Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill REVIEW

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.


Watch Cargill's Q&A on Sea of Rust


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.


"I think you're still here. I hope you're not up in that blowtorched hidey-hole behind the security gate on the third floor, clutching that burned-out rifle for dear life, hoping it'll save you. 'Cause it won't." . . . And as I lay there on the third floor, in that blowtorched hidey-hole behind the security gate, clutching that rifle for dear life, I realized just how badly outplayed I really was.

"Not with your lifestyle, you won't. Bots like you never last that long. The collectors always end up in someone else's collection."

"I put my hand on what's left of them and tell them that they shouldn't have trusted me." Mercer stared at me blankly. "Jesus. What the f*** happened to you?"

"Daisy lowered her voice, somehow unaware that I could hear her most tightly clenched silent farts from across the house during a thunderstorm, so her whispering now might as well have been shouted into the microphones in my ears."

"I remember one book in particular - an old legal thriller filled with sex and violence and cheating hearts that Braydon would have me read long after Madison had gone to bed. He didn't like the idea of people knowing he enjoyed something so trashy and classless. But he loved it all the same."


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 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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