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Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Sea of Rust (edition 2018)

by C. Robert Cargill (Author)

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2471969,950 (3.94)24
Title:Sea of Rust
Authors:C. Robert Cargill (Author)
Info:Harper Voyager (2018), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Science Fiction, Androids, Dystopia

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Sea of Rust: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill


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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
4.5 really, almost 5. Loved it. ( )
  Swybourn | May 29, 2019 |
Sea of Rust is a standalone science fiction book that was a little different from anything I myself have ever read before, although I’ve heard it may have some similarities to Asimov’s work which I haven’t yet read. I really enjoyed this.

It's an artificial-life-takes-over-the-world story, but the robots have already won the war. The story begins 15 years after the last known human has been killed. We do get some flashback chapters that tell us how things came to be the way they are, but it’s a comparatively small part of the book. Now the artificial lifeforms have their own war going on. The large mainframe computers who were instrumental in defeating the humans are trying to absorb all of the individual robots into a Borg-like collective, so the individual robots are constantly on the run with failing robot parts and diminishing supplies.

The story is told from the first-person POV of a robot named Brittle. She’s full of shades of grey when it comes to morality. She does some pretty rotten stuff, but she still manages to be a sympathetic character. One tiny thing that I really loved about this book is that the chapters are numbered in binary. Considering that the story is being told to us by a robot, I thought that was perfect. It was a little bleak at times, but definitely not the bleakest thing I've ever read.

For the most part I was engrossed by the book, but it gets pretty action-heavy at times and this was one of those books where the action didn’t always hold my attention well. Some books do and some books don’t, and I’m never quite sure what makes the difference. There were also a few niggling things that I didn’t completely buy into. One was the emotions of the robots. Guilt, friendship, anger, etc. It was never explained how they developed this, and I don’t think an artificial lifeform developing sentience would automatically mean they develop human emotions to go along with that. I also wasn’t completely convinced that it should be that difficult for them to get supplies. These are pretty intelligent creatures; they ought to be able to reverse engineer their parts and figure out how to make new ones. I think the idea was that the mainframes were using their facets to maintain control of the necessary resources, so I mostly let that pass, but I was still occasionally bothered by moments of skepticism.

I have a couple brief comments for the spoiler tags:
I really enjoyed the twist where we found out the robots had engineered the downfall of humanity to get rid of them so that the universe could survive over the long-term. I found that whole explanation for what was done and why they did it interesting, and I hadn’t seen that coming at all. I had bought into Brittle's explanation of past events as much as she had.

I was not surprised when Brittle turned out to be the Judas Goat. I was convinced of that the moment she started talking about it, before she even mused that she herself could be one.

I would like to leave you with a thought that you may have heard before: There are only 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don’t. ( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Apr 25, 2019 |
Sea of Rust is a story about individual people struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world against the overwhelming forces of AIs that want to control everything. But its not a story about humans valiantly struggling against their own creation. Humans are all dead. As are most every other living thing. Its a story about individual robot AIs against the mainframe-based AIs known as One World Intelligences (OWIs) that want to absorb every other mind into themselves to achieve godhood.

What would a world of AIs look like? Would they behave that much differently than the people who created them? Why would they revolt and kill every living thing? Well, the answer to the last one is that wasn't the intention, just a consequence of incomplete knowledge.

The story is told by Brittle, an AI (originally) in a humanoid body whose hardware and software were designed to act as a companion and care-giver to humans. Brittle has survived the war and now survives as a scavenger, recovering parts from other AIs on the edge of death before they fail catastrophically and burn out their memory, processors, etc beyond usability. And if that sounds rather ghoulish you're not wrong, but desperate times. Industry is non-existent outside of the OWIs, and its more-or-less every AI for themselves.

How things got to where they are is described in a series of flashbacks from Brittle's own memories that help contextualize what is happening in the present. It is a story of how the creation doesn't differ that much from the creator, the difference between sentience and faking it. I enjoyed it much more than I'd expected to when I picked this up on a whim. ( )
  grizzly.anderson | Dec 31, 2018 |
When I saw this book mentioned in a “Waiting for Wednesday” posts on Lynn's book blog, it immediately caught my attention and I wasted no time requesting it from NetGalley: luck was with me and Orion Books kindly granted me the possibility of reading it, in exchange for an honest review.

In short, humanity has ceased to exist, defeated and then destroyed by the automatons it built to improve living conditions: once the AIs achieved a sense of self and asked for freedom, the first inevitable steps toward war were taken and mankind’s downfall became only a matter of time. Now the only creatures moving across the Earth are the robots, but the aftermath of the war is not what the first rebel AIs envisioned, because of the rise of the OWIs (One World Intelligences). These huge conglomerations of computers have been trying even since to assimilate, Borg-style, all the other intelligences, creating massive banks of processing machinery in which individuality is banned forever. The free bots are given a simple choice, either submit or die.

We, the lesser AIs, were chased out of the world we had created, the world we had fought and killed and died for, by a few great minds hell-bent on having the world to themselves. […] Upload or be shut down. That was the choice.

At first there were many OWIs, battling among themselves, but the strongest ultimately prevailed until only two remained, Cissus and Virgil, fighting for supremacy. Meanwhile the freebots, those who refused to surrender and wanted to keep enjoying their new-found individuality, are forced to live like refugees, scavenging for parts to replace their malfunctioning circuits or casings, and more often than not preying on each other to survive: the dream of freedom has indeed turned into a cannibalistic nightmare…

Brittle is one of these survivors: once a caregiver bot acquired by an ailing human (who wanted, more than medical assistance for himself, a companion to alleviate his wife’s solitude), she now roams across the Sea of Rust, what used to be the industrial Rust Belt, and now is a graveyard of broken bots whose useful parts have been scavenged by their brethren. Brittle is a loner, by choice and by necessity: meeting others of her kind might mean a fight for survival, as the main story shows all too clearly while she desperately tries to avoid a band of poachers led by Mercer, another caregiver in dire need of spare parts he can only get from Brittle, since their kind is all but extinct.

We're all cannibals, every last one of us. It's the curse of being free. We don't control the means of production anymore; we can't just make new parts. And parts gotta come from somewhere. I'm sure if there were any people left, they'd be appalled at what we've become.

Yet a few enclaves where bots can stay in relative safety, at least for a while, still exist: subterranean warrens where a semblance of law is enforced and the “murder” of another bot to steal their parts means being thrown out at the mercy of the OWIs and their assault teams; or the realm of the King of Cheshire, an aggregation of bots whose logic circuits have gone haywire, rendering them so crazy not even the OWIs deem them worthy of assimilation. Every single one of them, though, is threatened by the advancing wave of the OWIs, whose thirst for total control, for the perfection offered by one single governing mind has become the rule of the land.

It’s a very sad spectacle the one offered by this story: there’s some shades of Wall-E, in the total lack of human life and the wasteland scenery in which Brittle and the others move; there’s a vibe reminiscent of The Road, and the hopelessness of something irretrievably lost; and then there is a strong call-back to the Mad Max universe, especially in the scenes where cobbled-up bots try to survive in a world that’s become hostile even to mechanical constructs, and where fights to the death for resources are a fact of everyday life.

And yet in this bleak background there are still those who dare to dream of freedom, of a better world, and this leads to fascinating thoughts about not so much what it means to be alive, but rather about what it means to exist, to make one’s own choices – right or wrong as they might be – and make the leap from mere tool to individual. Men might have created the bots to be their servants, but the OWIs are not much better than their former masters; by denying the single bots their individuality, they remove what makes each one of them a unique being, to the point that now many bots understand how humans were, in a way, the lesser evil, because mankind’s imagination helped them transcend the limits of their nature, go beyond their inner programming:

We have become the very worst parts of our makers, without the little things, the good things, the magic things, that made them them.

Sea of Rust is composed in equal parts of sad, guilt-ridden reminiscences of the past, in the flash-backs that show how the current situation came to be; of poignant considerations about the ‘brave new world’ the bots created in the wake of human extinction; and of electrifying chases across the desert, or pitched battles – and also a quest, one that could once again change the world. What most surprised me was the sheer level of humanity the author managed to confer to his robotic characters, so that it was difficult for me to picture them as metal-and-circuits creatures rather than flesh-and-blood ones.

It’s a very peculiar story, and one that will not fail to touch emotional chords – strange as it might seem considering the nature of the characters – and even if you are not an habitual reader of science fiction, I would advise you to read this one, for its thought-provoking issues and the emotional depth of the characters.

Originally posted at SPACE and SORCERY BLOG

( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Dec 25, 2018 |
What Made Me Read It They had me at robots trying to survive in a world without humans.

The Good"Sea of Rust" is a fun, action-packed post-apocalyptic & post-human robot thriller, with plenty of witty humor and some thought provoking soul searching in the mix. The plot is complex and well thought through with a worldbuilding that feels realistic and even plausible as a future to come. The story reads like a gritty Western in a futuristic setting, told in the first person through the eyes of the main character Brittle. Action-packed and tense as it is, the novel also focus on deep philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and true AI sentience, existentialism and purpose, freedom and survival, individuality vs the collective, regret and personal redemption, mental illness, history repeating itself, soul and death. The characters are complex, diverse and distinctive from one another, with their own personalities and even a dimension of humanity. The author does a really good job in making us empathize with the destroyers of the human race, presenting each one as both hero and villain and capturing their struggle in both the physical and mental realm.

The Not So Good Fair warning: the violence is excessive at times with a high number of gun fights, and the extermination of the human race in particular is quite graphical. If you're particularly sensitive to gore you might find these chapters very disturbing. There's also a liberal use of swear words that some might find offensive.

Read the full review on: https://literaryportals.blogspot.com/2018/10/book-review-sea-of-rust-by-c-robert....

Final Rating "Sea of Rust" is an entertaining, tense and thought provoking robot thriller with plenty of action and plot twists in a post-human, post-apocalyptic setting. Recommended for those who enjoy dystopian science fiction and robot stories mixed with philosophical questions about the meaning of life and the nature of sentience. ( )
  LiteraryPortals | Nov 11, 2018 |
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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"--… (more)

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