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7th Sigma Mass Market Paperback – June 26, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Sheer adventure: full of engaging, nerdily detailed depictions of the minutiae of Aikido, spycraft, artificial life theory, frontier economics, religious zealotry, Zen meditation, and beautiful descriptions of the southwestern landscape. It has the true pulp adventure serial spirit, the compulsively consumable zing that'll have you turning pages long past your bedtime. (Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother, on 7th Sigma)

About the Author

STEVEN GOULD is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, and Jumper: Griffin's Story, as well as many short stories. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. Gould lives in New Mexico with his wife, writer Laura J. Mixon and their two daughters.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812561554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812561555
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,356,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first Gould book I've read; I typically read the classics, but having a real love for tv scifi (and sorely missing BSG) I decided to pick up a scifi book.

The world Gould creates is convincing and the story is an entertaining one. That's more than enough for me to feel like I got what I asked for. The language and imagery moves you along briskly in the text and there are very few continuity issues and almost no puzzling contradictions arising from the "bug" premise. (Quite a feat.)

I did find that the asian-martial-arts angle made the characters a little less accessible to me--their teachings and practices seemed so important and ingrained to them that I wish I'd understood them more fully, or, frankly, cared a bit more. I often found myself stopping to ponder the technology challenges imposed by the bugs, but I rarely stopped to wonder how any character was really feeling... and I think that's telling.

The writing is crisp and accessible, though the dialog seems often out of sync with the characters. Children especially seem to be granted the dialog (and occasionally, the wit) of forty somethings.

It is clear that the book is written with sequel(s) in mind, and frankly I thought the "not-_____" plot seemed plugged in as an afterthought. Unfortunately, I think the book needed a stronger plot overall, and the "ending" feels very unfinished. The whole book appears to be background and character development for future works.

All that said, I enjoyed it and will likely take a gander at some similar books by Gould and others.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A part of the US now where no metals can exist and how life has changed from the accident that created bugs that eat metal! Did seem like left a chapter out to shorten book on incident mentioned (capture and whipping) in book not that it detracted but maybe author thought it would drag storyline down or change direction did strike me as strange when I was reading.
Only other complaint is ended too quickly hopefully another book is forth coming with same characters or setting!
Another well written Steven Gould book similar in some ways to Helm (Aikido)!
If you enjoy any other Steven Gould book you will like this one as well. If this is your first Steven Gould and you enjoy the reading definitely recommend his other books!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved all of Steven Gould's earlier books (Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Greenwar, Blind Waves, Reflex, ...), so I was predisposed to like this one.

It certainly didn't disappoint!

The setting is the american southwest in the near future, where some very strange "Von Neumann" self-replicating insects have invaded a chunk of territory. The "bugs" eat refined metals, LOVE electromagnetic fields, and attack anything that hurts one of them. This means that humans living in this "zone" have to accept some pretty strict technological workarounds and limitations, and literally tread carefully since crushing a bug brings a potentially lethal swarm.

The main character, Kimble, is a very capable young man who winds up having adventures all over the area, dealing with the bugs and with the mix of people populating the area.

It was a fun summer read, and I'm looking forward to the next book from SG!
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Format: Hardcover
Take the American Southwest back to the Stone Age courtesy of the bugs - solar-powered, self-replicating robots whose metal-chomping ways not only endanger humans too close but also eliminate all electronic technology and all metal in the area. Add a land settled by hardy pioneers or those too stubborn too leave. Throw in a Captain of the local constabulary who is interested in bringing in the scum bothering those pioneers - the highwaymen, the meth dealers, the murders and religious cults and secessionists. Then take a runaway thirteen year old boy found and trained by a homesteading akaido master, and lay it all out along the lines of another young boy employed as a spy in a dicey frontier zone, Rudyard Kipling's Kim, and you have Gould's quite satisfying novel.

There's the martial arts story, there's the very Kiplingesque young-man-learning-lessons plot, there's a post-apocalypse feel as we see the ruins of old towns and cities, and there's the fascination of surviving in this frontier through a combination of imported technology like ceramic arrowheads and old ways like building adobes and weaving baskets. Of course, in a story where people move by animal power or their own legs, there's also a very definite western feel to it. But Gould doesn't scrimp on the science fiction weirdness either as our young spy Kimble (not the only name here that is playfully allusive) meets new forms of "bugs", and Gould gives us a sort of answer to their mystery.

He also gives us some expected plot developments in the lives of the Captain, the sensei, and Kimble, but that part of the story is told unsentimentally, obliquely, and with wit. Gould is also quite effective at pacing a story covering five years in Kimble's life.

The bugs may be rather novel, but Gould has given us some nice presents from the past in the elements of this story, one told in a concise manner too seldom seen these days.
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