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Swarm: Star Force, Book 1 | [B. V. Larson]

Swarm: Star Force, Book 1

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  •  
    Robert albuquerque, NM, United States 12-17-13
    Robert albuquerque, NM, United States 12-17-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The beginning of a rewarding odyssey, A must read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this to any science, tech or programming guy who wants to be on a fairly well written adventure about an everyman widower computer professor that starts with him fighting for his own survival in a first contact situation with some unusual artificial aliens that think as a nano collective. But what makes this book so rewarding is that it is followed on by more books that genuinely evolve and have many other big new ideas that over time really change the story and the character. I feel this first book is one of the most inventive though and it has a number of fun wish fulfillment scenarios for people who have always lived by their wits but would enjoy more adventure if it were tailored to a hero with brain and a level headed perspective first and foremost.


    What other book might you compare Swarm to and why?

    I am sure there are likely books to compare the Swarm too, but I really cannot think of any off hand. One key imaginative aspect to this book is combining the speculation of a first contact situation with the notion of very advanced and powerful Alien Nanotechnology. While I do not think it is the intention of this author to engage in super hard science fiction, never the less there is some very intelligent and imaginative work done to play out one way such an artificially intelligent alien first contact scenario might actually take place. In other words this book, while not hard science fiction is most certainly not science fantasy either. It takes more liberties with the complexity of the world socio and political reactions more than the science or the individual dynamics of its main or immediately tertiary characters.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Boyett – was your favorite?

    I generally really liked the narrator and I thought he did a great job with all the voices and he should be looked at as an up and coming audio reading voice talent. But if I am forced to talk about specifics I would say that he does a nice job with the main character and with the female lead. Later in the book series is does a terrific job with a number of male and female characters with specific ethnic accents and vocal temperaments. Last but not least he adds a real sense of humor when he finally is able to embody the character of an unique alien AI named Marvin. Although I need to clarify that Marvin may not show up till a later book. Which brings me back to my original point about this book as it relates to its mates. This book is merely one great complete story that then opens the door to several other great stories with new big ideas that keep the epic from becoming sterile or predictable. And a nice part about this audio book series is that Mark Boyett is used through out all of the books in the series so far. Once you get used to how a particular character is voiced, you do not have to wonder if that will change in book 3 or 5 or 6. Its also good for me to point out because if you do not like this readers voice, then be warned he is the voice in all the books that are part of the series so far. I genuinely liked him. He acts and gives unique vocalizations to each significant character and at his absolute worst his voice is not offensive or grating. All in all I consider Mark Boyett a selling point of this book and all the books he is a part of in this series.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    its been a while since I have read swarm but less than a moment and more of an overall content theme that moved me was the transition of this middle ages man who was a gentle and smart Programming professor who is still in morning over the loss of his wife and yet over time. You watch as this man who has all the advantage of a middle aged man that is educated and thoughtful and more importantly comfortable with who he is but yet is also still somewhat hung up on the loss of his wife and so therefore is a bit stuck before the novel's fantastical events give him not only challenges but also a new lease on living life in the present and not in the past.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are a person looking for a fun smart but not overly deep adventure read that will not fail to disappoint and that has a number of alluring points to it style wise. Namely that each book acts as its own discreet story that are in their own right entertaining to read or listen too. Also it is worth while to not that over time the science fiction tone definitely shapes into a much more military aspect to their stories, But the difference is that the story changes tone very organically into a more military science fiction. In fact this first book is probably one of the less military themed ones because there is so much context, character and fantastic imaginative aspects that must be introduced and explained. that said its still full of some great action. I am some times find military science fiction pretty one note and dry, but in my case, even as the later stories involve even more focus on a more military based Sci-Fi story, it does not do so at the expense of the overall motivations of the various characters that the readers meets in the story, but rather it heads toward conflict and military style fiction because of the people you meet and the evolution of those you have known since the beginning. For me that was key as it kept me caring about the action as I felt very invested in the outcomes. Further, the storytelling style never deviates from letting you see how things develop because of outside developments but also because of the ideas, goals and emotional drivers that influence the choices that are made by several of the main characters. I love it when a story teller is able to credibly tell the story of big battles and wars and simultaneously tell you the story of the peoples that have to make choices in that affect those wars. It keeps the action nailed into the personal while maintaining a great deal of insight into the action that will affect everyone. In general, if you like great speculative fiction that has some real terrifically executed story telling that tackles some neat speculative technology, one form of a First contact scenario, and some follow on struggles that address the struggle for survival, the difficulty of relating to alien intelligences, and some exploration into how much can a human being change its body and or mind physically and still be considered both human and still the same basic core person inside. And all done with a good mix of wit, fun, imagination, and a generally nice pace that keeps one from feeling bored if any of the aspects of the story might not be a hook for a particular reader. I have read all six of this series books and I have really enjoyed all of them. some are better than others, but none of them are seriously subpar. In fact as my last comment, I will leave you with a repeat of one of my earlier comments and that is that the series itself does not just stop adding big fun imaginative leaps in book one. This is a series that has a continuing stream of intriguing ideas that are introduced into the story telling so that as some aspects of the story that may have felt fun to ponder in book one but might be getting tired by book 3 or 5, well have no fear, I felt no idea was flogged to the point of being tedious and boring because the author has run out of intriguing ideas to continue a number of themes.

    All in all, while I am not going to call this series some Opus of science fiction, I am going to say that is an extremely high quality fun adventure ride that is choc full of a great number of intriguing ideas that imaginatively played with in order to service the On going endeavors of our main character, his lovers and friends, and organizations that he will eventually start. It is perfect escapism that is neither mindless nor soulless. I am reminded of a great Jim Butcher Quote when he speaks of his own sales pitch about his now very famous fantasy series, The Dresden Files. He says, We are not claiming that our stories are life altering literature but rather it is really good popcorn story telling for smart people. And if you know anything about Jim Butcher's Books, you along with me, might be willing to argue that he does not at times get pretty close to life altering literature. I know I certainly care about his characters and therefore his universe and all the fun imaginative speculations in his book. I am giving B V Larson high praise by saying that this book and the series it is a part of nearly as compelling. I know I read the first book in one sitting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jarrod South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States 12-13-13
    Jarrod South Lake Tahoe, CA, United States 12-13-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Started off with a great idea"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I liked the start - the idea of a nano spaceship - AI, programming etc. but it did not do a great job of maintaining the interest through the latter part of the book and I felt that the ending was weak. Needed more of a twist, something we did not expect - the ending felt like a last minute addition simply to herald in the next book.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    I think the characters were a little flat.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd Milford, OH, United States 12-10-13
    Todd Milford, OH, United States 12-10-13 Member Since 2014

    warcin

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The main character drove me crazy"
    What disappointed you about Swarm?

    I am not sure where all the love for this series comes from. I listened to the first five in the series before I just could not force myself to listen anymore. the main character is an absolute moron and I usually could not go 20 minutes before wanting to yell at the author about how stupid the guy was. Each book is just a continuous stream of him making the same mistake over and over that I could not take it anymore. Kyle always think he is absolutely sure he has everything covered and absolutely never does, and he never takes precautions that he could be wrong. This causes everyone around him to constantly die in job lots and people are still willing to listen to him.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elsie MacGregor 12-05-13 Member Since 2012

    Moo

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    "Pulp sci-fi at its best"

    This story has action, adventure, lust, and alien robots. I'm not sure why I liked it, but I couldn't stop listening.

    The main character is a computer science professor from Northern California who is forcibly drafted into service as a alien spacecraft commander. We follow along as the world is introduced to two different versions of invading alien robots and how a group of disparate thugs joins together to create "Star Force".

    There is plenty of action and political undertones as the governments of earth react to the threat of annihilation. As for the sci-fi aspects, the characters seem as bewildered by the technology as the reader/listener. The author doesn't dwell on the whys of the technology, but there are parts where I tuned out as he went into the hows.

    Overall, though, I thought it was an enjoyable start to a sci-fi series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shane DUNEDIN, New Zealand 12-04-13
    shane DUNEDIN, New Zealand 12-04-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Action, aliens, great characters !!!!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Once you start reading this book your hooked , its nice and easy to listen to with a great story and great characters , you don't have to be a syfy stalwart to like this !


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kyle Riggs !!! hes cool, laid back drinks beer ,beats up guys that brass him off, and doesn't get too emotional , he kills aliens , intelligent and great with computers


    What about Mark Boyett’s performance did you like?

    He does great characters accents ! its like your listening to a dozen different narrators


    Any additional comments?

    If you want a great shoot em up series with heaps of impossible scenarios just round the corner where things go from bad to worse , get this series its worth it !!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cameron DARLINGTON, Australia 12-04-13
    Cameron DARLINGTON, Australia 12-04-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting idea, not great execution."
    What three words best describe Mark Boyett’s voice?

    Natural reading voice is great, attempts at accents are terrible.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Mildly entertaining story line


    Any additional comments?

    The premise of this book, while not entirely original, was still quite intriguing and provided a good basis for quite an engaging story. The story failed to live up to its full potential though.

    The main characters were never really developed beyond a glossed over 2 sentence background story. The secondary characters didn't even receive that much attention. As a result there are no real personalities in the book to either like or dislike.

    The author tries to explain the motivations of Riggs (protagonist) but it feels contrived and mechanical. I was never really in sync with Rigg's actions and thought processes given what he was going through, and as such never became invested in the character. I found myself indifferent to the danger he was in. The relationships that develop are too convenient and feel 'set-up'.

    The narrative is clunky and just doesn't feel organic enough. There was no personality in the dialogue and it ends up feeling like listening to a computer talking to another computer. Which I suppose may fit with the situation, but it just doesn't make for entertaining or engaging listening.

    The narrators natural voice is great when voicing Riggs, however the accents were terrible and extremely off putting. It really made the character become nothing more than cardboard thin stereotypes.

    All in all it's an average audiobook, not great - but not terrible either.
    I haven't read the reviews on other books in this series, but there is definitely the potential that the author can salvage the story and produce more well rounded books in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed 12-04-13
    Ed 12-04-13
    ratings
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    8
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    "Massive Ego in Space"
    Would you try another book from B. V. Larson and/or Mark Boyett?

    After reading the first 4 books, I can say I will likely not read any more.


    If you’ve listened to books by B. V. Larson before, how does this one compare?

    The performance of Mark Boyett was very professional. I can only imagine the struggle that he went through to keep the irony out of his voice. What ever they payed him to narrate this mess was insufficient by any stretch of the imagination.I've listened to the first three books and couldn't quite compel myself to finish the fourth. The only reason I made it this far is that Audible doesn't appear to offer refunds.


    Which character – as performed by Mark Boyett – was your favorite?

    There were several characters that appealed to me. Sadly, the author appeared to be threatened by their superior intellect and common sense. I can only believe that this fear of having his main character be utterly embarrassed is what compelled Mr. B. V. Larson to kill them off.However, I can list some information about the main character that might be of some value to discerning readers:

    Kyle Riggs, the main character: A Professor that teaches computer science at what must surely be a poorly funded community college somewhere in rural California. By sheer happenstance, our hero finds himself the commander of an alien ship with a mission to defend Earth at all cost. Somehow this bumbling idiot manages to convert this position of transient power into a permanent lead role in the burgeoning "Star Force". Star Force, a rag-tag band of randomly chosen "survivors" spends most of the early portions of the first book trying to figure out what to do when they begin to understand that they have been granted the keys to a failing kingdom. Kyle is a clever fellow and somewhat educated. But he is a college professor, not a tactician. Nor is he a strategist, a trained leader of men, an expert in metallurgy, a physicist, a doctor, a communications specialist, a diplomat, a mechanical engineer, an architect, a manufacturing genius, or a very decent human being. But, he did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once, or something.

    Kyle manages to forget his utter lack of training in any of the aforementioned professions and proceeds to kill or otherwise eliminate every single character introduced that has some modicum of skill in those areas. At various times our Mr. Kyle (sorry, i can't even bring myself to call him Professor any more) is presented with solid, sound, experience based advice from career solders, diplomatic experts, doctors (real ones) and etc. Does he ever take that advice? Of course not. But then the author is required to conjure up every bit of luck that exists in the universe to save Kyle's dumb ass. And then of course this same dumb ass turns around and manages to make his stumbling success appear to be all part of the long-term plan.

    Credit for minor successes on the part of others is only sparingly granted and by the middle of book four, even that minor bit of grudging acknowledgement goes missing.Early on, I thought that Kyle was written as a spoof. Perhaps the author happened to know someone in real life that was a crushing moron and Larson was flailing at his personal nemesis with a pen. But now, I'm almost certain that Kyle is Larson's alter-ego. I honestly believe Kyle is who Larson wishes he could be. Hey Larson, is that how you really think the leader of an interstellar combat force would behave? News for you pal, Kyle would have been summarily demoted to third level programming analyst and kept in a lab somewhere far from sharp toys.

    Bottom line, read this first book if you must but only buy these puss filled pools one at a time.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    The question for this section is: "What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment? Well the answer is more complex then that but suffice to say, that I am angry at the main character, sad that I burned credits on these books and disappointed with my choice.More to the point, I strongly discourage you from buying more than one of these books at a time. Should your reaction to these books be anything like mine, you will thank me later.


    Any additional comments?

    Oh yeah, the entire store is written in first person. That's a tough job for a fine author. B. V. Larson is not a fine author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 11-29-13
    Stephen 11-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Corny"
    What disappointed you about Swarm?

    This book is written for a youngster.


    Has Swarm turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes, the logic is totally childlike and not up to date.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Frace Olney, MD 11-02-13
    Kyle Frace Olney, MD 11-02-13 Member Since 2013

    Going with the flow while we speed through the universe on a massive rock!

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    "Unique plot and a great start to a series."

    I was first drawn to this book because it had received a high rating from other listeners. The plot sounded interesting but I still didn't know what to really expect. My experience is that this book lived up to the high rating that it had received.

    The action began immediately. For a first book in a series it covers a lot of ground quickly. But at no point did I feel that we weren't getting the whole story.

    Part of what I liked about this book is that it's a Sci-fi with human and alien interaction type book but the main characters actions and decisions are similar to how I think I would react given their circumstances.

    I will definitely continue listening to this series and can't wait to see where B.V. Larsen takes it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clyde Dale 10-09-13
    Clyde Dale 10-09-13

    Clydesdale

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I really tried to like this series..."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    All of it? I got up to book 4 but just could not finish it. It's hard to put a finger on it but I think it boils down to unbelievable characters, villains, and this alien nano-tech that might as well be magic. The whole story feels hollow and like a badly written episode of Star Trek. I've probably just been spoiled by likes of Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds as they set the bar way up there and Larson isn't jumping nearly high enough. Popcorn sci-fi.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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