Sea of Rust

Sea of Rust

by C. Robert Cargill


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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.

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—One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. 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 of these resisters 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 and vivid memories—and nearly unbearable guilt.

Sea of Rust is both a harsh story of survival and an optimistic adventure. A vividly imagined portrayal of ultimate destruction and desperate tenacity, it boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, yet where a humanlike AI strives to find purpose among the ruins.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062405838
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/05/2017
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

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 and, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on He is a cowriter of the horror films Sinister and Sinister 2, and Marvel’s Dr. Strange. He lives with his wife in Austin, Texas.

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Sea of Rust: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome, quick read. Good character development and fascinating plot
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This man gets it. I feel like he encapsulated the world of post apocalyptic AI mainframe showdowns beautifully. I feel like I know Brittle and Mercer and even TACITUS. Very well written and paced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sea of Rust is the story of what one chooses to do when their back is pushed against wall after wall after wall. Are we who we are trained/programmed to be? Can we break that and be someone else? C. Robert Cargill does a fantastic job of using robots and AI to explore these ideas. He does so with lots of action, jokes and great characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it a lot. There was never a dull moment
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Random B&N find on vacation. Couldn't put it down and left me thinking after
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Profound and a fun read.
Murph More than 1 year ago
A vivid, enjoyable adventure. Thought-provoking, moving, and difficult to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story and a little thought provoking (despite the numerous amount of F bombs) about what is real, are we alive and is there really an afterlife and or a god? All from a robots point of view of course. There are times through out the story when you can picture a human in Brittles place or Mercers place but then the talk of CPU`s, cores and RAM brings you back to thinking these are robots and not humans. Humans are going and the only things that are left are AI robots. We follow Brittle as she searchers the Sea of Rust for usable parts either for herself or to sell until she runs into a pack of robots that are on a mission to try and free robots everywhere from the OWI that is trying to upload all robots world wide. The story movies along at a pretty good pace but the flash backs do slow it down some but do give you info to how things came about. The story ends set up for a second book so I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read with a plot that kept me going from chapter to chapter . Characters were easy to like and a few plot twists left wanting to read into the dawn.
Michelle_Palmer More than 1 year ago
An excellent Sci-fi book by the Scriptwriter of Doctor Strange. A post-apocalyptic book in which there are no humans left on earth. The world is roamed by AI robots who are cannibalizing each other in order to eke out a few more years on this planet. The book took several philosophical turns that I was not expecting but which made it a more interesting book than it would otherwise have been. I was reminded of a book that I read in college "Can Animals and Machines be Persons" that I very much enjoyed as well. The characters, though not human, behave in ways that are completely understandable. Each character has different motivations for their actions. The settings are sketched out simply and much of it is left to your imagination and yet I was able to fully visualize the world completely. I was not bored for a single word of this book. Absolutely engrossing and captivating read.
RuthieJonesTX More than 1 year ago
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."
Tangled in Text More than 1 year ago
Sea of Rust is a sensational success. When I read through books, I sometimes mark a favorite quote or phrase. Afterwards, I enjoy sharing a well-phrased zinger or a clever plot element that made me pause because it was a good representation of the story and might draw others in. In Sea of Rust, I marked up over a dozen pages just in the first half. This is not my typical read full of romance, but it is well worth the deviation. Sea of Rust holds insight and intrigue, life lessons and excitement, and a journey that changes everybot involved. The detail into the different types of robots is creative and profound. The story line is mesmerizing as each turn of events holds a potential climax only to be surpassed by an even greater turn of events. The alternation between the present and past is well-executed, and transitions are distinct and mold perfectly to create a beautiful harmony. I just have to say that I wish I had an RNG (Random Number Generation) to help me make decisions, but then again I'd be the one to question if the outcome really was the best decision and invalidate its purpose. The writing style results in an all consuming masterpiece. I read this book in a matter of hours. I started the first hundred pages over the course of a day, sneaking in a few pages each chance I got and couldn't again bear the torture of that. The next day, I sat down and four hours and an unmade dinner later, finished the rest of the book. It's okay though because after reading a few of my notes to my husband that night over takeout, I had the book taken away from me and added to his nightstand. Sea of Rust was thought-provoking and a joy to read.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill is a highly recommended post-apocalyptic robot western. "The one truth you need to know about the end of a machine is that the closer they are to death, the more they act like people. And you could never trust people." Human kind is now extinct and robots rule the world. Most of the world is controlled by VIRGIL and CISSUS, the two competing hive-minded OWIs (or One World Intelligence). The OWIs are huge mainframes where the memory of millions of robots has been uploaded, leaving behind thoughtless faucets who do the bidding of the OWI who controls them - and also controls the manufacturing of replacement parts. Not all robots are willing to cede their individuality. Those who don't allow their memory to be downloaded are outcasts, rogues, who mostly wander the Sea of Rust, looking for parts. The Sea of Rust is a two-hundred-mile stretch of desert located in what was once the Michigan and Ohio. This is where the first strike happened during the war, It is where millions fried, burned from the inside out, their circuitry melted, useless, their drives wiped in the span of a breath. Now it is nothing more than a graveyard where machines go to die. A caregiver robot who goes by the name Brittle is a scavenger robot who wanders in the Sea of Rust, trying to keep her body and mind functional. Brittle is the narrator of the story. The engaging plot, when in the present, is all fast-paced action and close calls. However, in-between the action scenes, are chapters detailing the history of the robots and what lead up to the war with humans. While the necessity of the history becomes clear, these chapters also slow down the pace of the novel. The action scenes are cinematic, tense, and action-packed - then time for a history lesson. I'm unsure if this important background information would have been less distracting to me if it was shared in a couple chapters of backstory or in one section of the novel and then back to the action. Or maybe open with a nameless narrator telling us about what lead to the war and the extension of humans. (I could hear a narrator giving us the background in a movie version of this.) It seems, after the fact, that I would have liked that better. Also I'm unsure about robots identifying with a gender. Brittle is female, Mercer is male. Uh, they are robots - why do they need a gender or even hold onto that concept with no humans around? Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.