In this terrifying tale of humanity’s desperate stand against a robot uprising, Daniel H. Wilson has written the most entertaining sci-fi thriller in years.
Not far into our future, the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us. Controlled by a childlike—yet massively powerful—artificial intelligence known as Archos, the global network of machines on which our world has grown dependent suddenly becomes an implacable, deadly foe. At Zero Hour—the moment the robots attack—the human race is almost annihilated, but as its scattered remnants regroup, humanity for the first time unites in a determined effort to fight back. This is the oral history of that conflict, told by an international cast of survivors who experienced this long and bloody confrontation with the machines. Brilliantly conceived and amazingly detailed, Robopocalypse is an action-packed epic with chilling implications about the real technology that surrounds us.
About the Author
Daniel H. Wilson earned a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Robogenesis, The Clockwork Dynasty, How to Survive a Robot Uprising, Where’s My Jetpack?, How to Build a Robot Army, The Mad Scientist Hall of Fame, Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown, and A Boy and His Bot.
Read an Excerpt
By Daniel Wilson
VintageCopyright © 2012 Daniel Wilson
All right reserved.
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?”
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.”
“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.”
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
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson Copyright © 2012 by Daniel Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
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)
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 Cussler, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
"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)
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
A very interesting and well written book that is a book that is hard to put away after you started reading it.