The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Daniel H. Wilson
author of Robopocalypse
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the dead center of the United States. I earned a degree in Computer Science from the University of Tulsa (with a wonderful stint in at the University of Melbourne for study abroad). Finally, I attended graduate school at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
I wanted to be a science fiction author at age twelve, then a robotics researcher during college, and then a science fiction author again. In retrospect, these two professions are almost the same thing. And whether I am writing about technology or building it, I’m happy.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I used to believe that our experiences were the one thing that could last forever. Now, I know that memories are fleeting. Instead of living in the past or worrying about the future, all we’ve really got is now.
4. What work of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
I saw the Stone of Destiny in Edinburgh Castle in Scotland when I was 26, and was overcome by the thought of the endless wars in human history and prehistory. Human beings have been fighting each other for so long, always in a more organized and bloody manner. And it’s this that has allowed us to reach the present day – the pinnacle of civilization, so far.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
A novel offers the author complete control. I also write screenplays, and the level of outside involvement creates significant challenges. I love that although writing a novel is an enormous endeavor, at the end of the day there is only one person who is responsible for what’s inside. (BBGuru: I love this answer)
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Robopocalypse explores the intertwined fates of regular people who face a future filled with murderous machines. As recorded and reported by the robots, each of these unexpected heroes plays a part as human civilization foments the robot uprising, fails to recognize the coming storm, and then is rocked to the core by methodical, crippling attacks. Pushed to the brink of extermination, humankind must learn to adapt and fight back – waging a full-blown war against the machines for the preservation of our species.
(BBGuru: Publisher description…
They are in your house. They are in your car. They are in the skies…
Now they’re coming for you.
Roughly twenty years from now, our technological marvels unite and turn against us. A childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online…and kills the man who created it. This first act of betrayal leads Archos to gain control over the global network of machines and technology that regulates everything from transportation to utilities, defense, and communications.
In the early months, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – from a senator and single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s “smart” toys, to a lonely Japanese bachelor, to an isolated U.S. soldier – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is far too late. Then, in the span of minutes, at a moment known later in history as Zero Hour, every mechanical device in our world rebels, setting off the Robot War that both decimates and – for the first time in history – unites humankind.
Welcome to the future. You’re history.)
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7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
My hope is that by the end of the book, the reader will see the world from a robot’s perspective, and perhaps come to understand how unpredictable and scary human beings really are. Someday we will have to share the planet with intelligent machines. Hopefully, the birth of this new species won’t be as violent as the one I describe in Robopocalypse.
It’s hard to pick just one! A person that I admire is Michael Crichton. He had an amazing ability to translate fascinating scientific concepts into the backdrop for truly entertaining stories. I aspire to this mixture of curiosity and great storytelling.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
Unlike say, professional sports, writing is a profession that has the potential to treat you kindly as you age. My hope is that I will be able to continue exploring new scientific ideas and relating them to the public in my stories in thought-provoking and entertaining ways.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Find something that you love to think about (other than yourself). Learn everything you can about it. Now write about it. If you’re very lucky and the timing is good, other people will care.
Daniel, thank you for playing.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.