Monday, January 6, 2020

Earth II - Box Set #3 & #4, by Ray Jay Perreault (author, narrator)

Perreault Publishing, December 2019

This is the third and fourth books of the Earth II series. Book 3, You Have No Honor, brings together two threads, that of SIMPOC, one of the first two true artificial intelligences, and of a deeply strange and suspicious virus that wipes out 90% of the human population. As the story opens, the virus has burnt itself out, and the remaining humans are trying to pick themselves up and preserve human civilization. Unfortunately, just at this point, alien spacecraft start landing on Earth in large numbers and, ignoring the remaining population centers, set out on a project the purpose of which isn't yet apparent.

SIMPOC, having worked out the outlines of what has happened, has made itself mobile and, based on its programming to help people, has decided that its first necessity is to stop the other artificial intelligence, which calls itself Julius after its now-deceased programmer. Julius has been programmed to protect itself--seemingly a sensible precaution, and in fact very dangerous. SIMPOC teams up with returned leadership of the space station OASIS, which supported the now-isolated research colony on Mars--the only human population completely isolated from the virus. OASIS commander Joan Herl, her husband, chief engineer Tom Herl, SIMPOC, and the rest of the OASIS group, reconnect with the surviving US government, start working out what's going on with the alien invasion, going after the dual threats of the aliens and Julius--who has decided that the two biggest threats to its existence are SIMPOC, and the surviving humans.

Book 3, Rebirth, has the humans in control of a substantial number of alien ships and machines. They just have to figure out how to control and crew them. At the same time, the surviving US government is starting to pull together the remaining American population, while also reaching out to the remnants of other governments and countries.

While this is going on, Joan, Tom, and SIMPOC have mastered the alien craft sufficiently that they decide it's sensible to try out its FTL drive to do some cautious exploration of Earth's interstellar neighborhood--but in a different direction than Earth's former invaders. That leads to some interesting discoveries, and some new decisions that need to be made in a hurry.

I enjoyed both of these books quite a bit. They are fast-paced, well plotted, and have interesting characters. In many ways they have the characteristics of the 1960s sf I enjoyed as a much younger reader--except Perreault seems to quite naturally include a degree of diversity and natural human equality quite unlike the stories that left me identifying with male characters because there were so often no female characters that weren't just window dressing. It's just a lot of fun and very enjoyable.

Perreault narrates this audiobook, and is a very good narrator of his own work.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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