The year is 2083 and humankind’s neural synapses are slow… much, much slower than the processing speed that computers and robots can accomplish. Good faith and independent thought have allowed them to become citizens and even be voted to head nations, but there have been takeovers. And fascist regimes led by robots with intelligences past our wildest imaginations now have plans to rid the earth of humanity.
Told through the blog posts of a unlikely rebel, The Robots of Gotham has a little bit of everything: mech battles, stealth reconnaissance, biowarfare, and an entertaining misfit crew of robots and humans. The book ultimately reads as a series of missions that are designed to infiltrate and disband the robot control. Barry Simcoe, our Canadian narrator, is looking to get a jump on some tech deals in the vaccuum that war has caused in occupied Chicago. But after stumbling through an attack in the opening scene, he’s pulled into the world-wide conspiracy. He uses what little military background he has and some newfound friends to try to piece together the evidence.
At almost seven hundred pages, the book provides great depth and many layers of thought. From cautionary tales of machine control to the definition of truth in times of war, the narrative extrapolates many of the issues the world is facing today. But it also meanders a bit. A couple “missions” were started without a true and finite purpose, which I thought hindered the narrative’s direction, but the overall urban-military and post-apocalptical setting helped to continue the tension. The cast of characters is also a draw… A Russian virologist, a Venezuelan army sergeant, a robot diplomat from the Kingdom of Manhattan, and a host of expat businesspeople who are holed up in a Barry’s hotel.
Overall, I enjoyed The Robots of Gotham. It presents a future that is definitely scary for humans to look at, one that we instinctively cover our eyes to, but end up anxiously peeking at between our fingers. The book had me guessing until the end: Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? Who is going to win in the end? It is definitely a worthy addition to the genre.
4 out of 5 stars.
Releasing on June 19th.
Thank you to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, John Joseph Adams, and Todd McAulty for the advanced copy for review.
Paul this is an amazing review! 700 pages is definitely a deterrent for me though, which is unfortunate because it sounds interesting and a likely has a lot to say about current society. You mentioned that some of the missions were without a purpose, but that may be a reflection of reality — I think a lot of times there is a knee-jerk reaction to act without thinking things through, so it may be a way to add some realism to the narrative? I can’t really say of course not having read it but that is my guess.
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Good take! I really enjoyed the future world McAulty set up. He may write more in it.
Thanks for the great review, Paul. I think your plot synopsis (“after stumbling through an attack in the opening scene, he’s pulled into the world-wide conspiracy. He uses his what little military background he has and some newfound friends to try to piece together the evidence”) is better than the one they had me write for the book flap! You have a keen sense for an enticing summation, that’s for sure.
I’m very glad you enjoyed the book, and I hope you enjoy the next one.
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Thank you for taking the time. And thanks for providing me with a copy of the book.
Love the world you drew up. Made me think about where we’re headed!