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We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse, #1)
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Group Reads 2019 > Sept. 2019: We Are Legion by Dennis E. Taylor

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Cheryl (cherylllr) September's poll winner is We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse, #1) by Dennis E. Taylor from 2016.

Interesting tidbits on Dennis E. Taylor's author page.
I know some people like to know when there's something going on w/ a writer that might reveal depths, allusions, what-have-you, in their work.....

So what's to be made of this:

Member Since December 2014

"I am a retired computer programmer, an enthusiastic snowboarder, and an inveterate science fiction reader.

And, apparently, an author now. Did not see that coming."

Well, there is Outland by Dennis E. Taylor , but even that was published in 2015. Is Taylor being disingenuous?


message 2: by Peter (last edited Aug 31, 2019 01:04PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Peter Tillman | 546 comments Heh. Well, I'm ahead of the curve here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Sadly, I didn't much care for it. Minority opinion, to be sure. I do point out some predecessor works (such as Niven's corpsicles), and will be interested to see what other predecessors the group comes up with.


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I like the comparison to Larry Niven, Peter. Taylor tells stories in a similar way - a lot of big ideas in a really moving story. I have to agree that Bob isn't Beowulf Schaefer or Gil Hamilton, but I like him. His role is more that of Brennan, but he starts out nicer & is never as ruthless. I agree that if you don't like Bob (view spoiler) then the story won't be nearly as engaging.

I've read all 3 books in the trilogy & really recommend reading all 3. I gave them all 4 stars, but they hit my humor button very well. There are quite a few SF references & Bob doesn't take himself too seriously. Oh, there is some heartbreak, but no angst.


Oleksandr Zholud | 768 comments I've read this first volume last year and I really liked it, esp. in the current trend to go more into social issues (which are definitely important) from older style more action/adventure escapism of SF


message 5: by Ed (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
I also read and enjoyed this last year. I think I will go back over some parts of this and then try one of the sequels.

The idea of uploading consciousness into a computer seems like something that will always be impossible, but who really knows. It is a common SF story trope by now, so it can be interesting to compare how that trope is handled here compared to other works.

Which Niven books had "corpsicles"?


message 6: by Leo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leo | 560 comments It's a bit like Old Man's War: you are finished here, but you can have another life, but on our conditions. Interesting.


Peter Tillman | 546 comments Ed wrote: Which Niven books had "corpsicles"?"

A World Out of Time (The State #1),https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6... "Kendy For the State!" (et seq.) If you missed it, a good one (by decades-old memory).


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I thought Bob handled the whole change remarkably well, perhaps too well. The bit about being turned off was very jarring for me & I was just reading it. Still, I liked how sneaky he is. That was very well done, especially his big decision (view spoiler)

Sometimes references can be taken too far. Taking them too far worked for Ready Player One, but it was a one & done. I wouldn't have read a sequel.


Peter Tillman | 546 comments Jim wrote: "Taking them too far worked for "Ready Player One", but it was a one & done. I wouldn't have read a sequel."

I didn't get far with that one (another minority opinion) since I pretty much HATE gamer novels! Gah.


message 10: by Gregg (new)

Gregg Wingo (gwingo) Jim wrote: "I thought Bob handled the whole change remarkably well, perhaps too well. The bit about being turned off was very jarring for me & I was just reading it. Still, I liked how sneaky he is. That was v..."

But you can watch the movie....all knew puzzles!


message 11: by Jim (last edited Sep 05, 2019 03:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I mostly listened to Wil Wheaton narrate Ready Player One & it was a treat in that format. His fanboy enthusiasm really brought it to life. Still, I don't think I'll ever reread it. I did watch the movie & it was OK.

The theocracy Bob deals with was so recognizable & scary. I live in Young Earth Creationist (YEC) territory. They equate science with religion holding that both are belief systems. Worse, they cherry pick their source material to justify horrific attitudes. It's hard to believe so many people can believe such dreck. One on one they're not to bad, but in packs they're plain scary.


message 12: by Leo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leo | 560 comments Another element that I found in another book recently. Bob's 3D printer that can produce anything, if only you supply it with the raw materials. It is exactly like the "nano forges" in Forever Peace. These machines took over most of the jobs so a lot of people don't have to work anymore.


message 13: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Not quite everything - explosives & such are dicey. They're also limited in how fast they work. Taylor does a pretty good job of keeping that in front of the reader so their production doesn't become magic. Bob spends a lot of time prioritizing.


message 14: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
What did you think of the holodeck idea, the way Bob keeps himself sane?


message 15: by Leo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leo | 560 comments I like the idea of the VR images they create for themselves and Guppy. Otoh I also liked the claustrofobic image of Bob cs as being no more than thoughts trapped in some electronic device.
Funny that the further the story continues, you tend to forget that Bob is still far from a human being.


message 16: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
The beginning of most chapters start with an excerpt or saying. They're interesting points to ponder. They don't always seem to be the point of the chapter, though.

If you start with one hundred planets,
remove the Jovians, remove the frozen
Plutos, the blistering Mercurys, the too-small
Marses, too-large super-Earths and the
baking Venuses, rule out the dwarf stars,
giants, variables, close binaries, and classes
of stars that won’t live long enough to allow
life to develop, you’re down to ten or so
planets.

Now the bad news. Our sun is bigger than
80% of stars. Most of the stuff out there is
type K and M stars, which are considerably
smaller and dimmer than Sol. The comfort
zone for those would be so close to the star
that the planet would almost certainly be
tidally locked. Maybe livable, but not ideal.
Maybe three in a hundred planets even has
a chance of being habitable, overall. And I
think that’s optimistic.
… Dr. Stepan Solokov, from the Convention
panel Exploring the Galaxy


I happened to be reading an article that mentioned the the Drake Equation when I read this bit. I've always found that intriguing. Obviously, Taylor did, too.


message 17: by Leo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leo | 560 comments " Our sun is bigger than 80% of stars. "
I did not know that, always thought we were circling a relative small star.


Kateblue | 56 comments This book is a hoot!

And I agree with the Larry Niven comparison. The writing seems similar. The one I was thinking of by Niven was one where the guy came back to earth a million years later after going to the center of the Milky Way and then wanders around Antarctica, which is still livable. Can anyone remember the name of this one?


message 19: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "This book is a hoot!

And I agree with the Larry Niven comparison. The writing seems similar. The one I was thinking of by Niven was one where the guy came back to earth a million years later afte..."


A World Out of Time. I think someone mentioned it earlier, too. Taylor definitely borrowed from the best.


message 20: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Leo wrote: "" Our sun is bigger than 80% of stars. "
I did not know that, always thought we were circling a relative small star."


Me, too. I didn't bother looking it up, though. According to what I can google quickly, our sun is averaged sized, yet bigger than 88% of the other stars in the Milky Way. The stars that are bigger than ours tend to be a lot bigger, thus the average.
https://www.quora.com/In-the-Milky-Wa...
https://www.space.com/17001-how-big-i...
https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/sun-compa...


Peter Tillman | 546 comments Yeah, there are a LOT of M-class red dwarfs, ranging down to brown dwarfs = hot jupiters fusing just a little tritium(?) A lot of the recently-discovered exoplanets are around these dim stars (easier to find them orbiting a small star), and planetologists are speculating about the possibilities of life, native or planted, around them. These stars are VERY long lived: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_dwarf
A good article on just this stuff.


message 22: by Leo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leo | 560 comments Wow: "Low-mass red dwarfs therefore develop very slowly, maintaining a constant luminosity and spectral type for trillions of years, until their fuel is depleted. Because of the comparatively short age of the universe, no red dwarfs exist at advanced stages of evolution."


Peter Tillman | 546 comments Leo wrote: "Wow: "Low-mass red dwarfs therefore develop very slowly, maintaining a constant luminosity and spectral type for trillions of years, until their fuel is depleted. Because of the comparatively short..."

I think the Canadian SF writer Karl Schroeder has used red-dwarf stars for some of his fictional world building [looks]. Ah, PERMANENCE (2002), a book I keep meaning to reread:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
And see this arxiv preprint,
https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0408521v1
"All of the classical elements of great science fiction are here—from action
and adventure to fading and fallen civilizations, from Galactic politics and intrigue
to outright war and rebellion. What we are interested here, however, is the
underlying astrobiological premise, which contains the best elaboration so far of an
original solution to Fermi’s paradox. There are few other books of fiction so
thoroughly infused with the astrobiological topics and issues. Even the fortuitous
or vaguely symbolic subjects, like the title of Part One—“Ediacara”—have
astrobiological significance."

Maybe this one deserves a BOTM reread here?


message 24: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Feel free to nominate Permanence & tell why. I've never thought Fermi's Paradox was much of one, but it's cool to contemplate. Like Drake's Equation the fudge factor is too high to make in anything more than a fun point to ponder. Space is just too big & the time line too long. Still, I kept the SETI screensaver running on several machines for years. I always have my fingers crossed, but I think it's more a matter of luck.


Peter Tillman | 546 comments Jim wrote: "Feel free to nominate Permanence & tell why. I've never thought Fermi's Paradox was much of one, but it's cool to contemplate. "

Well, anything Fermi came up with is cool to contemplate. Such as, coming up with a good estimate of the Trinity "gadget's" yield, by tossing scraps of paper in the air & watching the shock wave move them! Whoa!

"I think it's more a matter of luck." I think you're right. Plus looking in the right places. Which is to say, trying a LOT of possibilities. Good to see the SETI revival, now in progress . . .


message 26: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I really liked the way Taylor handles the space battles. The timing felt very realistic, a far cry from the space opera battles of the past where space seemed very small. Even with the large distances & amounts of time, he manages to write with an immediacy that kept it exciting. The weapons were well done, too. Nothing fantastic, just mass used intelligently.

He did get a bit magical with communications, but that was also well done. It tied the story together & there were issues due to lag times with the new tech.


Cheryl (cherylllr) I found it too lite for the hype. It's kinda funny sometimes, sorta interesting once in awhile, clever in a couple of bits, but mostly forgettable. Also mostly adventure, which I find boring.

Not enough imaginative What If, because Taylor's answer is always 'people are always the same' even if they're Deltans or Ministers of Faith or nerds or military types or AIs. I don't think that's true, and it's certainly not worth writing an SF novel about. Any avid SF reader has seen explorations of "what it means to be human" before, often, and more deeply explored. Corpsicles were mentioned above, and there's The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold, Not to mention lots and lots of robot and alien stories about rights for these other sentiences, for example The Bicentennial Man.


message 28: by Ed (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "...Not enough imaginative What If..."

I disagree. I've seen books before where a consciousness is uploaded to a computer. But I've never seen the idea of multiple copies of that consciousness treated in a similar way. If you start with two identical copies of a person's mind, how similar will those two copies still be next year? next 1000 years?

The exploration of the galaxy over many, many years from a single (fractured) person's point of view was pretty new for me, too. There is something similar in Star Maker, but in that case the whole trip in space is probably just in the character's imagination.

That said, this is not a "great American novel", nor is it trying to be. It is just a fun, lite story.


Cheryl (cherylllr) Yeah, well, I'd much rather reread and recommend The Word for World is Forest than this set of implausibilities and juvenile humor. Though I do appreciate that Bob admits to being juvenile, and so groaners like "butting heads with buttheads" can be excused.

If it were more fun, I'd like it more. But it did try to do serious stuff, like the "people are people" theme, and the "don't let the Christian fundamentalists take over" warning, and the battle scenes, and the technological extrapolations. It just tried too hard, imo, to be both smart and silly. Not a horrible book by any means, but not something I hope to see contributing to the future of the evolution of SF.


message 30: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Yeah, well, I'd much rather reread and recommend The Word for World is Forest than this set of implausibilities and juvenile humor. Though I do appreciate that Bob admits to being juv..."

I liked it pretty much for what you disliked. It didn't try to take itself or anything too seriously. Kind of threw it out there & had fun with it which made the serious bits better, but not overwhelming. There's the nod to space operas in the action, quite bit of Star Trek trivia, & a couple of interesting story threads. It's a relatively short book, a fun read that isn't mindless since there's enough science to make it logical. There are plenty of bricks out there that explore the human condition in detailed SF settings. Poul Anderson's later books come to mind. I always preferred his earlier ones.

Thankfully this book didn't bog down on the parts where we're truly clueless such as what effect being uploading a human mind into a computer would have. Oh, there's a nod to hormonal & quantum effects, but they're not analyzed in any detail. A good thing since we're finding out more & more how little of our mind is really under conscious control. Anyway, I really liked how the different Bobs came about. Fun & interesting.

(I'm reading I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life & Yong makes a pretty good case for various bacteria controlling some of our thinking. Hormones, sure. We all find that one out in puberty. Possibly a nasty parasite, but our native bacteria? It makes sense, but it's disturbing.)


Oleksandr Zholud | 768 comments Ed wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "I've seen books before where a consciousness is uploaded to a computer. But I've never seen the idea of multiple copies of that consciousness treated in a similar way.."

Not a computer upload but a precise copy of a person behaving differently was played out in Катализ and even more distant analog would be the same individual, one living forward in time and one backward in Monday Starts on Saturday


message 32: by Ed (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "Not a computer upload but a precise copy of a person behaving differently was played out in Катализ ..."

Guess I need to learn Russian!

Interesting that he uses the name Ант (Ant). Is that a common nickname for Антон (Anton)?


Oleksandr Zholud | 768 comments Cheryl wrote: "Yeah, well, I'd much rather reread and recommend The Word for World is Forest than this set of implausibilities and juvenile humor. "

I guess it is oranges compared with apples. Forest is a great book, clearly influenced by the Vietnam war, and even Ursula K. Le Guin agreed later that the antagonist was a bit flat character.

For me, this book just like Hugo-winning Murderbot series are more about having fun and not delving much in social issues. From time to time a slapstick comedy is good, but with only it one tires of it very soon


Oleksandr Zholud | 768 comments Ed wrote: "Oleksandr wrote: "Interesting that he uses the name Ант (Ant). Is that a common nickname for Антон (Anton)?"

No, he is the only (I know of) with such a shortening. I guess it is an SF allusion:

there was a SF author Кир Булычёв while usual form is Кирил

and in Arkady Strugatsky universe there is a protagonist named Мак Сим instead of Максим (Maxim)


message 35: by Ed (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
Interesting (to me) that Антон
looks different in italics Антон.

At first I thought you had changed from a T to an M for some personal reason, but it is just the way Russian looks in some fonts.

There is an article about that on stack-exchange.

Letter shapes have changed over the years as they transition from Hebrew to Greek to others, just like Bob's personality! (See! I am staying on topic!)


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 629 comments I'm starting the second book in the series today.


Kateblue | 56 comments I want to, but other things are ahead in the line


message 38: by Ed (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ed Erwin | 1867 comments Mod
RJ wrote: "I'm starting the second book in the series today."

I see you rated the first one only a 3, but want to continue. I'm in exactly the same camp.


message 39: by Leo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leo | 560 comments Also 3 stars here. I decided to put #2 and #3 on hold for now.


Kateblue | 56 comments I have too many other things to read right now, so even though I really liked Bob #1, I am going to have to put off Bob 2 and 3.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 629 comments Ed wrote: "RJ wrote: "I'm starting the second book in the series today."

I see you rated the first one only a 3, but want to continue. I'm in exactly the same camp."


The second one is pretty much like the first one. The parts that take place planetside are a bit dull while the outer space exploration is more interesting. Shaping up to be a 3 star read also.


message 42: by Anna (new)

Anna (anna444) | 42 comments I thought this started with a very interesting premise. I enjoyed it as a light read but not really motivated to read more. The humour got a bit wearing for me and I didn't feel the intriguing idea of multiple evolving personalities went anywhere very interesting.


Cheryl (cherylllr) I agree. So much more could have been done; I found it unsatisfying.


message 44: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I just read an article about how the brain isn't a computer & thought it was interesting in the context of this book.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2...


message 45: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan Dash (ryandash) | 30 comments Any ideas on the "frame rate" of the Bobs? How is this done? I guess the fastest frame rate is the theoretical optimum of calculations per second, and slower frame rates are done by deliberately inserting lag somehow?


message 46: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 4026 comments Mod
I hadn't thought about it nor even considered that way, Ryan. Interesting.


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