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How to Build a Robot Army: Tips on Defending Planet Earth Against Alien Invaders, Ninjas, and Zombies by Daniel H. Wilson
Review by Paul Haggerty
Bloomsbury USA Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596912816
Date: 26 December 2007 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

What will humanity do when the vampires rise? How will you make your home safe when caught in the middle of the vicious war between the ninjas and the pirates? How will we defend ourselves against the aliens and the zombies that seek to dominate us, or at least eat our brains? Who can you trust when the chips are down and you can't tell if the person next to you is a loyal neighbor or a doppleganger feverishly hoping to add you to the new hive mind? When all else is suspect, humanity will have to turn to the one sure fire thing that we can always depend on to protect us and be our loyal servants ... robots!

More Daniel H. Wilson:
Where's My Jetpack?

How to Build a Robot Army is a combination book. Both hilarious for it's absurdities, such as how to retrofit your robotic vacuum cleaner to take on the snarling vampire hordes, and quite seriously philosophical when discussing techniques to protect Earth from asteroid collision.

Unfortunately a little light on actually blueprints and assembly instructions, How to Build a Robot Army instead is more of a tips and tricks book, musing over the various threats, real or imagined, that people worry about, and what hardware might be lying around that could be put to a better use. Personal household robot-butlers may seem like just a fancy way of having something bring you a drink from the kitchen, but strap a couple of butcher knives to its hands and suddenly you have a flashing, slashing, death dealing side-kick in your fight against evil. Maybe not as skillful as that kid next door that took karate lessons, but far less likely to run off in fear when you need him the most.

How to Build a Robot Army is divided into three basic sections. The first deals with the wide variety of robots available, from floor vacuuming robots, to military grade autocannons. The second section covers methods of assembling your robot army. If you can't get your hands on them, and make them do as they're told, they're not of much use. And the last section covers the threats that one could conceivable face. Mummies, ninjas, great white sharks, Godzilla, and Hollywood, and more all receive the attention they deserve and are matched with the appropriate robot resources and tactics that will help make you a winner in any match.

All in all, this was a lot of fun to read. I expected it to be mostly silly, and to a degree it was. But there's actually a lot of food for though buried in the silliness of matching technology against B-movie villains. Be prepared to say "hmmmm" a lot; and warn those around you that you'll be interrupting them a lot to share this or that nifty bit of information.

Of course, one must suspect Daniel Wilson's true motives in releasing this information once it's reveal that he is also the author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising. Perhaps he's playing both sides of the field. We'll just have to wait and see what develops. In the meantime, keep your Roomba™ charged and ready, you never know what the future may hold.

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