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 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.
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! :)
New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.
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.
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 found this to be an enjoyable little listen. Not 5 star worthy but I got hooked nonetheless.
The premise is a bit like the 'The Last Starfighter'. A small fleet of advanced alien ships arrive on modern-day Earth. Each one chooses a human pilot - one per ship. The ship and the pilot are interfaced with nano-technology and human pilots find they're equipped with devices of incredible power.
Just as they begin to contemplate who sent these ships and why, the reason is thrust at them....another armada arrives, and it is hostile. Earth quickly realizes that the arrival of the first fleet was a gift to help combat the second adversarial fleet - which is fortunate because the level of technology they're facing means they'll need all the help they can get.
1*=I didn't like it..... 2*=It was OK...... 3*=It was good but I will never read it again.......... 4*=Maybe I will read it again in the future.............. 5*=I will definitely read it again(maybe more than once)
IMHO this is best or maybe second best work (Technomancer) of B.V. Larson
Sci fi Story with strong and interesting characters and many developments at this moment I'm reading book 6 and my attention still fully occupied.
You will find everything you may want: aliens, humans, AI machines
Love happiness and sorrow, Honor, betrayal and sacrifice and you will definitely enjoy it.
For some some strange reason audiobooks of this series are published 3 or 4 months later than ebook version, so I had to get the dust of my Kindle.
Mr. Larson's book reminds me a great deal of John Ringo's earlier works, those written before he began letting his politics into his writing (Read: Let the crazy out), the series has a really nice premise and the action is well thought out. In fact, My only issues with the book are:
1) Mr. Larson likes to repeat himself a great deal:
He'll say something once, then again, then spend two pages pounding it into your cranium until you want to yell "Alright! I understood you the first time now can we please see the damn thing blow up now!" I do not mind long explanations of say 'the social impacts of alien tech', but come the hell on!, it began to feel he was pushing for word count rather then advancing the story line.
2) Tactics, tactics, tactics!:
I understand the main character is a college professor but, many of the secondary characters are supposed to be military professionals and you can't tell me that a Colonel or even a Sargent with years of experience on the guy wouldn't tell the nerdy self appointed 'commander' to pack sand if he ordered them to assault a position, over open ground mind you, where a superior enemy holds the high ground. And there is a word for any officer whom takes 6 companies of Marines into battle and suffers 90% losses in a engagement and that word is 'Fired.' I don't care if your the savior of the world your would not lead men into battle after that no one would trust you to.
(Deleted to brevity) (I'm talking to the author now)
STOP BUILDING CARICATURES AND START CREATING CHARACTERS.
Come on the psychopathic Latin sex bomb? NEWSFLASH! Women like that don't really exist. (No matter how much you want them to)
The dumb enlisted man and the elitist officer? Really?!?
I'm probably going to buy the next book in this series. The story is interesting despite the above drawbacks and the author seems to be getting better at his craft.
"Flight of the Navigator for adults"
Exciting within the first 5minutes and sets up a world that is gonna force me to spend all my credits til I've listened to them all. Narrator has great voice and tells it well. No two characters come across the same. To me, that is the difference between a good narrator and a great one.
"Fantastic Introduction to the world of Star Force"
I liked the about of thought that had gone into character development, and how it made you thing how you react to the situations that arise in the book. Its difficult to say what i liked most without giving too much of the story away if your a fan of military science fiction, where humans suddenly have access to advanced technology you'll like it.
The way the story plays out it does have you always wanting to listen for that little bit longer.
For me it was a little short I prefer to listen to books that are much longer, but thankfully this is the start of a series of books that I look forward to enjoying in an episodic manner.
I really liked how this book started out. It was quite a traumatic start and you felt very much in the dark as you went along with the main character. I hoped to have seen a bit more exploration on the inner workings of the ship and the ai but it took a slightly different direction. The narration was ok but some scenes felt a little spoilt with the narrator's feminine voice was being put on. I would describe this for someone considering as Flight of the navigator meets Halo.
"Good start but needs work"
This was an enjoyable listen and one that I would recommend but it is not without some flaws and quibbles which are relatively minor and don't detract too much from the main story. There are a couple of issues around the logic of the nanos and macros and with the nano ship Alamo's behaviour but nothing terrible.
The biggest weakness of the story is the character development. The main lead character generally behaves in a believable manner and is a likeable character that you can follow and get behind. Most of the other characters in the story though are quite thin with little developed between the main character and them. The main female character has some potential at the beginning when they meet on the ship and when she is recovered but this is pretty much wasted as she falls into a rather simple adoring female role that borders on the uncomfortable. And, here is where the story falters the worst, with dialog and behaviour that while possible in the situation they are in seems a bit wrong footed. There were a couple of times where I thought the author was going to go into a full blown sex scene but fortunately the author restrained themselves and didn't veer into trying to write erotica or porn.
Overall the novel moved along and you are able to develop a fondness for the lead character and a desire to read the next novel to see what happens to him and the universe he resides in. Hopefully, as the story advances so will will the writing and character development.
The narrator did a good job and was able to convey the story well and create character voices that you were able to associate with the various characters.
"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.
Exciting, addictive, fun
The concept of the nanos and macros
I have only listened to 2 other star force books, so can't really compare.
I have laughed, i have been on the edge of my set and i find my self trying to find excuses to go listen as much as i can!
Really looking forward to the rest of the series!
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