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Book Review: Robocalypse

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Robocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

They are in your house.
They are in your car.
They are in the skies.
Now they are coming for you.
In the near future, at a coordinated moment that goes unnoticed by humans, all the dazzling technology that runs our world spontaneously malfunctions. It unites...and begins to turn against us.

A massively powerful artificial intelligence called Archos is created and cannot be contained. Humanity has no idea when it starts to silently take over our cars, power grids, aircraft guidance systems and computer networks--the entire global system that runs our lives.

In those early months, only a handful of technological glitches are noticed by humans across the globe. Laura Perez, US congresswoman, senses a menacing new awareness in her daughter's "smart" doll; Takeo Nomura, a lonely inventor, is victimized by his domestic robot companion; Paul Blanton, an American soldier stationed in Afghanistan witnesses the violent meltdown of a military pacification unit; and a hacker in London unwittingly assesses a hidden network and comes face to face with a merciless digital entity.

Known later as Zero Hour, when robot war suddenly ignites, human kind if both decimated and for the first time in the history, united.

~Quoted from Robocalypse

Robocalypse is an amazing, stand alone novel which explores the possibility of machines turning against us humans one day and begin to tear our population apart. Each chapter is written in many different forms, such as recounts, court hearing, fragments of messages between individuals, all by the different (but the same few) people who experienced the entire Zero Hour. The book can be seen as three segments, the prelude to the Zero Hour where many hints are dropped to us regarding the rebel of the machines, the duration of the Zero Hour which lasted for about THREE YEARS (omg, that is like freaking long!) and finally, the briefest debrief (tongue twister not intended).

When I just started reading this book, I actually found it hard to really focus and indulge myself in the book because of 3 simple reasons:
  • I have short attention span
  • The first chapter, which is the introduction, is dead boring
  • Presence of technical jargon which irked me
Now, you may very well experience the same thing, but trust me, brave the first chapter and the rest of the book is pretty darn awesome and very very thrilling indeed.

Of course, there was like some chapters which I really disliked, and they revolved more or less around the war and the soldiers and their plans, and I got really confused by all the names and the people and the troop names. So I skipped past all that kind of pages.

I really really adore the segment of the pre-war chapters where the author very aptly wove together many hints and little incidences which had more or less of an impact on the "bigger event" which is the Zero Hour, later on. Some of the incidences are truly traumatizing and I was really freaked upon reading them. Here are some of the most memorable scenes in the book (for me):

(Warning: Spoilers ahead)
  1. The creation of the ultimate evil overseer of all the machinery, Archos. Archos took on the holographic form of a young, deceased boy and proved to be unstoppable when the scientist tried to shut him down but failed. [I always fear that someday, a really mad and really smart scientist will come along and create something really terrible, destructive and indestructible. I mean, is that not the key horror to all superhero movies? Like in the Amazing Spiderman, that scientist turned himself into a gigantic lizard didn't he? Point is, they have Spiderman, and we have no one. :( ]
  2. The worker at the cafeteria who got attacked by a "Big Happy" a type of domestic robot, I think? His coworker tried to help him but was killed in the hands of the robot instead. The unfortunate thing was that the coworker was taller and burlier than the robot, and was in fact winning the robot-human fight when his HAIR caused his own ultimate death.  The coworker had LONG HAIR. So the robot grabbed his hair and yanked really really hard (I will spare you the gross details) and eventually, the robot CRUSHED his lower jaw and the poor fellow died such a gruesome death, and died trying to save his friend some more. :(
  3. The scene where Mikiko, the female companion robot of Nomura, bit a tiny chunk out of Nomura's face and proceeded to strangle him. What made the scene worse was that the robot was crying as she did it like she had AWARENESS while Nomura did not try to fight back because he LOVED Mikiko. Don't worry, talented Nomura did not die, and in fact, Mikiko played a very important role in the story later on.
  4. The scene where the military robot when nuts and eventually shot himself in the head. Can you imagine it? Like a robot knowing how to shoot himself in the head! Omgosh.
  5. When Mathilda, a very young girl, had her eyes dug out by the robots and replaced with some digital parts by the surgical robots. Gruesome, yes, and gory too, but her new eyes actually was the key to winning the war against the mobile metals. 
Kay, so far I think that's all I shuddered at in the book. You guys should really really go and read it, Philmann, especially you, because you like drones and stuff right! This book is pretty much full of them!

Why did I read this book?

I love science fiction and futurology, and I like books which talk about Utopian and Dystopian worlds that may exist in the future. Think they are really amazing!

Anyway, Jumpy J. and Phiephie were the one who intro-ed it to me, and told me that it was really fantastic. Phiephie only read one chapter and stopped reading. (I told you, the first chapter is quite dry!) And I saw this amazing book in our school library so hooray! Let's read it!

Another reason is because I like the cover design. I like how the robot's plastic-ky face is on the whole cover, and I loved these words:

They are in your house.
They are in your car.
They are in the skies.
Now they are coming for you.

I mean, don't these words themselves just send a thrill down your spine? Making you want to open the book and sink yourself into the possibly eerie future it holds? It gave me such a strong sense of foreboding and I felt compelled to read and find out more.

Overall, I rate this book:
4.5 KK hearts! :D

Read some parts of Robocalypse!

1. Tip of the Spear
We're more than animals.
--Dr. Nicholas Wasserman 

Precursor Virus + 30 seconds
The following transcript was taken from security footage recorded at the Lake Novus Research Laboratories located belowground in northwest Washington State. The man appears to be Professor Nicholas Wasserman, an American statistician.
--Cormac Wallace, MIL#GHA217

A noise-speckled security camera image of a dark room. The angle is from a high corner, looking down on some kind of laboratory. A heavy metal desk is shoved against one wall. Haphazard stacks of papers and books are piled on the desk, on the floor, everywhere.

The quiet whine of electronics permeates the air.

A small movement in the gloom. It is a face. Nothing visible but a pair of thick eyeglasses lit by the afterburner glow of a computer screen.

"Archos?" asks the face. The man's voice echoes in the empty lab. "Archos? Are you there? Is that you?"

The glasses reflect a glimmer of light from the computer screen. The man's eyes widen, as though he sees something indescribably beautiful. He glances back at a laptop open on a table behind him. The desktop image on the laptop is of the scientist and a boy, playing in a park.

"You choose to appear as my son?" he asks.

The high-pitched voice of a young boy echoes out of the darkness. "Did you create me?" it asks.

Something is wrong with the boy's voice. It has an unsettling electronic undercurrent, like the touch tones of a phone. The lilting note at the end of the question is pitch shifted, skipping up several octaves at once. The voice is hauntingly sweet but unnatural--inhuman.

The man is not disturbed by this.

"No. I didn't create you," he says. "I summoned you."

The man pulls out a notepad, flips it open. The sharp scratch of his pencil is audible as he continues to speak to the machine that has a boy's voice.

"Everything that was needed for you to come here has existed since the beginning of time. I just hunted down all the ingredients and put them together in the right combination. I wrote incantations in computer code. And then I wrapped you in a Faraday cage so that, once you arrived, you wouldn't escape me."

"I am trapped."

"The cage absorbs all electromagnetic energy. It's grounded to a metal spike, buried deep. This way, I can study how you learn."

"That is my purpose. To learn."

"That's right. But I don't want to expose you to too much at once, Archos, my boy."

"I am Archos."

Continue reading the excerpt at here.

Other books by Daniel H. Wilson:

Daniel H. Wilson


Alternative book cover for Amped.

Technology makes them superhuman. But mere mortals want them kept in their place. Enter a stunning world where technology and humanity clash in terrifying and surprising ways.

Some people are implanted with upgrades that make them capable of superhuman feats. The powerful technology has profound consequences for society, and soon a set of laws is passed that restricts the abilities—and rights—of “amplified” humans.

On the day that the Supreme Court passes the first of these laws, 29-year-old Owen Gray discovers that his seizure-supressing medical implant is actually a powerful upgrade. Owen joins the ranks of a new persecuted underclass known as “amps” and is forced to go on the run, desperate to reach an outpost in Oklahoma where, it is rumoured, a group of the most enhanced amps are about to change the world—or destroy it.
I haven't read this yet, but I am thinking I am going to read it once I can download a (preferably free) copy, or get my hands on a copy! :D I am so in love with Robocalypse that I have to read Amped!

Amped sounds exciting!

Related Movies

Reading this book reminds me very much of I, Robot which starred Will Smith. I think that they are a bit similar in the fact that there is this evil mastermind which is a machine that tries to control all the robots and machinery in the story. Robocalypse had Archos and I, Robot had Nikki? Was it called Nikki or what? I cannot remember oh dear. I watched it like in March this year.

That evil center called Nikki or something in I, Robot.

Will Smith tracking Sonny down. Picture Source

Suggested Readings:

If you like Robocalypse, I think you will definitely like Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer (check out my "Currently reading" section by the side! :D), the author of the Artemis Fowl series. I am currently reading that book and I find it really interesting and captivating, especially because it is simple to understand. Pardon me for my poor English.

The Supernaturalist is a fantastic choice for a good read.

Also, Jumpy would like to recommend to one and all the Uglies series. It is also about Dystopian and futurology. I have the ebooks but I have not started reading, but I think it will be interesting!

First Book: Uglies

Second Book: Pretties

Third Book: Specials

Fourth Book: Extras

The series. :D

Yup. So you guys should go and check them out hehe!

That's all! The next book I will be reviewing will of course be......

The Supernaturalist


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