What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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SOLVED: Adult Fiction > SOLVED. Science fiction, boy witnesses aliens cutting heads off of parents [s]

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message 1: by Trey (new)

Trey | 3 comments WHEN you read the book: read the book (possibly short story, but almost certain it is a full-length novel) about 2 years ago or so

What reading level it is aimed at--adult

What the story is about: a man is making an attempt to become a galactic ruler or emperor or something. There are others who do not want him to succeed. They belong to an investigative force (I think) and while investigating, they discover that he is the same person (a boy) that they are looking for in another plot line. He is the man that the boy they're searching for has grown up into. When the man was a young boy, his mother and father were killed by aliens. Aliens sent some sort of plans for a replicator or wormhole generator or something to humanity. We built the machine, and immediately all computers and manufactories within a certain distance of the laboratory are taken over by an alien AI and start producing these machines. The machines, once produced, go all over the planet searching for humans, and slice off their heads and scan the experiences and emotions, to send back to the alien race. The entire alien race has "gone into the box" and now experience only virtual reality. They need the minds of other races to keep things fresh and experience new things -- they have essentially created an eternal lifetime for themselves and they get bored of the same "tapes" played over and over.

The scene where the boy witnesses his mother (or father, can't remember) getting their head cut off is truly horrific. It is also bad when the reader realizes he is trying to become emperor to stop humanity from building any more machines according to the alien's plans, and wants to put humanity on a galactic war footing to fight the head-gathering machine alien AI/race. He is the sole survivor of the original build, and that set him on a course of ruthless, unstoppable ambition.

I keep thinking this was part of Ian Bank's Culture novels with the investigative people belonging to Special Circumstances, but I've read all the synopses I can find and none of them have this story within them.


What the genre is. sci-fi

What format is the book in: dead tree


message 2: by Andy (last edited Apr 30, 2015 06:14AM) (new)

Andy Love | 2056 comments Your very detailed description makes this identification pretty easy - it's John Barnes "The Armies of Memory" The Armies of Memory

Here's an excerpt of a description from Wikipedia

"As Rielis questions Shan, Giraut and Rielis rapidly come to know what happened on Addams to cause it to lose contact with Earth. An aggressive alien aintellect-run invasion overwhelmed their defenses and killed everyone not in hiding—their goal being to destructively holograph brains, deconstruct aintellects and send back those memories and experiences to their home planet to be consumed as entertainment for their dependent organic creators who had isolated themselves in virtual reality. Only by advanced planning by Shan's father and help from his personal aintellect was a very young Shan able to escape via springer to Earth."


message 3: by Andy (new)

Andy Love | 2056 comments Here's a brief excerpt from the book too https://books.google.com/books?id=xYV...


message 4: by Andy (new)

Andy Love | 2056 comments Just remembered - John Barnes published excerpts of this novel separately, so you may have read the section focused on the early life of Shan in a magazine. That section was called "The Little White Nerves Went Last" and part of it is online at the Analog site http://www.analogsf.com/0602/Whitener...


message 5: by Trey (new)

Trey | 3 comments That's it! Case solved!

Ug. Just re-read the scene with Pinky on Amazon. Good God, that book is so disturbing.


message 6: by Trey (new)

Trey | 3 comments Also: thanks a whole bunch, Andy. Really appreciate that.


message 7: by Andy (new)

Andy Love | 2056 comments Glad to help. It's a good book (with some deeply disturbing parts, as you say).


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