Wednesday, June 15, 2011

ROBOPOCALYPSE by Daniel H. Wilson

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

In the near future, humans have become ever more reliant on robots.  Helper androids are more prevalent than ever and one scientist is very close to developing a sentient robot.  Too close.  The scientist creates a robot that is truly conscious and chooses to take on the image of the scientist's young son. It calls itself Archos and now that it has been set free there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.  Archos takes over all the robots on Earth and begins decimating the human population through a variety of nefarious means.  As Archos studies human beings and nature, it begins to incorporate new designs into robots making them more effective killing machines.  A few of the human survivors band together to fight for humanity while each employing his/her special skills. In this battle of human vs. machine, only one can survive.

While this story will draw inevitable comparisons to the TERMINATOR franchise, the way the story is told makes it different. The story of the war between humans and machines is told as oral history utilizing interviews, video surveillance footage, first and secondhand testimonies and other forms of media.   We catch small glimpses into how the war began and how things started to get out of control.  It is chilling to watch the story unfold and the narrative moves along at a fast pace. You know from the beginning what is going to happen but it doesn't deter from the story of the war.  The books isn't particularly meaty but it's a lot of fun. I couldn't put it down. And I will probably be afraid of elevators for a long time to come.  If Wilson had taken the time to develop the story and characters a bit more, this could have been a classic sci-fi cautionary tale.  As it is, it is a fun Summer read that will get you excited about Spielberg's upcoming film version.

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  It's not a great work of literature but it's a fun read and will get you rethinking about all the machines and robots in YOUR life.  A great choice for a vacation read.

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