We Are Legion (We Are Bob) – Dennis E. Taylor

Let’s talk about bias. Let’s talk about gate keeping.

They exist.

I try not to demonize them too much, because I think we do both of these things without thinking too much about it. When we buy books, we don’t consider to what extent some other authority has officiated them (don’t believe me? I’ve spoken with a number of people who have purchased and read books, were dissatisfied with them, and then only later found of that the books were never actually finished ((Chauser’s The Canterbury Tales, Irène Némirovsky’s Suite française))), and to what extent maybe we wouldn’t if we took that sanction into better consideration.

I first heard about this book via reddit. Let’s call this strike one. Despite the fact that I like reddit, other book recommendations I have gotten from it have not panned out very well. The redditor who posted about it called it said that it was self-published (and it wasn’t, or at least not exactly). We can call that strike two. When I finally did get around to reading it, it was because I found it cheap at a library sale, and the cover of the book looks and feels self-published. Same bias as before, but let’s call that strike three anyhow.

I bought it anyhow, because the reddit description made it sound fun. The title sounded fun. The conceit sounded fun.

It’s a fun book. It follows the story of a person who finds his consciousness uploaded into a Von Neumann probe, and adventure there after kicks in. I know I can do a better job of describing this book than that, but frankly I think there are more important aspects of the book to talk about.

I was shocked at to what extent the prejudices of gatekeeping affected me before reading it, and I was really very surprised by this book. I thought it was really very marvelously thought out and researched. If the quality wasn’t in the books construction, it certainly was in the writing itself. Taylor isn’t the best writer to ever put prose to page, but he has a writing style that fits the characters he has created and the tone of his fiction. It’s not the best thing ever, but it works. At time the story felt to be leaning a little too close to the geek-chic that seems to be all the rage these days, but not in an insincere way, and not in a fawning way either.

But here is the best sign I can think of – I really want to read the rest of the trilogy. I am not sure I want to wait the requisite time between books that I normally give. I want to dig into it now. A bit of this was from feeling that the ending didn’t give much closure, but a lot more of it was just from the fact that I was really enjoying reading this book. Isn’t that high enough praise, despite all the biases and gatekeeping?

This book was enjoyable. This book was also pretty good. And when one considers to what extent major publishing houses disappoint me, one wonders why the bias is maintained to begin with.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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