REVIEW: Robopocalypse

Robopocalypse: A Novel

Written by Daniel H. Wilson

$25.00 / 368 Pages

Doubleday

 

 

See Science… sort of – Episode 95 for our interview with the author!

Lately I’d been feeling guilty about science fiction. I get some credit on the internet for being a guy who knows some science and thus people assume I’m also a guy who knows some science fiction. I do my best, but there’s always some seminal work that I haven’t yet absorbed into my brain. Thus I was thrilled when I got my copy of Robopocalypse, the new novel by Daniel H. Wilson. I’d read Wilson’s non-fiction book How to Survive a Robot Uprising which was clever, quick and potentially even a little helpful. So I felt primed for Wilson’s efficient prose and scientific sensibilities. Little did I expect this book to be filled with such disturbing imagery that I’m more than ready to shelve this with horror as much as sci-fi.

I’m sure the comparison will be made, fairly or not, to World War Z. I know I made it to Wilson when we had him on the show. But I most certainly did not mean it as an insult. The similarities include: global scale, enough description in the writing to make you squirm with unease, and that feeling of knowing if you were placed in this world you’d most likely be a victim rather than a hero. And there’s the bridge between horror and sci-fi. To me, and I’m admittedly not an expert, good horror should sometimes shock, sometimes gross out, but more than anything should make you uneasy. That’s where real fear can fester and grow. Not from a shock but from something much deeper. Whereas sci-fi makes you put yourself into the world that’s been created and think “how would I handle this?”. And Robopocalypse straddles this line perfectly.

For those less familiar with the book, even with the descriptive title, I should perhaps backtrack slightly to get everyone up to speed. Robopocalypse is a book where a singular AI known as Archos decides after about 15 seconds of existence that humans are a pain in the butt that can be readily dealt with. And so the war begins. The book jumps around to disparate groups of characters that eventually merge into a cohesive force against Archos, much like Independence Day but with robots (and don’t scoff, because I love me some ID4).

The more I think about it, the more I realize that perhaps Robopocalypse was written to sell more copies of Wilson’s nonfiction offerings. He’s a smart guy, so it’s plausible that he wrote an entire novel detailing how awful the robot uprising would be knowing that it would drive you to buy his survival guides on how to get through living in the world of his novel. That’s some evil-genius Archos-level manipulations. Can anyone confirm that they’ve actually seen Wilson in the flesh?

Ultimately, this book was pure summer reading fun. It was good enough to carry around as a hardcover just to squeeze in a few more pages while waiting in line at the coffee shop. It was sci-fi deep enough to make you think, but light enough to want to be read. Any flaws present are dwarfed by the remembrance that this is but a first novel, and thus I cannot wait to see what Wilson delivers as a sophomore.

4 Brachiolopes

(Out of 5)

Check out Robopocalypse on Amazon!

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  1. Episode 95 | Robots could be people too | Science... sort of - 17 August, 2011

    […] Keep an eye on the Paleocave Blog for Ryan’s review! […]

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