We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse Book 1)

BOOK: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse Book 1)
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WE ARE LEGION

(We are Bob)

 

Book 1 of the Bobiverse

 

Dennis E. Taylor

We Are Legion (We Are Bob)
Copyright © Dennis E. Taylor 2016

eBook edition published by Worldbuilders Press, a service of the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency

Cover design by Matt Forsyth

 

Dedication

I would like to dedicate this book to my wife, Blaihin, who not only puts up with my writing but supports it, and to my daughter Tina, who completed our family.

 

 

Acknowledgments

It is a source of amazement to me how many people are involved in creating a novel. It’s not just about writing it down. Critiques, beta readers, editors, artists, agents, and publishers all have a hand in producing the final product.

I’d like to thank my agent, Ethan Ellenberg, for taking me on; Steve Feldberg of Audible.com who saw the potential in the book; and my editor, Betsy Mitchell.

The number of critters and beta readers who’ve had a hand in the book is simply astounding. I’d like to particularly mention the members of the Ubergroup and Novel Exchange group on scribophile.

 

 

Thanks in particular to:

Sandra and Ken McLaren

Nicole Hamilton

Sheena Lewis

And my wife Blaihin.

 

And, as usual, a shout-out to the members of snowboardingforum.com

Part 1

1
.
 
Bob Version 1.0

2
.
 
Bob Version 2.0

3
.
 
Bob – June 25, 2133

4
.
 
Bob – July 15, 2133

5
.
 
Bob – July 18, 2133

6
.
 
Bob – July 19, 2133

7
.
 
Bob – July 25, 2133

8
.
 
Bob – August 4, 2133

9
.
 
Bob – August 6, 2133

10
.
 
Bob – August 10, 2133

11
.
 
Bob – August 15, 2133

12
.
 
Bob – August 17, 2133

13
.
 
Bob – August 17, 2133 – En Route

Part 2

14
.
 
Bob – August 2144 – Epsilon Eridani

15
.
 
Bob – September 2144 – Epsilon Eridani

16
.
 
Bob – September 2144 – Epsilon Eridani

17
.
 
Bob – July 2145 – Epsilon Eridani

18
.
 
Bill – September 2145 – Epsilon Eridani

19
.
 
Milo – July 2152 – Omicron
2
Eridani

20
.
 
Bill – December 2145 – Epsilon Eridani

21
.
 
Riker – January 2157 – Sol

22
.
 
Bill – September 2150 – Epsilon Eridani

23
.
 
Milo – February 2153 – Omicron
2
Eridani

24
.
 
Riker – April 2157 – Sol

25
.
 
Bill – September 2151 – Epsilon Eridani

26
.
 
Riker – April 2157 – Sol

27
.
 
Bob – April 2165 – Delta Eridani

28
.
 
Calvin – November 2163 – Alpha Centauri

29
.
 
Riker – September 2157 – Sol

30
.
 
Bob – April 2165 – Delta Eridani

31
.
 
Riker – January 2158 – Sol

32
.
 
Bill – October 2158 – Epsilon Eridani

33
.
 
Riker – March 2158 – Sol

34
.
 
Homer – September 2158 – Sol

35
.
 
Bob – July 2165 – Delta Eridani

36
.
 
Riker – September 2158 – Sol

37
.
 
Bob – August 2165 – Delta Eridani

38
.
 
Riker – November 2158 – Sol

39
.
 
Bob – October 2165 – Delta Eridani

40
.
 
Linus – April 2165 – Epsilon Indi

41
.
 
Riker – May 2162 – Sol

42
.
 
Bill – April 2162 – Epsilon Eridani

43
.
 
Riker – September 2164 – Sol

44
.
 
Bob – January 2166 – Delta Eridani

45
.
 
Bill – January 2165 – Epsilon Eridani

46
.
 
Milo – August 2165 – 82 Eridani

47
.
 
Riker – January 2166 – Sol

48
.
 
Bob – May 2166 – Delta Eridani

49
.
 
Riker – May 2166 – Sol

50
.
 
Bob – June 2166 – Delta Eridani

51
.
 
Bill – January 2174 – Epsilon Eridani

52
.
 
Riker – January 2168 – Sol

53
.
 
Bob – June 2166 – Delta Eridani

54
.
 
Riker – October 2170 – Sol

55
.
 
Bob – July 2166 – Delta Eridani

56
.
 
Bill - March 2167 - Epsilon Eridani

57
.
 
Mario – August 2169 – Beta Hydri

58
.
 
Riker – April 2171 – Sol

59
.
 
Bill – May 2172 – Epsilon Eridani

60
.
 
Khan – April 2185 – 82 Eridani

61
.
Howard – September 2188 – Omicron
2
Eridani

 

…but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.

— Ishmael

 

  1. Bob Version 1.0

“So… You’ll cut my head off.” I raised an eyebrow at the salescritter. I was baiting him. I knew it, he knew it, I knew he knew it.

He grinned at me, happy to go along with the routine as long as me and my wallet continued to pay attention. “Mr. Johansson—”

“It’s Bob. Please. You’re not talking to my father.”

The CryoEterna sales rep—the nametag identified him as Kevin—nodded and gestured toward the big placard, which displayed the cryonics process in ghoulish detail. I took a moment to note his Armani suit and hundred-dollar haircut. It appeared there was money in Cryonics.

“Bob, there’s no point in freezing the entire body. Remember, the idea is to wait for advancements in medicine to be able to cure whatever killed you. By the time they can resuscitate your corpse, they’ll likely be able to grow you a whole new body. That would be easier, in fact, than trying to patch up the old one.”

That’s just insane enough to be true.
“All right, Kevin, I’m sold.” I looked down at the papers he’d set out in front of me. “Ten thousand deposit, annual payments, insurance…” Kevin stood patiently, letting me scan the information without interruption. I might be drunk with my newfound wealth, but almost a decade as an engineer and a business owner wouldn’t let me do anything without checking all the documentation.

Finally, I was satisfied. I signed the paperwork, wrote a cheque, and shook hands with Kevin.

“You are now a client of CryoEterna Inc.” he said, handing me a card. “Keep this in your wallet at all times. In case of death, we will be contacted. Once death has been pronounced, we will—”

“—behead me.”

“Yup. And freeze your head, pending medical advances sufficient to bring you back. The guidelines for setting up a Trust are in your information package.” Kevin handed me a thick, bright blue folder with a barely visible cloud pattern, and the corporate logo emblazoned on the front. “We’ll have the formal documents printed up and mailed to your home address. And welcome to CryoEterna.” With that, he stuck out his hand and we shook again.

I did a little skip-step as I left the CryoEterna office. The Trust had already been set up, but I didn’t want Kevin to know I had decided to sign up before I even walked into the office. No point in making his job
too
easy. I couldn’t decide if this was a canny investment in my future or a mind-blowingly stupid waste of money. Well, what the hell. The sum that Terasoft was paying me for my software company ensured financial stability for the rest of my life—and now, beyond.

Not to mention a significant upgrade in my lifestyle. I’d been attending
The Vortex
SF convention every year since they first started up in Las Vegas, but this year I wasn’t part of the riff-raff. As I walked the two blocks from the CryoEterna offices to the convention, I pulled the VIP pass out of my pocket and put the lanyard around my neck. This pass gave me many extras over the standard item—access to hospitality suites, ability to bypass line-ups for autographings, and reserved spaces for panels, among other things. I’d also bought a pass for Jenny—

And, there it was. I’d invoked She Who Must Not Be Named. I stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk, earning glares from tailgaters and a muttered curse from a Jedi Knight wannabe. I began deep-breathing to still the panic attack. This time, it took only moments to get myself under control. Nothing like practice, I guess. I was still having several panic attacks per day, but that was way down from just after the breakup. It was like having a bad tooth—you keep poking at it with your tongue, even knowing that it’s going to hurt each time.

With a conscious act of will, I brought my thoughts back on track. I’d taken advantage of the VIP pass by reserving a space in a couple of back-to-back panels, and the first one was starting in less than fifteen minutes.
Exploring the Galaxy
featured Lawrence Vienn as one of the speakers. He was a popular and prolific science fiction author, and many of his story concepts had helped shape the modern genre.

It took only a couple of minutes to get to the convention center and find the seminar rooms. Con staffers had already gotten the VIPs seated and were about to let everyone else enter when I pulled up, panting and waving my pass. The attendant motioned me in with no more than a glance.

I got an aisle seat by pure fluke. As I rushed into the room, someone stood up right in front of me and turned to walk out. Without breaking stride, I slid into the vacant seat, and the woman seated beside me did a double-take. She must have thought the other guy had morphed.

I turned my head to watch as they opened the doors to the common rabble. People poured into the conference room until attendants had to close the doors or face The Wrath of the Fire Marshal. The Las Vegas hotels tended to have good air conditioning—no one wanted distracted or uncomfortable clients—but a lot of the attendees had been in costume for too long. I tried to breathe through my mouth while hoping the ventilation would eventually catch up.

In typical con fashion, very little concession had been made for aesthetics. The tables and chairs were the standard folding variety, and the session information was written on a large whiteboard. In black marker, because I guess color would be too much bother.

No one cared.

The moderator, a short, round black man with a permanent smile, called for attention. “Good afternoon, gentlebeings. Today, we’ll be hearing from Lawrence Vienn—” Spontaneous cheering forced him to pause. “—who will talk about the technological and economic prerequisites to get interstellar probes into space. After that, Dr. Gerald Carlisle—” More cheers. “—will talk about the biology of extraterrestrial life. We’re looking forward to a great panel today. So, without further ado, I give you Mr. Vienn.”

The applause went on for several minutes. Lawrence smiled patiently through it, and gave the occasional wave. Finally it died down, and I settled in for a good listen.

***

I sniffed at my clothing, just to make sure I hadn’t picked up some of the odor from the room. The second panel had been even more ripe than the first. If not for the subject matter, I’d have bailed. But any discussion of Von Neumann probes was like catnip.

I decided I wouldn’t need to change before meeting my soon-to-be-ex-employees for lunch.

I left the convention center and headed for the agreed-upon restaurant, grinning at the spectacle around me. Science-fiction conventions inevitably spilled out onto the streets. Storm troopers, Chewbaccae, and Enterprise crewcritters wandered everywhere. Throngs of fans filled the sidewalks and crossed the streets with or without traffic light assist. I’d seen more than a few exchanges of middle fingers, accompanied by suggestions of an autoerotic nature. Great fun. Fans packed the restaurants twenty-four-seven, but the waitstaff didn’t complain—nerds tend to overtip. I’d heard that the casinos were less happy with the level of gambling. Turns out nerds understand probability.

I made it to the restaurant without losing any body parts, and found my group.

***

“To Terasoft!” Carl raised his glass as he gave the toast.

“Terasoft.” The rest of us raised our glasses in response.

Carl, Karen, and Alan had been my first hires at InterGator Software. They had been loyal and patient through the early hard times, and I had made them shareholders in the company. My engineering design and analysis application had eventually grown to be the number one product in its niche, out-selling competitors like Terasoft by a significant margin.

Terasoft reacted with a truly eye-popping buy-out offer, and we were now all sharing in the windfall. These three might still have to work for a living, but they wouldn’t have to make mortgage or car payments.

I had invited the trio to spend the week in Las Vegas on my dime. Only Carl took me up on the offer of the VIP con pass, the other two pleading sanity. Alan and Karen stated their intention to see every single Las Vegas show. At several per day, they looked like they were approaching saturation.

“How are you holding up, Bob?” Carl looked at me with one eyebrow raised.

“Pretty good. I signed with CryoEterna this morning…” Karen made a low growling sound and looked away. She didn’t need to say anything; she’d already made her opinion very clear on that subject.

I waggled my eyebrows at her and continued, “And I just went to a couple of very interesting panels.
Exploring the Galaxy
and
Designing a Von Neumann Probe.

Alan laughed. “No theme there, not at all. Engineers. Jeez.”

“Yeah, but how are
you
doing, Bob?” Carl gave me the hairy eyeball.

Carl had managed to navigate the tricky pathway of being an employee and becoming a friend, without looking like he was brown-nosing. I guess I owed him the courtesy of not pretending to misunderstand.

“A lot better, Carl. ‘Jenny’ episodes are down to a couple a day. I might even be ready to rejoin the human race, soon.”

“The woman was an idiot,” Karen muttered. “You should have taken your mother up on her offer.”

That forced a chuckle from me. “My mother doesn’t
actually
know how to arrange a hit, Karen. I don’t think.” I pulled out my phone and glanced at it. “Speaking of which, she texted me. I’ll have to phone her back soon, or she’ll just keep sending more texts. She’s kind of like the terminator, that way.”

“So it
is
genetic!”

I mimed exaggerated laughter at Carl and he grinned back, unrepentant. After a moment, he waved a hand dismissively and changed the subject. “Anyway, part of the purpose of coming to the con this year was as a distraction from the breakup, right? So how were the panels?”

Karen groaned, and I leaned forward to put my elbows on the table. “Really interesting. Dr. Carlisle theorizes that life will generally be similar on different planets with similar climates, and maybe even digestible by humans. Panspermia, ya know. Common biological origins.”

“Horse cookies.”

“No, seriously, Alan. He gave a pretty good argument for a common chemical basis for life. Not
Star Trek
level compatible, but we could probably subsist on an alien ecosystem.”

“I’ll wait and see,” Alan said. “How about the other one? Space probes?”

“Von Neumann probes. Automated probes that reproduce as they visit star systems. Turns out nanites are out and 3D printers are in for self-replication.”

Carl nodded. “As advancing technology leaves fiction behind, again.”

“Wait, what?” Alan said, looking perplexed.

Carl and I both smiled indulgently. Alan was not a science geek, despite a background in software development. I gestured with my hands as I described the idea. “You’ve seen 3D printers, right? Printing things like plastic parts, medical prosthetics, and toys?” At his nod, I continued, “So take it to the next level. Have them able to deliver any element, one atom at a time, according to a design. You could, in principle, print literally anything solid.”

“Including parts to make more probes,” Carl added, “using whatever elements they find in the systems they visit.”

Alan glanced at me. “This would work?”

“I minored in physics, Alan, you guys know that. I think it’s completely plausible.” I paused for a moment to taste my beer, then looked around at the others. “And the engineering—”

“You’re really going to freeze your head?”

We all turned to face Karen. “Here we go,” Alan muttered.

She glared at Alan, then at me. “When they revive you—
if
they revive you—it’ll probably be long after everyone you know is dead.”

“Including Jenny…” Alan said, sotto voce.

Karen glared at him again. “Whatever. Your family will be dead. Your friends will be dead. How are you good with that?”

I looked at her for a moment, considering my response. “I’m a humanist, Karen. You know that. No afterlife. If I die, my choices are revival or nothing. I’ll take my chances with whatever I wake up to.”

Karen’s expression grew even more thunderous, and she opened her mouth for a retort. Fortunately, the waiter picked that moment to arrive with our lunch. The odor of hamburgers, caramelized onions, and vinegarized fries wafted around the table as the plates were set down in front of us. By the time the food was distributed, the moment of tension had dissipated.

***

I dropped a trail of shoes and clothes behind me and settled onto the king-sized bed. The daily rate on the executive suite was ludicrous, but the luxurious bed alone was worth the price. One could get used to this. Oh, yes.

I set the alarm so I wouldn’t sleep the whole afternoon, and pulled out my phone. My mother really would keep texting me if I didn’t call her back.

The phone rang twice at the other end before her voice came on. “Hi Robert. Has it been a year already?”

“Hah hah. Hi Mom. Got your text. No, I don’t need a contract taken out on what’s-her-face, thanks. I’m at
The Vortex
, having a great time. K, bye.”

She laughed into the phone. This was a game we always played. I acted impatient and tried to end the call, but we both knew I’d stay on as long as she wanted.

BOOK: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse Book 1)
8.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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