Character development in the Bobs, a Replicant, a computer programme, you say? Yes, completely!! Firstly, each clone is a different variation of the original Bob and they do differ sufficiently to have distinctive personalities. One just does not know how the newly cloned cohorts will turn out to be, i.e. which psyche of original Bob will be most dominant. Moreover, the much later generations of Bobs seem to have a more diluted sentimentality to humanity and hence not as inclined to stay put and help out.
It is truly interesting seeing how an AI, albeit one which has human memories and emotions, deal with being an immortal of sorts while interacting with “ephemerals”. All I can say is that immortality absolutely sucks for one who retains much of what it means to be human, i.e. being able to feel compassion and love. And just as some of the older Bobs started getting emotionally attached, I began to feel really invested in the characters. For those who have read my reviews and know my reading ideals well enough, such an investment is usually what it takes to finally tip a book into the ‘great’ category. To cap it all off, the audiobook performance was sublime. The narrator delivered all the Bobs’ emotions so perfectly that I felt I was literally watching them in their virtual reality and listening into their thoughts. Sometimes I even forget that there was only one person narrating this entire book - he is that good!
While the narrative still retains an episodic feel of the first book, the story was more compelling with increased threats, tension and emotional resonance in the plot. Following from the success of the first human colony ship landing on a new habitable planet, safety and mortality issues from colonization started to rear its head as bio-compatibility runs both ways. Meanwhile back on Earth, a radically fanatic faction of humans began to impose real problems to the remainder of the species. We also have original Bob experiencing first-hand the consequences arising from ignoring what 'Trekkies' know as the Prime Directive. Then, over the past few decades, one of the Bobs eventually accomplished a technological advancement that represented a serious leap in enabling actual physical contact. This development manifested in some emotional scenes which I have never expected to find in a story told from the perspective of a computer.
Someone is out there.
Nothing makes space exploration more exciting than encountering intelligent and technologically superior alien beings and facing imminent danger from its discovery. How will the Bobs successfully counter this overwhelmingly menacing enemy? I guess I will need to wait for Book 3 to find out, which fortunately will be released pretty soon on August 8th.