We Are Legion Audiobook Review (bobiverse book 1)
By: Dennis E. Taylor
Narrator: Ray Porter
There’s a reason We Are Legion (We Are Bob) was named Audible’s Best Science Fiction Book of 2016: Its irresistibly irreverent wit! Bob Johansson has just sold his software company for a small fortune and is looking forward to a life of leisure. The first item on his to-do list: Spending his newfound windfall. On an urge to splurge, he signs up to have his head cryogenically preserved in case of death. Then he gets himself killed crossing the street. Waking up 117 years later, Bob discovers his mind has been uploaded into a sentient space probe with the ability to replicate itself. Bob and his clones are on a mission to find new homes for humanity and boldly go where no Bob has gone before. Dennis E. Taylor’s hilarious novel sets the stage for the magnificent performance of Ray Porter, who revels in the brave new world of corpsicles, artificial intelligence, interstellar space probes, and space colonization in tantalizing detail. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is the first installment in the blockbuster Audible Original Bobiverse series – which has sold more than one million copies. ©2016 Dennis E. Taylor (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
We Are Legion Audiobook Review:
We are legion is the first in a series of light hearted sci f books following Robert (Bob) Johansen. Bob is a software engineer/developer, a sci fi nerd who has just made it big and to celebrate his new wealth takes his team to Vegas for a sci fi/comic convention and while there signs up with cryo-eterna, a company who will on his death cut off his head and cryogenically freeze pending leaps in medicine where a new body can be grown and he can be thawed and brought back. As Bob is a big believer in Murphy’s law (a running gag in the series) he shouldn’t be surprised that the day he signs he get hit by a car and dies.
Bob wakes up in year is 2133, he is not fixed and is no longer human but a copy of the mind of Robert Johansen running on a computer, a ‘replicant’, oh and he is the property of the Free American Independent Theocratic Hegemony, (awful acronyms are a also a running gag) the current ruling combination of church and state. Think if Donald Trump was also a televangelist who was big on Orwellian pricipals, this is the state he would make! Original Bob has been discarded ( the replication process destroying the biological part of him) and all that remains is the program that thinks it is Bob, placed into a series of trials to check his suitability for an unknown task, in competition with 4 more replicants. The winner gets to be the replicant to undertake the task, the rest being deleted.
The early part of the book is mainly used for exposition and world building through interactions between Dr Landers, the F.A.I.T.H scientist in charge of the program, and his conversations with Bob. New breakthoughs in subspace theory and surge drives have prompted a new global space race and a rush to be the first countries to push for the stars and settle, with a heavy military component and the world is on the verge of a 3rd world war. Bob discovering his situation and touching on his existential crisis of is he still Bob? Does he have true consciousness or free will or is he just a puppet? As in the rest of the book there is plenty of humour thrown in in Bob’s internal and social commentary. There is a developing friendship between Bob and Dr Landers which is nice but never really gets to go anywhere but proves essential for Bob in the long run.
As Bob’s training nears completion things are accelerated with plots to sabotage the project from within F.A.I.T.H and without and he learns he is to become a Von Neumann probe. In interstellar probe that will travel to a system and collect resources and using 3d printing to replicate, those copies will then do the same thing and travel to new systems, exploring with exponential growth. That’s the theory anyway. Bob’s launch is the spark the lights the powder keg, and he leaves the solar system to a naval engagement between Brazil and F.A.I.T.H with a Brazilian probe in pursuit.
Kinda getting into proper spoilers from this point so I’ll try and avoid them and give more of an overview.
Remember I said probes making copies is the theory? Turns out Bob is a bit crap and this and is a very reluctant cloner, but he does make a batch eventually and that’s when we learn that every copy of Bob is slightly different, being the same core person but with different personality traits more pronounced. This makes for interesting developments in later books and amusing interactions in this book. Riker (star trek nerd) and Homer being good examples. Riker has taken on more serious tone and Homer finds it strange that he takes himself so seriously and makes it his job to wind Riker up, but they agree on what is right and needs to be done.
The book follows all the Bobs as some head back to earth to check on humanity after it all looked like going to shit, and some visit new systems to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no probe has gone before!
The books spans a fair amount of time (50 or so years) but as the Bobs are effectively immortal computers it doesn’t feel like that amount of time as hear the story. You also have to get used to them talking about subjective time from all the travelling they do at close to light speed. Relativity being the complicated thing it is without a degree in physics, honestly I’m just trusting that Dennis E Taylor did all the math right! And he gets around a lot of the complications of this through instantaneous communications between the Bobs saving 40 year round trip communications and keeping the story moving well.
Do the Bob’s find new life? Are there threats waiting in the larger universe? Will they meet other space probes? Is the human race still around? Will Butterworth actually have a cow? Will Riker sport a beard or friendly fire Homer?
Well I’m not gonna say, but I will say I can’t recommend this audiobook enough! Dennis E. Taylor has written an intelligent and witty modern sci fi classic and Ray Porter’s narration is just spot on, delivering lines with the right emotion be it humorous, sad or serious he just nails it! The book actually explains how things work without hand waving, the plot moves along with very few dull spots. There are books I’ve listened to and will never touch again (looking at you Dune!) I’ve gone back to this series several times and thoroughly enjoyed it every time! There are 4 books in the series (so far) and they are all top notch. If you are a fan of sci fi check these out, you really can’t go wrong!
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