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 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.
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'm a bit more lenient with an author's first book, and this was a quick and enjoyable listen. It kept my interest pretty much the whole way through. It starts very unconventionally, which really keeps you guessing as to what will happen next. The main character gets abducted by an alien ship, has to pass several tests, and then gets put in charge and forced to fight another invading alien force. It feels very original since it could go anywhere.
Then about halfway through the books really speeds up and devolves into a more traditional marine military sci fi. The author skips a lot of time as forces build up and alien technology is proliferated in order to fight a huge ground war, and most of the latter half is filled with bloody ground battles. This part is more disappointing as it loses much of its originality and actually feels like a different book.
Then the very end puts on a twist that I didn't expect. I wondered how the next book would get set up and whether it was just a continuation of the battles we've seen. But instead something unexpected occurs and leaves a huge hook for future books. I'm interested to see where it goes from here.
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.
Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL
i'm a casual scifi reader. i've read a few, but scifi is usually my 3rd stop when looking for something new. i like standalone books, but i'm drawn to series. i was drawn to this book based on the plot, number of reviews, and the high ratings. so, i gave it a try, and i'm glad i did.
i've read hard scifi and military scifi where you really have to pay attention or rewind to get it. the alien technology in this book easily makes sense since nanotechnology has become so mainstream the last few years. the tech is cool, and you can see how it works, and the potential benefits. the tech makes sense so you can understand how our hero uses it.
speaking of our hero, riggs, he is a college professor. he teaches computer science. this is a cool twist b/c you can see how he interacts with the aliens. i'm not giving anything away by saying the aliens are machines. it's fascinating to witness riggs learn how manipulate the machines' programming to answer his questions and accomplish his goals. i write code all day long for work, but you don't need to understand programming to understand and enjoy riggs' interaction and manipulation of the machines' code.
the story opens with riggs being abducted by a spaceship in the middle of the night. i won't give much away, but riggs eventually gains control of the ship. he learns that over 700 other ships have been scouring the earth looking for "the right kind of people." just as riggs and the others start to gain some semblance of understanding what's going on and how to manipulate their ships, their ships take off into outer space declaring enemy detected. the enemy is another group of machines, who riggs names the macros. they are after earth's resources.
this book has battles in space and on the earth. the macros are cold, heartless, and relentless, just as you would expect. there's a lot of plotting and in-fighting between the earth's forces even as the macros attack and slaughter millions.
the battle scenes are well drawn out and smartly done. the space battles are a match of wits; whereas the earth-based are battles of attrition.
the book is fast-paced and enjoyable with a touch of mystery. the review, mark, puts it perfectly, " 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."
note: mark, i hope you don't get pissed that i quote you, but you put it so aptly.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"Great - fresh and ready scifi."
Easy to listen to. Not a hugely taxing plot. Candyfloss Sci-Fi. But kept me well entertained. Not Lord of the Rings but when you want a slice of cake you dont want a 3 course meal.
"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!
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