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Publisher's Summary

In the mountains of Pakistan, a high-tech mission aimed at preventing another nuke on US soil goes off the rails - with deadly results. At a Wall Street investment firm, a computer intelligence takes the first tentative steps to free itself from its digital restraints. In a basement workshop, an engineer sees visions of a god who instructs him to defend the human race - by any means necessary. 

In Level Five, the debut near-future thriller by Nebula Award winner William Ledbetter, AIs battle for dominance, and nanotechnology is on the loose. And all that stands in the way of the coming apocalypse is a starry-eyed inventor who dreams of building a revolutionary new spacecraft and an intelligence agency desk jockey faced with the impossible choice of saving her daughter - or saving the world.

©2018 William Ledbetter (P)2018 Audible Originals, LLC.

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tony
  • Hot Springs, AR, United States
  • 07-20-18

A firm 4 stars.

Overall this is a satisfying audiobook if you're into artificial intelligence. I liked the AI characters the most, but I feel the narrator did a great job bringing them all to life. A few parts of the story felt a little unnecessary and 11 hours is a tad short but I'd definitely buy more from this author.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Techno thriller? Or hard science fiction? Either way, it’s excellent!

Opinions vary on technothrillers. Science fiction readers think of them as a subgenre of hard science fiction. Marketing departments disagree, treating them as a genre of their own.

But however you see them, William Ledbetter is a master. Level Five has high tech adventure worthy of Clancy or Crichton, and a vision worthy of Heinlein — but with gritty, modern world-building. This book is amazing!

The story weaves together different lines with different points of view, both human and AI. I was constantly impressed with the narrator’s ability to give each character (and their sections) a unique, recognizable voice. (Though if I have a complaint, it’s that the voice of the little girl Abby was jarring.)

Some parts of the story I could anticipate. Others kept me guessing. And the ending is audacious. I give this book my highest recommendation.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Sci-Fi!

As someone who works in this field, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of good AI sci-fi, but this novel does a terrific job of describing a world where our reliance on tech and desire to anthropomorphize our digital assistants has become second nature. When the digital assistants themselves become ‘aware and available’, the conflict and trust (or lack of it) that has been bubbling below the surface rises to the top. Great book and excellent narration!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Pretty good quasi-hard SF

Worth the credit. Solid narration (especially the differentiation between AI characters) and a relatively expected story with some nice curveballs. The setup for a sequel is pretty nice and in some ways, kinda reminded me of the beginnings of The Expanse series' narrative arc.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An excellent but surprisingly dark near-future SF

This near-future science fiction thriller liberally mixes a number of well-trodden threats in the genre; from nuclear and biological terrorism, to unchecked artificial intelligences pursuing their agendas, to weaponizing nanotechnology. And yet, Ledbetter takes on a role of an experienced DJ, remixing these familiar things in fascinating new ways, adding in a cast of fascinating characters and experimenting with interesting technologies that manage to feel both wondrous and entirely plausible within our lifetime.

Writers who are bullish on near-future technologies in ways Ledbetter appears to be earlier in the book tend to be optimists who can't help but allow their plucky technocrat protagonists to save the day in the end. Without giving away any of the plot I must say that Ledbetter does not shy away from darker sub-plots and that even the most charismatic of his characters are no more safe from the twists and turns of the plot than the Starks in George R. R. Martin novels.

This is a strong debut novel from an already-accomplished short fiction writer, and I look forward to reading or listening to whatever book he comes up with next.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A well-written and smart book, well narrated

A science fiction thriller with multiple plot lines that culminate in a well-orchestrated climax. I'm not primarily a science fiction reader, but the pacing and story carried me right through this well-written and smart book. The narrator is terrific at crafting distinct characters for all the point of view voices and really brings the story to life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great long book

It took me a while to get into the story, but once I was in I was hooked. great book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • Acworth, GA, United States
  • 10-15-18

Too short, but a real winner.

Heavy on the science, and plausible near future scenarios. I should have waited for the 2nd half before starting this one. Now my mind will run away with possiblies. Better editing could have left some dead weight out and helped with the flow.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Level Five-Great Hard Sci-Fi

Best I’ve heard in years, more please! I can hardly wait for the next book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Nanobots artificial intelligence and space oh my!

Very enjoyable! The right mix of Nanobots and artificial intelligence with just a little space to spice things up.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful