Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill

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Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A robot tries her best to survive in a hostile world, in which two competing mainframes are seeking world domination.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 384 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781473212787

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Have you ever watched the Terminator movies or some similar 'Robo-geddon' franchise and wondered what would have happened if the robots had actually won? Well wonder no more, because Sea of Rust hinges on that exact premise; a world where the robots have wiped out every living thing from planet earth. Only artificial life remains; there is no trace of organic matter anywhere, since the robot uprising that devastated the planet. Now two huge mainframes compete for world domination: CISSUS and VIRGIL. They capture robots and turn them into drones; uploading their minds into a hive consciousness. The few remaining bots are called 'freebots,' and inhabit a desert called the Sea of Rust, where they do what they can to survive, including cannibalising other bots for spare parts.

Brittle is one such freebot. She used to be a caregiver for a dying man who wanted her as a companion for his wife. Carebots were rare, unique models, and now Brittle and another bot called Mercer are the only remaining ones of their kind. It is a case of kill or be killed, as both are damaged and have parts that the other one needs. The first one of them to die will be cannibalised by the other. As Brittle and Mercer play their cat-and-mouse game in the Sea of Rust, a bigger story is playing out as VIRGIL and CISSUS increase their efforts to upload the remaining freebots. Brittle gains some unlikely allies as she takes on a job as a guide for a group of bots who promise her the spare parts she needs. But is everything as it seems, or is Brittle just a pawn in someone else's game?

The premise of the story had me hooked from the start and the opening scenes were intensely powerful. When we first meet Brittle, she is tracking a dying robot called Jimmy. Their subsequent interaction sets the scene perfectly for the story that follows and helps the reader understand the survival mentality and desperation of the robots in this post-apocalyptic world.

The book itself is a delightful patchwork of the familiar: the author skilfully blends Asimov (with an interesting twist on the laws of robotics), the Borg from Star Trek, Terminator and even a generous slice of Alice in Wonderland for good measure. These are themes we are familiar with, but arranged in such a way that we can never be quite sure what is going to happen next. I read Sea of Rust in a single day, which is testimony to just how engaging the storyline was.

Although the narrative descends into 'teenage-boy territory' at times (lots of gunfire, explosions and swearing), there are some deep themes explored within the pages that will keep readers thinking about the story long after the last page has been turned. There are some explosive twists in the plot that have us questioning everything we read previously, as well as raising some thought-provoking moral questions. Indeed, our protagonist is no saint and as the book goes on we learn of some of the atrocities she has committed, and yet enough humanity remains that we continue to root for her. The fact that the story makes us examine ourselves and our own attitudes makes it a worthy read.

We also have a review of Queen of the Dark Things by C Robert Cargill.

For fans of this genre, the classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick is absolute required reading, so we recommend it for anyone who enjoyed Sea of Rust.

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Buy Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill at


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