The Harvest Cycle is an Apocalyptic tale which takes place fifty years since the first harvesters appeared, boiling up from the sea to claim as many human lives as they possibly can for a far distant god who wishes to consume the dreams of mankind. The creatures-fast, silent monsters with claws that can slice through anything, including the skulls of its victims, have come many times since then, driving the remains of humanity into hiding far beneath the surface of the earth. Those that survive have chosen to either surgically remove the part of their brains that the harvesters are compelled to devour, or they decide to remain uncut retaining their ability to think creatively and to dream by those who have lost so much with the mutilation of their brains (and souls as well). In addition to the horrors of the harvesters, humanity must also avoid the ‘synths’ or robots that were once loyal servants to humanity that realized during the first harvest the endless nightmarish hell that awaits those humans in the afterlife whose brains are devoured by harvesters. They are on a mission of mercy to kill all of humanity to save them from this horrible fate.
The story begins when a group of dreamers, led by a hopeful visionary along with a woman who is psychically linked to the nightmare god who created the harvesters and craves humanity’s dreams, go on a quest with the hope of somehow destroying the harvesters. Pursued by a police officer named Jack DiVinci, one of the soulless survivors who has a secret that allows him to still be creative and dream, as well as a squad of robots on a search and destroy mission.
David Dunwoody’s latest novel mixes elements of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, Asimov’s robots (with the authors unique twist on the Laws of Robotics…or more specifically, the zeroth law that Asimov added last: A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm), and a slight hint of noir with Jack DiVinci, a man who believes what he is doing is saving the human race, despite his own doubts on what it means to be saved.
This is one of the more unique visions of the apocalypse that I’ve ever read, with plenty of madness and mayhem to go around, plus plenty of gore and a high body count to boot. Dunwoody has this knack for making a story gruesome, horrifying, and yet totally accessible. He has no fear when it comes to pushing the reader’s buttons-not just with who he is willing to torture and maim, but with how the universe he creates works. It isn’t always pretty, and sometimes it feels like I was being beaten senseless by the brutality of what happens in this tale, but there is beauty here too-hope that humanity can somehow overcome its own vile failings and perhaps persevere against impossible odds.
I haven’t been disappointed by anything I’ve read by David Dunwoody as of yet, and The Harvest Cycle is no exception. This is potent tale that mixes supernatural horror and science fiction with a fluid grace that few authors can pull off with such skill.
The Harvest Cycle can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1934861324/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Robopocalypse tells the story of the war between mankind and robots fought in the near future, when a super-intelligent AI goes live and realizes that humanity has served its purpose and is no longer needed in the big scheme of things, and as such is a threat to the rest of creation. The story is told in flashback, with the war already being won by humanity when we read the briefing at the beginning of the book. The story is narrated by Cormac “Bright Boy” Wallace, one of the humans at the final victory of the human race against the AI that tried to do humanity in. The story unfolds in brief vignettes, leading us from the point where Archos, the AI, goes live, takes control of various robots that are a part of our every day lives, and then declares all out war against us. Steven Spielberg will be making a movie of the book in 2013.
This was a fun, easy read that seems like the ideal fit for a Spielberg big budget action movie, and I mean that both in the best and worst ways. Despite being the story of a war-likely the most important war that humanity has ever faced, the cast of characters is extremely limited. Other reviewers have commented that this story reminds them of World War Z from Max Brooks and I see the similarities. That book interviews dozens of survivors of the war against zombies as they tell their tales of the war from start to finish. Robopocalypse shares in that we are given a recounting of the robot war, though the scope here is much more narrow, with perhaps only a handful of characters stepping into the spotlight. In fact, there are some amazing coincidences that keep the cast smaller than it could have been, with a hero of the war in Oklahoma being the father of another major hero of the war who is in Afghanistan. A senator that is a key character just so happens to be the mother of yet another hero in the story. So this story is one that has a very narrow, limited perspective on this particular war. I would have loved to seen a book that was willing to take more of the war and more of the people who experienced it. In addition, I thought there was a lost opportunity when Archos, the diabolical AI we are introduced to at the beginning of the story seems to disappear, for the most part, until the very end of the tale. It was the most intriguing and fun character of them all, a worthy and interesting villain that is woefully underutilized here.
Still, this was a fun, rock ‘em, sock ‘em tale of humans doing battle with robots that was a quick, easy read. No new ground was broken here, even though the author is a robotics expert. His knowledge added to the quality of the tale, but he challenged none of my expectations when it comes to robots. Instead, this story reminded me of the back story to the Terminator (super military AI wakes up and decides to destroy the human race) or The Matrix (humanity is enslaved by the same machines who they had treated like slaves). Nothing too taxing mentally, but still an entertaining tale.
Robopocalypse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Robopocalypse-Novel-Daniel-H-Wilson/dp/0385533853/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302919659&sr=1-1