The third book in our series examines Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson. A work of science fiction, this novel was first published in 2011. It explores a world during what’s called the “The New War,” where Artificial Intelligence has become sentient, and our machines attempt to eliminate humanity.
Daniel H. Wilson has a PhD in robotics, and he is a surprisingly well rounded author for an academic. The first chapter, referred to as “A Briefing” starts after the war has ended, and a soldier begins to chronicle what happened to cause it. The main protagonist, Cormac Wallace, is just one of many interwoven voices in the book. He, along with others, tells the story of this deadly attempted coup in what reads as real time. What keeps this story fresh is that the reader also can learn what’s in the mind of the AI behind the war, named Archos.
Archos doesn’t hate humanity. In fact, he greatly admires it. You might say he has a reverence for humans, their lifestyles, and the culture we’ve created. Archos simply sees the rise of AI as the natural progression of life, believing robots were created as the successors to humans. There is nothing really malicious in his beliefs, at first. The reader comes to see the relationship between humans and their creations as familiar, but the story becomes frighteningly prophetic in some areas.
Think of everything in our lives that has a microchip or any sort of robotic interface. We are surrounded by more and more intelligent technology. It doesn’t seem too far out of thought that if everything that had the capacity for AI were to turn on our species, that it would be one hell of a fight. Perhaps it would even go unnoticed at first. This is the genesis of the novel, and it has some dark portents to offer.
It may take an investment of time to really get into the book. While I love the story, the beginning may be a bit overwhelming to the reader. Wilson introduces many protagonists over many different geographic locales. However when you continue reading, it all falls together quite nicely. I first became aware of the novel from reading this article on i09. I waited for the novel’s release, and immediately bought it. I have since reread it many times, and I look forward to reading Wilson’s follow up novel, Robogenesis. Give it a read, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.