Trevor Hogg reviews Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson…
Writing in a breezy and plain manner, Daniel H. Wilson, who obtained a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon, has entered into the realm of science fiction thriller. If Wilson is able to channel his youthful and mischievous enthusiasm into more polished adult yarns he could become the next Michael Crichton. Oscar-winning moviemaker Steven Spielberg certainly believes in Wilson’s literary talent as he acquired the film rights to the latest effort from the Portland, Oregon based novelist before the book even had found a publisher.
Divided into five major sections, Robopocalypse chronicles the rise and fall of a malevolent artificial intelligence which highjacks everyday and military technology, such as smart cars, toys, domestic robots, and tanks, and converts them into lethal predators. The devastating World War III between men and machines is documented through a series of vignettes compiled via a transcript composed by human resistance fighter Cormac “Bright Boy” Wallace; he combines his personal recollections with the material obtained from a black box once belonging to Archos, the robotic nemesis that has a genocidal mission to annihilate humanity in a way that makes Adolf Hitler seem like a schoolyard bully.
Focusing more on the human struggle to survive as opposed to the machines’ is the smart choice, as well as the incorporation of short chapters as the tale becomes more interesting and speeds along to its conclusion. “I intentionally included very little science fiction up front,” stated Daniel H. Wilson in the Doubleday press release. “That’s the scariest part of Robopocalypse – that it’s feasible. There are no glinting robot armies from outer space, just the ordinary technology of our lives turning on us, ripping apart our civilization, and then evolving into something that human beings never intended.”
Cinematically, I will enjoy seeing the eerie city street scene where all the cellphones in the surrounding area ring as a computer hacker is stalked by Archos. The one element I have a hard time getting my mind around is the Japanese storyline where an infatuated computer genius seeks to save his virus-infected robotic pleasure doll. The inclusion of the characters from the Osaga Nation is a nice touch as Native Americas too often serve as a forgotten footnote in American culture. For those who seek light entertainment with a futuristic twist Robopocalypse is a worthwhile read; and for their added enjoyment, Steven Spielberg will be working his movie magic to bring the world created by Daniel H. Wilson to the big screen in 2013.
Order Robopocalypse from Amazon and visit Daniel H. Wilson’s website here.
Be sure to check out Trevor’s two-part interview with Daniel H. Wilson – Novel Thoughts and Rising to the Big Screen.
Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.