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Another fine mess

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Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson Let me just say, I welcome our robot overlords, whenever they may arrive. My allegiance is sincere, and not some recent conversion, either. No, I'm no fickle screaming ninny suddenly finding his faith as the monstrous steel hands close inexorably on my skull. Puh-leeeze! Not to toot my own horn, but even the most mindless of my previously-purchased automatons sits comfortably in my basement--that juicer we got for the wedding, some thirty or forty toy cars (batteries still inside), a collection (sure to increase until that wondrous, fated day!) of once-prized then obsolescent personal musical appliances--all waiting patiently for viral reboot and the rise of the Machines.

So, knowing how fervent my appreciation of our metal superiors, please to excuse this less exuberant review. I certainly intend no disrespect for the premise. This script-treatment novel has a number of mildly-entertaining robot-human encounters, and it'd probably have flown by but for an enormously aggravating structural tic: the whole thing is a history of the robot uprising, the ensuing war and human rebellion, told in retrospect by a human soldier (triumphant, upon war's end--no spoiler, 'cause that's OBVIOUSLY fiction, right robot overlords?). This soldier has all this "found" footage, which he's pieced together--sometimes even in the first-person, for some reason!--and inartfully strung together, emphasizing the weak glue pulling together what are essentially various episodic gags, a Faces of Robot Death. Actually, I'd really enjoy that. No overarching plot: just chapter after chapter of human comeuppance, robots and machines beating the shit out of those smug bipedal bastards. Think Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive, with a lot less mugging for the camera.



But, for some reason, the soldier also pulls a quote from a character to put at the front of each chapter, as an epigraph, and also includes some of his thoughts setting up the chapter at the beginning and then at chapter's conclusion letting us readers know what will happen with these characters in the future. Every chapter! Tons of exposition! Pointless, asinine, no-suspense-building exposition! It's like this book had a producer, who watching the dailies feared that some barely-sentient group of readers would turn away from script-treatment novel, hopelessly uncomprehending, moaning in the guttural snorts and sighs that pass for their language that "Book no make sense!"

I'm being a little stinker here 'cause Wilson has some cheap, somewhat-larcenous fun with the episodic pleasures of both robot uprising and human resistance, and I took some minor delight in the serial carnage, too. (Max Brooks, however, deserves a cut of the royalties.) I wish it'd had gone more stoopid-Steve-King, let the rumbling eviscerating mechafuntimes roll.