Robot Takeover by Ana Matronic (book review).

April 13, 2018 | By | Reply More

Another book I pulled myself last year and only now having a little time to fit in is ‘Robot Takeover’ by Ana Matronic, a member of the Sissors Sisters if you didn’t know, which I didn’t, and a robot geek. The sub-title of this book is ‘100 Iconic Robots Of Myth, Popular Culture & Real Life’ which is a big brief and did make me wonder if she included all the main culprits. The fact that in the 13 sections, there is also an inclusion of cyborgs does stray from the main subject as, being part-organic and part-machine, deserve their own book. Certainly as there are enough robots out there without including them.

To be fair, Matronic does actually know her subject and clearly researched her choices here. In the introduction, she also points out that she re-watched all the film choices and enjoyed herself, so is a true geek and not depending totally on written sources. Oddly, the biggest blemish comes with the opening entry on ‘Star Wars’ by not directly pointing out that C3P0 has a direct lineage to the Maria robot in ‘Metropolis’ (1927).

This book is also loaded with photos and some interesting choices. For K9 from ‘Doctor Who’, the photo selected shows the rare outtake of Tom Baker wearing a plaster on his lip where he had been bitten by a real dog in his ‘normal’ life. There has to be some sort of irony there that K9 is a lot safer.

I hadn’t realised that a gynoid was a female robot, although other robots used in one of the section introductions, it isn’t applied in any of the entries.

She is wrong on one point citing her examples of robots were all written by men but a lot of people didn’t know who C.L. Moore was a woman.

Very rarely is anything dated here for fictional entries until the real life robots which takes it down one step from being a useful reference book. The dates, not the real life robots.

A third of the way through this book, I was starting to cross-check across the index as to significant robots Matronic left out. No ‘Eve Of Destruction’ from the 1991, amongst others. From comics, Iron Man from Marvel, despite the original Human Torch, the Vision, Jocasta, Ultron, Machine Man and the Sentinels that are all more robotic. There is only a brief but noted mention of DC Comics’ Metal Men and nary a word about the Red Tornado or Cliff Steele aka Robot-Man (cyborgs are covered in this book and he is a relatively old one after all).

Matronic does group some robots together but not all so Ash and Bishop get individual entries, as does Davros and the Daleks, with barely a mention of the Cybermen, who are all still cyborgs after all. I think grouping such examples would have made room for other entries.

When it comes to real life robots, the 50 pages here showing primitive robots up to 2015 will show how far we’ve come in their development. In that respect, we could do with a new updated book showing how far we’ve come in the past 3 years. The speed of development is getting ever more staggering.

Any disagreements I have with this book is more to do with omissions than actual information given and is still relevant 3 years after release and it is a sharp reminder of how much robots have infiltrated our lives but not prepared to take over yet.

GF Willmetts

April 2018

(pub: Octopus Books, 2015. 224 page illustrated indexed square hardback. Price: A few pence (UK) literally. ISBN: 978-1-84403-856-5)

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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