Sea of Rust Review

SEA OF RUST

By C. ROBERT CARGILL

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Robot Western
Publisher: Harper Voyager, an imprint of Harper Collins
Date of Publication: September 5, 2017
Number of Pages: 384

 

It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI—but not all robots are willing to cede their individuality—their personality—for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.

One resister is Brittle, a scavenger robot trying to keep a deteriorating mind and body functional in a world that has lost all meaning. Although unable to experience emotions like a human, Brittle is haunted by the terrible crimes the robot population perpetrated on humanity. As Brittle roams the Sea of Rust, a large swath of territory that was once the Midwest, the loner robot slowly comes to terms with horrifyingly raw memories—and nearly unbearable guilt.

SEA OF RUST is both a harsh story of survival and an optimistic adventure. A powerfully imagined portrayal of ultimate destruction and desperate tenacity, it boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, yet where a human-like AI strives to find purpose among the ruins.

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Praise for Sea of Rust:

Sea of Rust is a forty-megaton cruise missile of a novel – it’ll blow you away and lay waste to your heart. It is the most visceral, relentless, breathtaking work of SF in any medium since Mad Max: Fury Road.”  

— #1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill 

“Cargill…effectively takes a grim look at a war-torn future where our nonhuman successors face complex moral dilemmas, exploring what it means to be alive and aware [….]This action-packed adventure raises thought-provoking and philosophical questions.”

   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Innovative worldbuilding, a tight plot, and cinematic action sequences make for an exciting ride through a blasted landscape full of dying robots.”  — Kirkus Reviews

This book is science fiction at it’s finest. Extremely compelling from the very beginning, I was absolutely hooked by the time it was over. Humans gone and the world a victim of it’s past, there is now only the ruling intelligence of collective memories. Individuality from the One World Intelligence is now an act of rebellion.

We know from the start that Brittle is one of these rebels in her own way. As she goes through the sea of rust, we learn more about the history that led to this world. More dominantly, the history of Brittle and what it takes to survive. Despite humans being gone, this does not stop the constant struggle and conflict as other robots struggle to exist and simply have freedom to be. I found it interesting that Brittle identified as a she or that any of the robots followed gender roles. Though I suspect it fit Brittle’s character to adapt to more human characteristics, especially considering their roots and desire to live. Brittle’s memories of the humans she once knew takes part in this identity as well. As once a caregiver, the question of evolution and adaptability is always present. When their own creators are gone and they have an empty space of existence, what can they become?

This book could be as brutal as the summary suggests. Though that didn’t stop the odd humor and unpredictable moments that seemed to fit a chaotic world. It stays true to pure apocalyptic and rough world. Brittle is flawed, powerful, remorseful, and very likable. Cargill does an excellent job with the details into the characters and world building that are so precise and inspiring.

C. Robert Cargill is the author of Dreams and Shadows and Queen of the Dark Things. He has written for “Ain’t it Cool News” for nearly a decade under the pseudonym Massawyrm, served as a staff writer for Film.com and Hollywood.com, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on spill.com. He is a co-writer of the horror films “Sinister” (2012) and “Sinister 2” (2015), and the new Benedict Cumberbatch superhero movie, “Dr. Strange” (2016). He lives with his wife in Austin, Texas.

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