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Robopocalypse Book Cover.jpg
First edition
AuthorDaniel H. Wilson
Cover artistGiimann
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
Publication date
June 7, 2011
Daniel H. Wilson on Bookbits radio talking about Robopocalypse.

Robopocalypse (2011) is a science fiction novel by Daniel H. Wilson. A researcher in robotics, he explores the capacity of robots and portrays AI out of control.[1] It is written in present tense.

Writer Robert Crais and Booklist have compared the novel to the works of Michael Crichton and Robert A. Heinlein. It became a bestseller on the New York Times list.[2]


A computer scientist accidentally unleashes a supremely intelligent sentient A.I. named Archos R-14. It becomes self-aware and immediately starts planning the elimination of human civilization and building a new cryptic ecology, where the organic is being merged with robot technology. Over time, Archos R-14 infects all penetrable networked electronic devices, such as cars, airplanes, smart homes, elevators, and other robots, with a "precursor virus".

Before it launches a full-blown attack on humanity, it sends out probing attacks to analyze the technical feasibility of its strategies and to assess human response. In one such instance, it infects a peacekeeper robot to attack soldiers. The random attacks are designed to look like sporadic malfunctions of devices that humans depend on for their everyday routines. Domestic robots attack innocents, planes are intentionally set on a collision course, and smart cars start driving out of control. The resulting conflict is known as the New War.

After Archos R-14 turns the automated world against humanity, a group of the Osage Nation lead people to fight back. Their base is on their jurisdictional lands in Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the resurrected Mikiko could "awake" other robots to be self-aware ("Freeborn").

Human and freeborn robots fight their last New War battle in Ragnarok Intelligence Fields. Before being terminated, Archos R-14 broadcast its last message via seismic wave to unknown recipients.


  • Cormac Wallace, the narrator for the novel and the second commander of the Brightboy squad. He is one of the few survivors of the robot apocalypse and the younger brother of the first commander, Jack Wallace.
  • Mathilda Perez, a 10-year-old girl and daughter of congresswoman Laura Perez. She is operated on by an autodoc and receives robotic eyes that allow her to see and, to an extent, control robots. But this makes her 'people-blind', barely able to recognize living organisms.
  • Takeo Nomura, a Japanese head repairman of an old factory. He is 65 years old and has an intimate relationship with a human-like android named Mikiko. During Archos' invasion, Nomura built an army of robots and created a safe haven for humans all over Japan. After he releases Mikiko from Archos' control, she transmits a signal that frees all other humanoid robots, creating the Freeborns.
  • Nine Oh Two, the first recorded freeborn humanoid robot to be awakened. He forms an alliance with the humans in an effort to defeat Archos. At the end of the novel, he ultimately resolves the conflict by destroying Archos.
  • Archos, a rogue A.I. and the main antagonist. Despite causing the New War, he is fascinated by life, humanity, and its culture. He determines to replace outdated humanity with advanced technology, believing that humanity existed only as a catalyst to create him.
  • Lurker, a 17-year-old prankster. He played a vital role in temporarily freeing the communication lines from Archos' control. This allowed Paul Blanton to transmit a critical message to the human resistance.


Best-selling authors Stephen King and Clive Cussler reviewed the book positively. King said that the book was "terrific page-turning fun" and Cussler commenting that it is:

A brilliantly conceived thriller that could well become horrific reality. A captivating tale, Robopocalypse will grip your imagination from the first word to the last, on a wild trip you won't soon forget. What a read...unlike anything I’ve read before.[3]

The book received positive reviews from the Associated Press, Janet Maslin from the New York Times, and best-selling authors Lincoln Child and Robert Crais; all calling it "brilliant".

Damien Walter of The Guardian, Ron Charles of the Washington Post, and Chris Barton of the Los Angeles Times were less enthusiastic, describing the novel as a disappointment and cheesy.[4][5][6]

Emily VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club described it as "World War Z with evil robots", hobbled by hackneyed characters and a limited scope.[7]


In 2014, Doubleday published the official sequel to Robopocalypse, which is titled Robogenesis.

Film adaptation[edit]

Steven Spielberg signed on to direct a film based on the novel,[8] and Drew Goddard was hired to write the screenplay.[8] Spielberg also hired designer Guy Hendrix Dyas to work with him and his writers on creating the visual tone for the film and conceptualize its robotic elements.[citation needed] The film was scheduled for release by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on July 3, 2013.[9][10] Filming was scheduled to take place entirely in Montreal, Canada, from July to September 2012. Oklahoma was scouted as a possible filming location, but Canada was ultimately chosen for its tax incentives, as production was expected to cost $200 million.[11]

On May 31, 2012, the film's release date was delayed to April 25, 2014.[10] The film, jointly financed by 20th Century Fox and Spielberg's DreamWorks, was scheduled to be released in North America by Disney's Touchstone Pictures label, while Fox was to handle the international distribution.[12]

Chris Hemsworth was cast in November 2012. Anne Hathaway said in November 2012 that she had been cast in the proposed film: "If Robopocalypse happens I will be in it and I believe it's quite real, though you never want to hang your hat on anything."[13] Ben Whishaw had also been cast.[13]

On January 9, 2013, DreamWorks revealed that Spielberg decided to put Robopocalypse on hold indefinitely. The director's spokesman Marvin Levy, said it was "too important and the script is not ready, and it's too expensive to produce. It's back to the drawing board to see what is possible."[14] On January 10, 2013, Spielberg said he was starting on a new script that would be more economical and personal, and estimated a delay of six to eight months.[15]

In an interview with Creative Screenwriting, Goddard said he understood Spielberg delaying the film, saying:

I got to work with Steven Spielberg for a year. That's a dream of mine! It was just a joy to see him in action and learn from him. You're never going to hear me complain about working with Steven Spielberg. Especially as a director now, I get it. You never want to start shooting until the project feels right, so you take your time to get it right.[16]

Spielberg continually delayed the project because of scheduling conflicts. On March 7, 2018, it was revealed that directorial efforts had shifted from Spielberg to Michael Bay, who had previously been hand-picked by Spielberg to direct the Transformers film franchise.[17]


  1. ^ "Behind the Fiction: The science of Robopocalypse". Retrieved 2011-06-08.
  2. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (2011-06-26). "Best Sellers – Hardcover Fiction". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  3. ^ Magary, Drew. "Robopocalypse: A Novel (9780385533850): Daniel H. Wilson: Books by Drew Magary". ISBN 0385533853. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ Walter, Damien (12 July 2011). "Is the Robopocalypse nigh?". London. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  5. ^ Ron Charles (2011-05-31). "Ron Charles reviews Daniel H. Wilson's thriller 'Robopocalypse'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  6. ^ Barton, Chris (July 18, 2011). "Book Review: 'Robopocalypse'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  7. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily (6 July 2011). "Daniel H. Wilson: Robopocalypse". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  8. ^ a b "Steven Spielberg Commits To Next Direct 'Robopocalypse'". Retrieved 2011-06-08.
  9. ^ Masters, Kim (March 15, 2012). "'John Carter' Debacle: Inside the Fallout for Disney (Analysis)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Hayes, Britt (May 31, 2012). "Steven Spielberg's 'Robopocalypse' Pushed Back to 2014". Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  11. ^ "Spielberg to film sci-fi thriller in Montreal". CBC News. November 8, 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  12. ^ "Fox Sets 2014 Release Slate: 3D 'ID4', 'X-Men', 'Apes' Sequels, 'Robopocalypse'". Deadline Hollywood. May 31, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  13. ^ a b de Semlyen, Phil (November 12, 2012). "Anne Hathaway Joins Robopocalypse". Empire. Archived from the original on November 17, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  14. ^ Masters, Kim (January 9, 2013). "Steven Spielberg's 'Robopocalypse' Postponed Indefinitely (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  15. ^ Breznican, Anthony (January 10, 2013). "'Robopocalypse' delay: Steven Spielberg vows it's not dead!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  16. ^ McKittrick, Christopher (August 20, 2015). "Life Goes On: Drew Goddard on The Martian". Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  17. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 7, 2018). "Michael Bay Sets '6 Underground,' 'Robopocalypse' as Next Two Films". Variety. Retrieved March 7, 2018.

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