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Robogenesis: A Novel Hardcover – June 10, 2014
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*Starred Review* Wilson’s Robopocalypse (2011), which told the story of a sentient artificial intelligence’s plot to wipe out humanity via the narratives of various characters, became something of a pop-culture sensation. It’s a good novel, but its sequel is superior in every way. The author preserves the oral-history structure and keeps several of the characters from the first book (including Cormac Wallace and Mathilda Perez), but he veers off in a new and frightening direction. The story is set in the years immediately after the New War; Archos R-14, the AI who very nearly destroyed the human race, is dead, but that doesn’t mean humanity’s troubles are over. Here’s the short list: a civilization to rebuild; a growing discord between robotically modified humans (victims of Archos’ horrific experiments) and the unmodified; dangerous robotic creatures running rampant; and a new kind of threat, one even more dangerous than Archos. The writing here is much more visceral and polished than it was in the earlier novel. In fact, the first several pages of this book’s first chapter, in which a character is attacked by a robotic parasite, are more frightening and more memorable than the entirety of Robopocalypse. An astounding novel. --David Pitt
Raves for Daniel H. Wilson's Robogenesis
"A galloping sci-fi account of a war between man and machine...A-" -- Entertainment Weekly
"A near-perfect beach book for apocalyptic sci-fi fans, but here’s the caveat: Slather on the sunscreen before you sit down to read it."-- Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Fiery action." -- The Free Lance-Star
"Terrifying and technologically rigorous." -- Boingboing.com
"An astounding novel." -- Booklist (starred)
"Thrilling." -- The Oklahoman
And acclaim for Robopocalypse
“It’s terrific page-turning fun.”--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
“Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse is...an ingenious, instantly visual story of war between humans and robots.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times
“It'll be scarier than "Jaws": We don't have to go in the water, but we all have to use gadgets.”--Wall Street Journal
“A superbly entertaining thriller…[Robopocalypse has] everything you'd want in a beach book.” – Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Robopocalypse is the kind of robot uprising novel that could only have been written in an era when robots are becoming an ordinary part of our lives. This isn't speculation about a far-future world full of incomprehensible synthetic beings. It's five minutes into the future of our Earth, full of the robots we take for granted. If you want a rip-roaring good read this summer, Robopocalypse is your book.”--io9.com
“You're swept away against your will… a riveting page turner.” -- Associated Press
“Things pop along at a wonderfully breakneck pace, and by letting his characters reveal themselves through their actions, Wilson creates characters that spring to life. Vigorous, smart and gripping.” --Kirkus
"A brilliantly conceived thriller that could well become horrific reality. A captivating tale, Robopocalypse will grip your imagination from the first word to the last, on a wild rip you won't soon forget. What a read…unlike anything I’ve read before." --Clive Cussler, New York Times bestselling author
"An Andromeda Strain for the new century, this is visionary fiction at its best: harrowing, brilliantly rendered, and far, far too believable."--Lincoln Child, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Storm
“Robopocalypse reminded me of Michael Crichton when he was young and the best in the business. This novel is brilliant, beautifully conceived, beautifully written (high-five, Dr. Wilson)…but what makes it is the humanity. Wilson doesn't waste his time writing about 'things,' he's writing about human beings -- fear, love, courage, hope. I loved it.” --Robert Crais, New York Times bestselling author of The Sentry
"Futurists are already predicting the day mankind builds its replacement, Artificial Intelligence. Daniel Wilson shows what might happen when that computer realizes its creators are no longer needed. Lean prose, great characters, and almost unbearable tension ensure that Robopocalypse is going to be a blockbuster. Once started I defy anyone to put it down." --Jack DuBrul, New York Times bestselling author
"The parts of this book enter your mind, piece by piece, where they self-assemble into a story that makes you think, makes you feel, and makes you scared." – Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
"Author [Daniel Wilson], who holds a doctorate in robotics, shows great promise as a worthy successor to Michael Crichton as Wilson, like the late Crichton, is skilled in combining cutting-edge technology with gripping action scenes. Expect a big demand for this frenetic thriller."--Booklist
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What I specifically didn't care for was the massively downer plot that involved things like body horror, genocide (and yes, admittedly the last book covered this topic as well), and betrayal, with a plot that was fairly harsh and dystopian, even compared to the last book. It may not have helped that I was reading another sci-fi novel at the same time that had a much happier and upbeat tone, but I think that objectively I just did not like the direction this plot/universe went, and perhaps I spoiled the first novel for myself by reading this one.
Most of all, I think whatever was special about the narrative and ideas (which were well-matched to what the current thinking is about the potentially fatal effects of the emergence of super-intelligence) was lost vs. just imitating the zombie and dystopia craze. The result is that the plot doesn't really make use of the author's AI expertise, and becomes fairly cut-and-paste when compared to what original imagination could have come up with, too much like less rich narratives in the same genre. Nothing about this book felt special, nothing left me thinking about the story or AI afterwords other than one specific narrative that was still pretty shadowy. I have no idea whether there was a third novel, but this book seemed like it was just setting up novel number 3, and had too much carnage at the end to feel good about how things resolved.
So if you do read this book, beware what you are getting into, because it is full of ugliness and fairly unforgiving with how the original cast ended up from the first novel. Maybe that's reality, but it wasn't a reality I cared to invest my time in.
Sadly, I was unable to finish this sequel. The author used his considerable imagination to tell a story of unrelenting misery and horror. I gave up half way through because it wasn't worth the effort to see how it all unfolded.
Looking forward to more while secretly hoping it continues to be fiction. Bravo, Mr Wilson. Bravo.
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