Sunday, January 22, 2012

Robopocalypse Book Review

Robopocalypse Book Cover
From Wiki: Robopocalypse is a New York Times best selling science fiction book by Daniel H. Wilson published on June 8, 2011 (New York Times). The author has a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, and many of the robots in the novel were inspired by real-world robotics research (io9). The epic novel about the human race’s attempt to survive an apocalyptic robot uprising is the next directing vehicle for Steven Spielberg (Deadline, see below).

At the end of the war, one of the heroes finds an archive containing the whole story of the start and course of the war against sentient robots. From this point the fight is told from many perspectives, each overlapping slightly, culminating in the fight against Archos, the master A.I.

Well, I liked the visual appeal in Robopocalypse and think this is what attracted Spielberg. The language is clear and precise, while the science fiction elements are believeable and frightening at the same time. Unfortunately, the characters are not as well balanced and thought-through.
But I have a little criticsm with how the story unfolds. Right at the beginning of Robopocalypse it is revealed that the war ended already and the complete story of the war is told in flashbacks. At the beginning the author/narrator pretends to only use the files found in this archive, but slowly drifts into the standard omniscient point of view. That's not that bad, but I find it hard to justifiy most of the perspectives from which the story is told. Their importance is told to us by the retrospective narrator and can't develop organically from the story. Some other perspectives feel very forced and unnecessary, especially the ones not in America, fighting against the Big Bad Robot. The retrospective view forced the reader to cencentrate on the how the story is told, not on the what is told, as we already know the result, which

Goddard and Spielberg should tell the story more straightforward, without the retrospective view and trim away the unnecessary story arcs. In concentrating on the thrilling story of the Resistance and War against the uprising robots the movie will become a visually-stunning, albeit emotionally-flat science fiction action movie. Perhaps Spielberg will find an emotional angle he can bring into the movie, which would be really good.

On October 22nd, 2011, Deadline reported that Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin, Warhorse) plans to direct an adaptation of this book. Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, LOST) has been hired to adapt Robopocalypse into screenplay. The prolific director has also hired designer Guy Hendrix Dyas (Inception) to work with him and his writers on creating the visual tone for the film and conceptualize its robotic elements. No actors have been cast yet.
The film, jointly financed by 20th Century Fox and Spielberg's DreamWorks, will be released in North America by DreamWorks through Touchstone Pictures on July 3, 2013. Fox will handle the international distribution. Filming will start in January 2012 and take place entirely in Montreal, Canada (Deadline).
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