It’s fifteen years after humanity has gone extinct, and things are not looking good for robotkind. Many have succumb to becoming facets for one of the two One World Intelligence hive minds that remain after the war with humanity, and the freebots who do not submit gather together in ramshackle settlements for protection from OWI raids. One such freebot is Brittle, a rare caregiver model who traverses the Sea of Rust on her own, scavenging parts to barter with from damaged bots who are too far gone to be saved from their mad wanderings. When another caregiver model critically damages her in an attempt to poach her parts for himself, both join a secret mission with the promise of repairs…but Brittle soon discovers that there’s far more at stake than she ever realized. Cargill has crafted a believable world of post-apocalyptic ruin, seen through Brittle’s eyes as she fights for survival against her own deteriorating mind and the brutal memories of her actions in the war, making for a compelling story about faith, choices, and consequences.
(tl;dr version: A post-apocalyptic robot western with a compelling story of individuality and finding one’s purpose. Awesome characters in an awesome setting. Think Mad Max, but with robots!)— Darcy
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.
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 Film.com and Hollywood.com, and appeared as the animated character Carlyle on Spill.com. He is a cowriter of the horror films Sinister and Sinister 2, and Marvel’s Dr. Strange. He lives with his wife in Austin, Texas.