B.V. Larson is another indie powerhouse like Hugh Howey. His success is also significant in that it has come in multiple genres, ranging from sci-fi to fantasy to romance. My interest is obviously in his science fiction offerings, and the subject of this review in particular is Swarm, the first book of an enthralling series documenting humanity’s struggle to deal with the aftermath of the arrival of not one but two robotic species.
As it so happens the first robotic species to arrive, while bringing plenty of devastation in their own right, came with the intention of protecting Earth from the more aggressive second species. The protagonist of the story is Kyle Riggs, a college professor who discovers a knack for both staying alive and adopting alien technology for human use. While putting his skills to work he helps found Star Force, humanity’s new alien-tech using defenders. Swarm is somewhat unique in that we see the entire genesis of the military structure that provides the backdrop for this alien invasion, military science fiction hybrid. For those who might not be the biggest fans of military SF, fret not as this one is light on the jargon.
Swarm offers plenty of action in humanity’s struggle to survive as a species in a hostile universe, but much of the truly exciting stuff happens in the mind of Riggs as he pieces together the mysteries behind Earth’s invasion, and learns to manipulate alien technology in ways anyone with a basic understanding of programming will surely appreciate.
On top of a solid premise, what takes Swarm and the entire Star Force Series to the next level is Larson’s polished style. He cares about his craft enough to provide a well-edited, tightly written tale that keeps the pages turning.
Subsequent books also introduce new alien species that are far from the lazily conceived, run-of-the-mill, not-quite-human humanoids, and who add both significant new obstacles and opportunities for humanity’s fight against the machines. Far from one dimensional, Swarm and its sequels feature adequate character development, romantic and political intrigue, and plenty of action.