I’ve recently taken to reading quite a few different self published titles (The In Her Name series is a great one if you’re interested in doing the same) and came across this title in my search on Goodreads.
Now I have to be honest, one of the factors in choosing self published vs. mainstream is obviously the price (most of the series either offer an initial book free or a book for a quarter of the cost of one published through regular channels) – but at the same time while the books are cheaper, the idea’s, story and overall content needs to hold up to similar books published in mainstream media otherwise it just becomes annoying!
Fortunately – SWARM meets all of my requirements and has been an engrossing and interesting read. It doesn’t necessarily present anything new – it does however jumble up the standard content into a nice little package that simply works.
What’s it all about?
#1 in a series that has already reached 7 books, SWARM introduces us to Kyle Riggs – a simple gentleman farmer (who’s a Computer Science professor at his local University) and his family.
Humanity has been visited by hundreds of alien space ships, and these ships that have initially approached Earth in Asia are gradually moving across the Earth “sampling” humans as they go.
Kyle is the third member of his household to be “sampled” after they first capture his son and daughter and in both cases drop their dead bodies back on his farm. Kyle enraged with the death of his family reacts differently when he too is captured by the ship and immediately fights back. The ship puts him through a sequence of brutal tests (similar to the movie Cube and its sequels) to test his suitability and once Kyle manages to successfully negotiate these tests he is put in command of the vessel.
Here Kyle discovers that the ship is actually composed of nanites (small robotic machines) and that there was no “alien” that ordered the death of his family, but rather a complex AI (Artificial Intelligence) that was simply completing its prime directive of finding a suitable commander.
What Happens Next?
Well the above actually takes place in probably the first quarter or third of the book, so by no means is it the core of the story and while it definitely drives quite a bit of the story-line (the other ships that have not yet found a commander for example are continuing to search the Earth and in essence killing humans by the hundreds until a suitable individual can be found), humanity as such fears the ships and by inference the people who are now commanding them!
We discover later that the ships are sent by another party to actually help humanity as the Earth is about to be attacked by another race and their only hope for survival is through the ships themselves. I won’t describe too much more as I think that would only spoil the story and to be honest for less than £2 on Amazon its in everyone’s budget!
Similarities to other books/series
I actually need your help to identify the name of a book here but, there was one I read a couple of years ago where an alien ship was attacking the Earth on a regular cycle. Each time the ship attacked a group of humans were dispatched to the ship to try and solve it – it was expected that 80%-100% of the humans sent would die each time, and if they did fail, a city on Earth would be destroyed. If they managed to succeed, they would obtain some new technology or secret that would help the human race fight the next battle, as each time the ship came, the tests and challenges were different and often more difficult than the previous time. The twist with this book was that while the challengers had a controller – humanity itself was also involved in guiding them through the challenges by making wagers and suggestions through the Internet and gambling on the outcome of those suggestions.
As you can see, the first part of the description very closely matches the issues and problems that Kyle Riggs experienced on his first exposure to his alien ship – The Alamo.
Have you had those books that you can’t put down? They aren’t high prose, they don’t introduce any new ideas or anything new or groundbreaking, but rather they are almost like coming home to a good friend and someone that you’re just really comfortable with. SWARM is exactly that … its a simple and easy read that basically hits all of the right buttons. If you’re at all into Military SciFi this is one that you should get. I expect that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.