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A book about a suddenly emerging global plague, eliminating most of mankind, with the survivors in desperate need of reorganising themselves to avoid complete extermination. That was some déjà vu… had the book been called “World War R” I would not have been surprised, it really looks and feels like an author had an idea about global annihilation and wrote two possible scenarios to see which shoe fits better.

That is not to say that this would make “Robopocalypse” worse than World War Z. It’s rather a bit like the two “Capote” films that happened to be produced at the same time some years ago, where one (arguably the better one) had the disadvantage of ill scheduling and was forgotten. “Robopocalypse” is unlikely to be forgotten, as Steven Spielberg is trying for a couple of years to get a decent script out of the material. And how I so very much him sitting in his soft chair, reading the reviews and production stories of “World War Z” and scratching his beard…

Word War Z came out a couple of years earlier, so any speculative criticism of author Daniel Wilson freeriding on the Apocalypse train is only fair. Still, both books have something going for them, and they are both easily consumable in their pseudo-documentary style that allows the reader to quickly get through less interesting scenarios / characters, as the next one is never more than 10 pages around the corner.

Robots turn against their makers, and as the book plays out in an age when electronic and mechanical household and work aides have deeply penetrated human society, their sudden killing rampage is hard to escape. All over the planet, we learn, there are isolated building blocks of a resistance, be it in the form of a special skilled little girl, a tribe of brave native Americans, a robotic engineering wizard in Japan (who happens to be in love with his house robot) or a computer and telephone geek who turns from evil hacker to freedom fighter.

The book is readable, but what makes it interesting and fun is that Wilson knows what he’s talking about. He is an export on robotics, and even if you don’t know that, at least I seemed to feel it in how he carefully crafts the peril coming from exactly the next generation of machinery we currently long for (the mail distribution robots, household aid robots, and he even gives a nice twist to what a true “love robot” would all be about). He tries to paint a realistic scenario, there is very little suspense of disbelief other than maybe the arch villain “brain” (it DID remind me a bit of the Starship Troopers brain…) behind the whole affair. In this it reminded me of the better Stephen King books: taking normal people, exposing them to extraordinary events and seeing how they react. This is not great literature, but in no way less fun to read than the off “WWZ” or “Hunger Games” paperback.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robopocalypse

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One Comment

  1. Hey Thomas, I’ve nominated you for The Liebster Award. You should follow this link to find out how you can accept the nomination/award. I’ve always enjoyed your writing style, keep up the great work man.

    http://digitalshortbread.com/2013/07/10/nomination-for-the-liebster-award/


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