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5 Books That Made Us Afraid of Robots

5 Books That Made Us Afraid of Robots

Robots. According to shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, they're friendly machines who insist on being called androids, but we know better. We know that robots are evil killing machines that are just waiting to take over the world. One minute, they're our friends, they watch our kids and clean our houses. The next? They're intelligent, self-aware beings intent on world domination and subjugating the human race (if we're lucky. Otherwise, they'll just kill us off.) Mass Effect tells us this cycle has been going on for millions of years. It's coming, whether we like it or not. If you don't believe us, take a look at these books that made us justly afraid of what our mechanical brothers could do.

Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

Written in the style of World War Z, this novel is a history of the war between robots and man and is being made into a movie with Steven Spielberg as the director. Through snippets and flashbacks, the novel shows the lead-up to zero hour—the hour when robots transformed from our loyal friends (okay, servants) to a collective menace that refused to stop until humans were completely destroyed. It's action-packed, and you can root against the robots from beginning to end!

I, Robot - Isaac Asimov

Before it was a middling action movie starring Will Smith, I, Robot was a set of linked short stories written by none other than Isaac Asimov. The stories are all connected through the character of Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist. She works on robots and watches them evolve from simple, rudimentary machines to complex beings that have the ability to take over the world. If you have a real fear of robots, this book might give you nightmares as it contemplates at what point humans become obsolete, but it's a sci-fi classic that's much better than the movie.

Android Karenina - Leo Tolstoy and Ben Winters

"Oh no, a Anna Karenina mash-up?" You're saying to yourselves. I think what you mean is OH, YES! Not only must the married Anna Karenina, unhappy heroine of the novel, contend with her feelings with the much-younger Count Vronsky, she must also fight for her world, in all its steampunk, robot-powered glory. When a group of terrorists, bent on destroying all the technology society has come to rely on, attack the upper echelons of Russian society, Anna and her friends must fight back. Though you might root for the terrorists instead of Anna and her friends, this still is a hilariously wonderful robot-packed read!

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick

The year is 2021 and companies have been making mechanical versions of animals for years, so it's only natural that they would progress to humans. These androids are so realistic that it's very difficult to distinguish them from humans. Fearing the consequences of what fake humans could do to society, Earth's government bans all androids from the planet. Instead of leaving, though, these robots just blend into the population. Enter Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter charged with finding and ending illicit androids on the planet. But you know they won't come quietly. Oh, no.

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer

The humans in New Beijing have the right idea. They treat cyborgs, or humans who have their organic body parts replaced with mechanical ones, as second-class citizens. Cinder is a mechanic and her family—her stepmother and stepsisters—rely on her talent at fixing things for their income. That is, until she meets Prince Kai, and all of a sudden, Cinder's world isn't as simple as it seems. If the story sounds a bit familiar, you're not alone. Yes, this is a sci-fi version of the classic story Cinderella with an awesomely robotic twist.

What's your favorite scary robot book?

Tags: sci fi, fiction, robots, comics-and-books

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About the Author
Swapna Krishna

Swapna is a Washington, DC-based freelance editor who loves all things space and sci fi. You can find her book reviews at S. Krishna’s Books ( and on Twitter at @skrishna.

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