Book notes: The Singularity Trap by Dennis Taylor

The Singularity Trap by Dennis E. Taylor book summary review and key ideas.

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The Singularity Trap by Dennis E. Taylor


“Dennis E. Taylor, author of the best-selling Bobiverse trilogy, explores a whole different, darker world in this sci-fi stand-alone. Determined to give his wife and children a better life back home, Ivan Pritchard ventures to the edge of known space to join the crew of the Mad Astra as an asteroid miner. He’s prepared for hard work and loneliness—but not the unthinkable. After coming into contact with a mysterious alien substance, Pritchard finds an unwelcome entity sharing his mind, and a disturbing physical transformation taking place. With his very humanity at stake, Pritchard must save mankind from a full-scale interstellar war.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

Mostly picked up this book because the Bobiverse series by Dennis Taylor was amazing, and even though the reviews said this wasn’t as good, the average rating is still high. So I’m hoping it’ll still be a good read even if it’s not as funny.

Key notes:

Chapter 1: emissary

Chapter 2: launch

Chapter 3: financial concerns

Chapter 4: departure

  • The captain told the crew that they had to break more than even or else the Mad Astra would be done, and their share prices would go down
  • He gave them all the option to extend the trip 1-3 months in hopes of improving their odds

Chapter 6: trying another location

  • They found something that would be a huge payoff they were all waiting for. But they had to be cautious because of some weird anomalies

Chapter 7: tallying results

Chapter 8: paydirt

Chapter 9: Checking it out

Chapter 10: infection

  • The anomaly substance stuck to Ivan’s arm and the crew was trying to figure out how to safely get it off him so they could get him back on the ship

Chapter 11: recovery

  • When Ivan woke up he found that his arm was coated with a silver metal from his hands up to his forearms

Chapter 12: investigation

  • The doctor concluded it seemed to be a prosthetic arm but was not sure how it got there
  • Everyone decided to try amputation

Chapter 13: situation analysis

Chapter 14: adverse reaction

  • The crew did an operation to push the baby rock containing the anomaly away from the big rock and into deep space

Chapter 15: Deja vu

  • Ivan woke up and the metal arm was back but extended higher up
    • The crew couldn’t figure out how it happened or why
  • Ivan seemed to have been chosen by this anomaly
    • But also it started to metalize his other limbs

Chapter 16: we’ll handle it

  • The captain decided to delay reporting Ivan’s condition for 3 days until the bidding closed from a buyer of the big rock
    • In the meantime, the metalization continued

Chapter 17: continuing infection

Reader’s note: I’m kind of getting annoyed at how much he keeps panicking and then they have to keep sedating him. Just chill out so we can have the story progress

  • For the most part, Ivan felt good and stronger. And the doctor didn’t think it was attacking him

Chapter 18: strategy meeting

  • The captain and doctors recorded an official report on Ivan’s transformation

Chapter 19: writing home

Chapter 20: ICDC

Chapter 21: a difficult conversation

  • Ivan finally had a video chat with his wife and told her everything

Chapter 22: consternation

Chapter 23: the chrome man

Chapter 24: the way things must be

Chapter 25: crew reaction

  • He wrote a letter to his wife saying he’ll probably never see them again
  • The crew argued over whether or not he was still technically alive

Chapter 26: in the common room

Chapter 27: most paranoid wins

  • As a rule in their marriage, the most paranoid person could make the decision

Chapter 28: taking courses

Chapter 29: arrival

  • The ICDC started their investigation and examination of the crew
    • The goal was to see if they could detect the nanites and eventually clear every one of infection so that they would be free to leave

Chapter 30: quarantine

Chapter 31: first job first looks

Chapter 32: status

  • The ICDC and the military were trying to figure out how to handle this information leak, and all of the media reporting and speculation

Chapter 33: looking over his shoulder

  • The doctor mentioned that they weren’t able to get the nanites to infect anything
    • They seemed generally uninterested but then tried to migrate back in his direction

Chapter 34: unrest

  • Ivan was watching the news and saw that there were riots and protests all over the world in major cities and countries

Chapter 35: screaming

Reader’s note: he just made a reference to the Bobiverse by saying I am legion. Ha ha

Chapter 36: discussion

  • Ivan spoke to the doctor from the ship and told him that he was starting to understand how the technology in his body was working
  • He explained how it was trying to learn how to communicate with him

Chapter 37: enemy threats

  • An enemy nation with a larger military force showed up and threatened to take the alien assets by force
  • The admiral managed to convince the enemy that it wasn’t a good idea and persuaded him to take a diplomatic route

Chapter 38: investigations and discoveries

  • The scientists speculated on why the nanites took so much care to keep him comfortable and looking as human as possible

Chapter 39: the continued threat

  • The military group discussed preparing for a worst-case scenario and attaching a nuclear failsafe to the isolation chamber
    • Though that wouldn’t come without any repercussions because of all of the legal protections the captain set up for everyone

Chapter 40: it hits the fan

  • In the press conference, the reporters asked questions that implied there was a huge leak of information of direct information

Chapter 41: Putting it in perspective

Chapter 42: in the news

Chapter 43: reconsiderations

Chapter 44: Interlude

  • The military group considered doing a fake public eradication of Ivan, but then secretly keeping him elsewhere safely
  • Ivan started to develop the ability to see his surroundings that he couldn’t normally see and sense where all the nanites were
  • He discovered he had some control over the nanites and could somewhat morph his body

Chapter 45: retrieval

Chapter 46: press release

  • He got more flashes of memory from the computer in his brain
  • Ivan suspected there might be some sort of war that might be coming involving the artificial beings versus the chrome animals

Chapter 47: anomalies

Chapter 48: finally

Chapter 49: more news

Chapter 50: summary of findings

Chapter 51: discharge day

  • It was decided that the crew was not infectious or infected, and there was a low probability of any sort of infection moving forward
    • So therefore, they would be released but Ivan would be quarantined by the military for the foreseeable future
  • Captain Jennings reiterated to the ICDC investigator that his lawyers expected Ivan to give daily updates and prevent him from disappearing
    • She affirmed that the military has incentives to not rock the boat so they’ll probably cooperate

Chapter 52: Release

Chapter 53: unbelievable

Chapter 54: demands

  • The computer told Ivan that it was a war against an AI
  • This computer was not an AI or self-aware and had no ambition
    • They simply turn species into chrome to preserve them

Chapter 55: it’s moving

Chapter 56: fail-safe implementation

  • The militia group decided to move forward with trying to detonate and get the nuke ready

Chapter 57: Escape

Chapter 58: Detonation

Chapter 59 finding refuge

Chapter 60: calling with news

  • Captain Jennings and Dr. Kemp discussed how the admiral blew up Ivan
    • The admiral and the captain both agreed to not rock the boat as it could put everyone’s livelihood at stake if the admiral exposed what they did to the big rock
  • Dr. Kemp and Captain Jennings visited Ivan‘s wife and gave the prepared speech
    • She told them she would trade it all to have them back, and they reassured her that he would probably ask her to reconsider that

Reader’s note: Wow, this part actually made me tear up. It was the conversation between the captain, doctor, and Ivan’s wife, and when she said she would trade all of the money they got to have him back.

Chapter 61: vessel released

Chapter 62: an unexpected call

  • Ivan called Dr. Kemp and gave him an update on his escape

Chapter 63: purchase

Chapter 64: reports of my death

Chapter 65: humanities options

Chapter 66: Naval exercise

Chapter 67: strike force

Chapter 68: counterstrike

  • Ivan managed to take control of the Navy warships and requested that the admiral leave him alone, but give him two ships for the metal so he can construct what he needed
  • The admiral confided in the captain about everything that happened and eventually the chief of staff ordered for his arrest
  • Ivan promised to let them go and would leave, and then Ivan self-destruct once they were near earth space

Chapter 69: collateral damage

  • Ivan explained to the captain and doctor that there’s a reason why there aren’t a lot of other lifeforms that they can find in the universe
    • It’s because they either kill themselves off with pollution or they fight themselves into a nuclear destruction
    • The third alternative is they create the singularity or an AI which decides to wipe out the biological species
  • One of the ways for species to survive environmental destruction is to grow a collective brain and gear down your society to a pre-industrial level
    • Nobody picks this option though
    • The second option is to upload your intelligence into machines and reduce reliance on a planetary environment
      • These Uploads as he calls them skip over the Singularity
  • Uploads will set up mouse traps and forcibly convert a species after going through an evaluation
    • If not, it’ll convert the place into a defense post and set up more mouse traps
      • If they don’t do that, the AI can sterilize a system in weeks, but the uploads are tough and can hold them off
  • The Uploads gave all of their historical data and predictions for each species into the computer
    • The evaluation is at humans have 50 to 75 years left before environmental destruction, but they’ve also hit the fan with their development and heading over to AI
      • This means they’re closer to the Singularity if they don’t nuke themselves first over war
  • The group suspected that Ivan was trying to secretly tell them that he had a plan to subvert the computer and cheat somehow
    • At face value, their only two options were to assimilate or perish, but Ivan had a plan. They were going to try to figure out what it was

Chapter 70: arrest

Chapter 71: visiting

  • Ivan hoped his friends got his message and informed the Navy so that they could either cooperate with Ralph or worst case scenario blow them both up

Chapter 72: Preparations

Chapter 73: second assault

  • The fleet discovered that the SSE sent destroyers to intercept them, so there might be an exchange between them

Chapter 74: reconfiguration

  • A bunch of people at a mining location in Mercury died because of some sort of planetary reconfiguration that happened
    • There were rumors that it was happening in other locations

Chapter 75: Waiting for the end

Chapter 76: defensive strategy

  • The two military forces began to surround Ivan and Ralph
    • The computer hasn’t made a decision yet between humans being too belligerent and needed to be wiped out, and being not smart enough to be uploaded

Chapter 77: surveil

Chapter 78: approach

Chapter 79: attack

Chapter 80: response

  • Ralph made the decision to make Earth and the other planets a defense post, which would make them uninhabitable
    • He commented that humans were not a good candidate for upload because they were too shortsighted, violent, and fractious
    • Their technological advances surpassed their own maturity which was unusual
      • And even if they could sort it out in time, they would die from heat death before then or the AI singularity

Chapter 81: found

  • The Commodore agreed with Dr. Kemp to try and force the computer to negotiate a third option

Chapter 82: discussion

  • Dr. Kemp made the argument to Ralph that if they both opted for the cooperation route in the prisoners dilemma, they would both benefit more in the longer term
    • The computer’s programming is meant to optimize for the largest gains which meant it’s supposed to choose cooperation in this situation
  • The computer agreed to the terms given that the nanites would be ready at any time to prevent defection
    • It also agreed to help with the ecological collapse until they can reduce the threat of the singularity and get the species and technology ready for upload

Chapter 83: reaction

  • Ivan admitted to Ralph that the concept was based on interpreting your opponent like chess
    • However, Ralph would not let Ivan interfere with the self-destruction filter against the enemy nation
    • This was the final test to see if they can survive on their own
  • The admiral and the Commodore had a face-off with the SSE admiral to try to convince him to cooperate and not try to fight a losing battle with the aliens

Chapter 85: aftermath

Chapter 86: conversation

  • Ralph told him that he would be deactivated and archived until the future date when he’ll be reactivated and uploaded to a human form once everything is resolved
    • As far as death sentences go, Ivan thought that this wasn’t too terrible

Chapter 87: funeral

  • The technology given by Ralph was helping to make the moon habitable
    • It also helped stop and reduce environmental decay, as well as reverse it on Earth

Chapter 88: coda

Closing thoughts:

I’m glad this turned out to be a solid sci-fi book and I highly recommend to those who like this genre.

Many reviewers said they were disappointed mainly because they were comparing this one book to the entire Bobiverse series. I think if you’re trying to compare the two, then I’d understand why this book would feel like a letdown. The Bobiverse series was fantastic. However, this book is ver well-written and entertaining from start to finish.

The only thing that bothered me a bit was Ivan’s character in the beginning. He was pretty whiny and kept freaking out. It felt like it ruined the flow of the plot and was irritating after a point. However, when he started to get used to his abilities, the story began to pick up and get interesting.

Overall, recommend this book for people who like the sci-fi genre. You won’t be disappointed if you don’t set unrealistic expectations haha.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

Honestly, I can’t really see any clear takeaways or “putting into practice” points for this book. It was an entertaining story, and there really wasn’t much to learn from any of the characters. I guess it’s a bit disappointing because it didn’t really seem like Ivan was a very admirable or inspirational character. He was just lucky and happened to be clever enough to use the prisoner’s dilemma to beat the computer. Or maybe Dr. Kemp was the one who should get credit for that.

I guess if I had to reach for one lesson or takeaway, it would be the one part that emotionally got to me.

  • All of the money in the world cannot replace loved ones

This was because the wife mentioned how she would trade her fortune to have Ivan back, which was the most touching part of the whole story.


First-time space miner Ivan and his crew stumble across alien technology whose directive is to either save or destroy the human species.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


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