Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cormac “Bright Boy” Wallace has just seen the end of the war, a costly war between humans and machines that has taken countless lives. On the site of the last battle, he finds a robotic cube, what he has termed a Rob, and senses it’s important. But it’s only when the Rob begins to show Cormac images that he realizes how crucial it is, for the Rob holds the entire history of the war, from beginning to end.
Robopocalypse is a set of interconnected stories, told over the course of roughly four years, that together illustrate the rise of the robots and their subsequent domination over humans. From the first line, the reader knows that the war is over and that humans have somehow triumphed over their progeny; the question is how the war came to pass and what error humans made in order to accelerate it. It makes for a suspenseful, page turning novel that readers will want to consume in one sitting.
Though Robopocalpyse might seem like it doesn’t have much of a narrative arc, it actually forms a cohesive and comprehensive chronicle of the robot war. Because it revisits the same characters over the course of the story, rather than dealing with accounts from completely separate, unconnected people, the reader feels like they know the characters. Despite the fact that this is an account, rather than a person narrating a story, Wilson develops his characters surprisingly well.
The novel does start off a bit slow, as Wilson builds up to “zero hour”, when the machines actually begin to act independently. He spends the first one hundred pages or so building the characters and setting up the plot, such that he can delve right into the action when the war begins. I thought it was well structured, but those looking for a novel that is stuffed to the brim with action may be disappointed. This is a thinking person’s novel, rather than a pure pulse-pounding thriller. Wilson has a Ph.D. in Robotics, so the robotic world he develops is both believable and frightening.
It’s true that Robopocalypse has been heavily compared to World War Z and other such novels; as I haven’t read them, I can’t comment on how alike or dissimilar they are, but I can say that this book is worth reading. The rise of the robots is handled in a believable way (and half convinced me that it’s only a matter of time until our machines turn against us), and I was completely entertained from beginning to end. This is a great novel to pick up if you’re in the mood for something satisfying, yet don’t want to have to pay too close attention to what you’re reading, as the interconnected short story style allows for many breaks.