We are Legion (We are Bob) (Bobiverse Book 1) is a lot of fun but read the caveats before you buy.
Plot and World Building
Bob sells his software company and signs up to be frozen for eventual resuscitation just before he dies in a traffic accident. He wakes up about 100 years later, this time as a “replicant”, a personality and mind uploaded into a computer program. He learns he has zero rights and has the opportunity to become an interstellar probe pilot – or be turned off. To add challenge, there are 5 other replicants who have the same opportunity.
Bob’s a competitive guy and decides to win.
Bob’s new world is grimmer than ours. The US no longer exists and is now a theocracy centered in the Pacific Northwest. Brazil among other countries is also building probes using artificially recreated personalities and the world is in an arms race. Bob manages to get off the planet and launch towards Epsilon Eridanni just ahead of Brazil’s attack.
Here’s where Bob’s software background gets handy. Bob is able to weed through his programming and remove several backdoor control points and rebuild himself as autonomous. He decides to go ahead with the mission anyway.
Bob gets to his target system and explores a bit, encounters the murderous Brazilian probe, fights the Brazilian off. Bob clones himself and puts his copies – who are also autonomous individuals – into their own spaceships. Howard and Will return to Earth. Good thing too, because one of the Brazilian software clones is slinging asteroids – big ones, planet killer types – at Earth. Over 95% of humanity has died off from the prior wars and now the Brazilian’s asteroid attack will kill everyone left.
Much of the plot after this point turns on how to rescue the remaining people on Earth: Where to move them to, how to get them there, who first, so on.
Parallel plots center around Bob and the main clone characters.
Bob is the main character in this novel of course, but he also clones himself and makes Bill and Homer, then many more generations. Each has slightly different interests but all are quirky, nerdy types, the ones you figure will keep their teen senses of humor forever.
Bob discovers the Deltans, a race of primitive folks just beginning their stone age and is fascinated with the culture.
Will aka Riker (one of too many Star Trek jokes) and Howard go back to Earth and spend their time helping the folks left, and eventually to evacuate them.
Bill is actually a more interesting character than Bob. Bill tinkers and explores and develops faster-than-light communication in this first book and later develops other neat whiz-bang things. Bill also acts as the hub for the Bobiverse as it grows to include about 100 Bobs.
Dennis Taylor does a decent job showing us the different Bob variants although he also does a fair amount of telling. It seemed like he created so many variants mostly to have a lot of names around; we have 3 or 4 main Bobs in this first book and a few more in each of the sequels that play noticeable roles.
I suspect it’s kind of hard to have a lot of character development when your character is a computer program. The basic premise is that the program is scanned from Bob’s brain and contains his personality along with generic computer capabilities and this personality can adapt and change. Still, character development is somewhat thin in this and successive books in the series.
As I said in the title of this post, We are Legion (We are Bob) and its sequels are a lot of fun. The Bobs explore our tiny neighborhood in the galaxy; they meet new civilizations and peoples; they rescue humanity from death. The book is fast-paced and overall most enjoyable.
However. The author apparently believes that religious belief is ridiculous and that there are enough Christian nutcases to go create a theocracy. It reminded me of some of the more fervid nightmares people foamed about during Bush’s presidency. Taylor inserts Trump into the story a bit too.
I don’t know whether the author is an atheist; to me this attitude was just a backdrop for the story.
There is also a lot of gee-whiz going on. Bob tells us that the basic prerequisites for interstellar work are the 3-D printer and intelligent software.
The 3-D printer is souped up version, able to layer individual atoms to build anything from elaborate computer cores sufficient to hold a Bob clone, to new spacecraft, to bombs. About the only thing it can’t print is something alive or food. (I think its problem with food may be more because it would be grossly inefficient rather than technically impossible.) Now years ago I was a research chemist. Just because you stick two atoms next to each other, even if aligned just exactly right, Mother Nature is stubborn and you might not get the chemical reaction you want. I don’t see how a 3-D printer could assemble atoms into plastic, for example. (Today’s printers today use plastic as raw material.)
Even if you believe the 3-D printer could assemble mining robots, etc., etc., to go build a new spacecraft with computer core, I think the timescale is off. In the book Bob/Bill/Howard are independent within a few years. That brings me to the final point, the idea of copying someone into a computer. Frankly I don’t believe it. Perhaps it might be possible to load memories into non-brain storage, but I don’t see how copying memories will create a personality, one that is inherently a person, not a program.
If you can ignore the gosh-darn technological wonder doings and don’t take the idiotic anti-Christian backdrop personally then it’s a blast. Don’t look for outstanding writing or subtle character building; this isn’t literature. Instead enjoy for what this novel is, entertainment.
5 Stars for entertainment.
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