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This review is from: 7th Sigma (Hardcover)
7th Sigma is the full novel in the same world as the short excerpt "Bugs in the Arroyo" from 2009 which is still available from the publisher TOR's website as of this time.
Gould has created a story of people who survive and sometimes thrive in a localized apocalypse in the US South West. With a nod toward Clarke's third law, the apparently hyper advanced technology is not center stage. While teams of scientists almost certainly are working tirelessly to find an answer, this is not yet their story.
Kimble/Kim, the young, resourceful male protagonist who is also an aikidoka has some clearly audible echoes of Gould's prior book Helm. The actual technical aspects of Aikido are more in the background here than in Helm and the world receives more of the author's attention.
Technically, the story is broken into several slices of Kimble's life which may be months or only days in duration. The feel is almost episodic: the problem of the day front and center while the ongoing disaster the Bugs represent are the moving backdrop for everything in his world.
I will admit to being an unreasoning fan of the book Helm who owns 2 harcover copies and the kindle version. I was happily surprised by the similarities in this story. I do wish that Kimble was a bit less of a cipher in the later story slices. As the slices jump forward in time, I felt a bit left behind when the young man struggling to learn and expand the edge of his capabilities suddenly becomes the experienced campaigner.
All in all, I enjoyed the quick, entertaining story. For me, the surprising similarities previous work were less important than the large unanswered question of what the Bugs actually are. That question is only more loudly asked at the end of the story and I'm sure another installment from Kimble will be on the way to us.