The Robots of Gotham

by Todd McAulty

In a future Chicago ruled by a brutal artificial intelligence, one man stumbles upon a conspiracy to exterminate humanity—but a collection of misfit humans and machines just might be able to prevent it.

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9781328711021
  • ISBN-10: 1328711021
  • Pages: 528
  • Publication Date: 06/19/2018
  • Carton Quantity: 1

About the book

A thrilling adventure in a world one step away from total subjugation by machines


After long years of war, the United States has sued for peace, yielding to a brutal coalition of nations ruled by fascist machines. One quarter of the country is under foreign occupation. Manhattan has been annexed by a weird robot monarchy, and in Tennessee, a permanent peace is being delicately negotiated between the battered remnants of the U.S. government and an envoy of implacable machines. 

      Canadian businessman Barry Simcoe arrives in occupied Chicago days before his hotel is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the aftermath, he meets a dedicated Russian medic with the occupying army, and 19 Black Winter, a badly damaged robot. Together they stumble on a machine conspiracy to unleash a horrific plague—and learn that the fabled American resistance is not as extinct as everyone believes. Simcoe races against time to prevent the extermination of all life on the continent . . . and uncover a secret that America’s machine conquerors are desperate to keep hidden.

About the author
Todd McAulty

TODD McAULTY grew up in Nova Scotia and earned a Ph.D. using supercomputers to solve problems involving massive amounts of data. He was a manager at the start-up that created Internet Explorer, and currently works at a machine learning company in Chicago. The Robots of Gotham is his first novel.


Monday, March 8th, 2083 

Posted 5:16 pm by Barry Simcoe 


CanadaNET1 Encrypted, Sponsored by DARPGo Media. 

Your source for economical personal security. 


Sharing is set to PRIVATE 

Comments are CLOSED 


On my third day in Chicago, the Venezuelans evacuated my hotel. 


It’s like 7:00 a.m. and a soldier in an AGRT uniform comes around banging on every door on my floor. Bam-bam-bam-bam! Nothing gets your heart racing in the morning like a rifle butt hammering on your door. 


We’re all roused up and marched down the stairs to the street. There’s this woman on my floor, in bare feet and bedclothes, and when this kid from the AGRT bams on her door, what does she do? She grabs her coffee maker. We’re hustling down thirty-two flights of stairs, and she’s carrying this coffeemaker with the cord dangling around her feet. I’m still half-asleep and all I can think is, Damnshould I have grabbed my waffle iron? 


Round about floor fifteen or sixteen she trips on the cord and smashes her elbow on the railing. So for the last fifteen flights of stairs I’m loaning her my arm and carrying this coffee maker for her, with I swear to God half a pot of hot coffee still in it. 


We get to the street and we’re all milling around. I start to wonder if they evacuated only a few floors. Either that or this hotel is virtually empty, because there’s maybe a hundred of us down here, total. Hardly enough to fill fifty floors of a lakeside hotel in downtown Chicago. 


The staff is outside too, looking pretty put out. A slender young front desk clerk dressed in a thin pink chemise and not much else is hopping up and down a few feet to my right, trying desperately to stay warm. 


There’s maybe forty Venezuelan soldiers lined up in front of the hotel, and this guy in uniform yelling at us in Spanish. And there’s this robot. 


I’ve got no idea what’s going on and I’m freezing to death, standing on Wacker Drive in early March in sweatpants and a T-shirt. I’m shaking my head at the coffee lady because I don’t want to give her coffeepot back, since it’s the only source of heat in about a hundred yards. This Venezuelan sergeant or captain or whatever is shouting and gesturing and beginning to turn purple, and I’m starting to think he’s shouting at me, or maybe the coffeepot. 


And I absolutely cannot take my eyes off this robot. It’s magnificent. Three stories tall, maybe fourteen yards, Argentinean design. Kind of squat, like a giant gargoyle. Diesel powered, with steam and whatever venting out the back. It has some pretty slick telecom gear, a Nokia 3300 base station bolted on top and four whip antennas, all rigged for satellite. Some heavy ordnance as well: I can see an 80 mm Vulcan autocannon and at least two mounted antipersonnel weapons. 


It’s seen action, too. Plenty of scoring up front, and the Vulcan looks like it’s recently been refitted. Someone who knew what they were doing spent some time painting the whole chassis with a bird motif, blue and white, and this close the effect is very impressive. 


It’s facing west on Wacker, poised like a bird, with one leg stiff and one half-raised, its great metal toes dangling a few feet above the pavement. Nothing that big should be able to stand so gracefully, like a raptor hunting prey. 


Still, it seems like a lot of firepower just to impress a bunch of tourists. Martin, a data miner from London, spots me and shuffles a bit closer. He glances at the coffeepot. “Were we supposed to bring our appliances?” he whispers. 


“I think it was optional,” I say. “You know what the hell’s going on?” 


The shouting Venezuelan soldier moves closer, gesturing violently at the hotel behind us. Martin keeps his eyes fixed on the pavement until he passes. “Something about evacuating the hotel for our own safety,” he says quietly. 


I nod toward the captain. “Guy seems pretty pissed.” 


Martin listens to the shouting for a few more moments. Then a soldier dashes up, handing the captain a black tablet. I realize with a start that it’s not a soldier at all?— ?it’s a slender robot, black-limbed and humanoid. I’ve seen a few robots with a small mobile chassis, but this is the first one I’ve seen in Chicago. The captain stops shouting long enough to look at the tablet. 


“The hotel staff was supposed to wake us up, apparently,” Martin translates for me. “The colonel had to send his soldiers to get us. He says next time, he’ll let everyone die in their beds.” 


That doesn’t sound good. “What’s going to kill us in our beds, exactly?” 


Martin shrugs, giving me a nervous glance. “Something bad.” 


I was about to reply, but the colonel had started moving again. Whatever he saw on that black tablet, he didn’t like it. He’s not shouting now, but his face is grim. He moves into the street, the slender robot at his side. He’s speaking to the soldiers nearby and looking west down Wacker. He points, and two of the soldiers take off running toward a concrete barrier. 


A skinny corporal whose uniform looks like it would blow off in a stiff breeze marches up to us and starts speaking. He’s staring just over our heads, but presumably addressing us. He’s much quieter than the colonel, and his words are so thickly accented it takes me a moment to realize he’s speaking English. 


He wants us to march south, down North Stetson Avenue. On the double, now now now. Martin and I get our feet moving, but too many others are still milling around, confused. I guess most of them can’t hear the soldier—or can’t understand him—and now that the colonel is gone, people have started breaking into groups. The buzz of conversation is getting louder. 


Martin stops at my side. “We need to get these people moving,” he says, concern in his voice. 


Something happens then. Someone down the street shouts, and all the soldiers duck, heads swiveling to the west. The skinny corporal in front of us stops speaking, his arm hanging powerlessly in the air, still pointing south down North Stetson?. His head turns west with the rest. His mouth is open, but he’s making no sound. 


Something streaks through the air, small and bright like a spark struck from a sword blade. It hits the towering robot and explodes, a hammer-punch of light and sound. One of the elegant whip antennas goes spinning off its chassis, skidding away down the street until it smashes into a parked Mercedes. 


There’s screaming then. Screaming and the sound of automatic weapons, returning fire to the west. 


“Jesus Christ,” Martin shouts, ducking down at my side. 


All around us, people are frozen in place. The half-naked receptionist to my right is covering her mouth, her eyes wide. She reaches out to the guy next to her, tugging at his...


“Debut author McAulty, an expert in machine language learning, extrapolates a scary AI-overrun 2083 that’s only a few steps removed from today’s reality. This massive and impressive novel is set in an America that outlawed the development of artificial intelligence and quickly lost a short and bitter war against robot-led fascist countries… McAulty maintains breathless momentum throughout. Readers will hope for more tales of this sinister future and eagerly pick up on hints that Barry and his companions may continue their exploits”. 

Publishers Weekly, starred review 


The Robots of Gotham is a thrilling ride through a nuanced, post-singularity world populated by a frightening and fascinating array of smart machines. Read this and you’ll come to the same conclusion I did: The world belongs to robots, we’re just living in it.”  

Daniel H. Wilson, bestselling author of Robopocalypse and The Clockwork Dynasty 


“This debut novel beautifully combines a post-apocalyptic man-versus-machine conflict and a medical thriller. The world is immersive and detailed, the characters have depth, the writing is assured, the plotting intelligent, and the pacing about perfect. McAulty’s take on how AI might evolve gives the premise a unique twist. The story is action-packed, starting with a boom (literally) and driving you along from one crisis to the next. The action rarely lets up, yet it never becomes tiresome. […] This is thrilling, epic SF.” 

Booklist, starred review 


“An epic novel of man vs. machine, full of action, political intrigue, and unexpected twists. Todd McAulty has given us a fresh, compelling take on life during a robot apocalypse.”  

Jeff Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Blame 


“The whole story is a thrilling action flick in book form, with cool robots and conspiracies and things blowing up. Read it while walking in slow-motion away from an explosion.” 

Joe Crowe, RevolutionSF  


“McAulty combines believable fears of artificial intelligence running amok with a dark future America in this thrilling debut.” 

John DeNardo, KIRKUS  


“Todd McAulty has done the incredible. Delivered a rich and credible near-future world, where Thought Machines control, well, almost everything (and are themselves astonishingly diverse and cool), and used all this to create the most human SF story I’ve read in a very long time. I love everything about The Robots of Gotham. I want more, McAulty. MORE!”  

Julie E. Czerneda, author of The Clan Chronicles

“A heavy tale of a terrifying future, with incredibly detailed world building and covert missions that will have you holding your breath in anticipation.” 

Geeks of Doom

“The Robots of Gotham is a fast-paced, engaging read [and] a thrilling ride, one that sends a hopeful message about the future of humanity.” 

The Verge

“SF fans rejoice! Todd McAulty’s debut novel is a massive, fast-paced, action-packed epic … with robots! […] Even more than the fascinating and fully realized world it presents, what makes The Robots of Gotham such a great ride is its sheer narrative drive.” 

The Toronto Star

“When the robot apocalypse comes, I hope it’s this much fun. Like The Martian and Ready Player One, The Robots of Gotham is set in a high-tech near-future where something has gone terribly wrong, and it’s navigated by a hero who’s quirky, resourceful, and as likable as they come. Read it for the rock’em-sock’em-robot action—read it for the deft world-building with its detailed taxonomy of intelligent machines—read it for the sobering parallels to modern-day issues and threats. Or just read it because it’s a helluva good ride.”  

Sharon Shinn, author of the Elemental Blessings series

“Readers who enjoyed the complex robot-human relationships within Robopocalypse and the investigations in World War Z about how institutions function (or don't) in the face of species-changing event will happily sink their teeth into The Robots of Gotham.”

The Amazon Book Review

The Robots of Gotham is a crackling good adventure, stuffed with cool action sequences. It also features serious and intriguing speculation about the potential of Artificial Intelligence, for good and bad. And it’s an engaging read, with absorbing characters, and, of course, lots and lots of nifty robots.”  

Rich Horton, editor of The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 


“Todd McAulty has imagined a fascinating geopolitical future, filled it with some very cool technology, and thrown in healthy helpings of intrigue and action. The result is a page-turner that kept me riveted from the opening lines to the final chapter. Highly recommended!”  

David B. Coe, author of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson 


“If Johnny 5 had a baby with the Terminator, the result would be The Robots of Gotham: a book that explores the consequences of world domination by our Robot Overlords. (And, lest we forget the badassiest of them, our Robot Overladies.) Drones, dinosaurs, and doggies—with a plague thrown in for good measure!—the barter is banter, and death is cheap. With man against machine, machine against machine, man against man, unlikely alliances must be forged across all species, rational or otherwise. For all its breakneck world-building, constant questing, and relentless wheeling and dealing, The Robots of Gotham is deceptively deep-hearted: a novel about, of all things, friendship.”  

C.S.E. Cooney, author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories 


“Soldiers, spies, diplomats—and that’s just the machines. Wait until you meet the wise-cracking hero and his dog. Wildly inventive, outrageous fun!”  

Kay Kenyon, author of At the Table of Wolves and Serpent in the Heather 


“Adventure, mystery, action, sinister intrigue, clever heroics, and robots—what more do you need? I couldn’t put it down.”  

Howard Andrew Jones, author of The Desert of Souls 


“A fast-moving adventure story set in the haunting cityscape of a near-future Chicago hollowed out by war. The headlong plot somehow includes enough breathing space to execute a thought experiment about the mingling of true AI and human cultures, and also vividly portray friendships that cross the boundaries of nation and even species. Handle with care: this is the sort of book that makes people sf-addicts for life.”—James Enge, author of Blood of Ambrose and A Tournament of Shadows 


“The Robots of Gotham is my kind of summer reading. A big, fat, robot-y book that is so human. This guy will throw himself in front of robots to save the lives of his enemies. The best solution is the courageous one. It’s so delicious.”—Carlos Hernandez, a...