For We Are Many: Bobiverse Volume 2, by Dennis E. Taylor

I really enjoyed the first book in this series We Are Legion (We Are Bob). This book picks up right where the first one left off. In fact it picks up so well that I can imagine a reader picking up this book and getting pretty lost without the first book under their belt. It’s not outlandishly confusing but I finished the first book a month or so ago and it took me some adjustment to remember who the characters were, why they were doing what they were doing, etc. There’s no introductory chapter and no attempt at a synopsis of earlier books. It jumps right in.

In the first volume Bob Johannsen is killed in a car accident after setting up instructions that his body be cryonically preserved. The next thing he is aware of is that he’s awake but unable to feel anything. He discovers that he’s been brought back to life with his mind placed in a computer. He and other preserved individuals have been drafted to become the consciousness of a Von Neumann probe. (A space vehicle that can take material from planets and asteroids and use that to reproduce, repair, or enlarge itself along the trip.) The hope is that he will be able to discover new planets that humans can inhabit now that they’ve nearly destroyed earth in a nuclear winter. Bob is successful and not only is able to create duplicate ships but begins inhabiting them with duplicates of himself. Each split off Bob has his memories up to the split but there are minute differences so that each has a slightly altered personality.

This book opens 40 years after volume one. The various Bobs (most of whom take on names of favorite movie and cartoon characters) have spread through the galaxy, seeking new habitable planets and discovering new civilizations. At least one of these civiliations was discovered in book one. A planet with a new sentient species in which Bob has discovered an exceptionally bright and inventive individual he dubs Archimedes.

The many versions of Bob allows for a very fast-paced storyline, hopping from the perspective of one clone to another. Taylor’s writing is bright and funny and the interactions of the Bobs with each other is a lot of fun. But the fun can’t last forever. A new hive-like species is discovered that is building a sphere around the star at the center of their planetary system. To create this they strip other systems of their resources, eating the inhabitants along the way. The question becomes: Can Bob stop them before they move toward earth?

It’s a fun read, with that caveat that these are not books to be read out of order. The book is free on Kindle as of this posting along with both a paperback and audio versions.