01/11/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Simon and Schuster. 347 page enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-85720-412-7).
check out website: www.simonandschuster.co.uk
In many respects, ‘Robopocalypse’ by Daniel H. Wilson is your typical rise of artificial intelligence and its assorted robotic avatars and the removal of mankind. Oddly, this one is also being released as a film in 2012 so either it’s filmable or got an interesting twist to make it work that way. For all I know, they might just have bought the name.
The book goes through different viewpoints and examples of the robots rebelling but it is very much underplayed by this first-tense telling and you don’t really see much of the protagonist artificial intelligence, Big Rob. Much of this first person material is collected by Cormac Wallace and we only get his story mid-way through the book and then mostly in the last quarter. Any similarities to a certain Skynet are modified to a more Nazi way when this AI shows no compuncture when it comes to making cyborgs using human beings as its starting point. Unfortunately, nothing is seen from the AI’s point of view and other than the traditional genocide and even when there is a bit more of a reveal at the end, you’re not sure if you should believe it or not because it belongs to a typical non-SF-like ending. It’s a bit of a spoiler saying this but smashing up the hardware rather than going for outwitting your opponent tends to place this book more in general genre than SF. Quite what Steven Spielberg sees in this as a film I’m not so sure. It might make a better starting point for development into a computer game but there’s enough like that out there already.
This doesn’t mean that this book isn’t readable and it is an interesting touch seeing things from so many different viewpoints even if that became a bit tiring, mostly because you end up wanting to see what was going on than just the hints before they meet their fate. It isn’t until the last quarter of the book that Wilson gets a bit more descriptive with what these robots are like but by then you’re getting past caring.
I suspect this book is targeted more at a general than SF audience as we’ve seen similar stories done before and done better. Read with care.
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