Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Post from Special K: Robopocalypse by Daniel H Wilson

Published: June 7, 2011
Publisher: DoubleDay
Pages: 347
Copy: Purchased
Summary: GoodReads

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.

The hype surrounding this book got to me - I bought a copy within a week of its release. I headed home planning on diving head first into this one (the title and cover also egged me on to bump it to the front of my TBR list, I have to admit - I, like Christinabean, am a cover snob).

Fast forward to that evening, snuggled down in bed, turning to the first page, and...blah. I tried again. And again. And I couldn’t do it. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get past the first pages of this book.
Fast forward again almost 7 months. While I won’t say I couldn’t put it down, after sifting through the starts of many books in my TBR pile, Robopocalypse finally grabbed me again. Having never read any of Mr. Wilson’s other works, but well aware that he holds a Ph.D in robotics from Carnegie Mellon U., I expected a tech- heavy, intricate, robot-centric tale of how robots took over the Earth. Instead, I’m delightfully surprised with a series of interwoven vignettes, telling tales of human ingenuity, survival, and goodness.
The novel is written in a series of glimpses from different characters points of view - the best way to describe it would be to liken it to a soap opera (*shudder*, I know...but stay with me), where you see different stories from different individuals, but they weave together in interesting twists and show you the story from multiple angles, with different takes on the same story and ideas.

We start at the end of the robot war, where a box is discovered that has recorded scenes and information following certain people - we of course then get to read a selection of these tales that have been transcribed for us, and the characters appear multiple times, sometimes as our narrator and in others as a secondary character. We hear from children, mothers, Native Americans, urban couples and more. We see how humans, despite the despicable things we’ve done, are inherently good, how they will do anything to survive with their fellow man, and how our smarts got us in this mess in the first place. Above all, we learn to value life as the amazing gift that it is and it takes a non-living, sentient race to remind us so.

Wilson’s Ph. D lends well to making the robot technology believable without being outlandish - this could be 5 or 50 years in our future, and few people recognize just how close we are to this being our reality. But our author keeps us focused on the human experience in this end-of-the-world tale, and I thank him for it, as I find it’s a novel that tech-heads and human lovers can enjoy side by side.

Great for guys - I mean, it’s robots with slim to no romance; but a word to the wise, the language can be a little strong at times (but what do you expect when robots have taken over the world?!).

Thanks again to Special K for jumping in. This is a title that has been on my TBR list for a while, but I just keep passing over, for unknown reasons.

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