Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review - Robopacalypse

RobopocalypseRobopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I looked at the cover and thought about the movie A.I. I read the prologue and thought about Terminator. But this book is its own entity. It reads a lot like Asimov's robot stories (not the I, Robot movie, but the actual set of short stories about humanity interacting with robots). After staring at the cover for severalmonths and passing over it for other books, I finally picked it up - and could not go to bed until I had finished it.

In Robocolypse things go horribly wrong when a scientist creates Archos, a machine brain that is self-aware and interested in studying life, but without the messy interference of humankind. Thus begins a war that most humans aren't aware of until they are trapped by the machines that turn against them on what became known as Zero Hour.

This novel is told in vignette’s, short stories of the Hero's, a little girl who's doll threatens to hurt her brother unless she gets her Congressman mother to vote down a robot control bill, an old Japanese bachelor who sincerely loves his robot girlfriend, even after she literally takes a bite out of him, a teenager who gets so incensed when a prank he stages fails to get the news coverage he thinks it deserves that accidently uncovers the head of the robot conspiracy and is forced to flee for his life. In the end all of these people become heroes in a resistance they don't yet know humanity needs to survive.

This is a very mechanized future, where all but a few grandfathered vehiclesinclude computer brains that enable them to talk to each other to avoid accidents - and that let them trap helpless drivers once the war begins. Where robots encourage the return of animals while they create new and better machines to kill human beings. Where human survivors are herded into camps to serve the machines as cheap workers and experimental subjects. And where some human beings come together to become more than they ever dreamed possible.

Make no mistake, this is a science fiction war story, some scenes are both violent and emotional, and characters we come to care about disapppear into the camps or die, sometimes in horrible ways.

One thing I liked most about Robocalypse is that it doesn't take place just in the United States. In addition to pockets of resistance in America, this novel highlights efforts and heroes in Japan and Afghanistan, and acknowledges efforts and fighters and sacrifices in the Middle East, China and Russia. And in the end, some humanoid robots side with humanity and make their own sacrifices for freedom. In what seems to be a tradition in books like this, it leaves several openings for possible sequels, including the future of humanoid robot and human relationships, and the possibility that Archos is not really dead.

View all my reviews

No comments: