A fast-paced, gritty, space-opera based on cutting edge science, perfect for fans of Peter F Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds.
Roboteer is a hard-SF novel set in a future in which the colonization of the stars has turned out to be anything but easy, and civilization on Earth has collapsed under the pressure of relentless mutual terrorism.
Alexander Lamb splits his time between writing science fiction, software engineering, teaching improvised theater, running business communication skills workshops, and conducting complex systems research.
In his day jobs, Alex has worked on a myriad of unrelated software projects, including mobile applications for biologists and publishers, risk analysis software for banks, large-scale simulation of battlefields for the US Army, hyper-optimized software interfaces for major US corporations, and novel machine-learning applications for Silicon Valley start-ups.
He has also held the position of Research Scholar in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dept. at Princeton University, where he worked on computer simulations of complex systems. His research has spanned the simulation of gossip, the formation of human cultural norms, the arise of wealth inequality in society, new algorithms for general machine intelligence, and the modeling of the Planck-length structure of spacetime. He has several blogs, one focussed on behavior science and improv, the other on algorithmic approaches to physics.
As an improviser, Alex has founded three theater companies and is the inventor of the archetypal improv style, a technique used to bring Joseph Campbell’s theories of narrative structure to unscripted theater. As Britain’s foremost expert on spontaneous plotting, he has created play formats now used and enjoyed across the world from London to San Francisco.
As a trainer, he has worked with CEOs, high school students, international sales professionals, astrophysicists, doctors, world-class athletes, and graduate students. He has twice been a speaker at ASTD International—the largest business training conference in the world.
Along with his novels, he has two pieces of short fiction in print, Ithrulene, a short story in the Polyphony 5 anthology by Wheatland Press. He is a graduate of the Clarion West writers program and a Milford group attendee.
He currently lives in Santa Cruz, California with his wife, Genevieve Graves, (an award-winning astrophysicist turned data scientist), and his three-year-old son, Thorfinn.
So. The new Space Opera. Is it just me or has there been an influx of this sort of thing the last few years? And I’m certainly not complaining.
Roboteer is the first in a trilogy, but it is also the debut novel by the author. It succeeds well enough in both these instances. Yes, there are some issues, but it’s hardly fair to expect any author to enter the fray with all their skills fully formed.
Perhaps, now that I’ve mentioned the issues, I might as well get them out of the way. Yes, they have to do with the political and religious aspects, which other reviewers have already pointed out. For some reason the way all of this is portrayed also reminded me of The Saga Of Seven Suns by Kevin J. Anderson [this is not meant as negative critique on that series]. But let’s be honest, these don’t take up a big portion of the novel, which is a saving grace…..
….which brings me to one more problem I experienced. Around the halfway mark this book quite literally grinds to a halt for a few chapters (just a whole lot of psychologic torture and whatnot). Now, pay attention to what I’m saying next before crucifying me: I understand why this is necessary (it acts as a catalyst for [spoiler – spoiler – spoiler] and sets up the second act of the book), but it was slow going to read, especially measured against the rather frenetic pacing of the rest of the book.
Now on to bigger and better things
And this is really my review, if you will.
With elements of The Matrix (or if you prefer a literary analog, Neuromancer) in Space, a smattering of hard-ish but edgy sounding science and more than a little military science fiction, this is Space Opera light (because it’s not quite on the same scale as, say, Peter F. Hamilton) that should appeal to most readers of Sci-Fi.
It’s a pretty “visual” novel with some nice flourishes, such as derelict spaceship graveyards, alien relics, and the like. As far as tropes are concerned, you’ll likely identify a few, such as the messiah figure a la Paul Atreides. It didn’t bother me none, though. And finally: watch out for the H.R. Giger approved imagery towards the end of the story.
And speaking of endings: while I wasn’t totally convinced with how everything panned out, it does blow the story wide open and there’s no real limit where the trilogy can go from here. I hope to read the sequels soon, since I’m hoping that the author will really manage to push this story into Alastair Reynolds or the aforementioned Hamilton territory (I’m taking a wild guess here, but it looked to me like this was his aspiration from the start).
Really, really fun; a great page-turner indeed. The unfortunate title (suggestive of second-class tabloid-like science fiction), does not render justice to this well written, fast-paced, riveting example of the new type of contemporary Space Opera so well represented by the likes of Alastair Reynolds. I am actually starting to develop some hope that good Science fiction is not moribund, but getting a new lease of life with this new generation of brilliant authors.
A page turner that at times recalls a mixture of "Ready Player One" and "The Matrix", this book delivers some credible and at times fascinating world-building, interesting characters, a well-orchestrated plot, intriguing technologies and quite original ideas. The depiction of the theocratic, illiberal society on Earth (whose main features of climate change denial, religious fundamentalism, hostility to innovations as well as to cultural sophistication and diversity, and misogynist attitudes all frequently call to mind Trump's America), is rendered quite compellingly, especially in its contrast to the flexible, adventurous and open society of the space colonies. There are also moments where the author, in its visual descriptive mastery (spaceship graveyards, alien relics, immense spaceships etc.), does get almost to the visionary brilliance of Alastair Reynolds.
It is not a perfect book, mind you: the finale seems a bit rushed and at times the book does require a bit too much suspension of disbelief (well, it is Hard Science Fiction after all), and the narrative was really a bit cliched in a couple of instances; moreover, the author does not really seem to be proficient with the latest developments of AI.
Apart from these issues, however, it is still quite an enjoyable read. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
fast and fun so far (about 100 pages in); curious if it will hold my interest as the politics and characters are very cardboard so far, but the sfnal stuff is exciting
finally finished the book and it was a fast but ultimately unmemorable read - mostly cliched stuff about a religious empire which plans to overwhelm the good guys by numbers and firepower, but the good guys stumble (using the bad guys unintentional inquiry into) godlike supertech with which they win despite being outnumbered zillions to one in both people and warships
the writing would have been superb in the golden age when such tales were in vogue, but it is only passable today and the characters are again standard cliche ones from space opera
overall nothing special but still a readable book - there may be a sequel dealing with the super-aliens but the book closes its main storyline in a definite way, so none is really needed
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)
The starship Ariel is on a mission of the utmost secrecy, upon which the fate of thousands of lives depend. Though the ship is a mile long, its six crew are crammed into a space barely large enough for them to stand. Five are officers, geniuses in their field. The other is Will Kuno-Monet, the man responsible for single-handedly running a ship comprised of the most dangerous and delicate technology that mankind has ever devised. He is the Roboteer. Roboteer is a hard-SF novel set in a future in which the colonization of the stars has turned out to be anything but easy, and civilization on Earth has collapsed under the pressure of relentless mutual terrorism. Small human settlements cling to barely habitable planets. Without support from a home-world they have had to develop ways of life heavily dependent on robotics and genetic engineering. Then out of the ruins of Earth's once great empire, a new force arises - a world-spanning religion bent on the conversion of all mankind to its creed. It sends fleets of starships to reclaim the colonies. But the colonies don't want to be reclaimed. Mankind's first interstellar war begins. It is dirty, dangerous and hideously costly. Will is a man bred to interface with the robots that his home-world Galatea desperately needs to survive. He finds himself sent behind enemy lines to discover the secret of their newest weapon. What he discovers will transform their understanding of both science and civilization forever... but at a cost.
I don't read as much SF as I used to...but it is stories like this that made me used to enjoy the genre so much!
The thing that good Sci-Fi does for me is it takes impressive and complex technology and presents it to the reader in such a way that you never feel like you don't understand. And in Roboteer, author Alex Lamb has done just that. Not only that, he has planted it into a fast-paced novel that really hums along.
The other thing that really elevates this above other sci-fi fiction are the characters...Will is the almost perfect main character. He is easy to like from the very get-go - as was Rachel, who was a tough nut, for sure! The other cast certainly brought this ensamble to a higher level.
The one downside, for me, was the slightly disappointing lack of female characters. Rachel was great...but there was very little otherwise. There are some great female-led sci-fi novels, and this one was just lacking a little bit.
Overall, though, this was a very good piece of sci-fi and one that I recommend completely.
It has been a few years since I last read a Space Opera, and judging by ROBOTEER Space Opera is still in very fine shape.
Alex Lamb invents some high concepts and intriguing technologies, and then shows off a real gift for explaining them in a simple and fascinating way. A riveting story of the human race, the far future, and first contact, this has the coolest spaceships around, some original and engaging methods of fighting in space, and, of course, Will Kuno-Monet, the Roboteer, who has to prove that humans have the right to exist in the universe.
Science Fiction när man behöver science fiction. Bra bok om man behöver något i genren, men vill hålla det okomplicerat. Kommer inte fortsätta läsa serien, men det sköna med boken är att den ger ett tillfredsställande slut.
Svävande på gränsen mellan att vara lite hårdare Scifi och klassiskt rymdäventyr, men håller sig till mer lättsmällt och lättläslig text.
Vissa saker gillade jag inte med boken, men är man förtjust i dessa element är boken säkert mycket mer tilltalande till den läsaren. Mycket av de var intressanta, men utvecklade sig till slut lite tråkigt. Främst var det romansen, fängelsedelen och misstroendet av huvudpersonens motiv.
3.5 Stars Fast paced and engrossing, this novel was an excellent example of space opera. The science fiction aspects were very accessible with straight-forward world building that was easy to understand. The novel used technology, particularly the roboteering, in creative and captivating ways. The military fight scenes were exciting and easy to follow, without overpowering the other aspects of the story. Unfortunately, the writing was not particularly strong with some very cheesy dialogue. The characters felt largely one dimensional, particularly the stereotypical fanatical religious zealots. At times, the story was quite predictable and cliche, relying on overused tropes of the genre. While this book certainly had its flaws, I would still recommend this to readers looking for an engaging and entertaining space opera. I plan on continuing on with this trilogy.
Judged purely on its title and cover, Alex Lamb’s Roboteer could very well be mistaken for the sort of third-rate pulp fiction that many people still associate with sci-fi as a genre. In fact, upon closer inspection it turns out to be a gripping, characterful epic set to a grim future backdrop of religion, morality, and mankind’s inherent flaws. It features Will, a young man genetically engineered to be capable of programming and controlling thousands of semi-aware robots, who is thrust into a new crew aboard a high-stakes mission that might affect the very future of his race.
I really liked this book, the story is very elaborate, very solid, a real intelligent and detailed space opera. The characters are all successful, including the earthlings. For once, the "bad guys" point of view isn't boring. The idea of a united Terran government thanks to fanaticism and the enemy outside is a nice find, and that General Ulanu is a great character. The book is full of these good ideas: the permanent doubt that assails the protagonists (about aliens and their motivations, but also their own convictions about their society) is well seen. The idea of the function of Roboteer, under-caste of an advanced culture, is also very well found. The contamination of Will by the transcendent is also one of the strong points of the book. The twists and turns are well found, they are often real surprises (it's rare!). The outcome is particularly successful, while remaining very credible, which is often a challenge with stakes as enormous as the survival of humanity.
Strangely, I had a lot of trouble getting into the book, especially since the beginning (before the integration of Will into the Ariel) is not the strong point of the book. The author's style is not my cup of tea: not an easy read for me. And I didn't like the long run over New Angeles with the resistance. (That was a little boring).
But all the rest is awesome! Will read the next one.
Not so long ago I read a very daring Science Fiction story that was also published by Gollancz, Crashing Heaven from Al Robertson, which I loved. Science Fiction is a genre where lots of things can and are explored. An aspect where Alex Lamb doesn't shy away from as well. Roboteer well what more is there to say than that it is a heavy contender for getting on the best of Science Fiction list for 2015. Roboteer is daring, it is engaging and has just a lot of cool concepts working in very well. A truly stellar debut. Gollancz is on the right track when it comes to publishing SF, already two very solid titles under its belt!
In Roboteer you follow the main protagonist, Will Kuno-Monet. When I read the first sentence of the book I was like: What!? Then I read it again and I was like: What? Then I decided to continue and it all started to make sense. This first sentence alone triggered my curiosity, nicely done. Here you learn that Will is a Roboteer, a Roboteer has the gift to interact and control machines, from drones to big robots etc. how cool is that! Will is a Galatean, humans who fled the Earth to some very hostile places in the universe and resorted to genetic engineering to make sure that they had any chance to survive. Earth is still inhabited by people who see themselves as normal and where the Galateans are seen to as filth, they have a mission and that is to wipe the Galateans of the Earth. For a long time this was has gone on already, though the Galateans are far more superior in their technology, the Earthers have strenght in numbers which make gaining the upperhand a tough job. During a mission Will learns that the Earthers have a piece of technology that is far stronger than what they had been able to design over the last years, and he learns that it will, not could, but it will end the war in favor for the Earthers. They now both have strength in number and the technology. Will gets drafted onto a special Galatean spaceship with other elite memberst to find a way to make sure the Earthers technology doesn't see the light of day. A race is on to stop the Earthers, a dangerous race where Will discovers some amazing secrets of the universe that could just make the fight in their favor... could just.
I am mightly impressed with the story that Alex Lamb has put down in Roboteer and the more I think about it the more I start to like the story and premise that he has created. The story is divided into multiple perspectives that of Will, Ira the commander of the Ariel and that of the religion Earthers, General Gustav. The executing of these perspectives is very well done, the perspectives are mostly personal scenes that you read and this added a very nice depth, pacing and forces you to find out what happens next. And as I always say when you see all the sides of a story, the dynamic is high, since you see each side plotting and thinking about their next strategy. Alex Lamb has a very engaging writing style, directly to the point, without a sacrifice of showing how big his universe truly is, the sense of wonder is easily achieved.
When it comes down to the characters. The main protagonist Will is mostly in the picture, it is his adventure. What makes Will a lovable character is the background that Alex Lamb has created behind his character, it is extensive and it comes to show that Will hasn't had the best of youths possible. In his current situation its also not for the better, when he steps on board the Ariel, he is facing another rough time. With all this happening to Will's character I really started to feel for him, he just wants to be accepted for what he does. Because what he does, is remarkable and his crew should thank him for what he can do to be honest. From the rough start up until the end of the book there is nice development in Will's character as he becomes more and more resolute and starts to shine. The secondary characters in the book, like Will's other crew members and the prophets each contribute to the storyline and readily help to make it go forward, I liked the characters don't get me wrong, they had their own quirky habits and personalities but in the end I kind off missed that little bit extra that would have made them really stand out and also connect with them more.
As I mentioned above, Science Fiction is the genre to show technology, and here Alex Lamb is no stranger. There are many different forms of it, from the genetic engineering side and what the Galateans are all capable off, down to the sun-tech part and the spaceships. It's just awesome and the way that Alex Lamb explains the things, it isn't high tech at all, it feels like every day technology, you don't have to have a PhD in science to understand. In the end its just awesome. Again I have to stress the part of Will and his being a Roboteer and all that he is capable of, just frickin awesome. I want to be able to do that! Added to this comes a very nice world building. There is great diversity in where it takes place, in outer space in the Ariel and scenes back on Earth with the Earthers prophet. What cannot be missed in such a Space Opera is of course a higher entity then the human. Oops did I say to much?
Alex Lamb's debut, Roboteer is hands down an awesome debut. Science FIction is a saturated genre but Roboteer breaks through it and, well smashes through with is with some very cool new ideas. Alex Lamb knows how to write a cool and engaging story. From the big picture of world building down to the critical features of mechanisms that make it twist and turn, the technology, and most importantly the characters, everything is shows until into the fine detail. I am looking forward to reading more of Alex Lamb's books, if this is just the start, hang on to your hats!
I absolutely loved this book. Join roboteer Will Kuno-Monet and the captain and crew of the Ariel on their adventure in outer space and their fight not only for own survival, but to save the human race.
Imagine the future, where life as we know it no longer exists. The Earth is ruled by the Prophet and his religious doctrine is the legal order. No one is entitled to freedom of thought or speech, the Prophet and his minions rule with an iron fist.
In outer space are the few who have escaped earth, they have adapted to their new way of life by adapting themselves! With genetic modification and technology they have found a way to survive.
The characters are all beautifully written, Will makes you love him immediately. Ira is the strong silent type who is loyal to the last. Rachel is kind, caring, and can kick some serious butt! Amy is not only brilliant but also holds the team together when things start to go awry. John is the sarcastic genius. Hugo, I have renamed Hugo the annoying. On the other side we have the Prophet, who, as any other dictator is only interested in himself, his wealth and his precious ideas. General Gustav Ulanu, who believes that science and knowledge are the values on which we should build our lives upon. Admiral Konrad Tang, with the need to be right and to win at all costs. Disciple Rodriguez a pious, narcissistic, slimy little man with no soul. And the Transcended, are they guardians or bullies?
Fantastical spaceships, sensational battles, warp speed flight, aliens that step in and not only move the goalpost but change everything anyone thinks they know! A story that makes you wonder what it is that makes us human.
I adored every moment of this book, the writing is exquisite and evocative, "Above them was a sky full of floating stuff, like clouds from some heavy-metal hell - gunmetal clouds with thorns.". I can't wait for the sequel.
A lot more sophisticated than the title makes it sound (I assumed it was going to be some sort of Pacific Rim type thing about giant robots). But it primarily concerns a future war between religious fanatics and augmented humans that deviate from their dogmatic notion of what constitutes humanity (and that's a fairly simplified explanation). The nature of said war involves humans interacting with machines and hacking rather than traditional guns and dogfights (though that sort of stuff is very much in there) it takes a bit of getting used to before it becomes easier to follow the course of action. I found it lagged a little towards the middle, but it really comes on strong on the final few chapters with a very tangible sense of peril right up to the end.
Even with the book kicking off with a space battle, it was pretty slow going until around page 100, when the book started to get more interesting. Roboteer highlights the battle between two forces at work, pure good represented by the Galateans and pure evil represented by Earth in a space opera setting. The finale felt rushed and unlikely given Earth's past history.
As this is Lamb's first published novel, I guess I have to cut him some slack, but the characters are flat and the writing is often plodding. His space battles can't hold a candle to Neal Asher, but still the future science in the book was interesting to me.
Overall, the book reads like something written in the 1940's and featured in the SF pulp mags extant then.
Roboteer is a better book than I thought. I was told it was military science fiction but its more a combination of first contact, space opera and cyberpunk. Humanity has split in two, religious fanatics and robotics fanatics. The book is about how the fight between these two is influenced by the discovery of an alien race.
Lamb moves the book along at a good pace although the story is split into two perspectives which as always destroys some of the fun. The science involved is standard science fiction ie it borders on fantasy, too much for my taste.
Roboteer is space battles, alien tech, politics and even a refreshingly small love story well merged into one not all too long book. I didnt think so at the start but I may end up reading book two in the roboteer trilogy.
Great ideas and interesting world building, but in the first 100 pages there are maybe 15 characters and all but one are males. And she is described as "curvaceous". After reading about great female characters in Poseidon's Wake, Seveneves, A Prospect of War or Aurora, this feels very outdated. Roboteer is not for me, but I'll try Alex Lamb's next novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this. A really cracking story with great pacing. I felt it was a bit clichéd in places and was tempted to give it 3 stars for this reason, but at the end of the day I enjoyed it too much to do that. And isn't enjoyment the point?
Had me interested to begin with, but I was ground down by the cliches, cardboard/irrational characters, and inherent deus-ex-machina nature of the aliens+the power they suddenly bestow on the main characters.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
GMO remote control operator saves humanity. About 150 thousand words or a 12 and a half hour read.
It's a page turner, captivating writing, well orchestrated plot. I liked the extended use of the Anubis trope, implemented as some advanced civilization weighs humanity, and decides if humanity will live or die -- reminds me a bit of the existing galactic alliances and interactions with soul advisors. That's all the good I have to say about, and is why I gave it a whole three stars.
The high tech was limited to space travel, some weapons and genetic technology. The "robots" in it were made stupid by some fictional "brache's limit", so most seemed to have about as much processing power as a thermostat. The most cognitively advanced robot was the self-driving bus that dropped off the main character, in the first couple of chapters. After that the agency of robots in the book rapidly deteriorated. It seemed that as the book went on, the robots just got stupider.
The main focus was genetics. Though there were highly restrictive GMO societies -- where people needed to have permits to have children -- they still had reproductive organs. All the humans and aliens in the book were surface dwellers.
My conclusion is that the author did no research on AI/robotics, nor did they do any research on (Grey) aliens. If I'd take a guess they started the idea for the book in the 90's, because most of the AI's weren't much more sophisticated than the stuff we had back then (insect level intelligence). A modern day smartphone has more processing power than some of those robots.
I had a small hope, that maybe the main character Will, would become more of a robot, and thus make it worthwhile. But now, instead he became more water-sack, draining my like of the book further.
By making him more biological things actually started making even less sense. Like with 100's of kilometers of brain distributed around the ship, the lag would be enormous, so rather than time seeming to be slower, it would seem to be faster. Similar to how a fly can think much more quickly than a human, because it's brain is so much smaller, the lag is also tiny. Even so neuron signals travel at about 2% of the speed of light, or about 500km/h, so it could take a whole second for a brain several hundred kilometers in circumference to synchronize -- humans synchronize about 20-30 times a second during waking consciousness.
Whereas if instead it was a computer brain, with signals traveling at near the speed of light, would be able to synchronize more than 500 times a second -- still a lot slower than modern processors but our processors are usually a few centimeters across, so can synchronize billions of times a second. Would be much better served with having a small but powerful processor next to each gun, which could run an auto-targeting program. The central processor could dictate strategy or the sector map which the guns should focus on.
Anyways since there is pretty much no hope of sentient robots showing up in this series I wont be getting anymore books in it.
I got it used for about $10 on abebooks. I'm happy I didn't pay more, as it was pretty much a disappointment. I was hoping something with the word "robot" in the title, would have sentient robots. Not some DNA supremacists.
This story follows a somewhat can do no wrong boy called "Will Kuno-Monet". Will is an officer in the Galatea space fleet, and as a "Roboteer" is in charge of managing the robots on their starship, which he has been genetically modified to do so. This genetic modification makes him a high functioning autistic, but gains him the ability to communicate mentally with machines and other roboteers.
The Galatea space fleet is at war with Earth, who have conquered the majority of their colonies. The Earth is driven by a religious furvor spurned on by a uniting "Prophet" who has brought together all the religions on earth to create peace, by running this crusade. The basis of this crusade is that the word of god is litterally human DNA and as such, by modifying themselves, Galateans have corrupted the will of god.
I quite liked this story, the man plot follows a small subset of characters that are after a particular bit of technology, and it works quite well as a motivator. Of course this does get a little Deus Ex Machina at times but it's not too bad. It also means that we don't need to think too hard about the practicalities of the war.
Practicalities are somewhat why this book falls down though, there is little tactics involved in the book and much more pseudo political intrege. Some practical explanation as to why the Earth doesn't collapse into infighting might be nice, beyond "their leader is super good at political engineering", and some explanation as to why exatly Galatea developed the roboteer technology and earth did not, also would be good.
Also the main character is maybe a little too can do no wrong. It'd be good if they fucked up sometimes, rather than .
Having said all that, the fast pace low effort enjoyment of this book does mean I'll probably find myself reading the next in the series.
I really appreciate works that explore the boundaries of what it means to be human by playing with the notions of genetic and/or technical modifcations of humans and the human body, and that is exactly what this novel does. I personally would have liked a bit more detailed descriptions of those modifications, especially regarding the roboteers, but even without those in-depth descriptions the novel manages to depict the conflict between the pro- and con-modifiers very well. Although I think this novel is a fine work of space-opera, it lacks the detailed world-building that space operas from for instance Peter F. Hamilton and Iain M. Banks do have, and what can make a work really stand out. Roboteer mentions a lot of aspects which lend themselves very well for detailed descriptions: non-Terran based colonies; notions of terraforming; the degraded state of the Earth itself. Yet, in case of the former two we only get glimpses, and the latter isn't even really depicted but only hinted at. I would have really liked a more detailed description of Galatea and the terraforming processes that the roboteers were initially created for, and of what state the Earth was in that it gave rise to a space diaspora and to Truism. On the other hand, and what makes the novel really great, the depiction of the space battles and everything involved is amazing - no details left out here - and the descriptions of the Alien civilization that was (alledgedly) destroyed by the ascended is phenomenal as well. Additionally, the characters are well rounded and the character development is great. Overall, the depictions of the characters, the starships, the battles, and the conflicts really make you feel involved, and make you think about the possible consequences of both religious fanaticism, and genetic and technological modifications of humans with regards to the idea of 'humanity'. What makes humans 'human', and what makes 'humanity'? Is this a concept that is open to change, or will changes mean that 'humanity' isn't humanity anymore?
Roboteers are typically autistic savants altered to be used for the telepathic operation of complex systems (such as space ships and complex machines), although the main character (Will) is more socially adept than most. He also receives a message from an alien race which threatens to destroy all humans if they continue on their destructive course and threaten the rest of the galaxy (and beyond). He becomes involved in an alien alteration of his body at the cellular level.
Meanwhile, the people who had left Earth long ago (and who have engaged in genetic mutation and use roboteers) and are terraforming Galatea are under attack by Earthers who believe that the Galateans are inhuman monsters. (Also proclaiming them to be the enemy provides a common enemy to focus on so that all the Earth civil wars are stopped to focus on these inhuman humans.) Earthers are strict religionists and the spacers such as those on Galatea are capitalist and democratic (and maligned as having "intellectual avarice.")
Various philosophical issues mixed in with the fast moving plot.
What is the internal mind of an alien? What assumptions are different? Does a more advanced race have the right to decide whether another race is defective and needs to be exterminated?
The characters are distinctive, but they could have been fleshed out more with assorted idiosyncracies and personality traits.
Roboteer is the first book in debut author Alex Lamb’s Roboteer trilogy. Released in 2015, Roboteer is the kind of novel that calls to me to read – it has everything that I want in a science fiction novel. However, despite trying to read it on its release, I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story. With the mass-market paperback out in February 2016, it reminded me to return to the novel and give it another go, hoping that I was in a better frame of mind to enjoy what was on offer. And enjoy it I did, though not without some reservations.
From the publisher: The starship Ariel is on a mission of the utmost secrecy, upon which the fate of thousands of lives depend. Though the ship is a mile long, its six crew are crammed into a space barely large enough for them to stand. Five are officers, geniuses in their field. The other is Will Kuno-Monet, the man responsible for single-handedly running a ship comprised of the most dangerous and delicate technology that mankind has ever devised. He is the Roboteer. Roboteer is a hard-SF novel set in a future in which the colonization of the stars has turned out to be anything but easy, and civilization on Earth has collapsed under the pressure of relentless mutual terrorism. Small human settlements cling to barely habitable planets. Without support from a home-world they have had to develop ways of life heavily dependent on robotics and genetic engineering. Then out of the ruins of Earth’s once great empire, a new force arises – a world-spanning religion bent on the conversion of all mankind to its creed. It sends fleets of starships to reclaim the colonies. But the colonies don’t want to be reclaimed. Mankind’s first interstellar war begins. It is dirty, dangerous and hideously costly. Will is a man bred to interface with the robots that his home-world Galatea desperately needs to survive. He finds himself sent behind enemy lines to discover the secret of their newest weapon. What he discovers will transform their understanding of both science and civilization forever… but at a cost.
Roboteer starts with a bang – a space battle to control an antimatter refuelling station in a system that will give the victor a strong base for either offensive or defensive reasons. We see the forces of Galatea, a colony founded by rich corporations that left Earth as its resources dwindled, defending against the religiously hard-line forces of Earth, though not all is straightforward. While Galatea has a clear technological advantage due to its embracing nature of genetic adaption and AI technology, Earth has the weight of numbers – and a seemingly new and extremely powerful technology. It’s from here that Lamb launches us into the interstellar battle for humanity’s future, and one that is fraught with danger, intrigue, and secrets millions of years old.
We follow events that are told through the eyes of our protagonists, Will Kuno-Monet, a roboteer who controls the robots aboard starships, and Ira Baron-Lecke, captain of the soft-combat ship, Ariel. These points of view are also joined by an antagonist, Gustav Ulanu, a general and scientist in the Church of Truism’s space fleet. It’s an interesting mix of characters, but they work well in telling the story within Roboteer, and each give a unique viewpoint on the matters at hand. Will is, by far, the main man here, and it’s his interactions that drive the plot forward, especially once he secret that Earth is hiding come to the fore and firmly establishes itself as the driving motivator. Ira is a counterpoint to Will in many ways, the captain of the Ariel and a man still reeling from losing his previous roboteer due to high g combat manoeuvres that he fears Will cannot stand up to, should they be needed. He’s focused, yet trusts his crew with their input, and the interactions between them all really help build a sense of camaraderie on the ship – at least when you take Will out of the picture. Gustav, however, is a strange character to include as the main viewpoint for the enemy. While we learn much of the Church and the Prophet through his eyes, he very often comes across as not committed to the goal of the Church, and also at odds with its doctrine. Add to this a supporting cast around him that highlights this point at almost every turn, especially Disciple Rodriguez, appointed to Gustav’s staff by the Prophet himself, and there’s a deeply motivated and complex persona at play.
This brings me to the main issue I had with Roboteer, and one I have whenever I read anything in science fiction with a religious group featuring prominently: it’s very difficult to give depth to an enemy that has religious fervour in its driving seat. That’s not to say that Alex Lamb doesn’t make a good case throughout Roboteer, but simply that by choosing to split humanity into two distinct factions, each with their own views – one oppressively so – he faces an uphill battle to present the society in a relatable way. However, I did enjoy the inherently classic depiction of good vs evil that this scenario can provide, and Lamb’s writing raised the story enough to put these issues to one side for the most part.
As for the good in Roboteer, well, there is much to praise. Putting aside a story that jumps from event to revelation to event, keeping you guessing and turning the pages, Roboteer is the kind of novel that packs in plenty of science to go with the fiction. From robotics to spaceflight to alien enigmas, not only is there more than enough to please any SF fan, but Lamb weaves it all into a narrative that makes the best use of all the tools at its disposal.
Alex Lamb has delivered a debut novel in Roboteer that is much fun to read. It’s not perfect and I still have issues with the religious aspect of the novel, but looking past that can show what science fiction is all about: wonder and entertainment. Recommended.
Whenever I write the review of 'Roboteer', it will include this line. In fact, the entirety of the plot seems to hinge on this statement. And that all religion can be united under a single roof. A single prophet can combine them all... somehow. I'm not really sure how, exactly. And since it's such a huge plot point, it seems like something that should've been explained better.
Otherwise, Roboteer is an interesting read set in an inventive—if naïve—universe whose plot is let down especially in its latter stages by its somewhat shallow characters and their inconsistent development.
All that said, I made it through pretty quick, so it couldn't've been all bad. As usually, I'll let it marinade for a little before expounding on it.
Expectedly a lot of fun, from this first in a trilogy. Involves humanity achieving space flight and splitting off into two distinct factions, one which engages in genetic manipulation off on new planets and a colony who mostly remains around Earth who have become a theocratic society that is against genetic manipulators and see them as abominations. Focuses on a roboteer (someone who have been genetically modified with the ability to interface with machines and computers and his new role on a new starship for a special mission and the consequences that follow. It's action packed and doesn't lose its pace or outstay its welcome. Not all characters are well-fleshed out, specially the women in the story which detracts from it overall, which keeps it from getting a 5-star rating. Overall, its a very fun story and I do plan on picking up the others.
A full-blown space opera book. Rather a good one of its genre, but not normally a genre I read very often.
Will is an augmented human capable of using his mind to control all kinds of robots from terraforming, land-use, farming equipment to maintenance robots or even space ship navigation and piloting. He and his crew thought they were just fighting off other humans, until they found evidence of aliens. And the aliens were only friendly for certain meanings of the word 'friendly'.
I did enjoy this book, though I'm not sure if I'd read the other two in the series - that is more to do with the number of other books I have lined up than with an aversion of any kind to continuing. Other things are going to take priority though, I think. I'm still glad I've read this one.
In a future where Earth has been devastated and people are either the few lucky nobility or the desperately poor multitudes, the High Church and its "prophet" rule with brutality and repression. There are also evil, brutal, misogynistic church representatives to hate. Earthers consider the people of faroff planet Galatea their enemies because they allow humans to be modified to work better with machines (oh the heresy!). The story starts off with a small Galatean crew on a quasi suicide mission against Earthers, with a highly modified Roboteer who runs the drones, guns, etc. on the ship. There are lots of twists and turns, and the crew encounters one danger after another. It's a fun space opera.
In a far future time war is raging between Earthers, humans living on Earth who are ruled by a religious cult-like leader and who deny science, and Galateans, humans who fled the Earth ages ago and have survived on a hostile planet thanks to genetic engineering. Will, the hero of the story, is genetically engineered to be able to direct the actions of robots through his brain. Will and his crew mates encounter an ancient alien race -- or traces of it -- and the encounter changes everything. This is hard science fiction, with lots of action, mind-bending technology, and a bit of mystery. I enjoyed it!
I couldn't put this book down! Sci-fi isn't typically what I seek out but on the recommendation of a trusted friend, I thought I would take a step away from the fantasy I've been reading and cleanse the palate a bit.
So glad I did!
Lamb develops characters that I care about quickly though in the first few pages, I wasn't sure I would. Then he builds out conflicts that also drew me in. His imagined future makes sense. Add into that a style that moves perspective between these characters that I care about, and I found myself unable to put this book down.