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Robopocalypse’ paints a frightening, believable future

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Robopocalypse is the best thriller I’ve read since Angels & Demons. It’s scary, it’s sad and it’s realistic. Author Daniel H. Wilson has a Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon—that one degree that didn’t go to waste.

Robopocalypse takes place in a not-too-distant future when robots have grown more advanced and more agile. There are microchips in almost everything, but other than that, the world is the same. We’re still eating frozen yogurt; we’re still driving to the Indy Motor Speedway; we’ve still got troops in Afghanistan.

But then the machines turn on us. At first it’s a single American Big Happy servant. Then it’s a Japanese love doll. Then an Afghani Safety and Pacification unit. And then a Baby-Comes-Alive doll. By the time humans connect the dots, it’s too late. The robots are uprising.

The Details

Robopocalypse
By Daniel H. Wilson
$26
Four and a half stars

Robopocalypse tells the story of the human resistance. From the start, we know the resistance succeeds to some degree. The book is a flashback, and the introduction, written by a human, begins “Twenty minutes after the war ends, I’m watching stumpers pour up out of a frozen hole in the ground like ants from hell and praying that I keep my natural legs for another day.” (Stumpers are tiny robots that crawl towards human heat and explode. One can take your leg off, leaving you with a nice new stump.)

So the question is, how do the humans beat the robots? And the answer is as believable as it is intricate. Saying Wilson has done his research would be a gross understatement.

I docked the book half a star because the ending is not as emotionally satisfying as it is intellectually so. But I’m sure they’ll patch that up for the movie, which, hopefully, will come out before the robots find out about this book and destroy us all.

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