than an irritation that the Bobs are able to squash once they decide to hunt it down.
The Others on the other hand are more of a significant threat and reminded me a little bit of the Borg from Star Trek. They are building a Dyson Sphere (a massive object that can encompass an entire solar system) and are going to wipe out anyone that tries to stop them from finishing it. Thing is we never learn who they are or why they are doing it. Yes, I get that everything is happening from the perspective of the Bobs so we only know what they know, yet it would have been nice if there was more to this alien race other than, they are going to destroy everything. If they had been like the replicators from Stargate SG-1 and existed to simply increase their numbers (or at least that is what they were initially) then fair enough. Or gone full Dalek and existed to wipe out everything that isn’t them, again no worries, sadly all we know about them is that they consume planets and when the Bobs try to intervene they set their sights on Earth.
There is space combat but it happens over hours, which if you humans were engaging conflict in space yes that is what it would be like. If a human space ship tried to launch missiles at my ship in open space combat I would have more than enough time to dodged around them, lazily plucking them out of the void with the ease at which you’d pick the remote control off the sofa, and swing around to blast your engines and therefore the ship, into atoms. In fiction I like the Star Trek or Star Wars style of doing things with nippy fighter ships dodging around each other whilst armoured dreadnaughts fire at one another in the background. It creates a bit of a disconnection between the battle and the commentary. I did read the chapter describing the final battle with the Others twice because I wasn’t sure exactly how the Bobs (who have no real tactical experience) managed to win.
I did like the books and Dennis E Taylor does create a world that expands in scale naturally as more Bobs are cloned. Bob-1 spends the entire trilogy focussing on the Deltans and has little to nothing to do with the others. Bill and Riker are the main characters and have the most to do with Bill using his time to develop better technologies, and better ships. The androids give the Bobs the opportunity to directly interact with other planets and allow them to develop friendships with humans.
Plus in a move that directly appeals to me the chapters generally only seem to be a dozen pages at max long, which means I find myself reading hours after telling myself I would stop, because I look at the size of the next chapter see it is only ten pages and figure I might as well read it.
If you are a fan of sci-fi then I do recommend the Bobiverse books, whilst I wouldn’t say that they are classics they deserve more recognition than a book like Artimis which just followed in the wake of writer Andy Weir’s fantastic book The Martian. I am happy to give them a Thumbs Up overall and like I said would encourage you to track them down because they are interesting enough with plenty of decent ideas to keep you reading.
7/10 – A tasty dose of not-too-distant-future sci-fi and whilst I did enjoy them at the time, it would have been nice if there could have been more on the Others, and the books don’t end as such rather just finish with the Bobs continuing on to continue exploring leaving the human race colonies to develop on their own.