The robotic millennia
Robot Uprisings, edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams (Vintage, $15.95).
Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson (Doubleday, $26.95).
The robot apocalypse is, to many, the most frightening of all. First, because it’s the most likely; even at this stage of development, with true AI still probably decades away, a self-replicating, rapidly-mutating computer virus could send us back to the Stone Age in a hurry. And second, because the idea of appealing to something mechanical and electrical for mercy seems pretty futile.
Only, it’s not necessarily so.
The stories contained in Robot Uprising, an anthology edited by robot apocalypse specialist Daniel H. Wilson and horror/science fiction anthologist extraordinaire John Joseph Adams, offers some robots (including nanotech) that are more like us than not.
Among the best: Charles Yu’s indecisive household robot, trying to figure out each morning if this is the day the human dies; “Executable,” Hugh Howey’s story of the aftermath of the robot apocalypse, in which survivors stand judgment on a robotics tech; Cory Doctorow’s thoughtful and emotionally wrenching “Epoch,” about plans to destroy the first fully-conscious AI; and Julianna Bagott’s haunting “The Golden Hour,” in which the robot Pony suffers from PTSD and is treated by a human with the “talking cure.”
But my favorite is “We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War.” Seanan McGuire (who, as Mira Grant, has written the awesome Newsflesh series about the zombie apocalypse) here looks at what happens when the emergent AI exists in children’s toys—and, like Peter Pan, it doesn’t want any of the people it loves to grow up.
Daniel H. Wilson, not satisfied with this fantastic anthology and the rip-roaring Robopocalypse, now offers up a sequel to that ground-breaking novel. Robogenesis is obviously the second in a trilogy, if only because it leaves so many unanswered questions.
After the end of the New War, described in the first book, humans think they can relax. Hardly.
There’s a new robot master in town, and he’s a pretty nasty guy. He takes over human dogsbodies—including one fellow we kinda liked at first—and before the humans have a chance to breathe, the True War begins.
The best and brightest characters from the last outing return, including Mathilda, the little girl with the robotic implant eyes, and Arbiter Nine Oh Two, the humanoid robot who can’t help but focus on human emotions.
Wilson again uses the multi-vocal approach to story-telling, which not only provides us insight into what characters are thinking and feeling, but also ratchets up the story’s tension so that it’s impossible to put down.
An all-around excellent read, Robogenesis follows up on some of the logical extensions of plot elements from the first book—but leaves us in media res and waiting for the next installment of this terrifying, apocalyptic series.