We Are Legion

“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 was a fun story and makes me wonder about the second and third book in the ‘bobiverse‘. I do however think that the story structure was different from what I expected so let’s take a look:

Hmm I do realise that there is a short storyloop at the beginning:

You: Bob, sold his company, etc

Need: to live, and well, you’ve been hit by a bus

Go: you are an AI and you need to figure out how this works

Search: learn to work with the tools you have. Learn more about the world

Find (with the help of a guide): learns how to protect himself, use his new abilities

Take: has to leave the world, and leave all his connections to the world behind

Return: finds his humanity again in VR etc (and returns to Earth to save it later)

Change: he is the new Bob (and Bill, Homer, etc)

You: Bob, AI, cruising through space

Need: to survive from other AIs humans made (but a lot of new goals and subplots are introduced later, and there I think the story might be less good, but also interesting, hmm)

Go: on the way to new resources in other solar systems

Search: energy, place to be safe, make copies, learn skills

Find (with the help of a guide): arrives in other solar system(s), has new skills, improves, finds way to save humanity (after a while at least) (hmm, not really a guide here except from some old knowledge of tv series etc, and some quotes from The Art of War)

Take: not all Bobs survive, humanity? (but not really, because you don’t really care about that too much) (I guess there could/should have been more sacrifice?)

Return: populates the universe, goes back to Earth

Change: he is the new Bob (and Bill, Homer, etc)

I guess another problem I had with the story structure was the lack of closed loops. The threat of the Brazilian probe is still there, there is another type of intelligent civilisation out there (that took the metal out of one system and left some bots there), the humanoids on another planet (and the gorilla’s etc they have to survive from), etc.