cover image The Robots of Gotham

The Robots of Gotham

Todd McAulty. HMH/Adams, $26 (688p) ISBN 978-1-328-71101-4

ebut author McAulty, an expert in machine language learning, extrapolates a scary AI-overrun 2083 that’s only a few steps removed from today’s reality. This massive and impressive novel is set in an America that outlawed the development of artificial intelligence and quickly lost a short and bitter war against robot-led fascist countries. Most of America is now occupied by Venezuelan “peacekeeping” forces. The story is narrated tastefully and with self-deprecating humor by Barry Simcoe, a 30-something Canadian CEO recently arrived in Chicago to close some international technology deals. Shocked by what he sees, he immediately plunges into 10 days of complicated rescue sorties against a backdrop of urban devastation and corruption. He saves a wounded diplomat robot, allies himself with a Russian biowarfare specialist who’s developing an antidote for a virus intended to wipe out the human race, and risks his life to adopt a starving Rottweiler. For romantic appeal, he variously saves and is saved by Mackenzie Stronnick, a gorgeous machine-hating Chicago realtor; tough Venezuelan sergeant Noa Van de Velde; and enigmatic masked robot Jacaranda. Though the technology-rich plot loses a bit of its savage verisimilitude as it progresses, McAulty maintains breathless momentum throughout. Readers will hope for more tales of this sinister future and eagerly pick up on hints that Barry and his companions may continue their exploits. (June)