Welcome to the territory. Leave your metal behind, all of it. The bugs will eat it, and they'll go right through you to get it. Don't carry it, don't wear it, and for God's sake, don't come here if you've got a pacemaker.
The bugs showed up about 50 years ago - self-replicating, solar-powered, metal-eating machines. No one knows where they came from. They don't like water, though, so they've stayed in the desert Southwest. The territory. People still live here, but they do it without metal. Log cabins, ceramics, what plastic they can get that will survive the sun and heat. Technology has adapted, and so have the people.
Kimble Monroe has chosen to live in the territory. He was born here, and he is extraordinarily well adapted to it. He's one in a million. Maybe one in a billion.
In 7th Sigma, Gould builds an extraordinary SF novel of survival and personal triumph against all the odds.
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 just finished listening to this book for the second time since I originally downloaded it several months ago. It's that good! Steven Gould is an excellent writer, and his unusual scenarios set him apart from other sci-fi writers.
Kimball is a street child in The Territory, a place where metal and EM cannot be used because of 'bugs' - metal and EM loving tiny robots, that mindlessly destroy anything in their way if they sense either substance. The idea of no cell phones or cars! Aaaaah! Kim's adventures are riveting. You will enjoy it! Now, if Steven would just write a sequel....
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Where does 7th Sigma rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
one of my favorites
What did you like best about this story?
imagine living without metal
Which character – as performed by Fred Berman – was your favorite?
of course Kim
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
the ending, as Kim's future begins
Any additional comments?
only problem was the missprounced words in Spamish
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The relative weakness of the reading would have been acceptable if the story were stronger. Both it and the presentation just missed on several level, which made for an overall "meh" book.
The story never seemed to find a rhythm or coalesce around a cohesive plot direction. Several times it felt like a new and potentially interesting thread was being introduced, only to have the story slide back into the mundane.
The reader was not particularly compelling, either. I found myself grinding my jaw often when some of the characters would speak, wishing Mr. Herman would dial back the characterization or simply read in his own voice. Actually, I'm not entirely sure he ever did read in his own voice. The entire narration sounded as if it were being "Acted".
The sci-fi element of the story was disappointing, though the world created by the author was fully formed and intriguing. The ending of the book left many plot threads hanging. The author seemed more interested in keeping an opening for a sequel than in tying up the many loose ends.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
This story is both well written and well read. The narrator does not try to overdo the different characters; the narration could be described as a simple reading without too much role playing. I prefer this to the somewhat overdone "acting" in some others. The characters are interesting and the addition of new elements as the story progresses makes you feel that you are "living it" rather than being told about it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Don't let the cover fool you. This is a coming of age story about a teenage boy. The setting has some sci-fi elements, but very little of that makes it into the story. And the story itself is fairly banal.
The only mildly interesting plot line is left totally open at the end, presumably for a couple more books. I for one won't be coming back to find out what happens.
13 of 17 people found this review helpful
This book could have easily turned into a Michael Chrichton-esque piece of sci-fi silliness. Instead, it's surprisingly human, engaging adventure story. More a spy story set in the American Old West than a techno-thriller.
Great listen for anyone who enjoys a good adventure and interesting characters, not just sci-fi fans (the blurb and cover art really don't do it justice).
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I like the book; however, I do not see it is a Sci-Fi book. I kept waiting for something to happen but the book just went on and on about the life of this boy. The writing is great, but I felt I was reading a diary.
10 of 15 people found this review helpful
The book had decent start.. but then diverges into chapter after chapter of short stories that have little to do with an overall plot.. It's like a collection of Hardy-Boy mysteries. (Underscore Boy) It's about an adolescent boy, coming of age and gifted with good martial arts skills, idealistic morals... and he's got a pet mule, named Mrs. Pedecares. Together boy and mule set out on different missions/journeys to fight crime.. He fights the bad guys with his high morals and his dojo stick. Towards the middle of the book, I was rooting for the antagonists to vanquish the brat, and for the book to come to an abrupt ending, providing me with a quick exit to my suffering. There are some mechanical robot bugs too.. They have something to do with the plot.. I think.. And nothing in the book has reference to the books title; not that it has to, but it's a bit odd, naming a teen-novel after a quality control process for manufacturing.
4 of 6 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.