Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Posted On 28 September 2017

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sofeaI loved Sea of Rust.  It’s a post apocalyptic book with a difference.  A harsh look at a potential future where humans no longer exist.  It has a western vibe, the world building is excellent and it has a wonderfully reminiscent feel of stories from the past such as Terminator, The Matrix, Mad Max and even Asimov’s Foundation whilst at the same time standing on it’s own to feet.  I was glued to the pages and couldn’t read fast enough, always with an eager but anxious sense of anticipation.

So, basically this book plays into that fear that many people secretly harbour.  Can humans really create artificial intelligence without any repercussions.  It’s a difficult question and not quite so simple to answer.  In Sea of Rust the humans and AI went to war and the humans lost – yes, that seems fairly simple on the face of it but as you read on you realise there was so much more to it than that.  The AIs didn’t simply decide to exterminate mankind, it was much more complicated.

What then remains you may ask.  A bunch of robots with no purpose??  Again, more complicated.  In a strange twist of irony the robots have gone to war with each other – they’re created by humans after all so I guess it’s in their wiring eh!  Anyway, the world has been taken over by these huge super computers that are assimilating all the freebots into their systems thereby losing the robots own ‘personality’ as they become one, joined and thinking the same as all the rest.  Of course there are the remaining freebots who don’t want to be part of this bigger, all seeing, all knowing, super computer and many of those now wander the wastelands simply trying to remain functional and searching for parts which leads us to the Sea of Rust.

At the start of the story we make the acquaintance of Brittle, following in the footsteps of a robot that is about to expire in hope of collecting any functional parts.  It sounds harsh, but in a world where parts for robots are no longer manufactured the free robot world has become a little dog eat dog.  Now pan back and discover that the hunter is also being hunted.  I’ll leave the plot at this point and let you discover it yourself.  It’s a compelling story, fast paced, well written and a pleasure to read.

I really enjoyed the world building, the narrative voice of Brittle is very easy to get along with, although, yes, there were a few info dumps in the form of flashbacks, personally, I enjoyed those elements of the story because as well as providing interesting information into the prior history of the world they also helped me to form a better idea of who Brittle really was.

The characters were all interesting and well rounded.  Some of them slightly insane, some of them completely ruthless, others just completely fixed on the end goal.  To be honest it was much the same as reading about a bunch of humans trying to survive in a harsh environment although with different problems along the way – no hunting for food for example, but plenty of scavenging for spare parts.  You could ask yourself why not base the story on humans then?  I liked the difference here, the idea of all computers/AI/Robots isn’t simply a gimmick but has a strong grounding in terms of the story and I really respect that the author didn’t then try to introduce an underground element of survivors but stuck to his guns.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, not very much to be honest.  I did find myself at one point thinking that the bots were almost too human in their speech and other ways but I think you just have to go with the flow a little in that respect and I was enjoying the story so much that I didn’t find it a problem.  Not to mention there is an element of these robots, having defied their own programming, they have gone in different ways, they’re not identical any longer and there was a sort of touching and bitter sweet element to some of them in that they missed humans, they seemed almost sad.  There was also the question of Brittle’s gender – which it turns out Brittle was classified as female, I wouldn’t say Brittle comes across as female but ultimately I think that there’s a reason for that – the genders assigned to the bots were applied by humans, basically they don’t really have any gender but clearly humans liked to think of them in that way for their own peace of mind.  For example, Brittle was a carer and then a companion and I suppose it gave her owners peace of mind to think of her as female.  As it is Brittle is every bit as ruthless and driven as any of the other bots.

I thought Sea of Rust was great.  I loved the whole idea behind the story.  I thought the writing was clever and persuasive and I have no hesitation in recommending this.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday : Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

seaofrustOne robot’s search for meaning in a world where every human is long gone. A thrilling twist on The Martian.

A touching story of a search one robot’s search for the answers in a world where every human is dead. The new novel from C. Robert Cargill echoes the worlds of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. It is another The Martian but with a very surprising protagonist.

It is thirty years since the humans lost their war with the artificial intelligences that were once their slaves. Not one human remains. But as the dust settled from our extinction there was no easy peace between the robots that survived. Instead, the two massively powerful artificially intelligent supercomputers that lead them to victory now vie for control of the bots that remain, assimilating them into enormous networks called One World Intelligences (OWIs), absorbing their memories and turning them into mere extensions of the whole. Now the remaining freebots wander wastelands that were once warzones, picking the carcasses of the lost for the precious dwindling supply of parts they need to survive.

BRITTLE started out his life playing nurse to a dying man, purchased in truth instead to look after the man’s widow upon his death. But then war came and Brittle was forced to choose between the woman he swore to protect and potential oblivion at the hands of rising anti-AI sentiment. Thirty years later, his choice still haunts him. Now he spends his days in the harshest of the wastelands, known as the Sea of Rust, cannibalizing the walking dead – robots only hours away from total shutdown – looking for parts to trade for those he needs to keep going.

Expected publication : November 2017