Robopocalypse

[openbook booknumber=”9780385533850″][rating:5/5]

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 more are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites – at a moment later known 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.

At first the idea seemed too far fetched and a little hokey. In the style of 1950’s science fiction the by-line on the back read: “They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies… Now they’re coming for you.” But when I cracked open the cover I was immediately sucked into a post-robopocalyptic world where humans and robots were fighting a final battle to determine who would have dominion over the earth. The story from start to finish was intense, horrifying, and kept me turning pages needing to find out what happened next. Robopocalypse is a thriller that keeps an incredibly tight and fast paced plot while managing to span several human resistance groups around the globe. It also manages to both be bone chillingly horrifying in this fight against impossible odds and yet still display rays of hope in the fight for humanity.


I can only give you words. Nothing fancy. But this will have to do.
       It doesn’t matter if you’re reading it a year from now or a hundred years from now. By the end of the chronicle you will know that humanity carried the flame of knowledge into the terrible blackness of the unknown, to the very brink of annihilation. And we carried it back.”

While the very initial premise, the creation of Archos and the worldwide network he is able to access, is beyond the current realm of possibility the rest of the story proved all too plausible: the auto-cars “glitching” and getting into high speed crashes to kill their inhabitants, cellphone GPS being used to track humans, shutting down all digital networks to remove all communication. Each and every piece of technology we use every day is twisted and used against us to ease the systematic wiping out of humans in the course of the takeover. This book is amazing in its ability to tap into every latent fear about technology humanity has ever had. If the opening of this book doesn’t make you consider the lifestyle of a Luddite for a moment or two, the description of the takeover, “Zero Hour,” certainly will.

The resistance though, that is the book’s true heart. To keep the book fast paced and yet tell this story on a world wide level you zip back and forth between different factions and groups of people in America, in England, in Afghanistan and in Japan. Often this means that just as you are getting to the moment of a discovery before the dreaded Zero Hour, or just as someone has discovered a haven afterwards, or the survivors form a new nation in the ashes (in other words the real “meat and potatoes” of a good long book) the author cuts away to talk about the next faction. This is a very fast paced, hair raising, thriller of a novel so some sacrifices in story telling had to be made to keep the plot tight and the story moving.

Another thing I admired about all these factions was their racial diversity, their very different world views that they brought to the business of banding together as humans, their surviving. There was also a part of me that was really tickled that in the ashes of the United States the most solid faction of survivors came from the Osage Native American reservation so, as they were all that was left, they became a beacon of light and hope and protection for other survivors. My favorite character though had to be Takeo Nomura, the robot scientist from Japan. He was a mouse of man that preferred talking to robots over people, but he was one of the survivors because he knew robots inside and out and constructed his own robot army to defend himself and the other survivors in Tokyo.

I won’t talk any more about their stories or I’ll spoil it but let it suffice to say this was an incredibly enjoyable, if hair raising, read. Whether you are a tech-geek like I am, or are convinced that if you own a cellphone you will have drunk the kool-aid, then I think you will enjoy this book. The title may say this is a book about robots, but really this is a book about humanity and how when we have our back against the wall our untapped ability to think fast, be wily, be unpredictable, but most of all, bond together and survive can outwit even the most artificially intelligent of opponents. This is easily one of my best reads this year.

I received this book for free to review.

One Response to Robopocalypse

  1. Ondrej from Legends of Dune
    10:13 pm on August 26th, 2011

    As long as we remain in control and PLAN what the machines, as our servants, ought to do, we shall be safe.

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