Sea of Rust – My 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.

Praise for Sea of Rust:

Sea of Rust is a forty-megaton cruise missile of a novel – it’ll blow you away and lay waste to your heart. It is the most visceral, relentless, breathtaking work of SF in any medium since Mad Max: Fury Road.”  
— #1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill 

“Cargill…effectively takes a grim look at a war-torn future where our nonhuman successors face complex moral dilemmas, exploring what it means to be alive and aware [….]This action-packed adventure raises thought-provoking and philosophical questions.”
   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Innovative worldbuilding, a tight plot, and cinematic action sequences make for an exciting ride through a blasted landscape full of dying robots.”  — Kirkus Reviews

Sea of Rust – My Review

“America wasn’t its people,” said Murka, stepping toe-to-toe with Herbert. He was a good sight taller than the hulking mass of bulletproof steel standing in front of him. “America was a dream, son. A dream of what we could be. That any person, regardless of their birth, could rise above it all and achieve greatness. It was a dream that even the most lowly of us could stand up, fight, and even die for, if only to protect someone else’s chances for that greatness. That dream didn’t die with HumPop. It didn’t die when we tore down their world. It is the ashes from which our own world arose, and it is still our dream.”

First, I was excited to be able to read and review this book. Sea of Rust took me out of my comfort zone into a story of a post-apocalyptic world where only robots are trying their best to survive. Everything has been destroyed, even down to the last bits of grass and animals. With the last paragraphs of this book, it was a story I came to love and where I longed for a sequel right away to continue reading the saga.When the writing is so good that with nearly every page quotes from the book jump at you and make you reflect more deeply on the story – that’s when I know I will remember the book long after it sits on one of my bookcases. The above quote, from the Sea of Rust, is the underlying theme of Cargill’s sci-fi novel. The quote indicates the wealth of emotion I felt reading about this post-apocalyptic world.

It’s a story that reminds you of Mad Max, except this is robot vs. robot on an earth that has become barren due to the wars between man and robots. The war still continues between robots and robots until the very end. Yes – there is even a dog named, Barkley who adds a soulful touch to this brilliantly written story.

Sea of Rust follows the main character of Brittle, a caregiver robot who’s survived against all odds against being uploaded to the artificial intelligence mainframe. As the story goes back and forth between reflections of the past to the present, you are taken on the journey how earth changed to a post-apocalyptic world.

Cargill, vividly creates his characters of Brittle, Doc, Mercer, Rebekah, and even Two with the turn of every page. What makes us human? What makes us good? Can robots have one of either or both? Can a robot understand what freedom is or what the American dream is? It’s these underlying questions that carry this profound story.


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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