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This is a novelization of Gould's short story, "Bugs of the Arroyo," which is included with little rewriting as part of the story arc. It's a great coming-of-age story set in the desert southwest of the U.S. where a mysterious new technology has forced the abandonment of any and all technologies that require the use of metal. The thoughtful and thought-provoking descriptions of how this would force people to adapt are worth the price of admission all by themselves. In the bargain you get a story of human resilience and adaptability wrapped in some vivid and evocative descriptions of the physical and social world in which the story is set. The only flaw here is a rough and somewhat jarring transition between the new material and the original story (the new material is much better written). It is clear, by the way, that this is the first of at least two books because the mystery of the invasive technology is far from resolved at the end of this volume. Narrator Fred Berman is the perfect reader, so this is a great listen all 'round.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
First, let's talk about what 7th Sigma is and is not. Much like Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book was based on the Jungle Book, this is a retelling of another Rudyard Kipling novel - Kim. This is a coming of age adventure story, with SF elements, set against a southwestern backdrop. Yes, there are bugs that eat metal, but this is NOT a Crichton-esque techno thriller or a post-apocalyptic survival story, as it seems to be marketed.
Like Kipling's Kim, this is told as a serial novel, centering around a young boy named Kimble who is growing up - the major SF divergence is that it takes place in The Territory, where bugs eat everything metal. The people who choose to stay here learn to make due without metal - be it the rivets in their jeans, the lead in their rifles, or chips in their computers. But that's really just the setting, and it sounds more gritty than it is. In general, it's a sweet little coming of age story about Kimble finding his place in the world beside his mentor and sensei Ruth, and Col. Bentham, who he occasionally works for.
There's lots about it that's fun - aikido, heliographs, porcelain ammunition, gyrorifles, espionage, and - of course - metal eating bugs. Fred Berman's narration is fine - his reading is crisp, and he read the few Spanish sections impressively.
Unfortunately, since Kimble is such a capable and intelligent aikido student, whenever there is conflict, there's never really any doubt who will come out on top. And one of the few times when Kimble gets in over his head, happens outside the narrative. As a result, the espionage bits that make up the second half of the book drag a bit. Additionally, there's little shades of grey in this half - the bad guys might as well be wearing black hats. There's an honesty to the narrative when it's focusing on Kimble's relationships and interactions to the people he cares about in The Territory, and that's when the book is most rewarding. But when it veers off to him learning to be a spy, it didn't work as well for me.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and stayed up late at night as I did not want to switch it off. It is well read, with enough differentiation in the character voices to keep track of who is who. An easy voice to listen to without getting annoyed at the narrator. You need to have some idea of the setting to get into this book. Set in the future where an area known as the territory has been invaded by bugs that feed on metal, anyone who lives there has to live without anything metal. Ceramic guns, clay ovens for cooking, horses for transport etc. Despite being set in the future, the way of life feels like an old fashioned western at times. Lots of intrigue & different happenings to keep you interested, with a good main plot running throughout. Very different to Jumper but a similarly engaging writing style and great likeable characters with real feelings that you can relate to. I like the authors attention to detail and it is as believable as a book like this could ever be.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
After having this in my Audible library for over a year I finally decided to finish it. I tried a few times and couldn't get past the first few chapters.
It's an odd story. It meanders along slowly like a winding stream. There doesn't seem to be a story line as such just various stories about things that happen to a teenage boy called Kimble. At one point the story jumps forward as Kimble is reminiscing about one 'job' but it's not until 2 chapters further that you find out the story is suddenly 3 years in the future.
I brought this book on my love of the Jumper series, mostly the excellent Reflex and Exo. I think that overall looking back the original ideas Steven Gould had about Kimble and the bugs are excellent but he hasn't managed to bring them together into a cohesive liquid script.
Maybe reading this in paper would be easier, but in Audible format it's so fragmented that I found myself having to rewind a minute or so to be able to pick the story up again.
Narration is brilliant. Very enjoyable and characters clearly recognisable.
Overall I give it a Good. Maybe one for a long journey so you can get your teeth stuck into it.