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Book Review: Sea of Rust

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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.”

Title: Sea of Rust

Series: Sea of Rust #1

Author: C. Robert Cargill

Page Count: 365

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Date Read: February 5th, 2024

The Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill was my second read by the author in just a couple of weeks. This one was also our group’s official buddy read for the month of February. I think overall this was an enjoyable read by those that joined us on this read. Below is my review of Sea of Rust but I’d also like to include a small comparison between this and Day Zero. I think I give the slight edge to Day Zero based on my own personal preferences and enjoyment of these reads. However, both were very fun, exciting and easy reads.
The pacing in Sea of Rust was smooth as it was in Day Zero. I opted again to immersion read this along with the audiobook narrated by Eva Kaminsky who I felt did a really good job in helping me get into the story and characters. This was a different narrator than was used in Day Zero which is fair considering the main point of view is female in one and male in the other. No issues with names of characters or locations. Once again I had a good mix of connection with real world geography as well as imaginative world building.
The world building itself was nicely done again. As previously mentioned this is a couple of dozen years after Day Zero and I’m not sure how having read that first or this one may affect readers. For me I already had an idea of this world and I just needed brought up to speed as to what has changed since I last visited. I think both of these books could be read almost as standalones but combined they really flesh out the world in each of their respective timeframes. I think my biggest take away from this world the author has put together is just how parallel AI can be to human behavior given enough programming and an environment to make decisions. I mean we humans are also programmed with education and the environments around us as well if you take a step back and think about it.
That brings us to the character development within Sea of Rust. In my opinion the author continues to do a nice job in making machines with AI feel very human. This can of course be good and bad just as we humans can be both as well. Our protagonist Brittle was very easy to connect with and see her obvious arc from how she sees and reacts to things at the beginning of this story versus the end. There are certainly other characters that also have some nice growth or changes along the way as well.
If I recall correctly, Sea of Rust takes place some 30 years or so after Day Zero. My biggest disappointment was the fact we didn’t have any involvement from the characters in Day Zero within Sea of Rust. I really liked several of the characters including our protagonist. It was just a slight let down. Now I’m not sure on the publication dates of these two and Day Zero may have been written and released after Sea of Rust. But in either case it just seemed kind of odd that our only connecting factor between the two books is basically the main event and no connection between characters.

World Building 4/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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One Comment

  1. Interesting… I’d heard of Day Zero before, but I think this is the first I’ve seen of Sea of Rust. And also interesting, Day Zero’s plot didn’t really appeal to me, but this one sounds neat. Thanks for the review!

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