Feb 21st, 2016 | By | Category: Media Reviews, Online media reviews, Web Exclusive

RobogenesisBy Daniel H. Wilson
Vintage (2015)
464 pages

Review by Ryan Winn

Trusting technology is a fatal mistake in Daniel H. Wilson’s world. The Cherokee author’s critically acclaimed bestseller, Robopocalypse, details humankind’s war with a resourceful and deadly artificial intelligence (AI) that turns the world’s proliferation of robots against the people they were created to serve. Known as Archos R-14, the AI at first seems determined to eliminate human life—he succeeds in killing millions—but then begins to inexplicably modify some of his prisoners with technological upgrades. The novel climaxes when a 14-year-old modified human named Mathilda Perez guides the human resistance, known as the Grey Horse Army.

The sequel, Robogenesis, picks up with the newly minted heroes believing that they can rest in their victory. But Archos R-14 is succeeded by his older brother Arayt Shaw, who quickly undertakes his own mission of human eradication. Arayt learns from Archos R-14’s mistakes, and by implanting hardware into influential humans, he’s able to use their armies to kill the modified humans and freeborn robots who are his greatest threats. His first host is Grey Horse Army’s eventual leader, Hank Cotton, who, despite his mother’s lifelong warnings, invites Arayt, believing him to be the legendary “spooklight” created by the souls of the Cherokees who perished on the Trail of Tears. His second host is Felix Morales, leader of “The Tribe,” a community of gritty human survivors centered in what was once New York City. Both Grey Horse Army and The Tribe march across the former United States, attacking every stronghold along the way towards their rendezvous at “Freeborn City.” Arayt’s plan is to overpower the freeborn stronghold and gain access to the computing power that will make him unstoppable. Yet before he declares victory he too has to contend with the resistance.

Wilson has a gift for creating rich characters with distinct voices, and his speculative plots are the plausible and terrifying creations of a man who holds a Ph.D. in robotics. Still, it’s rare to read a sequel to a breakout novel that satisfyingly continues and expands upon the work of its predecessor. Robogenesis is one of those rare books.

Ryan Winn teaches English, theater, and communications at College of Menominee Nation, where he also serves as the Humanities Department chair.

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