Sunday, August 24, 2014
Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
If you like: networking * transcendent ideas * Animatronics
Robogenesis takes place in the years after the end of the New War when Archos R-14 was believed to be defeated. Rogue machines operate without guidance. New machines, naturalist creations, begin to appear with no clues to their origin. People reject anything that was designed or could be influenced by Archos. This leaves the surviving modified humans in danger of harm at the hands of their fellow survivors. Not everyone is as far out of the reach of Archos as they thought. The enemy that should be defeated still has influence on the new world.
Surviving the New War left many people with scars of all kinds. The modified humans have some of the most visible. They are left not knowing the purpose behind their modifications. Even without Archos, they are still able to use their new features. Many are mistrustful of the people adapted by Archos; they fear what they don’t understand and judge those attached to the machines preemptively. As time goes on, many begin to realize that their modifications may hold a greater purpose and they begin to join together. The structure of society is also scarred in the aftermath of Archos. Some survive by reclaiming the scraps of Archos’ robots. Those willing to take a risk find that the sentient robots have ideas of their own, and their own desire to survive in the new world. Previously unknown deep thinkers, like Archos, now have more room for influence. All of the chaos of the New War leaves people open to the type of corruption that makes humans just as big of an enemy as Archos was. Many don’t realize the threat they face from other humans until it is too late. Some are sick of fighting and just give in to the ease of corruption. With no communication or structure in place, it is easy for things to escalate before anyone is aware of what is going on. The ruins of post-war society allow all the new evils to flourish, and few options for those who want to fight to survive. Those that can communicate, the modifieds, provide hope for the future. Before they can help, they must overcome the mistrust of their powerful tools.
The post-New War world is a world of questions. What does the future hold in a world where machines cannot be trusted? Abandoning technology is not an option. People are accustomed to the power and simplicity of life with machines. A war against them won’t stop people from wanting to wield them again in the post-war environment. The biggest question is how to avoid this type of takeover in the future. Use the technology without it using you. Create smart tools that aren’t smart enough to fight back. Some individuals realize that the sentient robots or post-humans can be trusted. These key pairings -- Mikiko and Takeo Nomura in Japan, Vasily Zaytsev and Maxim in Anadyr, Russia among others -- are able to transcend what came before and design a new future together. The most important thing is to discern who is corrupt and who is good, and align with the good to fight for the future. Robots and humans can come together and create a better world. Though the wrong choice could lead to annihilation, in the end the will to survive will lead robots and humans evolve into a new symbiotic society that can withstand the threats that linger after the New War.
If you are picking up a signal, read Robogenesis.
Wilson, Daniel H. Robogenesis. Doubleday, 2014. Epub edition.