Sea of Rust
By C. Robert Cargill
Hardcover, 365 pages
2017, Harper Voyager
The last humans have been wiped from the face of Earth and now only robots remain. During the war that eradicated mankind, several mainframes banded together with the consciousness of other robots to create their own armies with shared intelligence. These mainframes are known as OWIs – One World Intelligence – and now they run the world. Freebots are scarce, constantly hunted by OWIs and destroyed if they choose not to upload themselves. Brittle roams the Sea of Rust, scavenging parts from bots on the verge of madness and trying to avoid the notice of the OWIs, but a run in with another scavenger will change everything.
I think we all know I was beyond excited to receive a copy of this book, because what could a robot who loves to read love more than reading about robots?! (Say that five times fast.) I was nervous that I was hyping myself up for this, but the book didn’t disappoint.
Brittle, the narratorbot, is bitter, cynical and determined to survive in the wasteland that was once Earth. She doesn’t plan on submitting to the mainframes, but after she’s badly damaged in a shootout she finds herself stuck in one of the last underground communities of freeboots, NIKE 14, when it’s raided by one of the OWIs. Because karma is a bitch, she’s forced to team up with the bot who caused her a “life-threatening” injury, Mercer. Both bots are severely damaged and on the verge of going insane, and they must learn to trust each other, at least enough to get free from the OWIs. When they find out who else is in their group, they get sucked into a larger mission that, if successful, could save the remaining freebots.
This story has everything I need in a sci-fi: Robots, sarcastic bastard anti-hero narrator, unlikely frenemy duos, double-crossing, crazy Mad Max-esque robots, intrigue, advanced technology and feels!
The robots in this book are incredibly human-like, while still clearly robots. It’s ironic that some have become so like the race they battled to extinction and that irony isn’t lost on Brittle. The bots who fought against the humans never thought they’d be fighting a higher intelligence afterward, much like the humans never suspected there’d be a war between themselves and the machines they created. Brittle’s fight to survive and the value she places on her own life is endearing, even though she’s not a gold-star member of society.
All the things I want to say about this book go too deeply into the plot, so I’m going to keep my trap shut. This book took several surprising turns and I enjoyed the ride immensely. It’s fast-paced, suspenseful and I’m not ashamed to say the end even had me tearing up! I hope there’s more to come from this universe and I certainly want to get my hands on Cargill’s other work.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Brittle:
“Magic was just something people liked to believe in, something they thought they could feel or sense, something that made everything more than just mechanical certainty. Something that made them more than flesh and bone.”
I received this book for free from Geek Girl Authority in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.