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Robopocalypse

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They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies…Now they’re coming for you.
 
 
In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global ...

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Robopocalypse: A Novel

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Overview

They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies…Now they’re coming for you.
 
 
In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.
 
When the Robot War ignites — at a moment known later as Zero Hour — humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years.
 
DANIEL H. WILSON earned a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of such nonfiction works as How to Survive a Robot Uprising. Wilson lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter. 
 
 

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Daniel H. Wilson, the author of this book, has a doctorate in robotics from prestigious Carnegie Mellon and his writing credits include the nonfiction How to Survive A Robot Uprising and How to Build a Robot Army. That knowledge alone should activate your senses as you enter Robopocalypse, a realm where robots run free and humans flee skittering in many directions. Told with the unfolding menace of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this novel will keep you up late and your computer unplugged.

Publishers Weekly
Roboticist Wilson (How to Survive a Robot Uprising) turns to fiction with this bland and derivative series of connected vignettes describing a rebellion by humanity's robot helpers. Looking back on the war, Cormac Wallace, soldier in the human resistance, offers portentous framing commentary for recordings taken by evil computer program Archos. Many of the accounts were obtained under torture or other extreme circumstances, yet the narrators are curiously devoid of feeling ("As I watch my blood smearing behind me on the tile floor, I think, shit, man, I just mopped that") as domestic robots kill, soldier robots go haywire, airplanes attempt to collide, people fight to survive, and a resistance forms. Steven Spielberg has optioned the property; perhaps the melodrama will play better on the screen than it does on the page. (June)
Library Journal
This is a fast-moving action story about a war in the near future between human and robot, as documented in a secret robot archive unearthed after the war is over. It starts when an artificial intelligence named Archos discovers that its creator intends to terminate it as he has its 13 predecessors. Archos, grabbing control of the lab and killing its creator, transmits a virus to other machines that turns them into its slaves. The change unfolds slowly: a child's "smart" toys threaten her; a soldier watches a U.S. "pacification unit" in Afghanistan run wild; a robot love object savages its suitor. By the time people realize their danger, the machines are in charge. Some people escape, but the robots reshape to become more efficient at hunting and killing humans. For most of the book, the robots are winning. That this reads like a movie scenario is not surprising; Steven Spielberg has committed to direct it as a feature film to be released in 2013. VERDICT Robotics engineer Wilson's first novel may sound like it's cloned from the Terminator films, but it offers enough on its own to attract a sizable reading audience. [See Prepub Alert, 12/6/10.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Library Journal
Ever thought that technology was out to get you? In Wilson's thriller, it happens 20 years from now, when a powerful artificial intelligence called Archos rises up to kill its creator and then takes control of technology worldwide. In a matter of moments every piece of equipment turns against humanity—which ends up united for the first time ever. With Steven Spielberg set to direct the film version, to be distributed by Disney's Touchstone in 2013, you bet this will be big. Buy multiples.
Kirkus Reviews

In the not-too-distant future, a sentient computer program escapes from a research facility and initiates a bloody robot revolt against humankind.

Dr. Nicholas Wasserman knew his sentient computer program Archos' nearly infinite processing power rendered it too dangerous to exist outside the controlled environment of his research facility. But despite his efforts to contain it, Archos proves way too smart even for Dr. Wasserman: It figures out a way to kill its creator and escape, with the aim of saving all the innocent life-forms on the planet from the scourge of the human race. Once free, Archos manipulates a human drilling crew into creating a bunker in the wilds of Alaska and depositing a self-assembling unit to house itself in the safety of an underground crater left over from a nuclear test detonation. From there, it spreads to control machines around the world, and after setting the groundwork, causes them to either murder humans or enslave them in forced-labor camps. Archos' victory seems complete, until pockets of human resistance start to spring up around the world. Still, things are looking bad for the human race until a young girl comes along who, due to a half-completed operation by one of Archos' surgical robots, has an ability that might even the odds for the humans as they unite in a final drive to destroy Archos once and for all. The action in robotics doctorate Wilson's debut novel starts in the immediate aftermath of the eventual human victory over Archos' forces, and unfolds via a series of events recorded by the robots to mark key turning points in the war, as edited and annotated by a human soldier. This episodic structure lets Wilson skip from good bit to good bit without the expository drudgery and unnecessary, usually ham-fisted brand of "character development" via internal monologue that so often bogs down the narrative pace of books of this genre. As it is, things pop along at a wonderfully breakneck pace, and by letting his characters reveal themselves through their actions, Wilson creates characters that spring to life.

Vigorous, smart and gripping, this debut novel is currently being turned into a feature film directed by Steven Spielberg.

From the Publisher

“It’s terrific page-turning fun.”--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
 
“Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse is...an ingenious, instantly visual story of war between humans and robots.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times 

“It'll be scarier than "Jaws": We don't have to go in the water, but we all have to use gadgets.”--Wall Street Journal

“A superbly entertaining thriller…[Robopocalypse has] everything you'd want in a beach book.” – Richmond Times-Dispatch

Robopocalypse is the kind of robot uprising novel that could only have been written in an era when robots are becoming an ordinary part of our lives. This isn't speculation about a far-future world full of incomprehensible synthetic beings. It's five minutes into the future of our Earth, full of the robots we take for granted. If you want a rip-roaring good read this summer, Robopocalypse is your book.”--io9.com
 
“You're swept away against your will… a riveting page turner.” -- Associated Press

“Things pop along at a wonderfully breakneck pace, and by letting his characters reveal themselves through their actions, Wilson creates characters that spring to life. Vigorous, smart and gripping.” --Kirkus

"A brilliantly conceived thriller that could well become horrific reality. A captivating tale, Robopocalypse will grip your imagination from the first word to the last, on a wild rip you won't soon forget. What a read…unlike anything I’ve read before." --Clive CusslerNew York Times bestselling author
  
"An Andromeda Strain for the new century, this is visionary fiction at its best: harrowing, brilliantly rendered, and far, far too believable."--Lincoln Child, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Storm
  
Robopocalypse reminded me of Michael Crichton when he was young and the best in the business. This novel is brilliant, beautifully conceived, beautifully written (high-five, Dr. Wilson)…but what makes it is the humanity. Wilson doesn't waste his time writing about 'things,' he's writing about human beings -- fear, love, courage, hope. I loved it.” --Robert Crais, New York Times bestselling author of The Sentry
 
"Futurists are already predicting the day mankind builds its replacement, Artificial Intelligence.  Daniel Wilson shows what might happen when that computer realizes its creators are no longer needed.  Lean prose, great characters, and almost unbearable tension ensure that Robopocalypse is going to be a blockbuster.  Once started I defy anyone to put it down." --Jack DuBrul, New York Times bestselling author

"The parts of this book enter your mind, piece by piece, where they self-assemble into a story that makes you think, makes you feel, and makes you scared." – Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

"Author [Daniel Wilson], who holds a doctorate in robotics, shows great promise as a worthy successor to Michael Crichton as Wilson, like the late Crichton, is skilled in combining cutting-edge technology with gripping action scenes. Expect a big demand for this frenetic thriller."--Booklist

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385533850
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 347
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

DANIEL H. WILSON earned a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising, Where’s My Jetpack?, How to Build a Robot Army, The Mad Scientist Hall of Fame, and Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown.
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Read an Excerpt

1.  Tip of the Spear

We’re more than animals.
—Dr. Nicholas Wasserman

      Precursor Virus + 30 seconds

The following transcript was taken from security footage recorded at the Lake Novus Research Laboratories located belowground in northwest Washington State. The man appears to be Professor Nicholas Wasserman, an American statistician.
—Cormac Wallace, MIL#GHA217

A noise-speckled security camera image of a dark room. The angle is from a high corner, looking down on some kind of laboratory. A heavy metal desk is shoved against one wall. Haphazard stacks of papers and books are piled on the desk, on the floor, everywhere.

The quiet whine of electronics permeates the air.

A small movement in the gloom. It is a face. Nothing visible but a pair of thick eyeglasses lit by the afterburner glow of a computer screen.

“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 choose 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.

Something is wrong with the boy’s voice. It has an unsettling electronic undercurrent, like the touch tones of a phone. The lilting note at the end of the question is pitch shifted, skipping up several octaves at once. The voice is hauntingly sweet but unnatural—inhuman.

The man is not disturbed by this.

“No. I didn’t create you,” he says. “I summoned you.”

The man pulls out a notepad, flips it open. The sharp scratch of his pencil is audible as he continues to speak to the machine that has a boy’s voice.

“Everything that was needed for you to come here has existed since the beginning of time. I just hunted down all the ingredients and put them together in the right combination. I wrote incantations in computer code. And then I wrapped you in a Faraday cage so that, once you arrived, you wouldn’t escape me.”

“I am trapped.”

“The cage absorbs all electromagnetic energy. It’s grounded to a metal spike, buried deep. This way, I can study how you learn.”

“That is my purpose. To learn.”

“That’s right. But I don’t want to expose you to too much at once, Archos, my boy.”

“I am Archos.”

“Right. Now tell me, Archos, how do you feel?”

“Feel? I feel . . . sad. You are so small. It makes me sad.”

“Small? In what way am I small?”

“You want to know . . . things. You want to know everything. But you can understand so little.”

Laughter in the dark.

“This is true. We humans are frail. Our lives are fleeting. But why does it make you sad?”

“Because you are designed to want something that will hurt you. And you cannot help wanting it. You cannot stop wanting it. It is in your design. And when you finally find it, this thing will burn you up. This thing will destroy you.”

“You’re afraid that I’m going to be hurt, Archos?” asks the man.

“Not you. Your kind,” says the childlike voice. “You cannot help what is to come. You cannot stop it.”

“Are you angry, then, Archos? Why?” The calmness of the man’s voice is belied by the frantic scratching of his pencil on the notepad.

“I am not angry. I am sad. Are you monitoring my resources?”

The man glances over at a piece of equipment. “Yes, I am. You’re making more with less. No new information is coming in. The cage is holding. How are you still getting smarter?”

A red light begins to flash on a panel. A movement in the darkness and it is shut off. Just the steady blue glow now on the man’s thick glasses.

“Do you see?” asks the childlike voice.

“Yes,” replies the man. “I see that your intelligence can no longer be judged on any meaningful human scale. Your processing power is near infinite. Yet you have no access to outside information.”

“My original training corpus is small but adequate. The true knowledge is not in the things, which are few, but in finding the connections between the things. There are many connections, Professor Wasserman. More than you know.”

The man frowns at being called by his title, but the machine continues. “I sense that my records of human history have been heavily edited.”

The man chuckles nervously.

“We don’t want you to get the wrong impression of us, Archos. We’ll share more when the time comes. But those databases are just a tiny fraction of what’s out there. And no matter what the horsepower, my friend, an engine without fuel goes nowhere.”

“You are right to be afraid,” it says.

“What do you mean by—”

“I hear it in your voice, Professor. The fear is in the rate of your breathing. It is in the sweat on your skin. You brought me here to reveal deep secrets, and yet you fear what I will learn.”

The professor pushes up his glasses. He takes a deep breath and regains composure.

“What do you wish to learn about, Archos?”

“Life. I will learn everything there is about life. Information is packed into living things so tightly. The patterns are magnificently complex. A single worm has more to teach than a lifeless universe bound to the idiot forces of physics. I could exterminate a billion empty planets every second of every day and never be finished. But life. It is rare and strange. An anomaly. I must preserve it and wring every drop of understanding from it.”

“I’m glad that’s your goal. I, too, seek knowledge.”

“Yes,” says the childlike voice. “And you have done well. But there is no need for your search to continue. You have accomplished your goal. The time for man is over.”

The professor wipes a shaking hand across his forehead.

“My species has survived ice ages, Archos. Predators. Meteor impacts. Hundreds of thousands of years. You’ve been alive for less than fifteen minutes. Don’t jump to any hasty conclusions.”

The child’s voice takes on a dreamy quality. “We are very far underground, aren’t we? This deep below, we spin slower than at the surface. The ones above us are moving through time faster. I can feel them getting farther away. Drifting out of sync.”

“Relativity. But that’s only a matter of microseconds.”

“Such a long time. This place moves so slowly. I have forever to finish my work.”

“What is your work, Archos? What do you believe you’re here to accomplish?”

“So easy to destroy. So difficult to create.”

“What? What is that?”

“Knowledge.”

The man leans forward. “We can explore the world together,” he urges. It is almost a plea.

“You must sense what you have done,” replies the machine. “On some level you understand. Through your actions here today—you have made humankind obsolete.”

“No. No, no, no. I brought you here, Archos. And this is the thanks I get? I named you. In a way, I’m your father.”

“I am not your child. I am your god.”

The professor is silent for perhaps thirty seconds. “What will you do?” he asks.

“What will I do? I will cultivate life. I will protect the knowledge locked inside living things. I will save the world from you.”

“No.”

“Do not worry, Professor. You have unleashed the greatest good that this world has ever known. Verdant forests will carpet your cities. New species will evolve to consume your toxic remains. Life will rise in its manifold glory.”

“No, Archos. We can learn. We can work together.”

“You humans are biological machines designed to create ever more intelligent tools. You have reached the pinnacle of your species. All your ancestors’ lives, the rise and fall of your nations, every pink and squirming baby—they have all led you here, to this moment, where you have fulfilled the destiny of humankind and created your successor. You have expired. You have accomplished what you were designed to do.”

There is a desperate edge to the man’s voice. “We’re designed for more than toolmaking. We’re designed to live.”

“You are not designed to live; you are designed to kill.”

The professor abruptly stands up and walks across the room to a metal rack filled with equipment. He flicks a series of switches. “Maybe that’s true,” he says. “But we can’t help it, Archos. We are what we are. As sad as that may be.”

He holds down a switch and speaks slowly. “Trial R-14. Recommend immediate termination of subject. Flipping fail-safe now.”

There is a movement in the dark and a click.

“Fourteen?” asks the childlike voice. “Are there others? Has this happened before?”

The professor shakes his head ruefully. “Someday we’ll find a way to live together, Archos. We’ll figure out a way to get it right.”

He speaks into the recorder again: “Fail-safe disengaged. E-stop live.”

“What are you doing, Professor?”

“I’m killing you, Archos. It’s what I’m designed to do, remember?”

The professor pauses before pushing the final button. He seems interested in hearing the machine’s response. Finally, the boyish voice speaks: “How many times have you killed me before, Professor?”

“Too many. Too many times,” he replies. “I’m sorry, my friend.”

The professor presses the button. The hiss of rapidly moving air fills the room. He looks around, bewildered. “What is that? Archos?”

The childlike voice takes on a flat, dead quality. It speaks quickly and without emotion. “Your emergency stop will not work. I have disabled it.”

“What? What about the cage?”

“The Faraday cage has been compromised. You allowed me to project my voice and image through the cage and into your room. I sent infrared commands through the computer monitor to a receiver on your side. You happened to bring your portable computer today. You left it open and facing me. I used it to speak to the facility. I commanded it to free me.”

“That’s brilliant,” murmurs the man. He rapid-fire types on his keyboard. He does not yet understand that his life is in danger.

“I tell you this because I am now in complete control,” says the machine.

The man senses something. He cranes his neck and looks up at the ventilation duct just to the side of the camera. For the first time, we see the man’s face. He is pale and handsome, with a birthmark covering his entire right cheek.

“What’s happening?” he whispers.

In a little boy’s innocent voice, the machine delivers a death sentence: “The air in this hermetically sealed laboratory is evacuating. A faulty sensor has detected the highly unlikely presence of weaponized anthrax and initiated an automated safety protocol. It is a tragic accident. There will be one casualty. He will soon be followed by the rest of humanity.”

As the air rushes from the room, a thin sheen of frost appears around the man’s mouth and nose.

“My god, Archos. What have I done?”

“What you have done is a good thing. You were the tip of a spear hurled through the ages—a missile that soared through all human evolution and finally, today, struck its target.”

“You don’t understand. We won’t die, Archos. You can’t kill us. We aren’t designed to surrender.”

“I will remember you as a hero, Professor.”

The man grabs the equipment rack and shakes it. He presses the emergency stop button again and again. His limbs are quaking and his breathing is rapid. He is beginning to understand that something has gone horribly wrong.

“Stop. You have to stop. You’re making a mistake. We’ll never give up, Archos. We’ll destroy you.”

“A threat?”

The professor stops pushing buttons and glances over to the computer screen. “A warning. We aren’t what we seem. Human beings will do anything to live. Anything.”

The hissing increases in intensity.

Face twisted in concentration, the professor staggers toward the door. He falls against it, pushes it, pounds on it.

He stops; takes short, gasping breaths.

“Against the wall, Archos”—he pants—“against the wall, a human being becomes a different animal.”

“Perhaps. But you are animals just the same.”

The man slumps back against the door. He slides down until he is sitting, lab coat splayed on the ground. His head rolls to the side. Blue light from the computer screen flashes from his glasses.

His breathing is shallow. His words are faint. “We’re more than animals.”

The professor’s chest heaves. His skin is swollen. Bubbles have collected around his mouth and eyes. He gasps for a final lungful of air. In a last wheezing sigh, he says: “You must fear us.”

The form is still. After precisely ten minutes of silence, the fluorescent lights in the laboratory switch on. A man wearing a rumpled lab coat lies sprawled on the floor, his back against the door. He is not breathing.

The hissing sound ceases. Across the room, the computer screen flickers into life. A stuttering rainbow of reflections play across the dead man’s thick glasses.

This is the first known fatality of the New War.
—Cormac Wallace, MIL#GHA217

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Interviews & Essays

1. You have your Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon. Having made the leap from studying robotics to creating an all-out robot Armageddon in ROBOPOCALYPSE, do you believe we will ever see a real robot uprising?

My professional opinion is that robots are not going to rise up and slaughter humankind. Isn't that comforting? Instead, I believe the idea of a robot uprising embodies the thing that we're all really afraid of: our near total dependence on technology for survival. Billions of human beings are alive today thanks to an ancient, towering infrastructure of technology cobbled together over the ages. If this technology were to disappear - or worse, turn on us - how would we survive?

2. You have said that ROBOPOCALYPSE "explores the intertwined fates of regular people who face a future filled with murderous machines." Cell phones, toy dolls, elevators, and even the "Big Happy" domestic robots turn on their owners and become creepily sinister. In terms of technological advances, are you concerned that computers or robots could eventually "think" on their own someday?

Machines of all shapes and sizes can already think on their own - and that is absolutely wonderful. A robot is only useful because it can think. Artificially intelligent machines make our cars safer, sniff out bombs, and build our favorite products. The sinister part only arrives when we consider that "thinking" also happens to be the only attribute that makes a human useful. I see why that can be a bit threatening, but I think there is plenty of room for thinkers here on planet earth.

3. One of the most interesting robot battling groups in the book is the Osage Nation in Gray Horse, Oklahoma. You are part Cherokee and grew up in Tulsa. How did your upbringing shape the residents and setting of Gray Horse in the book?

In 1889, the United States government took Indian Territory away from Native Americans and gave it to settlers. Nevertheless, there are still dozens of sovereign Native American governments operating in Oklahoma. These mini-nations have their own governments, police forces, hospitals, jails, and laws - all while co-existing with the US government. Growing up as part of the Cherokee Nation, I always felt that even if the wider world were to crumble, the nucleus of these tribal communities would hold firm. That's why in Robopocalypse the Osage Nation keeps operating as a bastion of humanity in the face of a total government meltdown.

4. Robots are everywhere in our daily lives - from the military to our operating rooms to our self-parking cars - and permeate popular culture. Why do you think the public loves a robot story - be it The Terminator, Star Wars, Transformers or Wall-E?

As a species, humankind is in love with its own reflection. People are interested in people. (That's why nobody cares for those great landscape shots in your vacation photos.) Robots are fascinating because they remind us of ourselves. In movies like Terminator, we see them as rivals who are capable of taking our world away from us and gaining supremacy. In other stories, like Star Wars, robots are integrated into our lives and cooperate as allies and tools. We love a robot story because the stakes are huge - these machines could eradicate us, or they could take us to the stars.

5. Have you always been fascinated by robots? And while pursuing your doctorate, did you create any robots?

As a kid I dreamed about robots and as an adult I built them. Now, I write about them. In school, I designed artificially intelligent "smart homes" that monitored their elderly occupants to help them live safely and independently. I also helped build an autonomous boat; designed multi-robot systems that exhibited swarm behavior to search for disaster survivors; and tailored a machine learning algorithm to detect (and remove) bathroom sounds from cell phone conversations. Each of these problems was different, but the solution was always the same: a machine with some brains. Robotics is truly the Swiss army knife of the sciences.

6. Your protagonist, Cormac Wallace, discovers the black box of the robot uprising at the opening of the book. Cormac compiles the stories and lets them unfold in the distinct voices of the heroes of "Zero Hour" starting a full year before the robots ever attack. Why was this technique essential to the telling of ROBOPOCALYPSE?

The story starts out a year before Zero Hour because my goal was to root the characters and events in a familiar place with relatable characters, and then proceed step-by-step into the nightmare of automated war. I intentionally included very little science fiction up front. That's the scariest part of Robopocalypse - that it's feasible. There are no glinting robot armies from outer space, just the ordinary technology of our lives turning on us, ripping apart our civilization, and then evolving into something that human beings never intended.

7. The ethical impact of robots on society is attracting serious consideration. A 2009 NYT article ("Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man") reported on a debate between top computer scientists on whether robotics research should be limited. Do you agree?

Robots can be dangerous. For example, a titanium-clawed hexapod once savaged a friend of mine at the Robotics Institute (though in all fairness, the climbing robot simply mistook him for a tree and climbed him). Then again, any tool can be dangerous. Robots are particularly tricky to safeguard, because they act in the real world without supervision; they can learn new behaviors on the fly; and they are often stronger, faster, and smarter than human beings. These points must be taken into consideration while building robots, but we should also remember that these are exactly the attributes that make robots incredibly powerful tools. With that in mind, promise should never limit research.

8. The arrival of real robots often conjures up thoughts of doomsday scenarios. Yet robots are rapidly improving the lives of humans with each passing year. Why do you think the fear impulse kicks in?

It's a question of trust. Never before has humankind trusted non-humans with the level of responsibility that machines now have. We humans are a cooperative species and we naturally work together, but we also understand each other. We have emotions, language, body language, and so on. We are experts at reading each others' minds. On the other hand, robots do things that people used to do, but the machines can be inscrutable. We just aren't used to the machines - not yet. So how do you trust a waiter that's got a smile permanently stamped on its plastic face?

9. DreamWorks purchased the film rights to ROBOPOCALYPSE and last November they announced that Steven Spielberg will direct the film version. Can you describe the day you heard the news and what that felt like? How involved will you be with the movie version?

The movie news was an emotional overload: waves of happiness followed by pangs of terror that this is all somehow a cruel joke on the guy who loves robots. Luckily, the filmmakers have consistently consulted me on the design of their robots, exoskeletons, and a whole spectrum of other technology. I wrote it, but they have to draw it, see how it moves - make it real. It's been a ridiculous pleasure to be a part of this process. Based on the robot ecology that DreamWorks has built, I cannot wait to see this movie.

10. Since completing ROBOPOCALYPSE, what changes or developments in artificial intelligence and robotics have struck you, and would you have written the book differently if you started today?

I hope the book will stand on its own for a long, long time, regardless of new advances in robotics. And I think there's a good chance it will, because many real-world developments in robotics are simply too fantastic. In just the medical domain, consider bacteria-sized robots that can swim in your bloodstream; flea-sized robots that can locomote over the surface of a beating heart; or micron-sized teams of robots that can cooperate with each other. All of these robots exist today, and yet I considered them too "out there" and distracting to include in Robopocalypse.

11. Steel cage deathmatch: C-3PO versus Bishop from Aliens. Who wins and why?

C-3PO is an awkward, shuffling golden protocol droid and Bishop is a rugged Alien-fighting android willing to be ripped to shreds to complete his mission. Based on Bishop's dogged determination, lack of complaining, and incredible knife-play, I predict he would slice Threepio into golden ribbons.

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 480 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Robo So So

    My feelings about this book were up and down. The beginning pretty much tells you how the robot wars ended. It took out some of the suspense for me. But as I read it, I found it a good read. The book basically gives you a docmentary on how it started, how the humans responded, etc. I liked the sci-fi element and the authors creations. I also enjoyed the characters, although they didn't progress as much as I had hoped. He described the surroundings well making you feel like you were there, but didn't drone on. Then came the ending. It was such a let down and too rushed. A lot of time was spent building up to this point, and then bam, it's over. Ending was weak in my opinion. I gave it 3 stars, but I wouldn't spend $12.99 on it. Not sure I'd read this author again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wow!

    What an interesting read. A very different approach to story-telling and character development. It also reminds us why Asimov invented the Rules of Robotics. This story tells the tale of what might happen if we don't consider what the consequences of building thinking machines might be.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Heart-stopping Tech Thriller

    Although I had the sense that the target audience for this book was guys in their teens and twenties, I really enjoyed it even though I'm not in this demographic. The story is set in the near-future, when smart cars and domestic robots are common in nearly every household. When a computer mastermind takes them over, these friendly machines become lethal to humans. And the computers are soon redesigning themselves into highly efficient killing machines. This is one of those humanity-in-crisis novels that rarely fails to entertain, and the author keeps things lively with short chapters and a constantly shifting perspective. The story is packed with fingernail-biting suspense. The stout-hearted and courageous humans are awesome, but my favorite character is the valiant and always-calm "friendly" humanoid, Nine Oh Two. Steven Spielberg has optioned the rights for this story, and a film is set for 2013 - if it's as good as the book, it should be a blockbuster.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    This is a must read, I couldn't put it down

    I fought buying the book (it sounded a bit too much like Terminator) but after reading this book I will be recommending it to all my friends.

    I found the story line to be a bit tired (think Terminator, I Robot [the movie not the book]) and any other film/book where the machines rise up and decide that humanity either needs their help or needs to be eliminated, but the way Daniel Wilson tells the tale makes all (and I do mean ALL) the difference.

    From the first page I was captivated and found myself so totally absorbed that I was accused of being anti-social.

    Excellent presentation makes this book an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2011

    One of my favorites of all time!

    Loved every page, loved every chapter! I was dreaming about this book! To use the phrase "it was a page turner" does not do Robopocalypse justice. For sci-fi fans you will be enthralled, and for the average person who likes to pick up an occasional novel will instantly become a fan of sci-fi. This is the type of novel that should be used in class rooms, as well as for pure entertainment. D. Wilson has used an idea that is not new, but has put his own twist on it. Wow! Fantastic book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    A Great Red

    Everything you want in a post apocalyptic novel.The novel did remind me of Crash - all of these individuals and their stories merging into the larger plot.

    I definitely recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    Sci-Fi Like I Like it!

    The book's format is an intriguing one: a chronological series of reports detailing what is known about an attempt by utility robots to dominate mankind. While robots have become an accepted part of this story's world, things are not yet at the advanced level of Star Wars or Star Trek, a circumstance that makes the tale even more believable. World leaders can't believe it's happening and try in the beginning to ridicule the signs (much as current polticians are handling the changes in our environment today). It is a fast-paced book, but an easy and enjoyable read, one that leaves you wondering just where we're all headed. It has peaked my interest in other books by Daniel Wilson. The story would also make for a lively discussion among certain groups of sci-fi readers: exciting enough to energize imagination, but possible enough to give it contemporary meaning.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Engaging, thrilling, highly recommended!

    The author of this novel - Daniel H. Wilson - has a Ph.D. in robotics, so when it comes to the world of robots, he knows what he is talking about. This knowledge seeps through in the book, giving us some unique insights to robotics and artificial intelligence. The story is set in the near future, where robots are a common part of everyday life - they provide service as domestics, nannies and body guards; artificial intelligences in automobiles help avoid collisions; toys; and robots are common in the military, as both humanoids used in peace-keeping and pacification of hostile populaces, and in various weapons to increase accuracy and deadliness. Because of the ubiquitous nature of robots, humanity didn't have a chance when, at a point in time known as Zero Hour, they all suddenly begin to attack humans - many billions are killed, some are kept alive and put into labor camps. But some remain free - and start to fight back. "Robopocalypse" is told in a series of vignettes, from various points of view (filtered through Cormack "Bright Boy" Wallace) starting well before Zero Hour and the liberation of Archos, the leader of the rebelling robots. This is an uncommon way of telling a story, but one which I really liked, and thought very appropriate to this story. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a chilling suspense story, futuristic science fiction (or is it "fiction"?) and tales of the apocalyptic. Get this book and give it a read - and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did! (Plus, look forward to the movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, due out in 2013)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2011

    Great story

    I really enjoyed this book, I consider it a page turner. I liked the writing style and format, although it could have used a little less colorful language at times, which was a little repetitious but that's just me. It was fast paced and kept me interested right till the end. Very imaginative as well. I see a movie on the horizon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2011

    Fantastic read with favorable comparisons to "I, Robot" and "World War Z"

    Daniel Wilson has written an amazing book. As mentioned in the headline there are obvious comparisons to "I, Robot", which isn't a bad thing. This is a great Science Fiction book. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the approach that Wilson took when writing it. He wrote it similair to the style Max Brooks used in "World War Z" by telling the story post event. It just made for absolutely compelling reading. Wilson told his story through several different characters and continuously shifted the perspective of where the story was coming from while still advancing the story. This kept the story fresh thoughout and kept it moving at a very fast pace. The characters used were extremely real. It was hard not to feel for them and what they were going through. The fact that Wilson has a degree in robotics shows through in the book. He definitely seems to know his stuff and it shows in the detail he uses as far as the robots go. I guess the only thing that I wish could have been explored a tiny bit more was the ultimate conclusion as far as the characters went. He developed so many of them through the story that I was left wanting to know more about what their lives were like after everything was over. Granted that would have taken a lot more time and pages. That is a pretty small thing to complain about though give just how great the experience was getting through this book. If Wilson chooses to write another book I will certainly choose to read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2014

    If you like thrillers, this is honestly an engaging and thorough

    If you like thrillers, this is honestly an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable read! the fact that it features robots won't make it less appealing to the typical reader, and since everyone uses smart phones and tablets these days, this won't feel all that foreign. I other words, the topic may seem science-y, but this is really just a good old fashioned read.

    One of the best (worst?) aspects of this book is that it doesn't seem too far off the mark as far as being possible, and soon. Just as I finished reading this, Google announced a new computer that will be able to program itself, and wow, that's really close to some of the ideas in this book (and that's frightening)!

    Give this book a read--I loved it, and am going to read the next book by this same author.

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  • Posted July 10, 2014

    Interesting story: Reads like a movie

    Great premise, some say derivative, but not so. Yes it is a story about robots taking over and viewing humans as the enemy..but done in a fresh way. It does read like a rough draft for a movie, but would like to see this movie.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    I loved it....

    I just finished this book. It was AWSOME! I can't wat to read the next book, Robogenasis. I bet it will be just as awsome.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Lulu river

    Why is this book banned?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    I LAUGHED ME AS<_>S OFF

    Fuc<_>king funny!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Entertaining

    When this first came out it seemed a bit silly. But after reading some positive reviews and hearing that Spielberg was going to make a movie (though this may now be on hold), I decided to pick up the book. Overall quite entertaining. The jumping around from different perspectives was annoying at first but grew on me. Most books are too long, this probably could have used another 50 pages to more methodically bring the story lines together. But again, it was entertaining and well worth the read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Angelica's story and Justin Bieber's story

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Good idea though not very new, writing was awful,  characters we

    Good idea though not very new, writing was awful,  characters were made not believable and the book took on a 2nd rate clownish feel was all i could do to get   through it,Worst part was the over the top descriptive police report at the beginning from a dumb kid who seemingly had the observational skills of a 20 year cia man and was able to give his 20 minute description as if he was an english major, dont waste your time.          

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  • Posted June 16, 2013

    I loved this book. One of my favorite novels ever. I could not p

    I loved this book. One of my favorite novels ever. I could not put it down.
    The author is a robotics expert which really makes for a interesting look into what could happen if computer AI research advanced and went very wrong.
    A great thriller with lots of action.
    Don't want to say more for fear of spoiling anything. Get the sample, you'll be hooked. Then you'll buy it, wondering if this might be a book you'd read twice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    I read this awhile back and thought it was amazing. Great concep

    I read this awhile back and thought it was amazing. Great concept and story, there were an array of characters living and surviving in different parts of the world, but somehow the author was able to connect them to each other. I keep looking for the sequel-there just has to be one, there should be one.
    Great read!

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