Looking for a more thoughtful examination of the rise of our Robot Overlords than what the Terminator movies provided? Robot Uprisings contains seventeen stories that deal with our relationship with our technological children and how our future together might take shape. The authors include Scott Sigler, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Alastair Reynolds, and Ernest Cline. And befitting a collection of such diverse writers, the stories themselves generally avoid run-of-the-mill robot overlord dystopias.
Sigler’s story, “Complex God,” describes minibots which deviate from their programmed tasks to show reverence for their creator. “Nanonauts! In Battle With Tiny Death-subs!” wins points for the killer title alone, and describes a Fantastic Voyage-esque combat against biologic nano machines as told by a titular nanonaut while he tries to pick up a hottie at a bar. Nnedi Okorafor’s “Spider the Artist” examines the nexus where music, love, loneliness, and the unevenly distributed future meet.
There are a few weak stories in the mix; Jeff Abbott’s “Human Intelligence” is serviceable but predictable, and (most disappointingly) Alastair Reynolds’ “Sleepover” is an uninteresting reworking of Matrix cliches.
The stories I found most engaging truly upend the tropes of the robot uprising. “Cycles,” by Charles Yu, is told from the point-of-view of a self-aware alarm clock, tied into the network of burgeoning artificial intelligence, on the cusp of the revolution… except this awareness may keep them from pulling the trigger. And Cory Doctorow’s “Epoch”, the programmer assigned to tend the giant mainframe BIGMAC works to prevent this AI’s death – but at what cost?
If there is one thread that runs through this anthology, it is this: the robot uprising will begin not with a bang, but with a whisper. After reading “Eighty Miles an Hour All The Way to Paradise,” by Genevieve Valentine, I am glad to say that I have always said “please” and “thank you” to Siri.
Robot Uprisings edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (April 8, 2014)
"Robot Uprisings" edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams
Looking for a more thoughtful examination of the rise of our Robot Overlords than what the Terminator movies provided? Robot Uprisings contains seventeen stories that deal with our relationship with our technological children and how our future together might take shape.