Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.
Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.
The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad - very mad.
This is one of these novels that make people ask themselves why nobody before had this magnificent idea. All fragments and ideas were there, they just had to be put together to create such a great story, heck even a series.
First person perspective expanding I have seen this setting in many Sci-Fi novels, but never as the driving force for a series. It must be extremely difficult to write a novel out of such a confining perspective and still integrate so much suspension and wit into it. It certainly helps that the Bobs can multiply and that the worldbuilding and technobabble take some room in the opening novel.
Avoid unnecessary dying This way of immortality always leads me to the question of why people tend to believe that death has to be an integral part of society as if funerals were great fun and stinking corpses roses. There is a great video about this topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C25qz... and as always it seems as if the stupidity and inherent evil of ideology, economy, and faith leads people to the belief that it is so desirable to suffer and die.
Social solipsism makes decisions easy It´s also unique because the main protagonist stumbles in a plethora of Sci-Fi settings that are usually solved by a larger group of individuals or with a strict plot order, not just one person with the possibility to decide nearly anything alone. So all the settings for philosophical, ethical, political,... implications pop up and open room for homages and, and that´s the trigger in this novel, new ideas!
Mind uploading. No backup, no compassion It shows the immense potential of the Sci-Fi tropes about mind uploading and thereby induced immortality and personality splitting/cloning, and especially the possibility of mind uploading for thousands of years of space travel, which might probably be the first option. Because it might take much longer, hopefully not forever, to get physical immortality without resident eviling the world population.
Who mumbles impossible back on the cheap seats? But it´s not and will not be forever, all just a question of time. To be a part of a hive mind, an entity or a Gaia superorganism, to be a single entity, or used by evil forces, all of these options are better than to vanish forever. Living happily ever after forever with all loved ones could be an option too, but a terribly boring topic for a book without all the escalation options it offers too.
A conceptually broad, fun, light-hearted science fiction romp. It has the same sarcastic tone utilized in Old Man’s War or The Martian, and reads very much like the first section of a longer book. I wasn't crazy about the storytelling, and I thought it got a little bogged down with tedium in the second half, but it is undeniably fun.
If you turn off the literary analysis corner of your brain, you'll enjoy the romp with great concepts.
“Belly laughs are one of the best things about being sentient, and you should never miss a chance for one.”
Fantastic to have my book club discuss We Are Legion! It gave me a chance to reread this book and enjoy it all over again! And then talk about the Prime Directive!
2017: So much geeky fun! In addition to all the seemingly effortless tie-ins to all that is nerdy, Dennis Taylor's We Are Legion has a solid story (both about humanity colonizing the stars and the nature of humanity itself). This was an easy and fast-paced read. You may have already read Kim Stanley Robinson's excellent Mars trilogy; Robinson's view on mankind reaching out to the stars seems solid. Even with its ludicrous science fiction references, could We Are Legion be just as plausible?...A second read from me thinks it well might be! Still loads of fun!!
(Audiobook) What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be!
When I saw this audiobook I thought it might have been a self published "Church of the Subgenius" tribute SF
(It's not). I clicked on it and the synopsis sounded interesting. When I searched for it on Goodreads it had a grand total of zero reviews. In the 2 weeks it took me to put it on my phone and get around to listening to it, several reviews have popped up, so it looks like the Bobiverse might be catching on somewhat.
With a title like "We are Legion" (We are Bob) (Bobiverse Book 1) (Great title!) I was expecting a light, comedy Sci Fi. "We are Legion" is actually something of a "tweener". It is mostly a very clever hard Science Fiction, with elements of a First Contact adventure and a nice seasoning of comedy. Don't go in expecting the next "Hitchhiker's guide" and I promised you won't be disappointed.
In the opening of the book our titular Bob is in Vegas for a Science convention. Bob is a nerd who likes Science and Star Trek and owns a software company. While in Vegas, Bob is convinced by a "Sales critter" that he shouldn't pay to have his whole body cryogenically frozen. He argues that in the future the technology will exist to grow Bob a whole new body, so Bob agrees upon his death to have his head removed and frozen. What has he got to lose?
Smash cut to THE FUTURE where Bob wakes up in a theocracy. I got my first big laugh when Bob immediately accepts his strange new reality, as opposed to every other book where our protagonist would spend pages telling themselves they are on drugs or have a brain tumour.
From the Synopsis: Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target.
So a story where a contemporary human is turned into an AI and has AI like abilities, while familiar is already pretty interesting to me. The fact that Dennis E Taylor wants to tell the story of a modern human becoming a self replicating Von Neumann probe opens up the entire universe and allows the reader to experience it from a perspective we understand and can relate to - the "lovable geek".
One of the things I loved about this book was all of the research and effort Taylor took to get the Science right. The lecture Bob attends in Vegas called "Exploring the Galaxy" is frequently quoted to remind us that this concept is grounded in Science. Eventually the entire universe will be explored by self replicating probes. Combining this idea with a relatable human personality was a brilliant premise and I can't wait to see where the series goes.
I hate to keep bashing this book, but the best reviewed "Comedy Science Fiction" of 2016 is Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja. Zieja goes for a laugh a minute and ends up inducing a groan a minute. He comes up with the joke first, then contrives the plot to deliver the joke. "We are Legion" has a strong plot and manages to be funny along the way. It doesn't try too hard. There are plenty of pop culture references and maybe a few too many Star Trek and Star Wars jokes but it never goes over the top. Bob's behaviour is pretty believable for someone put in his position.
Here is an example joke from "We are Legion"
Noting someone's cowardly tendencies Bob describes them as like Bill Paxton's character in Aliens
Then a page or 2 later after finding out the guy is not a complete wuss he says:
I mentally upgraded him to Michael Biehn
Now this made me laugh out loud but if you didn't like the joke, at least it was delivered in a way where you weren't taken out of the story and shaking your head going:
I also must congratulate Taylor on delivering the first actually funny Australian joke I have read.
My minor criticisms of the book would be: It seemed like Bob should have woken up 1000 years in the future not 100. Some more detail on how the world ended up a crazy theocracy would have been interesting, although the "Cliff Notes" version was fun. I'm not sure that either narrator Ray Porter or Taylor knew exactly what to do with Homer and I thought some of the Chapters ended a little awkwardly.
Narrator Ray Porter did a good job, never overdoing or underselling the jokes. His "Admiral Ackbar" was a running gag and Colonel Buttersworth was fun. He got a few laughs out of me just by going deadpan at the right times. This was a highly enjoyable audiobook.
When I think of my favourite books of 2016 that have sequels coming next year, The highbrow masterpiece Too like the lightning and political thriller of the future Infomocracy are first and foremost. While completely different I have to put Bobiverse Book 2 on my list. I must know what happens to the Deltans and the Bobs!
If you were looking for something light and fun with a surprisingly good story you could do a lot worse then spending 10 hours with Bob.
I like Bob. I've been swimming with him in Master's Swim Club for four or five years. He is always on time, always ready to work, and has the enviable ability--the result of decades as an accountant--of being able to keep track of yardage and time sets. He is also the only one who reliably plays The Pun Game with me, until I laugh so hard I can't swim. He is a genuinely nice guy, and always up for a (dark) beer after practice. But you have to be careful about sitting with him when you drink that beer, because when he gets going on a story, and even with alcohol, it'll be enough to put you to sleep. You can tell he means to be interesting, but the dry delivery and too many irrelevant details leave people glassy-eyed.
We Are Legion is definitely a Bob story. The narrator--Bob--is an engineer who as been cryogenically preserved and transferred into an A.I. Taylor has captured the voice of an analyst perfectly. Here's Bob during one of those times he is unaware his audience's eyes are glazing over: "We would then coast the rest of the way to the area of the Brazilian autofactory at close to 13% of the speed of light, separated by a few minutes to allow a staggered attack. At that speed, there would be no turning around for a second pass in any reasonable time. It took a week to get out to 50 AU, but only five days of straight acceleration to get into the Alpha Centauri A system. At a predetermined point, I ejected two scouts forward using the rail gun."
Sometimes Bob is funny, particularly in the one-liner kind of way: "I recognized Dr. Landers’ voice. The word was “missiles.” Um. Ways in which a sentence beginning with the word “missiles” could be a good thing… Nope. I got nuthin’." and: "It blew me away that almost two hundred years after Shatner first famously didn’t actually say, “Beam me up, Scotty,” people still knew Star Trek. Now that’s a franchise."
Eventually Bob the A.I. reaches the skies, and the story-telling fragments around four plot-lines (vaguest of spoilers follow). One, whether or not anyone on Earth is still alive after the war that launched Bob. The second, Bob's quest to seek out new habitable planets for humanity. Three, engagement with the other Bob-like technologies; and four, the discovery of sentient races. Since Bob has cloned himself but allowed for small variations in personality factors, each of these viewpoints is slightly different. Not different enough, however, largely because inter-Bob dialogue consists of smart-ass remarks and saying things like, “Hey, Gherkin. Miss me?” “Not from this range. Want to place a bet?” Goku’s tone was light, but I knew he was irritated. Because, well, I would have been. “Bite me. Did you look over the pics I sent?”
While I give Taylor points for creative concept, there are two significant problems with the narrative. One, the aforementioned story-telling challenge. The second is that since Bob is virtually eternal and omnipotent, the book feels like a slightly-amusing history teacher recounting The History of Things. On the upside, at least one of the four plot-lines is bound to satisfy a sci-fi itch, whether it's colonization, alien races, space fights, or the mechanics of exploration. The omnipotence took away a large measure of suspense; the only issue was whether or not a Bob would be able to 3-D print to meet a time deadline. I'll also note that there are quite a few ansibles developed in this book (the solution Ursula LeGuin created in her worlds for interstellar communications). But since there were so many convenient but implausible 'discoveries' meant that I never really doubted a solution would appear.
My actual reading experience went like this: I'd pick up the book, read for a while, get sleepy or interrupted and put it down. I would feel absolutely no urge to pick it up again, and actually read at least two other books during that time. When I picked it up again, I'd read steadily until interruption, and then set it down for a few days. It wasn't until about 70% that I really found myself invested in finishing the book.
Ultimately, there are too many stories, too surface a view, too little suspense, coated in Friends-type one-liners when it isn't delving into the science of mining or 3-D printing (as noted with the alien race, Bob is definitely not into biology and has only rudimentary ecology). I think for me, it boiled down to character--Bob isn't nearly as funny as he thinks he is--and insufficient depth with some really complex sci-fi material (the philosophy of trying to save a race? Exterminate other A.I.s? Create an artificial body). Any single storyline would have deserved its own book.
I like Bob, I really do. He's a genuinely nice guy who is enthusiastic about his passions and works hard to be successful. But he really needs to work on his story-telling ability, or at the very least, buy his listeners more beer.
I love the light tone throughout and the geek humor mostly relegated to names one AI clone gives to oneself when faced with a profundity of oneself. Riker? Number 2. Of course. But the rest is just a fantastic ride of popular references and snark, right, Admiral Akbar?
Seriously, that was just one of the coolest things in the novel... but the next runner-up has got to be the effortless way we start colonizing the galaxy with each replicant, going back to Earth, exploring the star systems, finding aliens, and of course fighting one little pernicious Brazilian who is racing Bob among the stars and who happens to be a rather dedicated idiot.
Oh, humanity is practically wiped out. At least he still has his mission! Sheesh.
While this is a light book, it's full of great voice and activity and comradeship between oneself. :) Truly surprising just how much we can argue with ourself when we have a whole universe to grow within. I'm trying to find fault with Arthur, but I just can't.
This is delicious SF fun and I have to say it's totally accessible for anyone. It may be appreciated more by geeks, however. :)
A fun and funny but unspectacular space opera elevated by a clever narrating voice(s) and unique set-up.
It could just be that I'm burned out on space opera right now but I just didn't enjoy this as much as I was hoping to. I expected it to be hysterically comical, but even with the geeky pop culture allusions and the endless wit of the great and powerful bobs, I never made it past a good chortle. Alright, except for anytime GUPPI said anything. Love that guy. "By your command!"
It was good and well-written but didn't have a singular story line to get invested in or excited about throughout the novel. I thought it was pretty standard fare with some cool ideas thrown in. Without the bobs it would have been a little dull and even with them it wasn't remarkable.
Ray Porter does a pretty awesome job on audio. I love the subtleties between each of the bobs, he does a great job with all of the accents. And again. GUPPI. Fantastic. If you're interested in the book, definitely look into the audiobook.
To say this is good science fiction is like saying Neil Peart is a drummer: technically true but far from wholly accurate.
I cannot see where author Dennis E. Taylor pays specific tribute to Anderson as an influence, but he does say he’s an avid SF reader and so I cannot imagine that he has NOT read the late Grandmaster and been persuaded by his writing. I recalled such Anderson gems as The Boat of a Million Years, Tau Zero, Maurai & Kith, and Harvest of Stars while I read this AMAZING story.
Bob Johansson has just sold his IT company and is settling in for a fun time of retirement and spending money. He’s taken his small group of loyal former employees to a Comic Con (my first indication that I was going to LOVE this book!) and also bought a ticket to ride in a cryogenic lab to keep his head alive long after he’s dead.
It’s a good thing too as Taylor describes an unfair universe like no other as Bob is killed crossing the road.
But HEY PRESTO! remember the cryogenic lab? Right! He wakes up more than a century later in a very changed environment (remember Woody Allen in Sleeper?)
But … he didn’t actually “wake up”. Turns out his body really is dead but his mentality is stored and uploaded in a computer.
So begins Dennis E. Taylor’s EXCELLENT ADVENTURE wherein our hero Bob takes the lead on saving humanity. And he might just make some more Bobs along the way.
This is what science fiction is supposed to be: illustratively science heavy with a good story, full of pop culture nerdy references, and FUN! Maybe not as laugh out loud funny as Andy Weir’s The Martian, but with oodles of personality and rocket fuel HAVEATYOU! (I thought about Weir’s great book too as there are some other SF similarities between the two books).
GREAT SF! Two snaps, a circle, a bag of chips, THREE tacos, a Neil Peart drum roll and a Vulcan Nerve pinch!
What a fun premise and story! Bob Johansson has recently retired and has his retirement years to look forward to. Unfortunately, he is killed crossing the street at a SF Convention in Las Vegas. Luckily, he had just signed a contract to have his head cryogenically frozen. When he (or, at least his mind) awakes a century later, he’s a bit confused to find an ultra-religious government has not only seized his assets but declared him less than human and prepares him to be the brains in a self-replicating Von Neumann interstellar probe. This book really feels like the author enjoyed writing it and that shows through.
The story reminded me a great deal of John Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War,” in both the plot and the copious amount of snark from the main character. It also prompted memories of “Ready Player One,” with its heavy and continuous references to ‘historical’ geek culture. I flew through the first third of the book, enjoying the concept, it’s implications, and watching Bob deal with his new reality. The final two-thirds was still enjoyable but didn’t have the magic of that first third. Once Bob gets out among the stars and begins replicating himself the story jumps from Bob to Bob with rapid pace and little depth. This does move the plot along quickly, but we give up some potential here, skimming and skipping along the events. There is some good action and interesting ideas, but I never felt ‘Bob’ was in any real danger, as there are so many of him, and we never get into enough detail to feel connected to any of the single iterations. The ending wraps up several of the storylines, but clearly paves the way for follow-on books. It was enough closure that I didn’t feel cheated as so many opening books in a series do these days. The science felt plausible to me, although I’m not a stickler for technical details.
My biggest complaint is that we only get one important character in this book. Well, many slightly different iterations of the same character. Hence no significant female characters and no diversity. I suppose you could give the book a pass on this, as the plot literally calls for this focus on the main character and his variations. And despite the flaws, I enjoyed the story all the way through. I didn’t find it predictable, and there were enough possibilities that I will likely track down the sequels at some point.
Four stars for this fun romp through the galaxy with a sarcastic group of Bob clones filled with exploration, action, and intriguing ideas. All hail the bawbe!
Bob is a newly minted tech millionaire. Bob has also just signed up to be cryogenically frozen in the event of his death. Which is a really good thing because his death is in ... 3 ... 2 ... uh oh.
Bob is an AI replicant based on a brain scan of frozen tech millionaire-Bob's brain. Bob's also a pop culture junky, incredibly brilliant and other than the loss of everything and everyone he knows, pretty happy to be an AI and even more happy to find out that he's going to be the piloting AI of a self-replicating interstellar von Neumann probe.
But after his launch the responsibility on his head/s is immense. He has to find colony worlds for humanity, deal with armed crazy rivals, deal with potential alien life and maybe save humanity itself.
This was great. The situation that the Bobs find themselves in are SF staples and the multitudes of himself allow the book to investigate all of them. The Bobiverse is a rich universe filled with danger and wonder and quite a lot of Bob.
There's no great character development, although the plot is fascinating and most of the Bobs are a lot of fun to read about. Highly recommended and I'd give it 4.5 stars and I'm rounding up because of how much I enjoyed it. Be warned though, if the Martian was not to your taste, I doubt that this one will be either.
I got more than I expected from this one. I honestly expected this too be more silly, maybe along the lines of Erikson's Willful child. Don't get me wrong this is still funny book but it's more witty and smartass kind with lot of pop-culture references and there where times I was grinning like mad with few laugh out loud moments but it's all backed by some real science and story.
It's hard to tell what is meat and what are bones of this novel. Humor, pop culture references and hard sci-fi parts are intertwined into singular, cohesive whole. Story is also reason why this isn't getting full 5 stars or pacing to be more precise. In second half of the book story branches into multiple paths with several PoVs (all of which are Bobs) and pace slows down significantly. All of the storylines are interesting but at few points they are just too slow. It's also important to note that pretty much everything is left unresolved. It doesn't necessarily end with cliffhanger but every story arc is left wide open.
Bob (and later Bobs) is great character. I'm glad that trend of geeks being presented as socially unadapted idiots (like in tv show The Big bang theory) is dying. (Original) Bob is introvert geek, but he is also pragmatic smartass and other Bobs are more than just variations. They are personalities of their own and each PoV has it's own unique flavor.
Overall great read. Fun and funny hard sci-fi, with some very smart, laugh out loud and nerdgasm moments.
I think I would have never found this book on my own - and my life would have been the poorer for it! Seriously, this author is so delightfully geeky/nerdy (yes, both) that it's already enough to carry the reader from start to finish. But easter eggs or satirical references are not the only thing Dennis Taylor is good at.
The story is about a young millionaire who invests into cryogenetics - a project freezing your head after your death so you can be revived and given a new (enhanced) body by science in the future (once the technology exists). The opportunity to not only pay but actually participate in the program comes much sooner than he had thought (that's what you get for crossing the street at the right place - bwahahahaha) but when he wakes up things have ... not exactly gone according to plan.
Honestly, I have always been sceptical of those supposed deals in scifi books or movies. I mean, why should a company not just take the money but never actually revive a person even IF technology ever gets that advanced?! Anyway, that isn't actually the problem here. Instead, we get one crazy ride politics-wise and the morale throughout the book is that it's basically the same shit every day and in every corner of the universe. *lol* So Bob goes to space and multiplies, giving the reader the unique ability to see the development on several different fronts (Bob's "immortality" is kind of helpful too).
The learning curve for Bob after he was "awoken" was a great way of gently immersing the reader into the future and make us one of the Bobs.
The only "problem" I had was which was a bit too easy for my taste.
I was very impressed with all the different angles from which the author looked at current theories, beloved old scifi movies/TV shows and possible technological developments (and setbacks) and his implementation of all those into the story (it sounds as if it could be overwhelming but it honestly wasn't because it was very well done). We also get to explore a few what-if scenarios on distant planets which I enjoyed immensely. The atmosphere of discovery and new territory was very cool (like during the first Star Trek TNG episodes I saw as a teenager) and although the different names for all the Bobs were quite a lot to handle in the beginning, I quickly had favourites. In fact, considering that there are so many Bobs and event sites, I was actually surprised how much I cared in certain situations. The characters (the humans too) were very well drawn-up personalities, each with his/her own quirks and I loved to hate any member of The Faith.
So this story had charm, very good characters, interesting locations, brains (plural) and a fantastic always-present-but-never-too-out-there humour. Now I can't wait for the follow-up novel.
2.5 stars. I had high hopes for this story, but found myself mostly just turning pages slowly. I think there were some interesting concepts but I didn't think the implementation was particularly skillful. I could accept the US descending to a theocracy, but not other aspects of the situation. I also found the main character to be initially sort of amusing, but swiftly found him tedious, and yes, immature, but actually found myself getting very frustrated with the author pointing out, at least once a chapter, the main characters' immaturity, as if I was supposed to just chuckle about it and enjoy spending time with ever expanding versions of Bob. I also found the anthropological work performed by one of the Bobs to be irritating and mono-focused on just the males of the alien species, as has happened all too often on earth. And my biggest frustration with this book was I just got tired reading a book where there were three female characters whose presence you'd miss if you blinked while turning a page. Yes, I know this story was going to be about Bob and the ever expanding versions of Bob, but gack, the lack of female characters was irritating.
Re-read I tried to listen to this with my other half - who only liked the beginning and stopped about a third in - and found out that I am indeed a huge nerd! Otherwise, as good as the first time :O) ---------- What an entertaining story! Upon reading the book description blurb, which intrigued me, I downloaded the audiobook and started listening. Well, since I didn’t stop until the end, I can positively say that the narrative is exceedingly addictive!
Bob Johansson, young software millionnaire, has just sold his company and looking forward to enjoying ‘life’ when he is killed in a car collision. ‘Luckily’, he’d just signed for cryogenic preservation, and wakes up one hundred years later as an A.I. owned by a theocratic government. Bit of a shock, but Bob takes it in his stride, especially since he might have the opportunity to 'man' a self replicating Von Neumann probe to explore space in search of inhabitable planets, something he has always been fascinated by.
Taylor uses an interesting concept, not a new one, but one very well crafted. The whole story hinges on the character of Bob and thankfully, here is a protagonist that is fun, smart, bit of a scifi geek, full of humour (much of it snark), and with a strong moral compass. His personality pretty much permeates the novel to great effect, but perhaps not to everyone’s taste. Cultural references abound and yes, the reading experience is enhanced if you recognise these (Admiral Ackbar, Ryker, and Homer to name a couple - if you know these and like them, then this book is for you). There isn’t much character development per se but we do get to see various versions of Bob, something I was a little worried about, but the author pulls it off nicely, giving each enough variations on the same theme.
Additionally, the universe portrayed is both complex and fascinating, from Earth and all its problems, to other star systems. Likewise the plot combines survival against other human factions to space exploration and scientific discovery, splitting the narration into very different strands, yet all linked. This might be a little confusing but the pay-off is a much richer story, and one that I was totally invested in. Taylor also adds a philosophical vein to his novel - what it means to be human / to be alive / what is wrong or right - one that strikes in my opinion the right balance with the tongue-in-cheek tone.
This is a fun adventure and I awarded top rating for the sheer enjoyment. It is not a perfect book, far from it, but it enthralled me and for that I am grateful. And now to wait for the sequel...
P.S: Ray Porter does a great job with the narration!
4.5 stars. A fun romp of a SF space adventure. In 2016, Bob Johannsen sells his company for a fortune and promptly signs up for cryogenic preservation, and then manages to get himself killed just a day or two later. When he wakes up over 100 years later, he's without any physical body, essentially just a computer program ... but a very smart, self-aware one. And now he has the chance to be one of the first human intelligences to explore the galaxy.
Because of the narrator Bob's sarcastic voice, it manages to stay lighthearted even when heavy things happen (Earth is having a really tough time in 2127). It's a fun exploration of space, technology and one man's unique personality ... or perhaps not quite so unique, since he can create new copies of himself once he's out exploring the stars. The story is told from the various "Bobs" points of view.
If you enjoy books like The Martian, this is worth the $4.99. It's a breezy, fast read with not a ton of depth, but boatloads of fascinating ideas.
I think I might be a bit harsh with the one-star rating, as there are a few interesting ideas and enough funny lines to keep me going, but this book hacked me off in a few ways. Chief among them was the main character, who I didn't like. Since the book is about a hypothetical Von Neumann machine, which is supposed to clone itself to help humanity reach the stars, by the end of the book most conversations were just him talking to himself. He's such a dudebro, it's infuriating.
The sci-fi is (almost completely) solid as a rock, which is good, but since the main character is a human consciousness put into a robot shell, he faces literally no peril throughout the entire book. After the first space battle, in which he solidly trounces the evil Brazilian forces (this was also weird), there was no jeopardy for the main character - even when there are dozens of Bobs and the author could start picking them off, the Bobs and the Brazilians use the same tactics every time and Bob wins every time.
The book is insanely popular - it was recommended to me because it was topping out the Audible charts, but it's the same problem as Ready Player One: it's a wank fantasy of a straight male mid-30s nerd. There's literally no diversity - and very very few female characters - and the main character turns out by providence to be the saviour of the known universe, and to wield power over the rest of humanity. And there are so many tired references to late-20th century sci-fi, and other pop culture. But referencing is not the same as homage or pastiche. Referencing is lazy writing. It's also simply boring for people like me who don't get all of them.
It was amusing sci-fi fluff, sure, and that was the main thing that kept me going. Another saving grace is the lack of irrelevant romance plot. But there isn't really a coherent storyline in there - it got lost in different strands, flitting from the discovery of a new alien race (where the main character sticks up for the nerdy kid of the tribe, and the author can't even imagine aliens that don't have the same gender binary as modern America), to more lackluster fights with the Brazilians, to one of the Bobs saving the day on post-apocalyptic Earth. It even ends on a cliffhanger, which I hate. At least give me closure for the first book - wrap up most of the threads - and then maybe a hook for the sequels.
It just annoyed me right until the end, to the final line "Roddenberry would be proud", the culmination of a whole book of direct comparisons to Star Trek. No, he wouldn't. Star Trek was groundbreaking in its diversity, character-driven, and featured the first interracial kiss on American TV. What does this have to offer except a white boy cloning himself over and over?
This was a very different read for me. The main character becomes a computer in a probe looking for habitable planets. The humor reminded me a bit of "The Martian" and would recommend it if you love sci-fi!
Things that made me read this book * many positive references to it around Goodreads * the fact that it’s overall rating is 4.29 * the title. How could anyone resist that?
Was I disappointed? Absolutely not. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is pure entertainment. It is definitely reminiscent of The Martian with lots of scientific explanation written in an easy manner. And it is frequently just plain funny.
Bob ends up being an artificial intelligence who is sent out to explore the universe. One of his jobs is to replicate himself as he goes so we end up with many versions of Bob, all the same yet also different from each other. Most of the Bobs share the original’s sense of humour and nerdy outlook on life and a lot of the humour comes from pop culture references. Just plain good fun.
The book didn’t quite make five stars from me but it was close and I amd really looking forward to the next book in the Bobiverse.
Have you ever wished you could undertake true space exploration but realistically believed that your lifespan may not be long enough to survive the journey? Well, not if you are Bob.
Robert Johansson, more affectionately known as Bob, was an engineer in the 21st century who signed up for having his head cryogenically preserved upon his death for future resuscitation into a new body. In a strange ironic twist of fate, Bob died within 24 hours of doing so and woke up a bit more than a century later. What he didn't expect was that his new body will be in the form of a computer program; Bob has become a replicant. His mission was to be the artificial intelligence manning interstellar probes to search for habitable planets and it turns out that America was not the only country who wanted to lay claim to being the first to seek out new worlds.
Bob's 'voice' was hilarious and the narrator of the audiobook was perfect in bringing Bob to life. Even being a typical geeky introverted loner, when faced with the prospect of complete solitude in space, Bob realised that all humans eventually crave company. The meat of the story really began when Bob created a virtual reality to feel more human instead of just being a bodiless mind. Once he got over this existential crisis, he finally started making more clones of himself to progress on his mission, and admittedly for some company. And then there was GUPPI - seriously my favourite 'character' in this book so far. I am not inclined to say anymore about GUPPI as this really needs to be discovered.
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) was not your typical space opera. In fact, it didn't feel anything like the usual storytelling of introduction, build-up and climax. As the variations of Bobs headed off to other galaxies to search for habitable planets, while one returned to Earth to ascertain the fate of humans since the original Bob left over two decades ago and another decided to attempt terraforming a potential planet, the narrative felt very much like an episodic futuristic reality show of space exploration. It still was really enjoyable, even though I wouldn't call it remarkable as yet.
All in all, it was fun and cosmos geeks will love the interstellar exploratory and technological narrative. The references to geeky pop culture, including Star Wars and Star Trek, will also not go amiss. I do hope that Season Two - erm, I mean Book Two - will have a bit more tension to the plot/story.
Universe? It's so out there, man. It's time for a change. It's time for Bobiverse!
❝ As a species, we're morons.❞
Bob is dead. Yes, it is very tragic. But before his death, Bob had enrolled in a Cryonics program. So when Bob died, they decapitated him and stored his head in a freezer (very professionally), with the hope that he can be restored back to life in future with technological advancements.
And they did, in the year 2133.
The problem is, USA in 2133 is, in fact, a variation of Orwell's 1984 and every superpower in the world want to kill each other.
Oh, and Bob is dead. For reals this time. But his mind, personality, and memories have been used to create a self-replicating AI.
The AI's purpose? *Cue Star trek theme* Space: the final frontier. Its mission: To explore and find strange new habitable worlds before Humans kill each other, to boldly go where no man... uh, or AI has gone before.
Part one of the story revolves around Bob's "resurrection" and training for the mission to space. The story had my curiosity at this part, but I wasn't actually into the story.
And then came part two, and with that came Bobs. Half way into part two, I was completely hooked!
The mechanics of the story strangely reminded me of real-time strategy games like Age of empire and Starcraft. Just like the games, the story features: collecting resources, creating legions of Bobs and assigning them different roles, building tools and battalions, awesome upgrades, exploring space and ruthless showdowns between enemies... in space.. with missiles.
All of this while delivering spectacular plots of multiple nature at multiple ends pushing the reader to turn page after page after page.
To sum up, this is the grand odyssey of Bob, who started as a man and ended up as a space explorer, master strategist, scientist, farmer, war chief, politician and humanity's last hope.
What a chore. Hey authors, just because you throw lots of pop culture/SF references, and have a main character who likes to joke around, does not mean you can just handwave the need for an interesting story that not just a rehash of everything in space opera.
The premise was promising at start but the humor fell flat after the fourth chapter and the story became bland before even halfway. I seriously struggled to finish this book. It is not THAT funny.
I would give this book one star if not because of the good narration by Ray Porter.
Every time I go to Audible my account page is always bombarding my recommended list with this one, and well, it’s hard not to be curious when the book’s page is filled with literally tens of thousands of five star reviews. I figured it was high time to find out what all the fuss was about, and am I glad I did! For those of you who have already been initiated into We Are Legion (We Are Bob) fan club, I beg your forgiveness for being skeptical at first, but can you blame me? This whole time, I’d been going on what was written in the arguably bland and generic publisher description, which—I have to stress—is not a good reflection of the story AT ALL. Trust me, this book is so much more.
Meet Bob Johansson, who has just sold off his software company and is looking to take his new fortune to a service offering their clients the option to cryogenically freeze themselves in the event of their deaths. You can probably guess where this is headed. Sure enough, while enjoying his new life of freedom and leisure at a convention in Las Vegas, Bob gets distracted while crossing the street and—BAM! Pain and blackness is the last thing he remembers before waking up more than a century later to discover that he is now an artificial intelligence created from a brain scan of his consciousness. The country has turned into a theocracy which has declared that replicants like Bob are without rights. He is also now the property of a government program developing a self-replicating interstellar von Neumann probe with the goal of exploring the galaxy. If all goes well, Bob will be uploaded into the probe and sent on journey into space to look for habitable planets.
Unfortunately, the mission will be dangerous. Other nations have the same idea and are all in competition with each other, and indeed a large chunk of the book involves Bob’s run-ins with his Brazilian replicant counterpart who is following the same directive from his handlers. As Bob travels deeper into space, he also begins to realize the need for more processing power, leading him to clone himself multiple times in order to distribute all his responsibilities. And thus, we end up with a “legion” of Bobs, each one going about their own way and chronicling their own adventures in deep space.
This is sci-fi done in a way I’ve never really seen before. While the tone of the narrative is familiar, with its snarky humor and heavy infusion of geek pop culture jokes, the story and the characters and the worlds feel different and fresh. Like a funnier, more action-oriented version of The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet, it is presented in a format that feels almost episodic and digressive, but I was surprised to find I didn’t mind the divergent plotlines too much. Mostly, this was because of how fun it was to follow all the “Bobs”. Dennis E. Taylor has turned what could have been a lonely tale about a solo space explorer into an uproariously entertaining experience filled with many vibrant and unique personalities. The characters in this book are all one person—but they are also not. The story actually makes it a point to emphasize that the Bobs are distinct individuals, each possessing different aspects of the original.
The plot was also very clever and dynamic. Admittedly, I didn’t really care for the first few chapters, finding Bob aloof, standoffish and unlikeable. Little did I know though, this was intentional set-up for the later parts of the novel. Bob eventually learns some interesting lessons about his identity and his life, which I suppose comes with the territory of interacting with multiple versions of yourself. In fact, despite the tensions involved during the earlier parts of the book involving the development phase of the space probe and Bob’s training, I didn’t feel that things took off until well into the story—right around the same time he started replicating himself, which shouldn’t be too surprising given how so much of this book’s awesomeness is directly related to the shenanigans of the many Bobs. I won’t ruin it by going into details, but I adored following Riker, Bill, Homer, and all of the others (each iteration of Bob gets to choose their own names, most based on their favorite childhood TV shows and interests growing up int the 90’s) along on their respective adventures.
Consider me a new fan and follower of the Legion of Bob! Having finished this book and seen for myself what it’s all about, I can understand now why the popularity of this book blew up in such a short time. I highly recommend taking a look for yourself, especially if you enjoy space opera or sci-fi comedy that manages to be both smart and funny. I can’t wait to dive into the next book.
I'm going with 3.5 stars on this one! I enjoyed it but I also caught myself fading off at times. I think all the thrillers are affecting my attention span!
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) was outside of my typical genre. I enjoyed this and thought some of the humor in it was needed for all the technical information about Bob, A.I. and exploring new worlds.
Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and while feeling on top of the world, he decides to sign up for Cryonics. When he dies, he's going to turn into a corpsicle and wait out for better technology and life expectancy advancement. Well, Bob left a little sooner then he was prepared for. He wakes up a century later and has been uploaded into computer hardware.
I enjoyed the concepts of A.I., Bob’s personality with being a loner and exploring the galaxy. The interactions between all the Bob’s was well done and I thought Dennis Taylor did an excellent job with that and keeping them all different and distinct.
There wasn’t much suspense in this book for me and at times I felt like Bob was more of a teacher explaining something Sci-Fi to me. I laughed on an occasion when GUPPI came around. Thank goodness for that part of the plot because I needed the laughs in regards with all the computer and technology information.
Ray Porter does an excellent job on the audio with this one. Kudos to him for making this book interesting when the subject matter was a bit dry for me.
If you love space opera or Sci-Fi, I think you’ll enjoy We Are Legion (We Are Bob)!
We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Geeky SF fun a la The Martian Originally posted Fantasy Literature This seems to be a thing these days. Breezy, snarky SF stories by first-time authors that promote their own work, capture a lot of positive word-of-mouth and become very popular without major publisher help initially. I’m thinking of Andy Weir’s The Martian, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. Basically, these books are a whole lot of fun, drop liberal 1980s geek references, tell an exciting tale, and reject the dark and grim cyberpunk futures exemplified by William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, Alastair Reynolds’ Chasm City, etc. Don’t get me wrong, those are all excellent books too, but man, are they depressing! After listening to five Reynolds audiobooks in quick succession, I really needed something light and fun, and I happened to see Dennis E. Taylor’s We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (2016) mentioned as one of Audible’s Best SF of 2016, so on a lark I picked it up.
It’s a very simple story. Bob Johansson is a young Internet entrepreneur who has just sold his successful business to a larger competitor. Flush with cash, he arranges for his body to be put in cryogenic storage when he dies as an insurance policy, and on the way to a SF convention he gets distracted crossing the street and…
Wakes up 117 years later in a repressive future society that somewhat reminded me of Woody Allen’s classic SF spoof Sleeper (1973). We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is nothing if not topical — Taylor had me laughing out loud in painful acknowledgement with this succinct description of the future US theocracy. Obviously very different from our current world, thankfully…
In 2036, the USA elected an over-the-top, unapologetic fundamentalist president named Andrew Handel. Yes, that Handel. During his term, he tried to ban election of non-Christians to any public post, and tried to remove the constitutional separation between church and state. He was nominated, supported, and elected based on his religious views, rather than on his political or fiscal expertise. And of course, he appointed persons of similar persuasion to every post he could manage, in some cases blatantly ignoring laws and procedures. He and his cronies rammed through far-right policies with no thought for consequences. In a number of cases, when challenged on the results, he declared that God would not allow their just cause to fail. He eventually brought the USA to its knees in an economic collapse that made the 2008 recession look like a picnic in the park.
Anyway, that is just laying the groundwork for the main part of the story, which is that Bob is now a bodiless AI, or replicant, that has been revived along with several other candidates for an urgent project by one faction of the current US government to seed the stars for humanity while competing with other rival nations. It turns out that most AIs turn insane when they understand their new situation, but Bob seems to have a better temperament for accepting his new existence as an AI that essentially controls a collection of servitors, etc. The choice is elegant — either accept the assignment to pilot a fleet of Von Neumann machines to seed new stars with colonies, or be shut off permanently. Bob’s no-nonsense, self-deprecating internal monologue is the backbone of this enjoyable tale, very much like Mark Watney in The Martian. He always has a quip for each occasion, a super-rational and creative engineering mind, and indefatigable optimism no matter the circumstances. If you like that style of story, you’ll be in good hands, and the audiobook narration by Ray Porter is excellent. I found myself smiling at Bob’s one-liners and refusal to be dragged down by setbacks. He is a character any reader can root for.
The bulk of the book involves Bob’s adventures escaping the ploys of other nation-states back on Earth, hostile rival AIs tasked with the same mission, and then the very existential struggle of Bob coming to terms with cloning himself into a multitude of Bobs, hence the book’s title We Are Legion (We Are Bob). Bob’s chats and debates with his other alter-egos are hilarious and probably the best part of the book. It also makes the book less claustrophobic than The Martian, because the other Bobs do have distinct character variations, essentially different aspects of the original Bob’s persona. They choose names for themselves like Riker, Homer, Garfield, etc., so we get plenty of 80s geek references just like Ready Player One.
The final third of We Are Legion (We Are Bob) tells the adventures of Bob and his alter-egos as they encounter a more primitive species of humanoid aliens and play a bit of God trying to favor one group over another, much like a Star Trek scenario (you know, the Prime Directive and all that). The main mechanism that drives the engineering technology is the ability to use 3D printers to build anything with the right raw materials from asteroids and planets, so Bob has to decide between replicating himself, building colony ships for Earth’s survivors, and building other 3D printers. Imagine the SF version of “For my third wish I wish for unlimited wishes.” This is clearly intended as the opening salvo of an ongoing SF series, since Taylor can take Bob’s adventures in any direction he wants. If you are a fan of the books mentioned in this review, I think you’ll definitely enjoy the ride.
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is a novel that will definitely appeal to many sci-fi fans. There are so many different story-lines: first contact, interplanetary war, human evacuation etc. The premise is also very interesting. Just before he died Bob Johansson decided to sign up for a program where your brain gets cryogenically frozen in the hopes of being awakened many years later when technology is advanced enough that an organic body would be able to get crafted especially for you! Unfortunately, things do not go as planned in history and the world gets divided up by new empires, countries, and theological associations. Now, Bob's replica in the form of a computer is launched into space to help humanity expand. As the reader you get to follow Bobs' adventures... because, yes, there is more than one Bob.
I really liked two story-lines and didn't really care for the others, but I think that they are still of value for many other sci-fi fans. I loved the first contact story and enjoyed the human evacuation story. They were thought provoking and generally just really interesting to think about. The first contact story was OMG SO COOL! I loooved those chapters. It is hard to not go into spoilers, but if you are a fan of learning about new species and such, this will be just up your ally. One the other hand, the human evacuation story is interesting because of the comedic duo that Homer and Riker are (two Bob replicas). I enjoyed their banter and the way they strive to deal with the humans.
The other stories I didn't really care for. As a person who never really felt strongly about Star Wars and Star Trek, I just didn't connect with these stories as much. Fans of Star Wars and Star Trek will love the other stories, but they just weren't for me. I think that this is the main reason that I just think of the book with neutral feelings as the homage paid to the two franchises really didn't have any meaning for me.
I loved the beginning and the world building. Although it was quite info-dumpy at times, I overall really liked learning about how the world progressed into the theological dystopia that it is in the first 4-ish chapters.
In the sequel, I am excited to follow my favorite story lines more as things are getting more and more exciting with the ending of the novel. I think that many sci-fi fans will enjoy this much more than I did, so, especially if you watched Star Wars/Trek, read this book and you won't be disappointed.
This book is fun. Fun, fun, fun. Genuine, enjoyable, page-turning fun of the sort that has you grinning while you read it.
We are Legion (We are Bob) is that rare thing - a science fiction novel with both solid SF chops and a sense of humor. Imagine Andy Weir's The Martian, but swap the protagonist for Bob - a computer copy of a long-dead software engineer onboard an interstellar probe - and swap Mars for the entire galaxy as Bob travels into the cosmos making extra copies of himself enroute, filling the universe with wisecracking, problem-solving pop-culture referencing Bob-clones.
This is the first book in Dennis E. Taylor's 'Bobiverse' series and as the story begins Bob Johansson, a friendly thirty-one year old geek and software engineer, has just sold his company and become fabulously rich. Looking forward to a lifetime of doing as he pleases he visits a geek-con in Las Vegas, steps out on the street and gets fatally run down by a car.
Luckily for Bob he used some of his buyout loot to engage a cryogenics company, and his head is whipped off and stored, awaiting a time in the future when he can be revived. Over a century later Bob reawakens, but he's not really Bob anymore. He's a copy of the original Bob, stored in a computer system, and he is owned by the corporation that bought his frozen head from the company storing it.
Bob is soon told that he is being trained to control a Von Neumann probe- a self replicating interstellar ship that will replicate itself throughout the galaxy, searching for habitable worlds and sending info back to Earth.
Bob is a little disconcerted by not having a body, and struggles with the revelation that he is a mere copy of the 'real' Bob, but the chance to explore the universe is something no true geek could turn down and he embraces his second life with gusto, learning to live with the limitations of being a piece of software.
Earth is riven by struggles between competing power blocs with their own interstellar probe programs, and Bob has to deal with bombs, sabotage and political pressure before he even makes it into space. When he eventually reaches space, and begins to send copies of himself through the galaxy, We are Legion branches off into multiple engaging narratives across tens of light years. The device of having multiple slightly different versions of the same person is surprisingly effective. We get to follow along with uptight Bobs, gregarious Bobs, antisocial Bobs and of course, the original Bob as they explore strange new worlds, seek out new life etc. etc.(intentional Star Trek reference- the Bobs make a few of them in Taylor's book).
Simply put, this is one of the best SF novels I've read this year (hell, in the past few years) and it's a welcome break from the heavier, grimmer stuff I usually gravitate to.
Following the adventures of the multiplicity of curious, thoughtful Bobs is a reading experience I encourage you to have. The future of humanity can be threatened, Bobs can be dying in droves at the hands of enemy probes, and there will still be time for a sly joke, an amusing Sci-Fi reference, or a reflection on the nature of human (and post-human) life.
Fun isn't a word I use to describe SF very often, but this novel was a genuinely enjoyable ride from the first page to the last. We are Legion combines a great concept with solid writing, interesting characters and a quirky sense of humor.
I've already bought the sequel, and if you like SF I urge you to start your own trip through the Bobiverse.
This book was totally out of my wheelhouse but I loved it!
Bob is a tech genius comparable to Bill Gates. He decides to get himself, (well, his head), cryogenically frozen and signs a contract to have it done. Shortly thereafter, he's hit by a car and the contract kicks in.
When he wakes up, it's centuries later and as a sentient computer. He's in charge of, (basically), saving humanity. He goes about this task by cloning himself, as he was made to do, (see Von Neumann probes), and spreading throughout the universe(s). He, (it), (Bobs), does this with humor, compassion and all kinds of science fiction references that cracked me up.
A total aside: my husband was watching the Science Channel the other night and the show was talking about 3D printers and I asked if Von Neumann probes were mentioned. He looked at me as if I were a nut. No, he said. Two minutes later the show went into what they were and how they would work and I puffed up with pride. (Picture Fredo Corleone: "I'm smart!")
Ray Porter is a fantastic narrator and I enjoyed hearing him voice the different faces of Bob: (Riker, Homer and Admiral Akbar), to name a few. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this book as much if I had read it instead of listening. That said, bring on book two!