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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Westminster, MD, U.S.A. 2011 H Hardcover New 1st ed/1st printing, SIGNED on the title page by the author! Book is square, solid, immaculate with lustrous DJ protected by a ... Brodart cover. You'll be so thrilled with this book upon its arrival you'll hop, skip, and do the pogo with wild abandon upon its arrival! Read more Show Less

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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

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 474 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sci-Fi lovers won't be able to put it down!

    Daniel Wilson's ROBOPOCALYPSE is an action packed, vividly written thriller about robots turning on their human masters in the not-too-distant future.

    In that future, just about every car, aircraft, or mechanical toy has a computer chip in it. Robots are used as domestic servants, medical assistants, even sexual companions. In several isolated incidents, seemingly unrelated, the mechanical devices begin to turn on their human masters. Toys taunt a young girl. A military robot kills friendly soldiers and the innocent civilians it was programmed to protect. Two aircraft are bent on a collision course, no matter how hard the pilots try to avoid each other.

    Then, Zero Hour, and all hell breaks loose. Every machine turns on its human master, and the carnage is unbelievable. Mankind is on the run, and will have to fight back from the brink of extinction or be...deleted.

    The story moves fast, with poignant images and likable characters. It is well organized and for the most part easy to follow. The technical descriptions are believable and understandable, without too much engineering jargon. There is some profanity, so I would rate this a PG-13. But it is definitely well-written, entertaining, and just a bit scary.

    If you like sci-fi, you will like this. If you enjoyed the Terminator movies, but found yourself wishing you got more of the "back story", you will love this.

    38 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Book to Remember

    I got my hands on an amazing advance copy of this book, and I totally rethink the idea of my toaster!
    There is a future where the robots that we so rely on have turned against us and it is a struggle. Scientists have spend billions and years on connecting with an intelligence that far surpasses ours in the understanding of the universe and it was far to powerful to contain and now it has transferred to all the robotics that fill our needs in the world.
    The thing that I really appreciated in this novel is that it is beautiful. The concept and world building/destroying are so well written I had a great time reading and discussing the ideas in the book with my house.
    One of the interesting aspects of the book is that is it written from one person basically writing about the events that were recorded on a cube from the AI and the beginning of the war to the end. Captured images from cameras or recording devices, or the machines themselves tell of the human condition and struggle to survive and overcome the odds. So in the book we get snippets of what is going on from so many sources that by the end of the book have all tied into these characters and their impact on the end of the machine.
    Robopocalypse is very hard to say as a title, but the book is amazing. You will never want an in home machine again after this.

    21 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Gripping, fast-paced, and compelling: Highly recommended!!

    I managed to get my hands on an advanced reading copy of Robopocalypse. Wilson tells the story of how humanity manages to survive in a world in which robots have united against us. I was not expecting to like the book as much as I did, since technology topics are not usually that interesting to me. But Wilson had me on the edge of my seat and staying up late to finish this story. The characters start out in disparate places and circumstances, but ultimately their courage and persistence brings them together. Their stories are inspiring and very, very human.

    17 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Skippable

    While Mr.Wilson brings up some interesting ideas and writes well, the manner in this is written seems to be designed to remove any sort of suspense about the outcome of the story.

    I believe one could read the first chapter, "Briefing," and the give-away quote at the top of each subsequent chapter and get the general gist of the book...and you could do that standing in your local bookstore in 15 minutes. Whether Mr.Wilson or an editor raised on "tune in next week" television is to blame for this format I don't know, but it makes the reading a slog as just when suspense builds you realize, "Oh, I already know how this is going to turn out."

    Frankly, I wish I could get those hours back.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read! Who cares about the NOOK crybaby!

    This was a really good book. It's such a shame that some people slam an authors hard work because they want to whine and cry about the pricing of a NOOK. Giving an author one star because of pricing is completely selfish and unfair! Writing is hard work. Call the publisher and shut up! . This platform is provided for readers to critique the literary quality of the book, not pricing issues. And this book was top notch! Great Job Daniel Wilson! Keep 'em coming.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Read

    I enjoyed reading this wonderful book. The story will keep you entertained for hours and sure enough you will think twice now about buying anything with machines. I didn't mind to pay a little more to read it on my nook since it is better for the environment.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    Very good

    I liked this book. I liked the way it told the stories of different characters that were seemingly unrelated. But then all of their stories meshed beautifully. I loved the growing horror of realizing how the robots were already taking over, and how far their reach was. Very sinister. I enjoyed every page of this story. The only unnecessary element to me at least was the romance bit at the end. I guess I see the meaning in it -- they're alive, they're gonna start a new life together -- but meh, I didn't read this for romance, you know? Good thing it was only a little bit.

    Very good book! If you like robots, action, gore, and a dash of horror, go ahead and click that buy button.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Cheesy Ignorance!

    Wow was this book silly! I would not recommend this to anyone. Very poorly written, and only good for a few laughs.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Hero Archive

    "You humans are biological machines designed to create ever more intelligent tools. You have reached the pinnacle of your species.where you have fulfilled the destiny of humankind and created your successor. You have expired."-Archos

    At the end of the "New War," Cormac Wallace of the Gray Horse Army unearths something inexplicable: a black box much like those on airplanes buried in the ground by the artificial intelligence that was the backbone of the robotic uprising around the globe. In this black box, Archos the 14th, captured moments leading up to "Zero Hour" and beyond; honoring the human race it sought to destroy by studying the initial responses when machine turned on man and chronicling humanity's attempts to wipe out the robot army bent on extermination.

    Wallace calls it the Hero Archive. He painstakingly translates the data in the box into a chronicle so that everyone "will know that humanity carried the flame of knowledge into the terrible blackness of the unknown, to the very bring k of annihilation.and we carried it back."

    Daniel H. Wilson creates a chilling futuristic novel with Robopocalypse. In the near future, society has built a race of machines, robots, to function as servants and tools in just about every aspect of the modern human world. Some are utensils designed to operate without supervision. Some are very human looking, designed to function as maids and aides for families. Some are just children's toys. But one thing they all have in common is their ability to tie into a data network, one that is compromised and taken over by a malevolent artificial intelligence. This AI "sets the robots free" and arms them with tools and weapons for the sole purpose of wiping the human race out. What this AI does not understand is that humanity is not designed to surrender.

    Robopocalypse is a fantastic and bloodcurdling fiction of what could happen if humanity continues to play god with its creations.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Surprisingly well-written and entertaining...

    The blurbs I had read made this book seem like a slightly-updated version of "Maximum Overdrive" or the movie "Gremlins", with robots instead of monsters. It actually owes far more to Phillip K. Dick than the above sources, which is a good thing, in my view.

    With above-average writing (for the genre), good pacing, intriguing situations, and some genuinely creepy thrills, I heartily recommend it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The wheels come off early

    I got about 5 chapters in and could no longer suspend my disbelife. There are a ton of plot holes that are unbelievable. The writing is pretty bad. There is 0 character development.

    For example - A member of the armed forces would not testify to congress they wan one character does. It lacked professionalism. There is one scene where the author states that congress is in session on Thanksgiving. Really?

    The plot is also rehashed from a variety of sources, all the others are written better - Stephen King (Trucks, The Cell, The Stand), 2001, Terminator, George Romero, Marvel Comics (Ultron)

    I do like the book cover. The primes is intriguing. But overall this book is really bad.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Poorly written

    Each chapter ends with heavy statements about impact the events described in the chapter will have upon future events. It's a plodding, contrived device used with EVERY chapter that it deadends the impact of those events. It makes everything trivial and little connects in the end.

    There's a rule. Show, not tell. This book tells without showing. I felt nothing for the characters

    Good idea
    Poor Execution

    And I agree with others writing reviews. B&N stop ripping us off! Worse than the pricing of this book, is finding paperbacks published for less than their e-pub counterparts. Sales should extend to the e-pub format.

    You are going to drive people to find alternative means. It always happens. This pricing is a mistake.

    Thank you for your time

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    The next time your computer acts up. Watch out.

    With a salute to West World, The Forbin Project, and a touch of 2001: A Space Odyssey with HAL 9000, get ready for the next story in the battle of man versus machine. In "Robopacalypse," it's technology gone haywire as, once again, mankind rues the day for overstepping the limits of artificial intelligence.
    In tomorrow's world, more of society is computerized. From robot domestic
    servants to humanoid peacekeeping soldiers, mechanical, computer controlled weaponry, and vehicles capable of networking to avoid accidents. However, in an underground laboratory, a scientist has created Archos, computer life, that learns.
    Archos soon has access to the world and initiates a war with humanity. Starting with small incidents seen as glitches, mankind soon finds itself fighting for survival as Archos takes control of modern technology. Smart cars and computerized tanks are only the beginning as Archos designs hordes of robotic soldiers and human mutations to ensure control of the world.
    Near the end of the war, Cormac Wallace-photographer turned soldier-and his team find a strange cube hidden underground in Alaska. The cube is an archive of the beginnings of Archos and the entire subsequent world war. Chronicling the adventures of many of the war's heroes, Cormac creates a document for humanity's future survivors.
    If you're a fan of the three movies listed above, you will thoroughly enjoy "Robopocalypse." This book presents a nice progression of events and the varying reactions from unique characters, from the London computer prankster to the Osage Indian policeman. Wilson has created a world not too far off from today's life. Who knows, is Archos being "borne" somewhere, right now? The next time your computer acts up. Watch out.

    Reviewed by Stephen L. Bayton, author of "Beta" for Suspense Magazine

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Great pretense...boring execution

    The cover drew me to read the jacket. The jacket had me intrigued being a total tech person who is using smart everything. The book though is told in short story style for each chapter. The character development is weak and slow. I agree with another reviewer, you could just read the recaps at each chapter or better yet, the first and last 50 pages and get the gist of the book. Too bad, really had potential to expose artificial intelligence and domination.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Robopocalypse is written from many different points of view, pre

    Robopocalypse is written from many different points of view, presented as recordings of interviews, conversations and personal observations. Basically, a key computer becomes aware and acquires intelligence. As a result, anything that has a computer chip falls under its control, following its orders to kill humans or capture and place them in work camps. Finally, the remaining humans must figure out how to survive and possibly take back their world.
    -----
    "We live on a placed island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age." -Howard Phillips Lovecract, 1926
    -----
    There are some extremely creepy and scary, yet poignant, quotes throughout this book. I was in heaven! I make these little magnetic book marks to mark quotes I want to write down and this book was filled with them. I absolutely enjoyed this book.
    -----
    First there are stories of random occurrences of behavior uncharacteristic of robots. This was the scariest section, in my opinion. It made me take a closer look at my children's toys. I'm a little scared of my daughter's Fijit now. And I won't be getting a robot companion any time soon. I had to stop reading the book at night because I was getting a little too nervous to sleep. But it was great. There were all these weird incidents that, in retrospect, were clues as to what was to come:
    -----
    Archos, the main computer, about humans: "...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."
    -----
    Archos is talking about knowledge. This book gets deep. There are so many discussion points in it that are not dependent on a robopocalypse. The previous quote can be just as easily discussed as a philosophical issue.
    -----
    The next section is Zero Hour, which is the moment Archos took control. This section was also scary. I might have to forego elevators forever and stick with stairs from now on. For the most part, Wilson sticks with the same points of view in each section. So I was happy with the character development. The reader gets to see how the characters react and adapt throughout the entire ordeal. Zero Hour was the big surprise for the human race and the individual reactions were interesting. The only one I didn't really get into was the whole Osage storyline. In this section, it was a bit boring.
    -----
    The next three sections are survival, awakening and retaliation. Survival is self-explanatory. I won't go into detail about the last two because there is a surprise that turns out to be integral to how the story ends. I don't want to ruin that for you. For me, the most exciting and suspenseful sections were the first two.
    -----
    Now I would like to address a couple of the criticisms Robopocalypse has received.
    -----
    There have been many criticisms of Wilson's style, some going so far as to claim it is a rip off of Max Brook's World War Z. I am willing to guess that Max Brooks was not the first person to use this literary style and Wilson will not be the last. While Brooks applied the style to zombies, Wilson applies it to a robot apocalypse. Just because Brooks did it first does not mean it is any less effective when someone else does it later.
    -----
    Other criticisms focus on the fact that robots gaining consciousness and taking over the world is not a new story. Neither is the love triangle; many authors recycle that story and are still quite successful. I am a huge Philip K. Dick fan. Dick was a master at the whole robot acquiring intelligence sub-genre, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it when another author delves into the topic. I can read these freaky sci-fi stories over and over again, and the more authors writing about it just means I have that much more material to entertain me.
    -----
    I thought this was a great book. It's an easy and interesting read. If you are a fan of Philip K. Dick and don't think that similar topics are rip offs of previous works, I think you will enjoy Robopocalypse. If you are the type of person who loves to debate underlying philosophical, ethical or moral issues of a story, Robopocalypse certainly delivers an abundance of material. I definitely recommend Robopocalypse.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I could not bring myself to finish it. I am in a bookclub, actu

    I could not bring myself to finish it. I am in a bookclub, actually the President, and this is the first book since the club started that I could not bring myself to finish. It was so horribly choppy and unbelievable, it was painful to read. The way the characters spoke, the actions of the "robots", and everything else was not well written. I always force myself to finish bookclub books, partly to be a team player and partly because I don't like to quit what I've started, but I had to make an exception in this case.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Moving and thought provoking.

    I always wonder what our future holds for our children. I embrace change and new tech. I buy all the latest hardware and look forward to new advances. A book like this makes me wonder where we will end up and how we will survive if we have to fall back even just 100 years ago and live in that world, could the majority of us survive? I really enjoyed this read. Im already looking into the authors other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2012

    Not recommended.

    The writers could have used a military technical advisor. Our armed services do not store explosives or other dangerous materials in the armories located in cities but at remote depots where the civilian populaton is not in danger. The military jargon doesn't come close to being realistic. I borrowed this from the library and I am glad that I didn't waste my money.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    Excellent read

    I'm not usually drawn to sci-fi but I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Let us all pray it remains fiction and not a prediction of what our future holds!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Powerful Read

    Once I started, I couldn't put it down. It was a tear wrencher in some parts and in others I couldn't stop laughing. The thought of the possibility of something like this happening never seemed so large. The idea has made me think about what the future could hold. Great story line and just enough detail. I would recomend to anyone into scifi or action. What a read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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