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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.

What listeners say about Level Five

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    2,403
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    1,634
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    615
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    142
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    92
Performance
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    2,968
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    1,139
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    296
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    2,137
  • 4 Stars
    1,438
  • 3 Stars
    647
  • 2 Stars
    172
  • 1 Stars
    107

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Performance! Thought Provoking

It takes concentration to grasp all the characters presented at the start of the book. I had to backtrack a number of times to get fully engaged. Once I got the main characters I got fully captivated by the story and had to listen pretty much non-stop. The performance was outstanding except for the little girl, Abbey's voice (which was a bit annoying). Overall, I loved that the book seemed contemporary while implementing a futurist's educated view of technologies. I thought the story was gripping and went right along with Isamoff's "Singularity" prediction.

20 people found this 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.

131 people found this helpful

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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.

55 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The Rise of AI Machines

This is a fanciful, yet believable enough, tale of the events leading close to Armaggedon, brought on by near-future nano-tech, AI's and of course, alternately needy, greedy, bad, lazy, paranoid, brilliant, heroic, good people. The near future USA setting is convincing enough to be unnerving. The characters are fairly interesting and nicely flawed.

With AI tech beginning to accelerate as you read this review, a question to consider is this: How soon might nano-tech advance to this story's level? Just how advanced will AI be in, say, 50 years? Here, the Level 5 AI's - - the first to, it seems, be more intelligent in many ways than humans.

Open question: If we have so much difficulty governing ourselves now (remember when we used to think that the USA could overcome most any challenge?) ...how likely is it that we will prepare ourselves for the perils of the tech of the near future?

If any of this is intriguing to you, then this audiobook is absolutely worth your time. I recommend it!

Lastly, the conclusion -- dramatic and a bit unexpected, leaves room for a sequel.

43 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

77 people found this helpful

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Engaging story

Interesting near future sci-fi mystery. Kept me engaged. I Recommend this especially after a spate of highly rated but very bad books.

16 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Why people scorn sci-fi

When I was in sixth grade and inhaling Tom Swift Jr. books, I would have absolutely loved this book. It's full of shiny tech-toys (the disassembler-replicator that plays a significant part in the plot is essentially Tom Swift's "space solartron"). But it's also full of cardboard characters and exposition in the form of clunky dialogue where people tell each other things they should both already know. Some of the ideas are fun, and I would probably have stuck with it if the writing didn't keep annoying me.

7 people found this helpful

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An interesting exploration of our potential future

I think about the future, sometimes I get paid to do it. I very much enjoy stories like this that look at what life could be like. This story exposes the fear that we have for AIs to achieve general intelligence, but also a tempered optimism about the opportunity to coexist with them. I think the author did a great job of delving into our lives enhanced with technology (including approaching a singularity like moment) and the threats inherent in that. The narration was great, there were very distinct voices that made each character instantly discernible. Worth a listen.

19 people found this helpful

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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!

49 people found this helpful

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this made me late for work

this book kept me up multiple nights waiting to get to the next chapter the narrator was by far attention-grabbing 10 out of 10 would recommend to anyone

30 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-20-19

Slow and boring for 90%

Struggled to finish, some good ideas with the AIs and Nanobots but very slow to get going.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Aussie
  • 07-01-19

Spy sci-fi

I greatly enjoyed earlier works by the author. this was touted as a kind of spy thriller scifi so i decided to try it. found i dont like spy thrillers. I struggled to get through it. About half way through I began to enjoy it and the last few chapters were gems. The narrator was very good. Each character had a distinctive voice.

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  • Mark C
  • 05-17-19

Excellent scifi

A thoroughly enjoyable story and performance. Twists and turns, and actually a bit thought provoking too. Really enjoyed this one.