This book picks up where Book 1, SIMPOC: The Thinking Computer, leaves off. Commander Joan Herl and her husband Colonel Tom Herl are trying to pick up the pieces of the devastating virus that swept over the world. Meanwhile, Dr. Julius Harold is off plotting his mad scientist victory in world domination. The US President is safely out on an aircraft carrier while parts of the world continue to battle one another.
This book has quite a larger cast and therefore jumps around quite a bit more trying to show what everyone’s up to. There’s very little SIMPOC interaction, but we do get to spend time with his stand in, the android Alpha. The second half of the book settles down a bit and Joan, Tom, and Alpha become the central characters more or less. Overall, I liked Book 1 a bit more because it had a smaller cast and a tighter plot. I never really got attached to the characters in this book simply because we spent so little time with each one.
I did enjoy watching Dr. Julius Harold. He’s definitely got the mad scientist vibe going on. He takes off to set up his lab some place in Colorado. He has this crazy idea that involves a biomass brain and somehow mapping his own and overlaying it. I am not sure yet what he wishes to accomplish in the long run, but I definitely look forward to seeing what challenges he poses for our good guys.
We still have folks in space (at the Moon base and living on Mars) in this future scifi. Folks there are having to make hard choices about returning to Earth or not. I appreciated their dilemmas. But, again, we spent so little time with them it was hard to be emotionally invested in their plight.
There’s only two female characters in this large cast. Joan Herl, who showed up late in Book 1, is primarily in the story to either need comforting or to provide it. She makes few decisions and I wasn’t impressed with her. There’s one other lady, a wife and mother, who has maybe 2 lines and is rescued with her family. If the virus targeted women in particular and they are in short supply, no character has commented on that fact.
The ending has a very unexpected twist and I was pretty excited about this. While most of this book had been kind of humdrum for me, the ending adds a new player that has me worried for the human remnants indeed! It will be interesting to see where the author takes us in the next installment. The human species may not live through this one!
I received a copy of this audiobook from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Narration: Zachary Johnson once again did a nice job. He has a variety of regional accents that allowed him to keep all his characters distinct. I especially liked his slightly sinister and definitely focused voice for Dr. Harold.