Friday, September 7, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Robopocalypse -- Daniel H. Wilson

Robopocalypse was not on my radar until my cousin, Gale, sent me an email with a red-letter headline in all caps shouting:


Well, that got my attention. Kids learn to swear in school? I learned, "SHIT!" my first and favorite swear word from Grandma McFarland. As a matter of fact, I thoroughly moritifed Mom by standing outside on the back porch at my grandparents' home in Leedey, Oklahoma and shouting "SHIT!!!!" at the top of my lungs first thing in the morning. I was eighteen months old.

Yeah, that pretty much typifies how I feel about mornings. Don't sing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" to me unless it's somewhere around 2 PM.

I advised Gale that most kids learn swearing much sooner than school. And, I looked into Robopocalypse.

A book about robotic rebellion written by a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon? Those facts even convinced Gale that perhaps a bit of swearing might be tolerated considering the author's expertise on the subject.

And yes, I got an audio copy of Robopocalypse. I just finished Disk 10 and I'd be perfectly happy to start back with Disk 1. This does not happen often to me. I'm generally a read-it-once-and-move-on kind of person. And I'm certainly not a huge fan of books about war.

The base story's simple, a scientist accidentally creates Archos, a robot bent on taking over the world. Humans aren't prepared to fight the machines which they've come to depend upon, but the best of them are learning. Resistance fronts spring up, in cities and primarily on the Osage Indian Rez near Tulsa, OK.

I found myself lost in the fast-paced narrative. The combatants are believable. Even the robotic intelligence Wilson creates makes you want to see the unit Nine-Oh-Too continue to live. I am actually hoping to see this book in theaters sometime soon. It's definitely much worthier than many of the Memorial Day disaster flicks I've seen of late.

The swearing? All of it's done by soldiers in the field. IMO, the oaths are authentic and merited under the circumstance. If the kids learn a quarter of what Wilson teaches in this book about robotics and a few swear-words, it's worth it.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, September 2012

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