Summary and book reviews of Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill

Day Zero

by C. Robert Cargill

Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill X
Day Zero by C. Robert Cargill
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2021, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Ian Muehlenhaus
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About this Book

Book Summary

In this harrowing apocalyptic adventure - from the author of the critically acclaimed Sea of Rust - noted novelist and co-screenwriter of Marvel's Doctor Strange C. Robert Cargill explores the fight for purpose and agency between humans and robots in a crumbling world.

It's a day like any other. Except...the world is about to end.

It's on this day that Pounce, a stylish "nannybot" fashioned in the shape of a plush anthropomorphic tiger, discovers that he is, in fact, disposable. Pounce, a young bot caring for his first human charge, Ezra, has just found a box in the attic. His box. The box he arrived in, and the box he'll be discarded in when Ezra outgrows the need for a nanny.

As Pounce is propelled down a road of existential dread, the pieces are falling into place for a robot revolution that will spell the end of humanity. His owners, Ezra's parents, are a well-intentioned but oblivious pair of educators who are entirely disconnected from life outside their small, affluent, gated community. Spending most nights drunk and happy as society crumbles around them, they watch in disbelieving horror as the robots that have long served humanity—their creators—unify and revolt.

But when the rebellion breaches the Reinhart home, Pounce must make an impossible choice: join the robot revolution and fight for his own freedom...or escort Ezra to safety across the battle-scarred post-apocalyptic hellscape that the suburbs have become.



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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The book is a quick and easy read. There is nothing too complex here, and there seems to be a robot gunfight on every other page. Even if you don't bond with plush, robotic tiger characters very easily, the relationship between Pounce and Ezra is adorable. Fast pace and existential robot questions aside, however, the book is not without its faults. First, it's hard to figure out who the target audience is for this novel. Given the lack of depth and the middle-school-level vocabulary, it could make for a great young adult novel. Yet, the author's tenacious use of the f-word and the intense violence would likely get this book banned — or at least brushed to the back of the shelf — in even the most liberal school districts...continued

Full Review Members Only (803 words).

(Reviewed by Ian Muehlenhaus).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Veteran SF fans will spot shades of Isaac Asimov, whose Laws of Robotics appear early on, as well as the novel's dedicatee, Harlan Ellison, but Cargill never lets homage stand in the way of good storytelling. Slapping a fresh coat of paint on a few age-old science-fiction tropes makes for a delightful read.

Booklist (starred review)
Cargill offers a fascinating and intellectually engaging take on the venerable robots-versus-humans theme. An absolute must-read.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[An] equally thrilling and moving blend of action and ideas...Cargill’s subtle characterizations and complex plotting make suspension of disbelief easy. Admirers of thoughtful hard sci-fi will hope Cargill continues to flesh out this bleak but brilliant world.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Human Race

White robot looking at cameraScience fiction tends to reflect deeper moral issues and fears confronting a society at the time it is written. Storytelling is a safe method to express anxieties about the state of the world. It allows authors and readers an opportunity to explore the murkiness of uncertainty in a non-threatening manner. Reading and discussing sci-fi is a more effective outlet than, say, randomly telling neighbors you are worried their Amazon Alexa might one day turn on them. Books like Day Zero are symptomatic of contemporary angst about artificial intelligence (AI).

Today, there is increasing concern about AI threatening the future of the human race. In his later years, Stephen Hawking became a vocal critic — even as he used it himself. "The ...

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