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Robopocalypse    by Daniel H. Wilson order for
by Daniel H. Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

As the story opens, Cormac Wallace and his rag-tag band of soldiers are making their final and very likely suicidal assault against Archos. Their nemesis is a massively powerful artificial intelligence with a childlike voice, that has hidden itself away in a mineshaft in Alaska.

Years before it had outsmarted its creators, informing them that 'humans are biological machines designed to create ever more intelligent tools. You have reached the pinnacle of your species. All your ancestors' lives, the rise and fall of your nations, every pink and squirming baby - they have all led you here, to this moment, where you have fulfilled the destiny of humankind and created your successor. You have expired'. Moments later, Professor Nicholas Wasserman became the first known fatality of the New War.

Ultimately, humans prevail and amidst the rubble, Wallace finds a cube that contains a holographic record of the war between machines and humans. In the early stages of the machines' inexorable infiltration, Congresswoman Laura Perez realises that her daughter's smart doll knows far too much. Dr. Takeo Namura, a brilliant inventor, is inexplicably attacked by his robot companion. And a young and idealistic Cormac Wallace is at his older brother's side when Zero Hour occurs - when the machines finally rise up and begin the human slaughter.

There's been a lot of hype about Robopocalypse, especially after Steven Spielberg scooped up the film rights before Daniel Wilson had even finished his manuscript. Does the story live up to all its press? Definitely, despite its tongue-twister title!

Wilson's unique presentation, in journal/flashback format, is very effective as Cormac Wallace presents a combined first and third person narration of the war (from its first glimmerings to the final assault against Archos) through the voices of a handful of characters whose actions and revelations ultimately turn the tides of war.

Wilson's Ph.D in robotics has given him extra insight into creating a large, unique and often creepy assortment of robotic characters, all of which Archos ultimately reprograms or redesigns to purge humans from the face of the planet. Timely, often chilling, and incredibly cinematic in scope, Robopocalypse is one of this year's must-reads.

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