Ever since I heard Daniel H. Wilson in an interview onQ, I’ve wanted to read Robopocalypse. I finally got my hands on a copy from the library.
It was definitely worth the wait.
The robots have become self-aware. They are now out to kill us… or most of us.
The book follows a group of characters mostly involved in the fight against Archos, the artificial intelligence behind the robot uprising. Most important is Cormac Wallace, the rebel who finds the recordings that are described in the novel.
Imagine waking up one day to find that your smart car wants to run you over, or your domestic robot strangle you to death. Technology has its own mind now… and it doesn’t like working for you.
This is the world of Robopocalypse…
and maybe our own, soon.
I read this book in at most 3 sittings. I couldn’t put it down. I especially appreciated the echoes of Asimov towards the end (for some reason I remember what I read but barely if at all understood when I was 14 years old… maybe it’s time to revisit the Foundation series?)
The plot was gripping. We know from the beginning that the humans win… but how did they manage? The book answers that question, not totally, but with an excellent sense of how people can connect together despite distance, racial and philosophical differences.
However, I had a few issues with the voice developed through the book. The only distinguishable voices were those of Cormac and Lonnie Wayne Blanton. It’s mostly Cormac Wallace narrating and commenting on some of the recordings, and so I found a little blandness in the voice where multiple characters are involved. It’s not bad, but it was just a bit annoying. At times, I even wondered if Cormac really had access to some elements of the scenes. Although it’s all supposed to be described from an observer point of view, unless otherwise specified, sometimes the third-person POV took over and my suspension of disbelief dropped a bit. But it shouldn’t stop you from reading the book at all.
Here’s an excerpt describing the birth of Archos:
“Archos?” asks the face. The man’s voice echoes in the empty lab. “Archos? Are you there? Is that you?”
The glasses reflect a glimmer of light from the computer screen. The man’s eyes widen, as though he sees something indescribably beautiful. He glances back at a laptop open on a table behind him. The desktop image on the laptop is of the scientist and a boy, playing in a park.
“You chose to appear as my son?” he asks.
The high-pitched voice of a young boy echoes out of the darkness.
“Did you create me?” it asks.
This entire chapter is rightfully creepy, and sets the tone for the rest of the novel.
One of the most fascinating and unusual elements of this novel (considering it is a technology-focused science-fiction work) is the interest in the link between nature and robotics. At one point, a year after the robot takeover, nature is taking control of the environment again, and far from disrupting this balance, as humans do, the robots take advantage and even accelerate it. It is both disturbing (the robots eventually start building nature-inspired machines to access difficult landscape) and hopeful (if only we gave up a little bit of our dependency to technology, the planet could repair itself).
The book also illustrates the counter-intuitive notion that in the case of a robot takeover, cities might actually be safer than the countryside, because nature can be just as lethal as technology. And given that most of us have forgotten how to survive in the wild, it’s not very surprising when you think about it.
But what really shines in this book is humanity. Human resilience and human creativity and human unpredictability. In the face of an apocalypse that we ourselves created, we are able to adapt and fight back. A lot is lost, but a few important things are gained.
I really enjoyed reading Robopocalypse. It was definitely a page-turner with an eerie sense of impending doom, and yet a hopeful ending. But we will only survive if we learn some really hard lessons.You've just read READ: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson on Read, Write, Live by Anabelle. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!