cover image Robot Uprisings

Robot Uprisings

Edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams. Vintage, $15.95 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-0-345-80363-4

Ambivalence toward technology is central to Adams and Wilson’s collection of 17 stories about artificial intelligence in revolt. Sometimes the results are comic: the AI narrator of Charles Yu’s “Cycles” regards its human owner with a mixture of disgust, pity, and affection, and a household robot that illegally attempts to “love” a child in John McCarthy’s “The Robot and the Baby” becomes a media sensation. More often, disaster ensues when machines designed to assist humans rebel, as with computer-controlled cars in Genevieve Valentine’s postapocalyptic road trip “Eighty Miles an Hour All the Way to Paradise” and intelligent children’s toys in Seanan McGuire’s heartbreaking “We Are All Misfit Toys in the Aftermath of the Velveteen War.” Subtler dangers threaten to end the world in Alastair Reynolds’s “Sleepover” and Wilson’s own “Small Things.” Though a robot loves and raises a human child in Julianna Baggott’s “The Golden Hour” and a woman in an African village poisoned by a pipeline teaches a robot guard to play music in Nnedi Okorafor’s “Spider the Artist,” most of the stories in this entertaining and occasionally unsettling anthology present a decidedly pessimistic vision of machine futures. (Apr.)