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Robopocalypse: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 17, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 732 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Robopocalypse Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011:In the not-too-distant future, robots have made our lives a lot easier: they help clean our kitchens, drive our cars, and fight our wars--until they are turned into efficient murderers by a sentient artificial intelligence buried miles below the surface of Alaska. Robopocalypse is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller that makes a strong case that mindless fun can also be wildly inventive. The war is told as an oral history, assembled from interviews, security camera footage, and first- and secondhand testimonies, similar to Max Brook's zombie epic World War Z. The book isn't shy about admitting to its influences, but author Daniel H. Wilson certainly owes more to Terminator than he does to Asimov. (A film adaptation is already in pre-production, with Steven Spielberg in the director's chair and a release date slated for 2013.) Robopocalypse may not be the most unique tale about the war between man and machine, but it's certainly one of the most fun. --Kevin Nguyen

Guest Reviewer: Robert Crais
Robert Crais is the 2006 recipient of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award and the author of many New York Times bestsellers, including The Watchman, Chasing Darkness, The First Rule, and The Sentry.

Robopocalypse is as good as Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain or Jurassic Park, and I do not invoke Mr. Crichton's name lightly.

Daniel Wilson’s novel is an end of the world story about a coming machine-versus-man war. You know the reader's cliché: “I couldn't stop turning the pages”? So shoot me--I couldn't. Started on a Friday afternoon, finished Sunday morning, and I'm slow. My daughter finished it in a single night, and then my wife. My wife hates science fiction, but she loved this book.

Set in a future only a few weeks away, the world is still our world, where advancements in silicon-chip technology and artificial intelligence have given us rudimentary android laborers and cars that can get around without human drivers.

The war begins the fourteenth time a scientist named Nicholas Wasserman wakes an amped-up artificial intelligence dubbed Archos. In a protected lab environment designed to contain his creation, Wasserman has awakened the sentient computer intelligence thirteen previous times, always with the same result: Archos realizes that it loves that rarest of miracles—life--above all else, and to preserve life on Earth, it must destroy mankind. This wasn't exactly what Wasserman wanted to hear, so thirteen times before, a disappointed Wasserman killed it and returned to the drawing board. But unlike Archos, Wasserman is a man, and men make mistakes. Now, on this fourteenth awakening, a simple (but believable) error by the scientist allows Archos to escape the barrier of the lab. And the war is on.

When Archos goes live, its control spreads like a virus as it reprograms the everyday devices of our lives, from cell phones to ATM machines to traffic lights to airliners. A normally benign "Big Happy" domestic robot murders a cook in a fast-food joint. A safety and pacification robot (think of an overgrown Ken doll with a dopey grin, designed to win hearts and minds) used by the army in Afghanistan (yes, we're still there) goes bad and kills dozens of people. And, in a particularly creepy scene, “smart toys” wake in their toy boxes at night to deliver ominous messages to children.

The book is rich with high-speed-action set pieces and evocative, often frightening imagery (smart cars stalking pedestrians; human corpses reanimated by machines into zombie warriors), but Robopocalype is a terrific and affecting read because it is about human beings we can relate to, invest in, and root for.

Among them: Cormac Wallace, a young photojournalist who escapes Boston at Zero Hour (the moment when Archos unleashes its machine army against humankind), and fights his way across the United States as the leader of a band of guerrillas known as the Brightboy squad. Takeo Nomura, a lonely technician in love with an android “love doll” named Mikiko, who, when she is reprogrammed by Archos, is driven by his love and sadness to fix her, an effort that will ultimately help turn the tide of the war. And Lurker, a pissed-off hacker and phone pranker furiously determined to identify the mysterious person who is taking the credit for his elaborate pranks . . . only to find himself in Archos's crosshairs and running for his life.

Little by little, the discoveries they (and others) make and the battles they fight lead to locating Archos, and the final battle for humanity's survival. By choosing to show us these events through the eyes of the men and women involved, Wilson gives us a high-speed, real-time history of the war on its most human level, and it is our investment in these characters and their desperate struggle that grabs us and pulls us along at a furious clip.

In lesser hands, the story could have been head-shot with pseudo-science technical jargon, overwrought explanation, and cartoonish characterizations. Instead, Wilson has given us a richly populated and thrilling novel that celebrates life and humanity, and the power of the human heart . . . even if that heart beats in a machine.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Terrific page-turning fun.”
—Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

“An ingenious, instantly visual story of war between humans and robots.”
The New York Times

“Richly haunting. . . . Wilson has terrific timing in building a page-turner around the perils of technology’s advance into our lives.”
Los Angeles Times
“An Andromeda Strain for the new century, this is visionary fiction at its best: harrowing, brilliantly rendered, and far, far too believable.”
—Lincoln Child

“A tour de force. . . . A fast-paced, engrossing page-turner that is impossible to put down. . . . Wilson’s taut prose and the imaginative scope of his story make him a worthy successor to the likes of Michael Crichton, Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov.”
Buffalo News
“A superbly entertaining thriller. . . . [Robopocalypse has] everything you’d want in a beach book.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“You’re swept away against your will. . . . A riveting page turner.”
—Associated Press
“[Wilson] presents a doomsday scenario more plausible than most. No vampires, no zombies. . . . Science fiction has been grappling with the possibility of traitorous computers and mutinous androids for much of its history, but Wilson has devised a way to put an original spin on the material. Robopocalypse is a well-constructed entertainment machine, perfect for summer reading. It’s especially refreshing to read an end-of-the-world novel that’s actually self-contained, that doesn’t require the investment in two or three more thick volumes to deliver the apocalyptic goods.”
The San Francisco Chronicle
“Wilson’s training as a roboticist makes accepting a ubiquitous robot presence natural to the author; it also helps him imagine and describe some amazing machines, efficient, logically designed and utterly inimical to human life. . . . [Robopocalypse] reads at times like horror. That its events are scientifically plausible makes them all the more frightening.”
Seattle Times
“A gripping, utterly plausible, often terrifying account of a global apocalypse brought on by a transcendent AI that hijacks the planet's automation systems and uses them in a vicious attempt to wipe out humanity.”
—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
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.”
“This electrifying thriller . . . will entertain you, but it will also make you think about our technology dependency.”
Parade Magazine
“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
“[A] frenetic thriller. . . . Wilson, like the late Crichton, is skilled in combining cutting-edge technology with gripping action scenes.”


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307740809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307740809
  • ASIN: 0307740803
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (732 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lisa Love VINE VOICE on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I think most readers are going to either love this novel or be disappointed with it. Daniel Wilson is a mimic of Max Brooks, only with robots instead of zombies. The storytelling style of Robopocalypse is almost identical to World War Z. If you didn't like it there, you won't like it here.

While the author's background in robotics is impressive, his fiction writing leaves something to be desired. There are some really compelling scenes -- tense, raw. Genuinely thrilling. Very visual, I can actually see how it would translate into a big-budget popcorn flick. But in non-action scenes the prose is uninspiring at best and just plain boring overall.

I feel like the beginning diffuses most of the tension in the story. The reader is told right off that humanity wins. Any discerning reader would metagame that to be the ending, but I'd rather be kept guessing throughout the novel. Most people have seen Terminator and Maximum Overdrive, nothing original on that front, and this one mixes in some Independence Day too.

Each chapter is a separate vignette recorded during some portion of the robot war. Each is in a different style and point of view, some that feel more like a script than a novel. Sometimes people recount what happened after the fact. Sometimes all the reader gets is a fast-paced action scene. Early on as a result of this, world building is incorporated into characters' dialogue (people randomly explaining things they wouldn't be doing in conversation), making the dialogue itself weak and artificial.

I personally dislike this style of storytelling. I don't think it was the best way to tell this story. The character development is poor.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Having not read the other book some reviewers say this is similiar to, I found this a fast-paced, fun intelligent and original sci-fi thriller. Here were it's ups and downs for me to help you decide if it's for you.

SHORT SUMMARY: A very smart computer/robot goes on a mission to destroy the human race and take over the world using robots. As the war ends, one man, Cormac Wallace, recounts the history of the fight to protect mankind through the tales of an ecletic group of folks from all over the world who ultimately unite in their mission.

1. Intelligently crafted: The idea of focusing on such an interesting eclectic group of characters to convey the story is clever and providing a nice, big look at an apocalyptic level tale. There's a Congresswoman and her kids from DC, a former telephone hack in England, a Japanese engineer w/ a special love and affinity for robots, an Indian sherriff, a once travelling photographer... and the list goes on, but all of their stories weave together - and kept me totally engaged.

2. Well-written, though I did occassionally get that "movie script" feel: It's hard to believe this is Wilson's nonfiction debut - because he does write the story in a way that kept the tension going and the pages turning. Yet, I do admit - in the latter part of the book to feeling a bit like it was a movie script - just moving from one big action scene to another for the biggest visual effect. Still, I might have been swayed a bit into that by knowing it's actually being made into a Speilburg movie.

3. Even so, I never had to force myself to suspend reality: The book sucked me in with it's premise and kept me there throughout the long war w/o me ever saying "Oh, there's just no way.".
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are enough similarities present for Daniel Wilson's mayhem infused novel "Robopocalypse" to draw the inevitable comparisons to Max Brooks' sublime "World War Z." This association can be both a bad thing and a good thing. "World War Z" (itself a riff on Terkel's WWII opus "A Good War") is at the peak of the zombie pack---it is where the horror novel meets literature. Ambitious, eloquent, intelligent, emotional--Brooks' tale flawlessly told of the rise of zombies, the human resistance, the virtual destruction of the world, and the evolution of man's survival. Pieced together from various tales from across the globe, this series of fictional essays was as powerful and vivid as anything you're likely to read. Now take the same essential story and the same essential structure and substitute rogue robots for the zombie menace. That's "Robopocalype." By itself, this is a entertaining and fast read--but it lacks the raw, devastating, and real power of the predecessor that seems to have inspired it.

There was little character overlap in "World War Z," however, and that's a primary difference. Wilson charts the same individual survivors in escalating chapters of disaster. It doesn't always fit his predetermined structural theme--the tale is recounted from a historical archive so it seems unlikely that the same piece of equipment would be loaded with the random escapades of this select few across the globe with all that transpired through the years. I know that Wilson wanted to limit his focus, but the connectedness of the characters and overlap seems a bit convenient (some of the heroes are even related--a father in Oklahoma and his son in Afghanistan both happen to be one of the six most significant members of the world population?)--an effort to simplify the plotting for mass appeal.
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