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 had some pretty high hopes for this book going in based on the mass of good reviews…I was seriously disappointed. I like fiction, but the situation still has to be plausible. There is no freaking way that all of the worlds governments are just going to hand over all of their hopes and precious materials to a group of rag-tag, untrained, and undisciplined civilians who just happened to pass a ridiculous test outlined by the new alien spacecrafts. Also, why even have the children in the beginning? This section did not add anything to the story what so ever. I get the whole emotion thing, but having the main character's children get eviscerated and then hearing that he just kind of brushes it aside was a distraction (I'm also a father). There is no way that this guy would be able to function in that situation. I do not believe that the author understood the emotional impact that this section would have on readers with children, and I found it to be a distraction throughout the whole book. Also, how does a college computer science professor suddenly (within a few months) become a leader of over 7,000 super-marines without any prior training? Having been in the military, this was way too far out for me and acted as a slap in the face for trained military leaders. The idea was good, but the authors execution was off. I will not be listening to any more of this series.
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 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.
You want me to take out both ear buds?
I’m sure I’ll take an unhelpful reviewer hit for this, but Kyle Riggs is a hypocritical moron. Within the first few chapters I found myself hoping for the death of this “great” man. I continued to pray for his untimely demise in books, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. I’m assuming he never actually bites it in 10 or 11 but really don’t care at this point. I know this is an unpopular perspective and being buried in the 4000 other reviews this will probably never even be seen, but I hope this will bring me some closure regarding this tool.
Why do I dislike this galactic hero so? Where do I begin? It could be because after a very devastating event happens to his family, he is preoccupied with banging some stranger. Perhaps it could be how he has declared himself smarter than every other being on the planet. It could possibly be irritation derived his many non logical “great ideas”. How about a combo. He continually made stupid unilateral decisions effecting the human race followed by a complete about face on the “final” decision to do the exact opposite thing (but still stupid). His decisions were based on whatever fancy he had at that moment damned be consequences.
It didn’t take long to realize how big of a tool this guy was so I don’t know why I basically listened to the whole series. I really liked the concept of the technology and if the main character was really a “hero” the series would have been great.
If you were looking for just a simple time passer with sci-fi flair, then this may fit the bill. Not much depth, 2-d characters, but lots of action. The book kind of loses the plot and wanders too much mid way through. I'd like to learn more about the aliens in the story, but not sure I'd want to sit through another one to find out. Unfortunately, there are far better SCI FI stories out there competing for my time and attention.
I will to give them a second chance. This book was horrible, but they might have wrote something good. I shouldn't hold a single book against them. But I will inspect that book more thoroughly before starting it.
The lack of character development. The main character starts flat and devoid of all emotion, and continues pretty much the same way. And no, losing loved ones is not an excuse to not having emotions.
The disregard of the ways physical changes to the characters would affect their behaviour. After the main character undergoes a radical physical change, he acts the same. I would believe such a change would impact a person's character somewhat. But if that was the only thing wrong with it, I would have been more than willing to suspend my disbelief for it.
Complete disregard to the ways warfare is conducted. For some reason the author thinks that if a certain faction is comprised only of computer equivalent devices they will operate the same way as his buggy computers at home. This is Independence Day virus scheme stupid.
Sandra. As much as the story needed a female character, it could definitely do without this stereotypical buffoon. Her presence just strengthens the misogynism of the story because she is such a degrading stereotype, and she does nothing to advance the plot.
The premise sounded very promising at first, and the fast pacing makes it easy and interesting to read, but this story doesn't stand on its on.
"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 book and brilliant narrator! I am downloading the next book right after this review!
"Took a risk!"
Never been a fan of this genre before, however this was different.
I found it hard to guess what was coming next most of the time, which I enjoyed.
Going to try the next book.
"great first book"
Great first book. great story. like all the bv larsons books so far. looking forward to book 2
"Interesting But Not Compelling"
Having first come across B V Larson's work with his excellent Undying
mercenaries series and having reached the fifth and currently last book in
that series, I decided to switch to Larson's other major saga the,
Star Force books, to keep me going until the next title in the Undying Mercenaries
books becomes available.
This book started quite well and I was soon sucked into the story. however,
things started to just not feel quite right with regards the way the story
protagonist, Kyle Riggs, behaved especially given his overwhelming loss
suffered at the start of the book. There are interesting concepts here for
sure but I think the problem with this book I have is the execution rather
than the concept. I find it quite hard to put my finger on exactly what it
is about this book that doesn't sit right with me. I would describe this
story as interesting but not compelling as I found my introduction to
Larson's work was in the shape of the Undying Mercenaries books. Maybe it
feels to me that so far this first book was written for a younger target
audience than my late forties as it seemed to lack the grit and depth of detail I'd come to
expect. Many aspects of the critical elements of the narrative were just
skipped or dealt with very quickly. For example, it might have been
interesting to establish the deadly nature of the first battles with the
invading machines by inserting sections dealing with the initial encounters
during the first land battles but instead Larson basically just mentions
that all human resistance was wiped out.
Without trying to give anything away, there is no attempt to send Nano ships
to scout the area around Venus when it has been determined that Macro
activity is going on. Surely it would be obvious that some kind of
build up was going on there but yet nothing is done to monitor the evident
beachhead being made nor was any opportunity taken to launch a pre-emptive
strike upon the alien encampment there before they had become too strong or
The other thing I didn't care for was the annoying Crow character. he just
seemed too silly for my tastes and just wants to play soldiers rather than
really add anything to the story. He proves useful initially to Riggs but soon after is just a nuisance really.
Also, the Sandra character appears not much more than a lust interest for our recently bereaved professor of computer science and in fact is a student at his university and some 14 years his junior. This aspect seems rather odd to me and just a little shallow and creepy as I can think of plenty of other things more important when fighting for my life and sanity than eyeing up a young lady. Hmmm ... perhaps I am just too old to see this story element in a positive light.
Unlike Larson's Undying Mercenaries stories, I am not chomping at the bit to
get hold of the next Star Force book. I am a little ambivalent with the
story so far but I guess I will check out the second book.
. To be fair, there are many more in the Star Force collection and so
I am hoping the story will evolve and mature a bit to bolster the series as a whole.
Mark Boyett's narration as with the Undying Mercenaries series is excellent and he has an easy voice to listen to. his rendering of a flat emotionless computer voice, for example, is akin to a Vulcan from Star Trek giving a monologue and is done very well.
I am not going to suggest that potential readers of this book give it a
miss. however,, I cannot sing its praises either. As mentioned, it is
interesting but not what I would call compelling reading. I would say to
give it a shot and then make up your mind whether to move to the next in the
series or not.
"Not half bad at all"
Easy to listen to enjoyable space tail with plenty twists and turns. Characters and story develops well with well structured story!
On reflection you notice how important the deaths of Rigg's children is to the developing story line
10 of the star force books that the invincible corps saga... It's not his best but it builds a solid foundation for the series and it's done very well.
The moment Crow managed to take power through his "personality" and despite being an invidious person he develops so powerfully through the the story!
It's a great holiday listen and if you like sci-fi it's worth a punt!
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