My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I first heard about this sequel to Robopocalypse, I was more annoyed than interested to read it, as this clearly meant that the big bad robot did not die at the end, as we had all thought. Well, if there is one lesson that Hollywood ‘sci-fi’ has taught us, they never do, do they?
Then curiosity got the better of me, as I kept on wondering how on earth you follow Robopocalypse with Robogenesis. Surely the latter should be first in the order of things? I am glad I did decide to read it. Not only is it a relatively seamless sequel, but it builds quite spectacularly on the ideas of the original.
The first novel was about an extinction-level event inadvertently engineered by humans themselves, when all our web-enabled technology becomes sentient and integrated and decides to take over the show. Of course, this is not original at all, with clear antecedents from The Terminator to Runaway by Michael Crichton, not to mention Transformers.
However, Robogenesis is a superb example of a new breed of contemporary, postmodern SF cobbled together from such a wide range of sources, influences and dominant socio-cultural memes that the critical mass of this accumulation actually transcends the material.
And it also does not hurt that Daniel H. Wilson is an incredibly cinematic writer, with a fine ear for the sort of detail that makes characters jump off the page, combined with an instinct for spectacular set pieces that alternate horror with sense of wonder.
So the sequel takes place in the aftermath of the original war, when humanity found itself united against a common implacable foe. But now the remnants of the species are divided and squabbling (again), and something is rising from the ashes (also, again).
I loved where Wilson took this story. Despite its horror trappings – the parasitical ‘robo zombies’ are described in loving, stomach-churning detail – this is a very well thought-out hard SF story that has some beautiful surprises up its sleeve.