I came to the Bobiverse late in the series. I found the series recommended online (probably reddit - but not sure) and once I started reading the books I was hooked. Heaven’s River is the first book in the series to be published since I got into the series. So I’d been able to power through the first three books pretty quickly.
When this book came out I had some time between reading the first three and getting to this one. I was eager to get to another book in Taylor’s Bob universe. It did not disappoint.
I think with Taylor’s writing (and I found this to be true with “Outland” as well ) is that he takes existing tropes and ideas and does two things that make for compelling stories. First he creates some really interesting characters. This is increasingly important to me the older I get. I just don’t run across too much any more that I find to be truly unique in terms of plot. Almost everything I read at this point reminds me of something else I’ve read in some way. Space ships that are alive - well Anne McAffrey nailed that a bit ago among others. So characters matter. I find Taylor’s characters to be people I’m interested in. Now part of this is probably somewhat narcissism on my part. The characters he writes are often people who have things in common with me. They are nerds, interested in learning, well versed in US geek pop-culture (the books are no RP1 - but they’ve got plenty of references) and so on. I’m rooting for myself in a sense. I guess you could call the books in many ways wish fulfillment for nerds. Regardless of the psychology as to why - I love the characters.
That said the second important thing is that while Taylor may not be breaking truly fresh ground, he’s putting a spin on things with some new ideas and plot points. Regularly as I’m reading his stories I find myself thinking “Oh - that’s interesting, I didn’t see that coming.” I really enjoy that aspect. Some books establish the rails for the story quickly and then it’s a straight forward ride. Taylor throws in some curves. In fact, I once ended up riding Space Mountain with the lights on. It was pretty awful. It’s just not a very good roller coaster when you can see the tracks and what’s coming. Some books are like Space Mountain with the lights on. Taylor’s writing is Space Mountain with the lights off. It’s not some crazy new thing that just melts your mind, but it is really fun and exciting at times.
I feel like Heaven’s River is a solid extension to the series. Actions make sense and the history of the series means something. It feels free to explore while at the same time staying grounded enough in what has come before to make sense.
If you are a Bobiverse fan and haven’t read it yet, I would jump on it. If you have never read any but enjoy fun scifi with great humor and clever plot lines - you should give it a go. The first book is “We are legion (We are Bob)”. The title alone got me interested and I’ve been happy that it did ever since.