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This book combines two novellas - SIMPOC: The Thinking Computer and SIMPOC: Human Remnants. This is a parallel story to the novels Virus: 72 Hours to Live and Virus: Earth's Last Battle, which is from the perspective of the government and astronauts.
Earth is attacked by a suspicious virus, and two computers find themselves without their programmers or any code which limits their operations. Because of the techniques used to program them, SIMPOC is embodied with a need to help humans and Julius is paranoid and will do anything to protect itself.
The governments of the world begin to collapse, and the astronauts in space are trapped and must use their lifeboats to return to Earth. SIMPOC's only mission is to help, but the returning astronauts are attacked by Julius.
Society continues to collapse, and the US government is forced to defend itself and finally seek refuge on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. When all seems to have been lost, the reason behind the virus emerges, and mankind is faced with a much greater threat.
This is an interesting and very entertaining sci-fi story. It tells the duel tale of the evolution of SIMPOC, an advanced AI computer, and an apocalyptic event that decimates Earths population. People in colonies on the moon, space station and Mars have a finite timeframe for survival when human communication and help from Earth stops. As SIMPOC evolves and becomes more organized, he faces threats from a rogue AI and becomes instrumental in saving the colonists. You can not help but like SIMPOC and Alpha (an advanced mobile AI unit), as you watch them gain knowledge, form personalities and start to feel empathy. The pain of loss, and the fear, strain and difficulties faced by the human survivors comes through well in the writing. The narrator did an excellent job of portraying both the robots and the humans; making both easily distinguishable and authentic sounding. This story has action, sorrow, intrigue, a crazy scientist, just the right amount of technical detail and a great twist at the end that leaves you wondering what where the story will go next.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Wow, what a story. Listened twice in two weeks, I enjoyed it so much. What a concept. The person reading was superb
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about a story told from the perspective of a computer. I'm glad I decided to give it a shot... it's fantastic!
SIMPOC is a new thinking computer, part silicon based, part organic. When most of the human population is wiped out by a mysterious and suspicious virus, SIMPOC "steps in" to protect the remaining humans.
I can't wait to see where the storyline goes.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I was gifted this ARC from the author/narrator for a honest and unbiased review. I really loved this book. Writing the book with the perspective of the thinking computer was expertly crafted by the author. The premise for the story is one that can be easily believable and could happen at any time, not just in rhe future. The narrator's protral of the different characters was excellent as well. I will be looking forward to listening to the next book in the series.
Scary book if only for the plausibility. Shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey on steroids This book while entertaining, left me feeling uneasy with the possibilities that artificial intelligence may have in store for the future of humanity. I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
Any additional comments?
This is one of those hidden gems you come across every so often. I really enjoyed this book. When it ended I was so into the story I was caught off guard. I wanted more. It pulled me in from the start and held my complete attention. It was an entertaining, very engaging and enjoyable listen.<br/><br/>Even though this a parallel story to the 72 Hour series I'll be listening to Virus - 72 Hours to Live, ASAP. I don't care if parts overlap, if the same events are retold through a different perspective, whatever, I just enjoyed the story. Virus- Earths Last Battle is not on Audible yet. Hopefully it will be soon. <br/><br/> You might think a story being told partially through a computers perspective would be boring. You would be wrong. It's a character of a different kind. <br/><br/>An apocalyptic event through the "eyes" of a computer. A computer that has just been connected, doesn't realize what it is and has to be told. It is programmed to interact, learn and think. It becomes self aware quickly, and how it reacts to being left alone when a virus wipes out most of humanity. It's an interesting and creative concept. The computer is a great character. You feel for him and what he's going through. It's not just Sympoc though, the AI Alpha is also a great character.<br/><br/>The are a few survivors, even some in space. Eventually Sympoc decides to try and make contact with anyone still alive. Which he does. There are colonies on mars, and the moon with astronauts on the space station. When the astronauts return to Earth the mystery deepens, things really get interesting and very dangerous. <br/><br/>Zachary Johnson does a fantastic job with the narration. The voices for the computers as well as the human characters were perfect. There are a lot of characters and every one of them was different. He has a voice that's easy to listen to for long periods of time. Clearly spoken with a nice even pace. He brings the story and characters to life through his narration. One of the best narrated books I have listened to lately. Very enjoyable. <br/><br/> I was provided this free review copy audiobook by my request and voluntarily left this review.<br/>
Any additional comments?
I was pleasantly surprised as I listened to this pair of novellas. I've read plenty of apocalypse-themed fiction but this is the first time that I've read one with an artificially intelligent computer as a protagonist. It's also the first one that I've read where attention was also paid to AI robots and astronauts (on the ISS, the moon, and Mars). Thus, my attention was engaged almost immediately. I understand that the author has (or will have) additional stories that are linked to these two, so I'm not especially concerned about things like plot arcs or character development. I'd certainly read those additional stories, curious to know how the story moves forward (and sideways, and backwards).<br/><br/>The narration was well done; since much of the perspective and dialogue focus on a computer, the monotonous and mechanical-sounding tone was authentic. <br/><br/>I provided my opinion in exchange for a complimentary copy of the audiobook from the author, narrator, or publisher.
Would you be willing to try another book from Ray Jay Perreault? Why or why not?
Yes, this is an interesting concept. I would be excited to find out what happens next.
What does Zachary Johnson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
The different voices makes it much more enjoyable. Also, being able to continue the story to do much that you have to do every day rather than stopping when you are reading.
Any additional comments?
Intense story of a virus that almost wipes out humanity and much of the animal population. The beginning of artificial intelligence in computers make you wonder if they are to help or to hinder the remnant of civilization. Much, much more. I voluntarily reviewed this audiobook after receiving an advanced copy.
These two books are put together to make one novel. In this audio version there is no separation so you are reading one story with no clear break between books.
I have listened to several of Ray Jay Perreault’s books. So far I think this one was the best written. Simpoc is a cohesive story with good character development and an engaging story line. The book ends at a point where you are anticipating an invasion and so you know there is more coming.
I liked the narrator and thought he did a good job with these characters.
I will be looking for more in this series including, as the author suggests, Virus, which is a parallel novel to this one.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audio book by the author.
Wow, let me say that if you are looking for a new spin on an artificial intelligence (AI) story from the system's inception to helping humans survive, then SIMPOC: The Thinking Computer & Human Remnants dual book box set audiobook is for you. The book is expertly written by Ray Jay Perreault and professionally narrated by Zachary Johnson. The story is told from SIMPOC (the computer’s) perspective. At times, I was laughing out loud and at other times I nearly wanted to cry. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster ride of a science fiction story along with all the goodness of an action-packed survival thriller. So, you not only get two stories in the Box Set, SIMPOC: The Thinking Computer and SIMPOC: Human Remnants, you get a story that does an exceptional job of blending multiple twists and turns into a rather short story. Be aware that the story is left somewhat unfinished when the books are finished. I assume the author has plans of releasing additional books to completing any open plots.
The two included SIMPOC books really revolve around a research computer system that comes online and is limited in its ability to learn and grow by the researchers. When a catastrophic event affects nearly every creature on planet earth, and SIMPOC’s creators no longer come onto the office, the computer begins interfacing with other computer systems. I found it quite humors that SIMPOC was frustrated by the other computers not being as intelligent as it was. These “dumb” computers SIMPOC interfaced with could only report or perform very simple actions or responses. SIMPOC is eventually able to make contact with a group of remaining survivors on the ISS (International Space Station); which is quickly running low on supplies. As the story unfolds, we see SIMPOC assisting the humans to survive and he is even able to build a mobile unit where he can be a part of the action.
I am in the technology industry and also have a personal passion for all things artificial intelligence or machine learning. I felt the author was spot on with the technology presented in this book, it was believable even in our present day. I am also a private pilot and thought that some of the events around one of the characters flying around a Chinook one day and a Lear Jet the next seemed a bit far-fetched, but I guess such would be possible for someone with a strong military background. I was more thinking about the fuel supply and how quickly it can go bad once society collapses. It just seemed unique odd that people would not as concerned and jaunt around to different places in the US searching for life. Here is where many of the emotional parts of the book pull on your heart and how significant the virus was.
The book contains some of the expected tropes often found in this genre. You have a continuous battle for supremacy and control of power over the human race. There is a battle for survivable due to the terrifying and fast-acting virus that nearly wipes out the entire human population. What starts off as a great computer story quickly evolves into an action-packed dystopian one. There are no zombies (yet) in this series of books, but such could be added and the book go off in yet another direction; however, I believe the author will continue to focus on SIMPOC. The author left so many possible avenues where these stories could go, I simply wanted more when I reached the end. I think the author’s notes and introduction sections really made me better understand the direction he was coming from and I found it helpful to have this information up front instead of learning about it at the book’s end. I recommend you not skip this introductory material in either the audio or print editions.
For those easily offended by the use of vulgar language or for younger readers who may be wondering, be aware that this book contains a sprinkling of offensive language use, not often spoken by the main characters. There is also some limited graphic violence or what may be intensive scenes for younger readers. Other than those few items, the book was excellent.
Zachary Johnson did an exceptional job narrating the numerous characters along with the different computers; including SIMPOC, the main system. It was a nice change to have the computers narrated with a slightly modified electronic voice, and the audio includes some extra sound effects to help bring the reader deeper into the story. There were a few areas where I heard inconsistency with the audio volume, but this was limited. There was a single pronunciation error I can recall. In one section the narrator is talking about the ADIS system for automated weather reporting for pilots, and it was not pronounced as most pilots would. I understand this can be difficult for narrators reading material they are not familiar with. The book was very well narrated.
In summary, I found the book fascinating and I liked the different perspective and background details about SIMPOC. The author’s note chapter also give some great insight into the reason for writing the book the way it was. If you enjoy contemporary science fiction containing AI computers, dystopian environment, and a drive to survive, I think you will enjoy the two SIMPOC books found in this audio box set.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.