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Robota [Hardcover]

Orson Scott Card , Doug Chiang
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 15 2003
What if there was once a fourth planet in our solar system that collided with the proto-earth billions of years ago, forming the moon and enabling life to germinate? What if this mythical fourth planet was populated by pre-industrial humans? What if a race of sentient robots came to warn the people of the fourth planet of their impending doom? What if the people didn't listen ... ? Robota follows the fortunes of a strangely powerful amnesiac named Caps as he navigates an ancient, decaying world in which a dwindling human population battles a merciless robot-warrior society. Aided by talking animals, stalked by terrifying hunter robots, Caps slowly rises to fulfill an awesome destiny. For the first time, two sci-fi masters join forces to create an extraordinary, illustrated science fiction novel. More than 75 pieces of wildly imagined, meticulously painted art by Academy Award-winning artist Doug Chiang complement the text of Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Orson Scott Card.

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From Booklist

This is not an ordinary sf novel, nor a graphic novel, nor a conventional illustrated novel. Chiang, design director for the most recent Star Wars films, paints like a scion of N. C. Wyeth, Vincent Di Fate, Maxfield Parrish, and Arthur Rackham. Muscular heroes and monsters, dramatic angles and deep foci, glowing color, and wraithlike figures of malevolence are everywhere in his visual complements to a story that he invented and then asked Card, one of the best and most honored contemporary sf and fantasy authors, to write down. That story--of a world that alien robots, once allies of the planet's human natives, are striving to purge of all carbon-based life, only to be thwarted by a "reborn" human champion--resembles the Star Wars saga in being a myth of restoration, of getting an old dream (liberty and cooperation?) back on track. Also like Star Wars, it succeeds by being neat looking more than interesting. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Doug Chiang is creative director of Industrial Light and Magic and was the design director for Star Wars Episode 1. He is the author of Star Wars Episode 1: The Portfolio. Orson Scott Card is a pre-eminent sci-fi author with over 100 titles published. His books include the award-winning Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Shadow Puppets, Lost Boys and Enchantment.

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He awoke from a dream of graceful wooden sailing ships, threatened by flying metal discs like saw blades whirling in the air. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty and hollow Oct. 19 2003
"Robota" is a lot like the robots in the story -- cold, lifeless, and lacking in personality. Doug Chiang's detailed artwork can't be faulted, and stops the book from being a total loss, but Orson Scott Card's accompanying novella is just plain bad.
It tells the tale of how robots conquered our world, destroying civilization and turning mankind into slaves in a vast jungle. On the world called Robota, a robot called Kaantur-Set rules through a living corpse called Font Prime. But one day a mysterious man with no memory arrives with a sentient monkey, encountering the "cubed" beasts and outlaw humans. And a revolution is formed against the robots...
Card should leave robot fiction in the realm of Asimov. Some authors can make robots seem real, through tiny nuances; Card doesn't have the subtlety to do that, and so his robots -- with the exception of the weird Elyseo -- are flat and completely unsatisfactory as a threat.
To make things worse, this seems like half a story rather than a complete one. All the REALLY interesting stuff, such as the jewel, "cubing" (turning animals into sentient creatures), the alien Olm, Font Prime's preservation, the destruction of our civilization and retaking of Robota, are mentioned but never dealt with. Which is a shame, because the actual novel is rushed and rather boring. The climactic battle sputters out before it really starts.
Caps is absolutely insufferable. He's merely dull when he has amnesia, but when he turns into a robot-human prophet he's impossible to like. Beryl is a warrior Barbie. Kaantur-Set is a cut-out villain, whose constant screeching makes him/her hard to take seriously. Only Elyseo (weird robot) and Rend (weird monkey) have any worthwhile personality.
The saving grace is Chiang's artwork.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story is not epic enough for robot wars March 11 2009
Length: 0:30 Mins
Doug Chiang is the design director for the Star Wars prequel. Robota is a personal project inspired by sketches of robots he drew when he was a kid.

This is more of a picture book than an art book. Orson Scott Card filled in the role as the writer for the story.

The story's about the battle between robots and humans on a world called Robota. In this world, humans were made slaves to the robots. One day, a mysterious young man appeared and started a revolution against the robots. That's the premise of the story.

If there's anything I learned from story artists from Pixar, a good story must have twist and turns often. Give readers something and then take it away, making them want more. Show readers the characters are fighting for a cause. It is in these two areas that the story fail to engage me. I just can't relate to

I've seen lots of concept paintings done by Doug Chiang on Star Wars. While the paintings inside this book are impressive, they are lacking in the story element. Except for a few, there's rarely any action in the panels. They are merely concept art. Nothing wrong with that except that there's a story going along. There's no communication between any characters.

There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.
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By A Customer
Chiang's concept of a surreal world inhabited by robots, beasts, and humans and the quest of our main characters is definitely an entertaining read. Robota, however, falls short of being something spectacular. The story is written in a simple form effectively creating the sense of ancient folklore and long ago heroism but also results in a story lacking any real character development (which is usually the case in folk tales and fables). If you're looking for a sci-fi novel to read with intricate details of an imaginary universe and heavy storylines, Robota is not for you. This book provides more comic book style entertainment which in its own right is fun and enjoyable. The artwork is at times amazing, but there really is not enough of it and as a previous reviewer pointed out, there seems to be some of Chiang's Star Wars rejects in there. My humble opinion is that this book had the potential of being an instant classic. Robota, however, must suffice to exist as an enjoyable but simple read with a couple nice pictures.
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2.0 out of 5 stars VERY disappointing April 18 2004
Though the paintings are nice, a lot of them feel like Chiang's rejected designs from 'The Phantom Menace'. The main human characters look and dress like jedi, the robot characters look like battle droid rejects and there's even one character that looks EXACTLY like a mechanical Jar Jar Binks (complete with floppy ears). Hell, the robots even use AT-ST's to get around. If only it had an interesting story to save it...
...and that's precisely where the book fails. The writing is absolutely AWFUL! It feels like Orson Scott Card phoned this one in, or had his 10 year old nephew write it. I'm aware that the book may be intended for younger readers, but I just couldn't get over how perfunctory and uninteresting the writing was. Not that the story was that interesting either. The worst part was the back cover, which was plastered with quotes from the likes of George Lucas, James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis, praising the book and saying they'd like to see a big-screen adaptation. This REALLY made me lose a lot of respect for these guys, as they're obviously friends of Chiang's, and feel obligated to do the guy a favour. $100 says they never even read the book.
I really can't recommend this book. There are SOME nice images, but you've seen it all before if you own the 'ART OF STAR WARS' books. After all the hype, I really expected more.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars what's the fuss?
I don't know what the fuss is about. This book is a story with pictures, with more prose than imagery. The artwork is okay, but it's nothing spectacular. Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by chris romano
4.0 out of 5 stars Great art and solid story
While the story here is pretty simple and wouldn't normally be considered a great sci-fi epic, it is still a cool concept and really well-written. Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by Chip Hunter
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for Big Boys
I was looking forward to this title and had heard good things about it. But I was disappointed as I felt I should be reading it aloud to a five year old instead of for myself. Read more
Published on March 15 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Sci-Fi needs more books of this sort
Although familiar with Orson Scott Card, I had never heard of Doug Chiang or "Robota" prior to picking it up off the shelf in the book store. Read more
Published on March 13 2004 by Matthew Morin
3.0 out of 5 stars Good pictures, weak story
Chiang is a competent and creative designer of fantastic worlds and creatures. Card, as we know from his past novels such as Ender's Game and Lost Boys, is a skilled spinner of... Read more
Published on Dec 18 2003 by This Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
I am not your typical Sci-Fi enthuist and was unfamiliar with the work of Card or Chiang until this book. However, through this collaborative piece these guys have won my respect! Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2003 by Dayna
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome story and fantastic art!
This book is totally incredible and unique! I've never read a book like this before. Chiang's artwork is unbelievable and Card's prose is a joy to read. Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning paintings, but...
Absolutely stunning, five-star paintings wasted on a very poor story. Excellently produced book.
Published on Oct. 22 2003 by Manuel Mendes de Carvalho
5.0 out of 5 stars Robota
Incredible and thought provoking.

Robota is a very refreshing take on some common sci-fi themes. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by Mary Berry
I'm very familiar with Mr. Card's work and am just discovering Mr. Chiang's. WOW is the word to describe this incredible work of collaboration. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003
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