It takes a long time to get one of the legacy review companies to review a book, so finally Kirkus has posted their review.
A third adventure in a sci-fi series follows idealistic rebels who can manipulate reality using quantum portals.
Ten years ago, college students Justin Smith, Steve Duong, and Samantha West led a revolution that invented quantum teleportation and used it to eliminate the Earth’s nuclear arsenal. Now, that same technology, which involves tapping “into the computational substrate that runs the Universe and determines how matter and energy appear to interact,” allows them to live on New Earth. This planet is just one of over 100 worlds humanity has settled throughout the galaxy. Thanks to less condensed populations, the watchful, artificially intelligent Guardians, and replicator programs that provide food, shelter, and clothing, “crime and hunger are almost unknown.” Trouble arises, however, when decimated alien civilizations begin appearing in galactic surveys. Because Justin, Steve, and their programmers can’t find any thriving alien races, they suspect that another intelligence is manipulating the substrate. When Eddie, an artificial intelligence, makes itself known to Kat, Justin and Samantha’s 10-year-old daughter, dire truths trickle in. A race called The First, which lives immortally within the substrate, decides which civilizations get to upload and join it. Determined to test humanity, The First now sends its Shrivers—an AI death squad—toward every planet that the revolutionaries helped settle. Kinnison (Nemo’s World, 2015, etc.) bursts wide the scope of his continuously rewarding series in this latest entry. As in the previous novels, he challenges his characters to evolve morally as well as technologically; when Justin and Steve appear secretive about the discoveries on an alien ship, NASA astronaut Maddy Rahama reminds them why they fought the United States when she says, “I thought you guys were going to be the most transparent government ever.” Keen sociological insights are crucial to the plot, as when Justin says, “Just because no one goes hungry, doesn’t mean people stop envying and hating.” The narrative, despite approaching war, proves riveting in the classic mold of Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein’s works, in which action never eclipses heart and intellect.
A novel about a galactic threat that offers an addictive barrage of lofty ideas infused with soul.
First “professional” review in — rather short.
Humanity’s attempt to survive first contact with a civilization that reaches back to the early days of the universe in: SHRIVERS
By Jeb Kinnison
IR Verdict: Somehow both contemplative and exploding with action, SHRIVERS is an engrossing story that shines a light on humanity’s best and worst aspects as a fleet races to wipe them out.“Instead of relying on outlandish technology or eccentric alien species, Kinnison has crafted a futuristic world that touches on philosophical, moral, and ethical ramifications of survival.”
Humanity has finally found peace among the stars thanks to quantum gateway technology, replicators, and powerful AIs. Before the dust can settle, the riddle of the Fermi Paradox is answered in the worst way possible. All advanced civilizations are uploaded to a virtual realm, or completely eradicated. And humanity is on the chopping block.
SHRIVERS is the third book in the Substrate Wars series. 10 years after Justin Smith and Steve Duong invented quantum gateway technology, humanity spread to other planets in an era of peace without want or violence. After exploring destroyed world after destroyed world, a race known as the Shrivers target humanity for extinction. With a deadline on the clock, Justin and Steve race to prepare for the Shrivers’ arrival. Meanwhile, an emissary from the civilization hidden in the virtual realm (known as the “Substrate”) contacts Justin’s daughter and prepares her to speak on humanity’s behalf to the tribunal that decides all advanced race’s fate.
In a refreshing entry in a science fiction series, SHRIVERS excels at examining humanity’s growth into the wilds of space. Instead of relying on outlandish technology or eccentric alien species, Kinnison has crafted a futuristic world that touches on philosophical, moral, and ethical ramifications of survival. Of course, the tech and aliens are nothing to sneeze at. The use of AIs known as Guardians to curb violent acts, instruct and educate, provide all necessities, and function as humanity’s allies is engaging and intriguing. SHRIVERS is a captivating entry in the series and a stellar piece of sci-fi.
Somehow both contemplative and exploding with action, SHRIVERS is an engrossing story that shines a light on humanity’s best and worst aspects as a fleet races to wipe them out.
So far the reviews are mostly from people who read the less-polished advance reader copy I sent out. Here they are as of today — all five-star, which is a little offputting. The sample is skewed because these are readers who really liked the first two, so I expect new readers will be less kind!
Engrossing addition to the Substrate Wars saga
By Bookgirl on November 30, 2015
Shrivers are coming.
Complex plotting, political intrigue, and a galaxy-spanning saga–Shrivers builds relentlessly to a climax filled with surprises. Kinnison weaves multiple plot lines, characters, and different planetary settings together adroitly, crafting a tale that will captivate and delight hard science fiction fans.
By M. Cunningham on November 30, 2015
I was provided an advanced reader’s copy for review and found it to be a captivating and entertaining read. Mr. Kinnison has channeled his inner Heinlein to create a fitting wrap-up to the Substrate Wars trilogy. I was especially impressed by the creative use of Kat’s training in the virtual reality world of the substrate to create stories of how other aliens lived and reached the substrate. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the golden age of science fiction.
Be careful what you wish for
By Rich on November 29, 2015
The third book catches up with what we’ve been wondering from the start– where is everybody else? The riddle of the Fermi Paradox is resolved, but the answer makes them wish they’d never asked the question. The limits of the seemingly unlimited new technology are revealed, with multiple major plots lines racing to meet where not only is humanity’s future at stake, but the soul of the universe. Kinnison handles the tasks with a tight focus and new characters, a thoroughly enjoyable conclusion to the series. (Note this review is for an advanced reader’s copy provided by the author.)
Just Survive Somehow
By Stan on November 28, 2015
(The review title is an Easter egg for TWD fans.)
The Substrate Wars continue with the third book in the series, and now the stakes are raised even higher: the potential destruction of all earth-based life! While looking for other civilizations, our heroes find nothing but devastation, utter and complete destruction. Planets nuked so thoroughly that the survival of anything but low-level deepsea-dwelling organisms is rendered impossible. Formerly advanced civilizations: gone, utterly wasted, from millions of years earlier to only a few hundred. This is a mystery to them until they unwittingly make themselves known to the Shrivers, a force reminiscent of Saberhagen’s Berserkers. Even though earthmen are now distributed in colonies dispersed about the galaxy, nevertheless they are all at risk, not only from the Shrivers, but from an unexpected early personal enemy. To find out if and how they survive this latest menace, read Shrivers! The action which some felt lagged a bit in the second book is back with a vengeance in the third book and now we have to await a fourth (and more?) book to find out what happens next.
An Excellent Ending to an Great Series!
By Joseph F. on November 27, 2015
When Jeb offered me the chance to take a look at the third book in his trilogy before it was released, I was thrilled to take him up on it.
I loved the first book, had a few minor quibbles with the second one but was absolutely astounded by the third book. I know, I reread it two times trying to knock holes in it knowing that if I found anything, Jeb would immediately address the issues, making it that much better.
Even after going back and rereading the whole series, I was not able to find anything at all that did not ring right. I looked hard and didn’t find a darn thing that I could jump on.
By far, this is the best book of the series–not that the other books aren’t excellent and I am one of those many readers who can really hardly wait to see what Jeb has in store for us in the future.
Hard science, and good action
By Donald W. on November 27, 2015
This review is based on a pre-release beta, some things may change in the final edition, I’ll let you know after Tuesday Dec 1, when the book is delivered 🙂 As Volume 3, most of you interested have read the first two, but if you are new to Jeb’s writing, I think you can jump in with this one cold. With the 10 year ‘hiatus’, since the first two, the plot will flow, but you will miss all the incredible speculative hard science of the first 2 books.
With that said, there is a lot of incredible speculative hard science in this one, not predicated on the originals, but supplement and extending it. Oh, and the plot just sings along, an interwoven tapestry of people, places and events that come together for the exciting conclusion (until Vol 4, which you should, along with me demand Jeb write soonest).
Without spoilers, the Shrivers kill civilizations, but the ancient civilizations do indeed exist. A fascinating speculation into the Fermi Paradox, it is entertaining as well an interesting take to an old problem we have been kicking around for a hundred years.
The galactic saga continues….annihilation or redemption
By Michael Z on November 27, 2015
I have read the previous two books in this series and really enjoyed reading them. This is the third, and it is a real page turner as well. These are my favorite type of scifi stories, non-stop action, twisting plot, space travel, technology and grand social implications. Every time one crisis is resolved another bigger one takes its place.
Jeb has grown the story to be galactic in scope. Finally, aliens have started to get involved. And they are taking sides. The stakes have gotten really big, total annihilation or redemption.