Killday Series Book 2
by William Ledbetter
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Pub Date 07 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 15 Oct 2023
Fifteen years after warring artificial intelligences nearly destroyed Earth, Abby, the daughter of Killday hero Leah Gibson, finds an artifact from that struggle, upsetting a delicate balance of power and dragging her into the middle of a new fight for humanity's survival.
One AI faction is working with humanity to repair a biosphere teetering on the edge of collapse, while another faction cares only about elevating itself to a higher plane of intelligence and will destroy anyone who gets in the way. As the only humans still not controlled by AIs race to build huge orbital habitats in space, a more secretive organization grows in the shadows and idolizes the man who triggered the nano-replicator attacks that nearly destroyed the world. They, too, believe the only way to stop the AIs is to annihilate everything.
In Nebula Award winner William Ledbetter’s Level Six, one woman has the power to save humanity - if she can survive long enough to use it.
“If you want a novel that leaves you terrified of how easily tiny changes multiply to planet-sized problems, don't miss Level Five.” –Nerds of a Feather
“A propulsive techno-thriller that steps outside the well-established tropes of a scientist struggling to save the world from being taken over by AIs who see no further need for humanity.” –Mike Finn’s Fiction
"The cold facts of the story, the sides being drawn, the urgency as time draws near, add to the tension. The results may surprise you. It’s intense, complex, and engaging. It’s a book that hooks you—you must see where it cleverly leads." –Mystery Suspense Review Crew
"This book is filled to the brim with unique characters like artificial intelligences, programmers, engineers, special agents, terrorists, and a man who sees visions of god. It is no surprise that all of them have their own idea of whom should inherit the Earth.... Ledbetter introduces these technologies and gives us a glimpse into how they might affect our lives. He adds a refreshing element to the story, potentially dangerous innovations used for good, and an optimism about humanity’s place in space." --P.A. Kramer
An excellent but surprisingly dark near-future SF
This near-future science fiction thriller liberally mixes a number of well-trodden threats in the genre; from nuclear and biological terrorism, to unchecked artificial intelligences pursuing their agendas, to weaponizing nanotechnology. And yet, Ledbetter takes on a role of an experienced DJ, remixing these familiar things in fascinating new ways, adding in a cast of fascinating characters and experimenting with interesting technologies that manage to feel both wondrous and entirely plausible within our lifetime.
Writers who are bullish on near-future technologies in ways Ledbetter appears to be earlier in the book tend to be optimists who can't help but allow their plucky technocrat protagonists to save the day in the end. Without giving away any of the plot I must say that Ledbetter does not shy away from darker sub-plots and that even the most charismatic of his characters are no more safe from the twists and turns of the plot than the Starks in George R. R. Martin novels.
This is a strong debut novel from an already-accomplished short fiction writer, and I look forward to reading or listening to whatever book he comes up with next.
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