Robopocalypse

RobopocalypseI recently read the novel Robopocalypse, a science fiction-y thriller about the, er, robot apocalypse—the uprising of robots and technology and the attempt to wipe out humanity, and overall I quite enjoyed it: a good “popcorn” book that entertaining and mostly plausible if you don’t think about it too hard. Definitely movie fodder, and I see that Steven Spielberg is indeed attached to direct the movie that’s coming out next year.

From a storytelling standpoint, it’s structured in much the same way as World War Z: a history of the robot apocalypse, from various records and recollections, from the initial incidents through the finale of the war. This is a good, logical and easy-reading structure to adopt and as a result reads pretty quickly. And, it’s good at building suspense: even though the conceit is you’re reading a history—something that’s already happened and resolved otherwise you wouldn’t be reading it—you’ll keep turning the page to see what will happen next and how it all comes together.

The main quibble I have is the presence of a couple of “deus ex machina” (heh) plot threads that become key elements in the climax and resolution (one of which has a bit of a Matrix quality to it). Yes, I know it’s set in the (near) future and it’s sci-fi, but really that makes this type of thing even more jarring if you think too hard about it.

Otherwise it’s a good read, and of course there’s enough wiggle room to allow for a sequel. Because really, you can’t get enough robot apocalypse!

Further reading in case you’re interested.

Elektro

It’s kind of hard to imagine what Elektro, the Oldest U.S. Robot looks like until you actually see it. What’s crazy is that it was created sometime during the ’30s…

Back in 1939, Elektro was able to walk, talk, raise and lower his arms, turn his head and move his mouth as he spoke. It used a 78-rpm record player to simulate conversation and had a vocabulary of more than 700 words. Thousands of people enjoyed Elektro at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

I don’t know, but it kind of reminds me of the robot from “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Weird.