Audiobook Review: The Singularity Trap by Dennis E. Taylor
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 1/Stand Alone
Publisher: Audible Studios (June 5, 2018)
Length:11 hrs and 22 mins
Narrator: Ray Porter
After completing his Bobiverse trilogy, Dennis E. Taylor tries his hand at something a little deeper and more serious in The Singularity Trap. Despite the slight drop in humorous moments and the pacing being a little uneven in places, it was still a very entertaining read complete with an old-school sci-fi feel and plenty of nods to hard science.
The story begins on the mining ship Mad Astra where readers are introduced to protagonist Ivan Pritchard, the most recent addition to the crew. With no other options left for him on Earth, Ivan has risked everything he has left on this venture in the hopes of providing a future for his wife and kids. But the asteroid mining business can be risky too, and if the Mad Astra can’t pull off a successful run this time, Ivan will be even worse off than when he first started.
Against all odds though, the miners wind up hitting pay dirt, finding an asteroid loaded up with all kind of valuable materials…among other things. While investigating an anomaly on the rock, Ivan unwittingly triggers an extraterrestrial booby trap which releases an unidentifiable substance onto his arm. Despite the crew’s best efforts to cut off the contaminated parts of his suit before returning him to the Mad Astra, the next morning Ivan wakes up to a shocking sight. The affected arm has been transformed completely into living metal—and it doesn’t seem to be stopping there. Even amputation is no use, as it is discovered that alien nanites have infected Ivan’s bloodstream, and they would simply strip the ship for resources to rebuild the missing limb.
Little by little, Ivan becomes replaced by the new alien technology. Soon, he even begins hearing a voice in his head, the one belonging to the artificial intelligence that has taken over his body. It reveals it mission: to convert and upload all life it encounters for its masters—and unfortunately for humanity, it’s next on the list.
If you enjoyed the Bobiverse books, the good news is that The Singularity Trap will scratch a lot of the same itches. It’s another unique premise offering a few twists on some classic ideas, and it also presents hard sci-fi concepts in an fun and accessible package.
However, it’s also clearly meant to be a more serious endeavor. For one, it’s not as light as the Bobiverse books, with less action and humor. There’s also a lot more exposition as the author waxes on about technological and scientific concepts. All this is interesting stuff, though admittedly not as engaging when it’s constantly hampering the flow of the plot. The book suffers pacing issues near the beginning, taking a long time for the story to get started, and then again in the middle as the parties involved in determining Ivan’s fate are locked in tireless discussion over what to do with this nanite-infested self. I won’t lie; staying focused was a struggle at times, and Ivan as a character was nowhere near as likeable or endearing as any of the Bobs. He didn’t seem to do much either, playing a relatively passive role for much of the book until the very end.
Still, despite my gripes, I suppose The Singularity Trap was enjoyable enough. The ending was satisfying, even if the climax was not as intense as it could have been. I think I had expected something a bit more from Taylor, after seeing what he was capable of in his previous trilogy, but overall I had fun.
Audiobook Comments: I was really happy to see Ray Porter on this project, because anyone else narrating a Dennis E. Taylor book would be a travesty. His reading was brilliant as always, adding an extra layer of immersion to the story. Sound effects were also a pleasant surprise and a nice touch!