Monday, May 30, 2011


Title: Robopocalypse
Author: Daniel H. Wilson
ISBN: 9780385533850
On Sale: June 7

I will admit: Robopocalypse is not necessarily the best title. Robots rising against humans is not necessarily a new plot either. However, Daniel Wilson’s Robopocalypse is one of the most entertaining, thought-provoking books on the subject. From the outset, the reader knows only one thing: humans survive. Starting at the end of the war, Wilson frames his book with narration by Cormac “Bright Boy” Wallace, Military ID: Gray Horse Army 217, Human Retinal SID: 44V11902. Leader of a band of surviving humans, Wallace reveals that the Robot War has ended and humanity has triumphed. From there, readers are given a full account of the time leading up to and including the war itself.

The book is divided into five parts. “Part 1: Isolated Incidents” shows various scenes occurring in various locations all over the world. By themselves, these incidences are dismissed as computer malfunctions, random robots gone haywire, and harmless viruses. Together, they show the growing intelligence of machines. In “Part 2: Zero Hour,” we see the moments of the robot rebellion and the lengths it includes. Robot, in Wilson’s novel, does not just refer to the robots of the future: it’s everything with a computer. Imagine your child’s talking doll actually talking to your child; your smart car driving you off a bridge; your cell phone impersonating your father’s voice to lure you into an accident; military weapons turning themselves on soldiers. The horrific possibilities are almost endless. The remaining sections cover the response to Zero Hour: surviving, moving to action, and finally retaliating against the robots.

Robopocalypse is a thrilling addition to the world of robot literature. Its robots are not entirely bad: their goal is not destruction for destruction’s sake, and their actions actually help the environment. Several characters remark on endangered animals returning to native lands in plenty. Their almost indifference to humanity and the costs to humanity are part of what is so staggering about the book. Wilson’s Ph.D. in robotics adds to the credibility of his tale and reminds us of what could, theoretically, happen.

The novel is not perfect: there are a few moments which, while they may film brilliantly, seem slightly cheesy or out of place in a book. There are a couple of open-ended plot lines, but even these are not glaring and do not “ruin” the book. Overall, Wilson’s book is entertaining and will be a great summer read that is not to be missed.

The novel has already been set to become a feature film, due out in 2013, with Steven Spielberg currently set to direct.

--Kyla Paterno

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