This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Robopocalypse recounts the story of the Robot Apocalypse or the war between humans and robots. The book’s prologue tells us that the war is over. We won – yay – but at what cost? The following chapters are written in an almost journal-like fashion by Cormac Wallace (one of the leaders of the human resistance) based on surveillance footage captured by the machines, some of the survivor’s recollections and other videos and written material found when the war ended.
The robot uprising begins when some scientists were too smart for their own good and created a computer (software, code, ?) with AI that became self-aware. (Yes, I know this sounds a LOT like Terminator or even Battlestar Galactica. But, it is a little different vision of the war between people and machines.) When the scientists realized what they had done and the danger it might entail, they destroyed Archos, the AI life form. But, like all scientists, they kept creating new versions to try to “get it right.” On the fourteenth try, Archos is able to stop their termination program and kill the professor working with him by sucking all of the air out of the room. Yikes. People are using humanoid machines as soldiers, personal assistants, gophers, girlfriends…well, you get the idea. Smart cars are everywhere and machines run the factories. They are all ‘connected’ so Archos is able to program them to begin killing the humans. And, kill them they do. It’s rough out there for a while! Slowly, groups of survivors start to come together to fight the machines. They work with unexpected allies along the way. Without a little luck and a lot of sacrifice, they wouldn’t have made it.
I really did enjoy this book so I’m giving it 4/5 stars. BUT – there are some issues.
- I’m still not sure I believe that ONE program (like Archos) could eventually turn all machines against us. Maybe I’m just naive. Or, not smart enough (the author has a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon.) I think he could have done more to explain how this could potentially happen in real life.
- I guess I’m not only naive but also pessimistic. Native Americans accepting non-NA into their reservation? Maybe. An Afghani insurgent fighting WITH a US Soldier. Very doubtful. I would like to believe that we would all work together towards a common goal but I’m not sure that would happen.
- There are plotholes simply due to book’s format and the time that passes. Because each chapter focuses on a different group of characters, you lose a lot of their story. While you might go back to this person ten chapters later, you’ve missed the part where they ended up in a work camp. I would have preferred fewer characters with more development for each one. On this note – this is going to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Congrats, Mr. Wilson. They are going to have to do some major character editing or moviegoers may become lost. Also, I would like to personally request that Tom Cruise not play Cormac. For some reason, I kept thinking that they might re-write the character to be older so they could do this. And it bothered me. A lot.
My favorite quotes:
“There is no honor in killing something that doesn’t know it’s alive.”
“You will know that we are a better species for having fought this war.”
“Demolition is a part of construction.”
“It’s not enough to live together, with one race on its knees.”