Book Review – The Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A scavenger robot wanders in the wasteland created by a war that has destroyed humanity in this evocative post-apocalyptic robot western from the critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, and noted film critic.

Humankind is extinct. Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by One World Intelligences – vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, and Brittle – a loner and scavenger, focused solely on survival – is one of the holdouts.

Only, individuality comes at a price, and after a near-deadly encounter with another AI, Brittle is forced to seek sanctuary. Not easy when an OWI has decided to lay siege to the nearest safe city.

Critically damaged, Brittle has to hold it together long enough to find the essential rare parts to make repairs – but as a robot’s CPU gradually deteriorates, all their old memories resurface. For Brittle, that means one haunting memory in particular . . .

Sea of Rust boldly imagines a future in which no hope should remain, and yet a humanlike AI strives to find purpose among the ruins.

Review:

I received this as an eArc and was drawn to it by a combination of the cover and the interesting description. I’ve been wanting to read more novels with sentient AI and this one was great.

This novel is really divided into two stories. One is the story of Brittle in the present day as she travels around, scavenging parts from robots that are about to die. She gets injured by a robot called Mercer who is the same model as her as he is dying and needs her parts to survive. Of course, this now means that she is also critically injured and he is the only source of parts for her. The other story is that of her past and the robot uprising. The novel alternates between these two which I really enjoyed as we slowly learnt more about the world as we progressed through the novel.

The characters are all excellent and I enjoyed reading about all the different types of robots and what their original purposes were. The worldbuilding is very strong and was slowly revealed throughout the novel. I got a very mad-max vibe from the “Sea of Rust” during the travelling parts which I thoroughly enjoyed and I feel a very good film could be made out of this novel – this might be partially due to the fact that the author is a film critic and I feel it has influenced him in a very positive manner.

I would highly recommend this novel and when it comes out, I plan on buying copies for some friends that I know would enjoy it. If you’re taking part in the Fantasy Bingo, this could also potentially count for a couple squares (depends if you want to include it or if you think it’s too Sci-Fi to count)

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