Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

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Hey guys, so I have seen this book pop up on my radar time and again over the last several years and I finally decided to give it a try. I am so fucking glad I did, what a god damn ride.

This book opens after all of humanity has been wiped out, the characters in this are entirely AI/robots. The main character named Brittle is fighting for her survival. Robots and humans went to war and humanity lost, wiht the last human dying about three decades ago, whihc left the robots in a very strange place, almost without a purpose. They thought getting rid of humanity would open up a paradise for AI and they were wrong.

There are two giant hive mind AIs that are forcing the remaining free and individual robots to join their collectives. It’s basically like the borg where the individual is rolled up and absorbed into this group of joined robots who all share the same goals, thoughts, and knowledge. These two mega robots are fighting for dominance and want to be the last remaning entity on earth.

Brittle and some other robots are resisting as best they can. However, with parts no longer being produced the robots are braeking down and dying. Their bodies are called wrecks, and when they become very desperate they head out into the Sea of Rust, filled with wrecks of other robots, hoping to find some parts they can use before it’s too late. These sorts of ailments make them feel very human. Run down parts make them limp, speak funny, and even experience dementia like symptoms when circuitry goes awry.

Now, Brittle is not a good ‘person’. She’s a left over caregiver, and her backstory is just… sad and tragic and horrific. She does not function on the same level of morality as humans did, and it really shows. The way she thinks about things, the way she reasons around her decisions are not entirely alien, humans designed bots to be in our imagine, and caregiver models in particular were supposed to have more empathy than most and care more than most, but it’s still not a person. Brittle has slaughtered children, and it comes back in her memories — so be aware there’s a fair amount of flashback violence. The war is over with humans, so there’s not a lot of blood and guts in real time, but she will think back on the war and for a page or two things can get really dark.

So, okay. Brittle is trying to survive one of her rivals hunting her down. They are both scavengers, following dying robots and their harvesting thier parts to sell on the market. Brittle and this other bot are the last two caregiver bots known in the area and so they have had a tense truce over the years but now that truce is broken, he needs her parts and has damaged her in the process. So now she has to find a core/battery before she shuts down forever.

This was a really, really fast paced book. There is a ton of bot on bot action/violence, which doesn’t read as visceral as bot on human violence, but it’s still very fast paced. I loved the world building in this, particularly the idea that robots can go insane and mimic human Alzheimer’s in many ways. There’s a group of insane robots that live out in the Sea of Rust, robots who managed to find a part to save the last remnants of their sanity. Most of the time dementia is fatal in robots, (always fatal in humans) but sometimes, very rarely, a bot will find a part at the last moment and they can keep on going. When that happens they wander out into this nut house in the sea of rust that’s ruled by a “King” of the crazies. It’s just a really neat scene.

I really recommend this to anyone who enjoys AI/Robots/darker stories with morally complex/villainous characters.


  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 13/15
  • World Building: 13/15
  • Writing: 13/15
  • Pacing: 13/15
  • Originality: 12/15
  • Enjoyment: 8.5/10

Final score: 84.5/100 or 5/5 on Goodreads