Review of Daniel H. Wilson’s “Robopocalypse”
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