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Robopocalypse: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 17, 2012
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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 NguyenGuest Reviewer: Robert Crais
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.”
“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.”
“A superbly entertaining thriller. . . . [Robopocalypse has] everything you’d want in a beach book.”
“You’re swept away against your will. . . . A riveting page turner.”
“[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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“[A] frenetic thriller. . . . Wilson, like the late Crichton, is skilled in combining cutting-edge technology with gripping action scenes.”
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Top Customer Reviews
I’ve read many negative reviews where the reviewer has attacked the author with their one-star-rating knives, and dug them in without really giving any thought to the novel at all – if indeed they actually read it. Let’s have a look at their arguments. Our author is knifed because he “ripped off” the style of World War Z. So what! Yes it’s been done before; even before World War Z, but that’s the way apocalyptic stories are best told. World War Z, an atrocious novel, used a hackneyed, boring, unbelievable subject that has been absolutely done-to-death (excuse the pun) – zombies. I don’t mind the odd zombie story, but geez, aren’t we over them yet. Nothing original there! Of course, there’s the inevitable comparison to Skynet and Terminator. Rubbish! They’re different stories altogether. They just happen to have a slightly similar theme; emphasis on “slightly”.
In any world apocalypse, real or imagined, there are going to be thousands of stories of survival and retaliation. Our author, Daniel Wilson, has decided to present around five of the most relevant in his apocalyptic world. Told as a series of short stories done in report form, (hence the likeness to WWZ) we have our AI enlisting the help of various smart machines to carry out its wish to rid the world of its biggest scourge – us! The fight back brings to the fore our heroes, my favourite being young Mathilda Perez.
I thought the story was well written and the structure of the story is applicable. The description of the “machines gone ferrel” was detailed enough, but could have been better. Character development is about as good as you could get for a story of this length. In fact, I reckon the whole novel could have been a bit longer as I found myself left wanting at the end.
If you’re into the apocalypse frenzy sweeping the world, I encourage you to read this one. I think you’ll enjoy it.
But there are chapters where there is little dialog and it's about what the characters were thinking. (Which the robots wouldn't know) One chapter told from the perspective of a 9 year old that uses very descriptive language and words a 9 year old wouldn't know. (Also, the robot watching was a toy robot that spent most of its time in the toy box so it wouldn't have been able to see what was going on) And in another, there's a big robot battle and at one point the main character says "I was busy so I didn't see everything that was going on" but it's supposed to be the fricking ROBOTS that were keeping track of it all.
And to top it all off, the individual chapters feel a little cold. There's no real sense of fear or of the true danger everyone was in as the robots rose up.
World War Z came out in 2006 and was a huge hit and the movie rights were sold right away. Robopocalypse came out in 2011.
I can only assume that, when WWZ got huge, someone started digging through their slush pile to find similar novels and rushed it out the door to capitalize on WWZ. Only explanation I can think of for this making it past any competent editor.
Two stars for some inventive robot technology.
At this very moment in the real world, we are indeed sitting at the precipice - where rapid advances in AI are dancing dangerously with immense computational capacity that could at any moment reach the tipping point and leave us behind.
We are on a slippery slope, and Robo delivers a richly detailed picture of where this path will inevitably take mankind.
The robotic creatures unleashed on humans so well crafted and described - their believability paints a graphic picture of an apocalyptic world where we are certain to be annihilated, but...