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Level Five

Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,200 ratings)
Regular price: $34.95
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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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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

25 of 26 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.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Get ready. It’s just a matter of time

Being a technologist I know this is no longer science fiction but rather a matter of time before most of this story becomes a reality and in our lifetime.

I can only hope humanity will lean from stories like this and do better.

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

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!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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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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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Justin
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 02-28-19

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.

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
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Great near future science fiction

loved it, great story can't wait for the next book. great pacing, great narrator, recommend 100%

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
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Engaging Sci Fi Story

The key to a gripping SF tale is the vision presented by the author in a believable format which carriers the reader on a journey to places not yet contemplated carefully. This is just such a story. The players are a bit two dimensional but not so flat that the story suffers. The story itself has us considering the effect of creating then living with truly self-conscious artificial intellects who can perceive and calculated many orders of magnitude more quickly than humans. The individual “personalities” of these entities are markedly different based upon their serial number and their experiences. The results for humanity will be catastrophic.

This is a 4.5 star book IMHO. So rounded up we give it 5 as 4 underrates the production.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful