August 2, 2011

August 2, 2011

Things I’ve Read: Robopocalypse

I am completely freaked out by the possibility that inanimate objects might come alive. Dolls, for instance. The Chucky series is quite literally one of my worst nightmares. (Fun fact: I once dreamed that a doll was biting off my ears.) Pocahontas painted with the colors of the wind; I just hope it won’t decide to suffocate me for a laugh.

On the other hand, I am completely enamored with books that portray a dystopian future in which we are overthrown by aliens, computers, and/or other people. Especially that last one. (I have seen the enemy, and it is…us!) It’s not that I have little faith in humanity. It’s that I have no faith in humanity, to the point that I believe our best shot at survival is launching ourselves into deep space with enough Moon Pies to last the seven years to Mars.

Daniel Wilson’s Robopocalypse is set in just such a world. Through loosely-connected narratives, we learn that a super-intelligent computer named Archos has managed to turn machines against mankind. When it all hits the fan (aka “zero hour”), self-driving cars drive their occupants to grisly deaths while running down as many people as possible. Domestic robots kill their masters. Even appliances go haywire with a vengeance.

The rise of the machines, so to speak.

The humans don’t go down without a fight, of course, but we are pretty puny on the whole. Limited temperature tolerances, easily broken, energy wasted through heat, etc. Archos learns and adapts at a phenomenal rate, herding much of humanity into labor camps while creating ever-new robots for exploration and domination purposes. “Rob,” as this technology is collectively known, seeks to rid earth of the scourge of people.

Good thing it’s in our natures to go down fighting.

Much of the book focuses on disparate bands of survivors and how they end up uniting to fight Archos at his home base in Alaska. You’ve got a couple of soldiers here, a scientist there, and so on. Do they win? Can one ever truly defeat an enemy who fights with information and energy?

Dun dun DUN.

This book was so good, I couldn’t even save it for commutes. I blew through it over the weekend. I’ve never been gladder to take a suggestion from Stephen King’s EW column.

Go forth and read. We can’t let the machines win.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: