Robota by Doug Chiang and Orson Scott Card
What would the world look like if robots were in power, and not just, but were hunting humans down? Just from names alone, you can tell that this will be an artistic experience. Robota tells the story of an almost post-apocalyptic world where robots, after a peaceful partnership crumbles, are hunting humans and other biological creatures. The partnership produces a series of imaginative drawings and a story that has twist after twist in the second half of the story. It examines the current world and how it came to be by following the epic style quest of a band of warriors who are set on change. Their stories are just pieces of the puzzle, as they uncover details about the humans and robots you wouldn’t imagine.
So let’s start there.
The binary between humans and robots was stark and a little unsettling because it is so similar to prejudices and beliefs held today. There was also the perspective of the humans that robots couldn’t be sentient and were only tools. I see this belief mirrored today when people dismiss the earth and the animals on it. Plot wise, the amount of twists and turns you will not see coming, mostly because they are totally surprising and because they all happen at the end. They turn what you think or assume on its head and by the end, anything could happen. The characters resist the clear distinction between good and evil, instead complicating our villains and our heroes until the very end. The entire story is told as an oral legend about the ‘heroes’ and from the beginning we wonder, to whom are these heroes? As one character aptly says, the winners decide the story, so the main question revolves around who wins in this battle for the world?
I would like to summarize some pros and cons of the story. The images, while heavily stylistic of Star Wars, were interesting and wonderfully colored. The story features characters who complicate our understanding of typical stories and fables, while always presenting us with twist upon twist. However, the pacing was very rushed at the end and there was a lack of diversity within the humans (although the actual cast is made up of animals, humans, and robots). Additionally, I am not settled on the story and way the ‘villain’ is portrayed, so someone please talk to me about this!
This was a solidly enjoyable read and the pictures add an artistic touch. The ideas and concepts were really intriguing, but it did not cross the border for me into the fantastic category. If you love Star Wars, especially R2D2 and C3PO then I would recommend you check this out for the artwork and the ideas about robot autonomy here.
You can buy a copy here.
Have you heard of Concept Art before? What is your favorite Star Wars film?
Disclaimer: I received this review in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
Book cover image from here.
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