Author: Daniel H. Wilson, 2011
Genre: Techo-Thriller. Science Fiction. Action. War.
Other Details: ARC 347 pages. Unabridged audio. 12 hours, 43 mins Read by Mike Chamberlain.
We are a better species for having fought this war. - Cormac "Bright Boy" Wallace.
Set in the near future a quiet revolution begins to take place when Archos, a powerful artificial intelligence with a child-like persona, escapes the confines of an experimental laboratory and begins to take control of the global network of machines that regulate the human world. This doesn't happen overnight, a series of glitches and malfunctions are at first only noted by a few people. When the Robot War (designated Zero Hour) ignites humans are unprepared for the violence as they are decimated and enslaved by their robot overlords. Of course, the survivors band together and fight back. The format of the novel is an attempt by one of the leaders of the final battle against Archos to put together a history of the war for future generations from fragments of reports, film footage and interviews along with his own recollections of events.
I've had this as my audiobook in the car for the past few weeks and its format of a series of compiled chronological reports about the events leading up to Zero Hour and its aftermath worked well in this format. I also had received an ARC from Simon & Schuster, which I kept with me and read sections while out and about.
I had purchased Wilson's previous book 'How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion' a few years back for my late husband, who was very keen on robots and anything with apocalyptic themes. Obviously Robopocalypse is a lot less tongue-in-cheek with a strong emphasis upon action and at times quite gory encounters between robots and humans.
The science felt sound throughout and reflects Wilson's academic background in the field of robotics (he earned his PhD at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute). As a result it felt throughout a very realistic take on a war between man and machine. Characterisation was not a strong point though in this kind of thriller that is often the case. Here especially the emphasis is upon reporting events over responses. The audiobook's narrator, Mike Chamberlain, did a good job throughout conveying the no-nonsense reporting style of Cormac Wallace.
Overall, I enjoyed it and it was fairly different than my usual fare of fantasy and crime fiction. I felt the cover art for the book was brilliant with the starkly beautiful, impassive robotic face. So innocent but within the book's pages, so deadly.
Robopocalypse web-site - includes link to excerpt and other bits and pieces.