Earth arms marines with alien technology and builds its first battle fleet! Kyle Riggs is snatched by an alien spacecraft sometime after midnight. The ship is testing everyone it catches and murdering the weak. The good news is that Kyle keeps passing tests and staying alive. The bad news is the aliens who sent this ship are the nicest ones out there.
A novel of military science fiction by best-selling author B. V. Larson, Swarm is the story of Earth's annexation by an alien empire. Long considered a primitive people on a backwater planet, humanity finds itself in the middle of a war - and faced with extinction.
Battle stations! Listen to another Star Force novel.
©2010 B.V. Larson (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
If you are a fan of Isaac Asimov's deep thinking, or Larry Niven and his habit of making the reader do math, then this book is a welcome mental relief. Another reviewer referred to it as "sci-fi easy listening" and I think he hit the nail right on the head. Much like a Michael Bay film, if you start thinking too hard, you just ruin it for yourself. But that's not to say it can't be entertaining. To understand what I mean, simply read the following (spoiler free) synopsis:
Computer Science professor Kyle Riggs is abducted by an artificially intelligent alien spacecraft. With occasional interjections from his stunningly beautiful consensually captive co-ed companion he must make clever use of programming, hacking, strategy, logic, and knowledge of powers of two to save Earth from merciless robotic aliens.
At several points throughout the novel I considered how it might have made a good story line for a real-time strategy computer game (a la Starcraft). I must say, the book is massively entertaining. Listening to it is akin to having testosterone injected through your ears. Mark Boyett captures the different characters exactly as you would expect with all the seriousness that is required. The book skates a fine line between easy to take in and outright melodrama. It does a pretty good job at staying this side of melodrama (most of the time).
I feel I must give a disclaimer that, as a computer science graduate myself, I think there is a certain draw to a book featuring a computer science professor as a protagonist. Especially one that gets the girl and saves the world. It's not really the kind of thing one would expect out of someone in my field.
To sum things up: The characters aren't deep and neither is the plot, the action is enjoyable and constant, the hacking is surprisingly realistic (5 points for executing a privilege escalation exploit on an alien ship), and I think I'm going to pick up the next one.
Larson has crafted a novel twist on alien contact as well as solving the dilemma of advanced technology within a society temporally close to our own. In Swarm, alien vessels with alien advanced technology, but no aliens arrive on Earth and begin selecting, rather brutally, human candidates to pilot the ships in anticipation of future conflict with another alien enemy.
Our hero is a college computer scientist who is the most successful at deciphering a functional interaction with the alien artificial intelligence powering the spacecraft. The bulk of the tale revolves around bootstrapping a military response to a malevolent alien invasion by what appears to be a machine intelligence, intent on wiping out humanity in order to use Earth as a source of raw materials.
While some of the approaches to dealing with the alien invaders are contrived (and not well thought out), it's clear that Larson is setting up the opening salvo in what appears to a larger and longer story arch that will eventually introduce humanity to a more enlightened view of galactic politics (and lots of interstellar warfare as well).
The writing is tight and the reading is well done making for an overall easy listening experience.
I got this book on a whim, and I am very glad i did. I found the story to be very original and let you really use your imagination to decide what some things should look like. It wasnt filled with a bunch of technical fluff that i have found in other books. Its a very entertaining story that keeps you listening. Every time you start to wonder about a certain topic, or why is this happening, or why would they do that, the author fills you in. Its as if he knows just when you want an answer but makes you wait just a bit longer for it to keep the story going.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
It is absolutely nothing like what I expected. I thought it was a military sci-fi where they battle space aliens. Oh... well... technically, it is a military sci-fi where they battle space aliens. But it feels more like a college boy's fantasy than anything that might come close to what would really happen in such a situation.
I'm all for new and novel ideas. I like the concept of the aliens, and how the ships arrived, and what the humans had to do, and how they fought the aliens at the end of the novel but... and it's a big but... the characterizations were absolutely ridiculous. A college professor ends up saving the world because he is smarter than everyone else... sure, okay, I can deal with that. But... a guy watches his kids die, tries to save them and is all agitated about if they will survive and then, voila! problem solved by the entrance of a nude woman. Yep... naked woman solves all problems just by appearing in the story - and then no more whining and hair-tearing over the little issue of his dead children.
Sure, a couple times while his is stealing furniture and complaining about his lack of decorating options, and fantasizing about having a cold beer, he thinks of his dead children, but only in passing... after all, nearly 2 whole days have passed.
And I won't even get into the other space ship captain and the earth responses to the situation - after all we know that a college professor knows more and is smarter than the entire forces of every country on earth - it's not like any nation would have experienced trained military leaders and/or technical geniuses that these brand new captains could rely on.
But... to be honest... the single biggest issue - which has probably tainted my entire review - is that women in this book have about the same value and intelligence as a beer. And if there was a blow up doll on board, I'm pretty sure the cold beer would be worth more.
I am a voracious reader (average about 4-5 Audible books a week, in addition to those I "eyeball".) I have been hooked on recorded books since the time of cassettes/CDs and was thrilled when I became an Audible member in 2007. I find reader reviews good guides to spending my credits, so have finally decided to write a few (although, I would rather be reading!)
I read A LOT of mil scifi (Heinlein, Scalzi, Card, Campbell, Resnick, Ringo, etc) and am always looking for new books in the genre. Given the number of 4-5 star reviews for this book, I was expecting a great read. The opening was great, but it just started going downhill from there.
This really read like a YA book, or perhaps even a book based on a video game (but, I have read better entries in that genre.)
The characters were utterly 2-dimensional, dialogue subpar, and plot plodding. I was hoping that this volume would be redeemed by some good space battles, but I found those wanting.
The development of the protagonist is preposterous. He goes from "work-from-home" college professor to dynamic military strategist in just a few chapters. His early stages of grief went from denial to anger to lust within minutes of his children's grisly deaths. And the half-naked female sidekick's "oh, this ship has good taste" within days of that same ship killing her had me thinking this book was written by a teenager.
I only paid $4.95 for this book, but I still feel I overspent -- and I wish had those hours of listening time back for a more worthy listen. Downloading "Earth Strike: Star Carrier" by Ian Douglas now and hoping it will help clean my mental palate.
I think people that like poorly written Sci Fi will like this book. The premise was implausible and had very little to offer.
The story was just bad.
It was okay.
I don't normally give bad reviews to books, but ever since I listened to this book Audible has been suggesting I listen to all of the rest even though I gave the book one star. I'm not sure what Audible is thinking, but every month 3 out of the 9 suggestions for me are from this author and this series. So, while the book was bad, the experience since listening to the book has been worse.
Creation of believable characters, removal of plot holes
He was pretty good at the accents, voices, and keeping them straight. He also brought energy and life to the story.
Exasperation, pain, offense
I wanted to like this book enough to finish it. I really really did. For so many reasons. But I was suffering. I was suffering too badly to continue to suffer, after getting at least 65% through the book. I love sci-fi, and I love speculative stuff and I can suspend disbelief for weird or new or even scientifically inaccurate stuff, so long as it's believable within its world. But so much of the human interactions here were completely unrealistic. The most prominent female character was inconsistent AND embarrassing. Forget the Bechdel test - the two female characters never spoke to one another and the main one never seemed to worry about anything other than a man no matter who she was talking to. Here's a great quote I remember from shortly before I quit the book "I could tell she wasn't going to give me any more sugar just then, so I decided not to beg for it. Women don't respect that." I won't even try to go into the plot holes that were so numerous my brain was feeling like the proverbial swiss cheese, just trying to keep track. I wasn't expecting high literature from this book, but this book was just too bad for me to continue.
My wife says she can read me like an open book. Though she regrets not being able to shut me up the same way. :)
... But, overall, it's a good listen; not a wasted a credit.
You know when your friends occasionally describe a movie as a good "popcorn matinee" for those Saturday afternoons when there's nothing else to do? This is like that.
I like to think of this series now as my warm backup when "credit day" arrives yet finding myself all caught up with my main GoTo authors and waiting for their next title.
If you find yourself in that boat and enjoy the occasional bucket of popcorn (with butter) and military sci-fi story a-la "War of the Worlds," meets "Transformers," meets "Alien vs. Predator," AND you're feeling adventurous enough to give an unexplored author a shot, then you're likely to enjoy this one.
Head nod, too, to the performance of narrator Mark Boyett. Mr. Boyett's pacing, voice inflection and character-voice diversity complements the rhythm that was probably intended by author B.V. Larson.
MEL'S BOTTOM LINE: Though it devolves a bit in the middle to a mundane "shoot-em-up" ground fight, there's more than enough originality and enigmatic backstory to keep you engaged in Book 1, even as you "Wish List" future titles in this promising series for those slow Saturday afternoons. But when you do, take this tip to heart: don't spare the popcorn butter! :)
Fan of the Amazon
In my opinion, this is easy listening SciFi. Entertaining if you don't want to invest too much effort.
The main character is a computer science major, but his conversations with the machine is just aggravatingly illogical. Also, he takes charge of the whole army of super soldiers, without any military training or background, continues to lose most of his men because he's being an idiot and then doesn't even seem to feel responsible. I profoundly disliked the main character. Lost his family in the first chapter, but that doesn't really seem to faze him much only a few pages on.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
The very beginning of this reminds me of the game Portal. Then it becomes kind of (early) Heinleinist. It ends with the Six Million Dollar Man.
The story concept is really good and will keep you listening, even at the times when the writing falters.
Problems: At the beginning the main characters' kids are killed and in a very gross way. His reaction is very lacking. Parts of the book sound like something Piers Anthony would write. We are given information on his wife's death, which was kind of gross and which adds nothing to the story. He is a college professor who teaches computer science and this seems to give him the ability to lead armies, design weapons, be a diplomat and be a military strategist. I believe those that have trained in the military all there life will be insulted by this.
Good: The story is creative. It kept my attention as the miles I was driving just melted by. I have never heard of the (Hope Monkey) before, but I will always remember it. The length of the book is perfect. The ending makes you want to buy the rest in the series.
The narrator was ok, but after listening to Ray Porter and Dick Hill, he was a little lack luster.
"Visual story telling great read"
From the beginning Swarm charges along a full speed, the atmosphere is spot on and desperate.
The black surface of the ship has a personality of its own.
I've started the Steel World books where Mark Boyett performs a different younger big ego character which comes across well, whereas in Swarm and Star Force he performs the slightly older lead just right.
"Great book and easy to listen too."
Fun, engaging and smile.
It's a bit like starship troopers but with robbots.
easy to understand.
I wouldn't say moved but it did make me smile when the guy got his foot blown off and explained that the reason he still had a boot was because he found one. Only problem was that the boot was too small but not to worry as he didn't have a foot anyway.
Great story, easy listen, already started book 2.
"Good read with a few minor flaws"
I have listened a military based sci-fi book before, and whilst this has not me got me searching for them I have been put off them. I enjoyed the concept and the story development.
I thought the narrator did a great job and had an excellent voice for the military characters within the book.
I found it hard to take to the Riggs the main character in the book, and the way he reacted to situations lost a bit of realism for me. I would go into detail but do not want to spoil things by giving away important events.
"Amazing book! Action filled sci-fi! Great narrator"
It's an amazing book! Loved it from the very first "page" till the last!
The story is great and original, very fast paced sci-fi novel, filled with action, aliens and cool technology. There is no moment you could feel bored. Couldn't put it down at all. Despite the fact that there is a lot of military insight and strategy in the middle of the book, it wasn't too overwhelming (even a girl like me was still interested). I guess it helps that the main character isn't a military person as well, so it's simple enough to understand his solutions and thinking. And the story has a lot of twists and surprises to keep you on the edge!
And special love goes to the narrator - he is just amazing! The best I've heard so far! He really makes you feel the book on your own skin, the way he paces his talk, all the emotions he puts in the voice! And it's so easy to understand (very well pronounced and clear voice - English is a foreign language for me, so it's important)! The different characters also have different distinguishable voices. Great work!
I'm already prepared to listen to the next book in the series!
"Best read this year"
The reader was very good,reminded me of Ed Bishop.
Gripping stuff from start to end,have got all the star force books now. Will get the audio versions too.
All of the characters were good ,hard to pick out.Riggs I think
Yes I did one Sat Morning.
"Great Start but fizzles out"
Probably not, it has a great idea regarding the 2 alien races but as the story continues it falls into the pulp sci-fi genre. It is a good pulp sci-fi.
39 Steps by John Buchan
Good atmosphere - certainly could feel the sense of claustrophobia
Mindless late evening listen - yes
Fair book - bit in same vein as "Forever War" but not quite as good
"a decent book"
the sotry is well told although there is the usual problem of men trying to produce femail voices to me they always sound wrong. other than that there where a few editing issuers with the recording words seems to jump or be cut off half way through this does not affect the story however can be annoying and gives the impression that the book may be abridged when it isn't (i assume as have not read the book in print form however audible says it is unabridged).
over all a solid and interesting scifi story.
A great start to the series. This really sets the scene for a relatively simple story that then gets you thinking. I think it takes a real knack for words when a writer gives you simplicity and you can't help filling in the details. No overburdening with technicalities either and that makes a great adventure story. Iain M Banks did it in great detail, B V Larson does it with simplicity - both manage a good story.
"Not the depth of the likes of Reynolds or Hamilton"
Rocked along at a good pace, no switching off while surroundings are described in minute detail or sub-plots expanded like some of the "Space Opera" type reads from Reynolds or Hamilton. It did feel a rather simplistic storytelling though with too many plot holes and "well why wouldn't you do X?" questions especially w.r.t. military tactics and descriptions.
It was OK. Relatively short I thought, and in two minds about whether to read any more.
Worth a listen so you can decide whether to read the rest.
"Never judge a book by its cover"
I picked up the 'Swarm' Soley on recommendations (and I am glad that I did). I was immediately drawn into a fast paced nightmarish scifi scenario which kept me constantly engaged. I was looking looking for a high paced classic scifi adverture that would keep me entertained and I was not disappointed. A definite buy for any scifi nut who cannot stand unrealistic plots.
Similar pace to the vampire novels by Scott Mariani.
Have not listened to any other books YET!
The first few chapters leading to his abduction.
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