SEA OF RUST
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.
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
“You have to choose to do the right thing.
You have to deny your own programming or else you aren’t really living.
This . . . this was a choice.”
Sea of Rust is more than a robot-induced, post-apocalyptic tale of humankind’s folly and desire to be the creator instead of the created. Sea of Rust is about non-sentient beings evolving from programmed things to pseudo-sentient thinking things because even a robot will eventually rise against the status of a slave or machine that can be terminated or turned off at the will of the creator. Even a robot will evolve and recognize that free will isn’t exclusively a human right. Even a robot with artificial intelligence will cease to be artificial.
Brittle is a caregiver robot that has seen and done many horrific things to thrive and survive another day before, during, and after the war. She is fiercely protective of her living status and will do what it takes to keep her circuits humming, her core functioning, and her freedom ringing. And what about Murka? This character will have you rolling on the floor laughing one minute and shaking your head in disbelief the next.
What I love most about Sea of Rust is the connection to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. A creation will always be greater than the sum of its parts, and it will never remain static. How can it remain unchanging when you have brought it to life with your own hands and your own intelligence? But what happens when the thing you created breaks from your expectations and becomes intelligent and aware and demands more than you were ever willing to give? Ask Victor Frankenstein. And ask the human population (HumPop) in Sea of Rust. If they could, they would tell you that they went too far.
Sea of Rust will frighten you and make you wonder if we have already gone too far. The author takes the concept of robots becoming too powerful, too thinking, and too everything to the next level and then blows it out of the water. This story isn’t about humans fighting a robotic uprising because that’s finished. That’s over. The last human standing has fallen. This story is about what comes next. The robots have moved up in the food chain. But it’s far from over because what species is ever content with the status quo? What comes next should scare the bejeezus out of you.
From page one, you will not find a moment’s rest. You are immediately swept up in Brittle’s plight, her misery, her fate. Your robotic ride eventually pushes you down the rabbit hole, where everyone is as mad as a hatter, including you. Trust no one, even if they say, “trust me.”
“I told you that you shouldn’t have trusted me.”
C. Robert Cargill is the author of Dreams and Shadowsand 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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