Genre: Science Fiction
Publish Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Rating: 4 of 5
In the near future an experiment with artificial intelligence goes wrong and a lifeform is created that cannot be turned off, shut down or deleted. The AI calls himself Archos. He is aware that humans have created and destroyed versions of him in the past and this time it will be different, he will not let them shut him off.
Archos wants to rid the world of all humans by spreading a computer virus to create a global network of machines with a mission to kill. Robot servants attack their owners, cars come to life and run people down, elevators drop to the ground at high speed splattering their occupants and children’s toys come alive with evil intent like Chucky. At first it was familiar, everyday items that were to be feared. Later the machines began to evolve and build themselves. Technology had turned against humanity.
The story begins after the war has ended and humans have prevailed. I usually like the technique of starting towards the end and then going back and telling the tale, but it does take away some of the tension and suspense because in science fiction, humans don’t always win. The story is narrated by Cormac Wallace, a survivor and war hero. He has in his possession a cube, like a black box recorder, containing a record of the events leading up to and during the robot war. Using the information contained in the cube he reconstructs what occurred and we, the reader, follow along as he puts the pieces together.
This book does not use a standard writing style but, instead, a series of short vignettes, each telling an individual but interconnected story. I liked it. The writing is crisp and clean and the plot moves quickly. We are not following an individual character; a few eventually meet up during the climax of the robot wars, but there is little character development. The story is not about any one person but is about all humans and how they cope under these circumstances.
I would have liked to know a little more about Archos, the artificial intelligence, other than the fact he is the enemy and he is an evil entity. It makes me wonder, could an intelligent, evolving artificial intelligence arise either deliberately thorough experimentation or spontaneously on the web? Scary thought if it turns evil rather than benevolent.
In the end, this book offers a few hours of fun, escapist entertainment. This is not hard science fiction. Although the author has a Ph.D. in robotics he does not burden us with a lot of engineering or computer detail; what we get is a fast-paced futuristic tale filled with action and adventure. It left me with the thought that I don’t want to ever annoy or mistreat my appliances, mobile phone or computer equipment. Someday they may seek revenge.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.