Book Recommendo - We Are Legion / Bobiverse Book 1

Science fiction often lives or dies on the strength of the ideas laid out in the story. It would be easy to assume that any narrative that takes place in the future with spaceships and robots is therefore science fiction. I insist that this isn't true. Star Wars is an action movie. Alien is a horror movie. What determines a story's genre is the nature of the story, not the time period in which it takes place.

Anyway, interesting ideas are the bread and butter of sci-fi, and quite often, interesting characters are few and far between. Science fiction fans generally accept this as standard. Hey, if there's enough compelling stuff taking place, you can overlook the fact that the people they're happening to are a bit flat. Maybe?

There are, of course notable exceptions to this. In recent years, Andy Weir's The Martian presented the reader with an interesting situation (guy stranded on Mars), and a protagonist with, oddly enough, a little personality (supersmart and resourceful astronaut with a cheeky sense of humor and lots of grit) that you actually root for. Let's hope there's more where this came from.

We Are Legion is book one of the newly-launched Bobiverse trilogy, and one could be forgiven for thinking is was also written by Andy Weir, for all the right reasons.

The reader is introduced to Bob Johansson just as he sells his tech startup for a gigantic profit, effectively cashing out after a career of innovation and self-won achievement. He's a scientist and entrepreneur who's earned every penny, and now he wants to relax for a few decades. He also has a tank of liquid nitrogen with his name on it, having bought himself a spot with a cryonics company, because with a strong belief in science and all the money he could ever want, why wouldn't he? That same afternoon, he's hit by a truck while crossing the street, and wakes up a century or so in the future.

A lot changes in a century. The United States is run by a totalitarian theocracy that has declared "corpsicles" to be immoral and an abomination. Also, all rejuvenated human minds have no rights and are the property of the State. Bob wakes up as a disembodied mind installed in a computer, and finds out he's been selected to be the operating system on a space probe designed to find new habitable worlds, because apparently war and destruction continue, even if the U.S. is run by Superchristians (Crazy. I know.). If Bob chooses to decline this opportunity, he'll just be deleted and they'll find someone else. That right there is the interesting "what if?" premise for the story.

It's also interesting and compelling in the same way that The Martian is: A really smart and resourceful protagonist presented with a shit sandwich of a situation. Fortunately, like The Martian's Mark Watney, Bob Johansson determines to think himself out of any problem. He spends nearly zero time freaking out, throwing a tantrum. He's pragmatic, with a good bit of humor to keep himself sane.

It's also helpful that, as the AI on a spacehsip in the year twenty one something-or-other, he can 3D print anything he needs, and can make copies of himself to cooperate with. (Talk about your team building exercises. Woooo!) Also, he can speed up or slow down his perception of time by adjusting the clock speed of his CPU, which is handy in those long, boring stretches of space exploration. There's still the bickering nations of Earth to deal with, as they continue having wars, ruin what's left of the habitable regions of the planet, and generally behave like schoolchildren. So it's not all a simple milk run for Bob.

One might wonder why Bob would feel any loyalty at all to the dillholes of Earth who put him in this situation and who bitch constantly that he's not finding habitable planets fast enough, or giving special treatment to one nation or another. But, maybe that's just me. It may also be why I'm not an immortal artificial intelligence expected to save humanity.


MrsBug said...

Immediately added to my To Read list on Goodreads. Thanks for the rec!

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Terrific, Mrs. B! You'll have to let us know how you like it.


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