Sunday, September 16, 2012

Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson: We're onto you, robots

by Daniel H. Wilson
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011
ISBN: 9780385533867
Adobe EPUB copy from the Boston Public Library

Think, for a moment, about the number of times in a day you rely upon a machine.  We want our technology to do things we don't - to do the hings that we deem too tedious, too complex, too dangerous.  But what happens when the artificial intelligence we have harnessed to do this things gets too intelligent and figures this out?  In this recycled post-robot apocalypse thriller, the machines we rely on have rebelled against humans.  They are controlled and connected by a remotely located significantly intelligent artificial being, Archos, who views the human-robot relationship as akin to master-slave, and who wants to shift the balance.  In one fell swoop, robots control everything, from our dishwashers, to our cars, to our defense systems, and humans are either exterminated or sent to work camps.  Told in vignettes, Archos has watched and recorded the humans and machines who survive the initial apocalypse and lead the fight to successfully regain power.  Characters, both human and robot, are engaging, compelling narrators of their own stories in this rapid-fire, high-stakes, battle of the intelligences Sci-Fi.  Though published for adults, it will have strong appeal for older teens, and may even be an easy sell for reluctant male readers.  

Unless you live deep in the woods/dessert and are a technology eschewing hermit (which means you're probably not reading this), this concept (robots start thinking for themselves, overthrow the world) is not a new one.  Presumably, you've heard of the Terminator?  If you live in California, there's no excuse - you elected a robot governor! Some cooler kids may have even heard of Battlestar Galactica.  This story, however, while not new, is a fast-paced, exciting read.  It is also one with a global scope, taking place around the world, with a multicultural human (and robot) cast.  The writing is more servicible than fancy, but it keeps the pages turning and the readers hooked.  Stan, the YA lovin' PopStar of a friend, sent me a strong recommendation for this one; he correctly thought my male students would dig it.  He was right!  They will!  It is such an easy sell to reluctant reader boys, along with the rest of us who may be less reluctant or are not boys.  My only warning?  Good luck thinking your appliances aren't out to kill you.  I see your glowing red eye, toaster!

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