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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
Paid reviewers, after two weeks get 4-8 votes and have that power to strike unhelpful against others. Check their history! Your money!
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.
Emergency physician and fantasy nerd in Chicago.
Most of it. It's got some decent sci-fi in it but never really makes you care that much. So much of the action takes place inside a windowless ship. I didn't buy many of the plot twists including the very concept of "Star Force."
More Patrick Rothfuss
He actually did a great job.
***Spoiler alert****Probably would not have the kids murdered. It's just so hard to believe that someone could lose 2 kids in a brutal murder and then go on to think about getting a couch or having a new sexual partner within a few days/weeks.
Comments saying this is the best thing since Star Wars are just ridiculous.
I stopped listening with many hours to go because I just didn't care what happened to any of the characters or the story.
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.
Not likely. I thought the overall story concept sounded interesting, but quickly became absurd. A computer programmer leading the Fleet....really? The main character is an incredibly arrogant jerk. I developed an intense dislike of him. I'd downloaded books 1 & 2 for a long road trip but gave up halfway through book two. (Go Worms!)
None really lived long enough. We're introduced to dozens of likable characters quickly killed off by "Admiral" Kyle's stupidity.
So many to choose from...probably the scene of Kyle lusting after a women moments after his kids are shredded to bits. What a prick.
"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.
"Swarm - I want to join up!"
I really enjoyed this introduction to the Star Force series. I'd relisten to it again but I'm just enjoying the second book at the moment!
The details of the life aboard the ships and how the commanders learn to control the ships. Also, although it was military sci fi, the background details were excellent, how people lived and learnt to deal with day to day life.
Some of the planning of the battles, the logic for how things were worked out.
This was an excellent introduction to a series I think I'm going to love. Depth of characters and details of battle strategies made this a brilliant choice.
"great first book"
Great first book. great story. like all the bv larsons books so far. looking forward to book 2
Really good. hooked straight away. A good fast progression. brilliant sifi idea. b.v larson legend
"Another gripping Sc-fi from Larson"
Listened to Larson's Undying Mercenaries series first, and some of the broader ideas seemed to have been copied from these earlier books. But that did not subtract from the thrilling story in swarm. Hooked now!
"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.
"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.
"Gets going quickly and keeps the pace fast."
Although clearly the beginning of a series there isn't too much scene setting or arc plotting (although you cn clearly see the hooks). The story starts quickly and keeps the pace fast (sometimes it doesn't make sense in terms of feelings but...). Well worth listening to.
My one complaint. Is that special forces don't act like grunts. Apart from that a fantastic story
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