Quick Summary of Heaven’s River
In Heaven’s River by Dennis E. Taylor, there’s trouble in the Bobiverse. A lot of it. The Pav still feel quite put out regarding the loss of their homeworld. There’s discontent brewing among the ever-expanding number of Bob clones — with each subsequent generation seeming less and less Bob-like. There’s growing concern that the personality drift might become a real issue. Worst of all, Bender has gone missing. Bob decides to take up the search, only to make an accidental discovery that could upend the Bobiverse forever!
What I Liked about Heaven’s River
IMPORTANT: From this point forward, there could be spoilers!
Heaven’s River: Advancing the Bobiverse
Heaven’s River is the fourth book in the Bobiverse series. I’ve enjoyed the series since the first book, We Are Legion (We Are Bob). I saw that first title and thought that there was no way I couldn’t not read it. It seemed to hit my sense of humor’s strike zone. The book delivered on its promise. It also exceeded my expectations with interesting characters, a compelling plot, and an arc that went through the first three books.
For a while, I was afraid we wouldn’t see any new Bobiverse books. That’s why I was so happy to see this one come out. Do you like audiobooks? I do. It’s about the only way I have time to “read” anymore. The narrator for all four books, Ray Porter, perfectly embodies the character of Bob Johansson and his many clones. I was very happy that he returned for Heaven’s River. It was like coming home. If home’s crowded with thousands of digital, sentient clones!
This installment asks the kind of questions that elevates the book from simply-entertaining-in-the-moment to something memorable. To be clear: there’s nothing wrong with just having a good time. Things are kind of tough out there in the real world, and it’s nice to sometimes to just escape.
Enthralling Concepts Portrayed in a Thoughtful Way
This book has that factor, but it goes beyond it. Dennis E. Taylor brought information theory into the story in a way that really made me think. The ideas by themselves were interesting, but when presented through the lens of the Bobiverse and its evolutions (yes, plural!), they became thought-provoking. Not only that, but the presentation took some venerable science fiction tropes, like uploading minds into computers, and freshened them with some delightful concepts.
I don’t want to spoil the specifics — some of those ideas are central to the plot and the reveals later in the book. Speaking of reveals, I don’t want to say much about The Search for Bender, except this. I was driving home when Bob found Bender, and I actually, honestly laughed out loud. I was glad it was winter so my windows were up. Otherwise, my neighbors might have worried about it. More than they already do.
“Skippies? Skippies?” I could feel my eyes bugging out, even in VR. “What, they’ve changed their avatars to beer cans and started calling people monkeys?”Taylor, Dennis E.. Heaven’s River (Bobiverse Book 4) (p. 48). Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. Kindle Edition.
I also loved call-outs to other science fiction series. In Heaven’s River, cliques have come to the Bobiverse. One of them is called Star Fleet, an obvious (if ironic, given what they do) reference to Star Trek. Another faction calls themselves the Skippies. Have you read Craig Alanson’s series called Expeditionary Force? The Skippies are a reference to the hyper advanced AI from that series — an AI shaped like a beer can and named Skippy.
The familiarity with other fandoms isn’t just fanservice. It helps these books feel real. I could see our future being like this. It helps me immerse myself into the story and just have a good time.
What I Liked Less about Heaven’s River
I wish I could appear to be Old Curmudgeon Review Man and show my intellectual brilliance by skewering some plot point or character development in this book. To do that, though, Dennis E. Taylor would have had to do something egregious to pierce my suspension of disbelief.
He did no such thing.
I got to the end of the book without a single suspension mishap. The book kept me entertained from start to finish. The only down side is that I can’t immediately pick up book 5. So I’m sorry if you were looking for something negative, because I liked the book too much!
Do I Recommend Heaven’s River
I hate making recommendations. I don’t know what you like, and my tastes have been called all sorts of things — the most polite being esoteric. Maybe a look at the Amazon reviews will help:
Let’s see, 8,578 reviews with an average 4.5 stars… yeah, I’d call that “good.”
I feel pretty confident that if you like science fiction, especially hard science fiction or first contact science fiction, you’ll enjoy this.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!